Three of our goats have kidded in the past ten days which has led to our herd of goats growing by 9, so we have been kept pretty busy! They are soft, silky eared, and very happy to be picked up. They make a range of bleats, squawks and sighs and are generally as fun to be around as you would imagine. They start skipping around on their wobbly legs from their first day of life and love nothing better than to curl up in a pile with their siblings under a heat lamp, cosy box or pile of hay for a nap.
Here are some things that you might not know about goats and kidding...
1. Goats can have anything from one to five kids, with two or three being the most common number. Anglo Nubians (the breed we have) are particularly prone to multiple births though and Cleo (our big white goat in the background of the photo above) had four - all doing well. The advantage of this is that each kid tends to be smaller and therefore they tend to have more straightforward births. The disadvantage is that you quite often get one kid who is much smaller than the others, and as goats only have two teats, they can struggle to get enough milk unless topped up with bottle feeds.
2. Goats like to give birth during the day rather than at night, which is oddly considerate! They usually choose a nice day to give birth on, too. They typically give birth anytime up to 14 days after their official 'due date' and apparently tend to choose the nicest day after they are due. God knows how they manage to control it that much, but that's what the books say, and it certainly seemed to be true with our lot.
3. When the kids are first born, their hooves are very soft and jelly like, so they don't hurt their mothers as they come out, but their hooves harden up within the first few hours of their lives.
The mothers eat the afterbirth - a natural impulse to hide the evidence that they've given birth from potential predators and also a good way of getting some energy and nutrients after giving birth.
4. The kids umbilical cords usually break by themselves, but one of the first things you do to a new born kid is to spray its umbilical cord with iodine solution to stop it getting infected.
5. Like most creatures, goat kids need to get enough colostrum straight after they are born to get their immune systems working. However, if our first lots of kids are anything to go by, they are rubbish at finding their mothers teats! Despite obvious enthusiasm for finding something to eat, they managed to suck on ears, collars, bits of our coats, fingers, and hair before getting anywhere near the actual teats. After plenty of being pointed in the right direction though, they seem to get the hang of it.