Friday, January 16, 2009

Goat Tails

In anticipation of the birth of baby goats here on the ranch, correctly termed as kidding for you accuracy junkies, I'll share with you the complicated art of determining if a goat is "with kid".

I have great respect for vets. The kind that fix animals as well as the military. However, lest there be any confusion, I'm referring to the animal kind. So having great respect, it never ceases to amaze me that vets can fix damned near anything wrong with a critter. In most cases it doesn't take innumerable tests or specialists which says a lot about veterinary medicine as well as human medicine, doesn't it?

I have a great relationship with one of my local vets. Not so much with the other one cuz he seems to have no sense of humor and looks at me like I'm stupid when I ask him a question that I genuinely want an answer to. He's better than the former vet who kicked one of my cows in the head and mysteriously left the vet office a couple weeks later, but still, he's not my fav.

Anyway, said not-so-fav-vet came out the other day to see if the little black cowses were pregnant. For inquiring minds, 2 out of 3 are. While here I asked him how to see if a goat is pregnant. He looked at me like that was the dumbest question he'd heard all week.

Not so brief backstory: I'm on a goat list. Yes, there are people who actually sign up on an email list that talks about goats. Why the hell not, I say. So the very same topic came up on the goat list a while back and the responses were slightly less than scientific. It would seem there are two options: bumping, also known in some circles as bouncing, and the squooshy tail method. Why can't you just do a pelvic? I asked the vet that very thing resulting in the "what are you stupid?" look.

So, bumping. Bumping is a seriously hands on practice which consists of standing behind and straddling the goat in question, grabbing her around the middle and thumping her behind her rumen. Rumen = big fat stomach. Supposedly, if something hard is felt while basically punching your goat in the stomach, the goat is pregnant. Warning: goats don't particularly like this procedure and may kick the crap out of you when you attempt it.

The second method, and by far my favorite for comic relief, is the squooshy tail method. This is even less scientific, if that's possible. It's said that a goat is firm under the tail. Okay, tail: hairy on top, no hair beneath and not something one would be fondling under normal circumstances which makes this method a bit more complicated. So, in order to determine if said goat is pregnant, one is to grab hold of the tail and feel the underside for "squooshiness". Yeah, that'll happen. If you've never attempted to grab a goat's tail and smoosh it while trying to ascertain if it's squooshy, I'd recommend you pass. It's not one of those procedures that goats stand idly by while you, um, proceed. Baahing, head flinging and kicking seem to be the standard reaction. That and running away while goat tender tries desperately to keep tail in hand. Great for comic video, not terribly useful as a means of determining pregancy. What ever happened to the rabbits?

Back to our regularly scheduled program. Vet checked cows, looked at me like I'm an idiot and mounted Daisy the goat. She didn't seem to enjoy this; you could tell by the head flinging and squalling that insued. Vet was not deterred and proceeded to bump, bump, bump on her side, finally announcing that he believed her to be pregnant. I also believed her to be, without the thumping, due to her intimate relationship with formerly discussed buckling. On to goat number 2, Anya. Anya isn't really thrilled with anyone touching her but me so this process went even less quickly than that with Daisy. However, having not seen horny buckling having carnal knowledge of her, I wasn't confident that she was in the family way. Again with the bumping and vet concludes that she too is pregnant. I'm pleased but really would prefer confirmation through a somewhat more rational means.

So now we're hanging around the frigid ranch awaiting the birth of kids and hoping to hell they wait until the temperature is on the positive side of the thermometer. Keep your fingers crossed and stay away from those squooshy tails.


Marty said...

Goat babies. I can't wait. Take pics as soon as they are born. Please.

Sherry W said...

OK, you've got me laughing again. In years past I've freshened around 25 does per year. Hand raised all the kids too. I don't do that anymore! I'm just too old for that shit now. The method I use to determine pregnancy is a milder form of the 'bump' method. Place two fingers just in front of the udder (or where it will be when it's full) and gently press upwards. If you do this on a doe you know to be empty it will feel soft and push upwards very easily. A pregnant doe, as early as 8 weeks, will feel more firm and is much more difficult to push up. I've done this for years and have never got it wrong.

Alpaca Farmgirl said...

That's so funny! In some species they call that belly bumping, "ballotment". So glad that we do ultrasounds with the alpacas. I bet they could do them on goats too...

We also used to have a Pregtone that worked pretty well. It was cheaper than ultrasounds.

James said...

I can't wait to see goat babies too!

CGabriel said...

My in-laws have a farm in western Wisconsin. 200 acres, certified organic, chickens, guinea hens, 100,000 bees (in their little bee condos...the pool is remarkable) and cows. Lots and lots of cows.

My father-in-law was an electrical engineer for his entire professional life. Until...he decided to get back to his boyhood roots as a farmer.

I'm from the north side of Chicago. This becomes moderately relevant in a moment.

Imagine, if you will, the night I was at their farm and one of the pregnant cows was about to deliver. **One question: They keep telling me "yep, they're all females and they're all pregnant." Ok. But...if that's so, what's do they...never mind.**

Where was I...

I was asked if I wanted to take part in the delivery. The sweat and overall panic that filled every corner of my body was as pervasive as the humidity of an August afternoon here in Minneapolis. Even now thinking back on that night, my eyes don't want to blink on their own.

Anyway, suffice it to say after that night I gained an appreciation of life on a farm in a way I had never previously known. It was winter, it was freezing, and that just didn't matter.

The mom-to-be had a look on her face that said "hope you boys are ready to help."

My eyes are just now blinking normally again.

Julie at the Ranch said...

Ha! Ha! Hilarious. I am actually waiting on three does to deliver. I am positive they are preggo. No need to perform any of the tests you mentioned. I am interested in seeing what "bumps" back though. I almost wish I hadn't read that. :)

Anonymous said...

yes, I have three nannys too, and rented a billy that was so laid back, I was convinced he was gay, and since my goats are normally fat, it was hard for me to determine if they were pregnant or not ... I kept the billy an extra month - because I never saw him "act like a billy" --- he barely even stunk, and never pissed on his beard the whole two months he was here ... but this is my first experience with Bore goats and they are typically a lot more docile than any other goats I have ever raised (Saunnan and Nubian and Alpen ) so I went looking on the web for a way to determine if they actually are "with kid"

OMG, thanks for the laugh ... a sense of humor is a must for goat handlers ... along with a really good fence

I tried your methods and am pretty sure my ladies are full of kids ... and wanted to add a bit of my own advice ... Out here in the West, for some reason, around Feb, our goats bloat ... I've been told that is has to do with the weather, and the first year I lost two goats - I have been told since then, that if I were to nail a dish to a board (so they can't tip it) and fill it full of Baking Soda, that they would eat it when they needed it and keep themselves from becoming bloated to the point where it kills them .... and I promptly forgot about it, all summer, until just two days ago, one of my Nannies refused to eat ( as you must know, that is a very bad sign in a goat)... I quick got a box of Baking Soda and poured some out on a hunk of ice they have been licking on - she ran right up (as if to say to me FINALLY!) and licked up a dose of BS ... as did the others, and she was back to her normal eating habits this AM

this easy and simple cure for bloat, sure will save you from either a Vet call or expensive drenches - if you treat your goats early or just make Baking Soda available ... and I thought I'd pass it on, because being a woman, I know how much heartburn I got, when sharing by bowels with a growing child ... and I see no reason for it to be different for my pregnant goats ... with three stomachs and this simple remedy may actually save lives.

Naimhe said...

Baking soda is a life saver when it comes to bloat. If it's gone too far, it's imperative to have a feeding tube too - it doubles as a gas release tube. I saved more than one kid that way.