Bailey is a four year old Nigerian Dwarf goat who was our old mama goat. She had two adorable litters of kids, one in spring 2012 and one in spring 2013. In November 2013 I took her to the breeder to get her pregnant for another round of spring babies, but three weeks later I got her labs back and found out it didn't take. In early January 2014, I made another trip back to the breeder when she was in heat and of course... once again, not pregnant.
The main reason we breed our goats is so we have a milking goat for summer camps at the Ranch. Since goats' gestation time is 5 months, at that point is would put us behind schedule to try breeding her again so I decided to buy a doe that was already pregnant.
She was underweight.
The breeder I bought her from didn't breed her intentionally-- their buck escaped from his pen and into the doe pen, where he had his way with Dutra. Dutra was only 9 months old and not fully grown when she got pregnant, which made it difficult for her to put weight on her already underweight frame.
Her conformation isn't great.
When choosing a dairy goat, it is important to choose a goat with an udder and teats that are a good size, wide hip bones, and a rump that is not steep from the hip bones down to the tail. Dutra's udders are great, but her hips are narrow and she is steep from her hip bones to her tail. I'll get to why this is a problem in a bit.
I realized these major flaws after a few days of having her, but by that point I was committed. I'd bought the goat and was about to learn some homesteading facts of life the hard way.
As you may have guessed, this is where Dutra's poor conformation comes into play. She went into labor on a Tuesday morning while I was feeding, and I was very excited that I was going to be there for birth. Dutra was clearly very uncomfortable, as she should be while in labor. There was one little hoof sticking out and I was so excited to meet the little kid. After about 20 minutes, I started worrying. After you see the first hoof, birthing should take less than 15 minutes. Thankfully I had my birthing kit ready because it was time to put it to use. I put on my lovely OB gloves, went in and started to pull as Dutra pushed. After 20 more minutes of this, the giant baby was finally out. She was 8 pounds 4 ounces, which is huge for a baby goat. I fittingly named her Pita (Pain In The Ass). Once Pita was out and started suckling I was relieved that it didn't appear there was another baby coming. But that relief didn't last long...
I soon learned that having two baby goats would have been better than one. Why? Because newborn baby goats like to pick one teat to suckle from and stick to it. This was news to me, since all of our previous litters of goat kids had been twins or triplets. The day after Pita was born I realized how engorged the right side of Dutra's udder was. I panicked and tried to get Pita to drink from the right teat, but by that point the right teat was so swollen she couldn't even drink from it if she'd wanted to. I spent the next two days milking out the right side every two hours, massaging Dutra's udders, trying to get Pita to suckle from the right side, and ordering every mastitis cure possible.
Mastitis is inflammation of the udder that can be caused by bacteria and/or trauma to the udder. It can be very painful for the goat and if it becomes acute, treating it is a pain in the butt. In order to treat acute mastitis, the doe needs to be put on medication that is unsafe for her kids to consume which means you're treating her AND bottle feeding your kids four times a day.
Thankfully the swelling started to go down and Pita began suckling form the right side before it got to that point, but it was a stressful couple of days.
After kidding, putting weight on Dutra was even more difficult. Even though she was getting a good amount of grain, feeding a baby in addition to being milked used up all the nutrients we put in her. And the worms didn't help, either.
I am assuming she got the parasites during her pregnancy after I bought her. After sending a fecal test into a lab, I found she had a high amount of roundworms. Finally after treating with numerous rounds of deworming regimens, she is worm free and healthy at last.
Being the milking doe has changed Dutra. When I first got her, she was a sweet, cuddly girl. Now she is a destructive grain-crazy monster. If it's after 4 pm, Dutra is hungry and she will let no fence nor small child stand in her way. We've had to build the goat herd fences up because 4 feet is nothing to Dutra. She has also successfully bashed through wood fences. I think she's just testing our carpentry skills. While she's bashing down fences and plotting her escape, she will tell you all about it. She never shuts up. If Dutra sees a person, she will talk to them to make sure they're aware that she wants her grain and he wants it now.
Even though Dutra can be a nuisance, she is one of my favorite goats. She has quite the personality and I have a special bond with her. Although there have been some rough patches with Dutra over the past year, I am glad I bought her because I have learned so much by taking care of her.