Year after year we breed our dairy goat herd with hopes for new female offspring to grow the herd. Actually, the number one reason we breed is to bring our does back into milk, the offspring we keep is the bonus.
Each year we try to time breeding just right and each year we have to just roll with the punches because in farming nothing is really 100% in your control.
Last year one of our older, medium sized female goats (called a doe in the goat world) managed to get bred by a full sized buck (bucks are uncastrated male goats) and ended up having twin doelings (you guessed it, twin female baby goats). We were convinced she wouldn’t be able to birth offspring from a full sized buck and we did everything in our power to keep her from getting bread by him but she proved us wrong and did her own thing!
This year we weren’t supposed to have any births until at least late February 22nd but a doe, named Latte, was in labor January 25th. Turns out she was miscarrying the pregnancy but it was unknown for a day or so.
You see our efficient female livestock guardian dog, names Winnie, either mothers the live goat kids after birth if their mama is slacking or she will get rid of any signs of birth, stillbirth, afterbirth, etc. This is an instinct she has that will protect the goat herd from predators.
I found our goat doe, Latte, on January 26th at the hay bales passing membranes with her tail ligaments loose but not in active labor… and with no babies to be found. We searched the pasture, the barns, ect. We looked everywhere for any signs of birth/ babies. No blood, no bones, no hair, nothing was anywhere. I was puzzled!
That evening Farmer Nathan tells me about Winnie’s bloody paws from the day before and it all becomes clearer. Goat kids can’t be born a month early and survive… 2 weeks is about the earliest I’ve heard of. I’m confident whatever Latte birthed wasn’t alive and it was cleaned up by Winnie to keep potential predators away.
Not having live goat babies from Latte is sad business. However, she is producing some milk for us now which helps our raw goat milk soap production.
While we were puzzling over goat babies we also bounced all our other lady goats (this is basically a belly palpitation to feel for babies). We believe we will have goat babies due from one other mama and lambs from our ewe so stay tuned.