Treestar Farm

Our Goats Live in the Lap of Luxury

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Our False Labor Fiasco

Tinkerbell Perched on Doghouse

Tinkerbell Perched on Doghouse

We’re tired, we’re unwashed, we have no babies, but we learned something new. Goats can have false labor. 18 hours worth of it.

Yesterday afternoon, Lisa was reinforcing the lower half of a fence so kids couldn’t walk through it when she noticed an inordinate amount of moaning and groaning going on around her. A quick stroll around the pasture revealed that the first two does starting to bag up, Tinkerbell and Grace, were having contractions. Tinker bell’s were clearly stronger and her ligaments were also pretty mushy, although not gone.

Fencing was dropped, and when Tink finally finished a really long contraction she was coaxed into the kidding pen. Equipment preparations in the barn ensued, texts were sent to friends desperate to see a goat give birth, and Lisa made a mad dash to the house to check due dates. Tink was 1 -2 weeks early, but heck, maybe with three bucks to keep track of Lisa made a mistake. Then the vigil began.

Ann, a friend who has been trying to witness a delivery for a year, soon arrived and stayed for the duration, taking turns sitting in the kidding pen with Tink. During the first few hours no fewer than SEVEN more people came to view the blessed event, either to learn in order to be prepared for their own goats, to instruct children in the wonders of nature, or to bring food to the famished midwives. Left alone at about 11 PM Lisa and Ann decided to put her mother Jessie in with Tink and to continue to monitor by camera from the house.

Until about 8 the next morning, Tink continued to have frequent contractions, and although they were irregular, most were long and clearly uncomfortable. Sometimes she would remain standing, but most of the time she pawed a nest in her bedding and laid down until it finished. In between contractions she would get up, move around, eat, and sleep. We can report this with confidence because while Ann tried mostly unsuccessfully to sleep, Lisa set the alarm for one-hour intervals, which was largely unnecessary because every bleat through the smart phone monitor woke her up anyway. At 2 AM Lisa made a trip to the barn to check for progress in person, check Grace (who had stopped contracting), and swap out Jessie (whose mother’s patience was wearing thin) for Tink’s friend Snowball. No discharge, no expulsion of mucus plug, no nothing except more contractions.

When they staggered out to the barn the next morning Lisa and Ann found Snowball head butting Tink over the small amount of remaining feed and Tink standing at the pen door hollering to be let out. No more contractions, so we let her out and she ran straight to the hay feeder and proceeded to chow down.

As it happened, Lisa had to take our first kid Pinkie to the veterinarian that morning to be disbudded. Taking the opportunity to get a (free) curbside consult while dropping her off, Lisa described the situation and was advised to “go in” and check Tink’s cervix to make sure she wasn’t dilated, which would mean there was a problem. Lisa came home and read more about false labor in goats (12-24 hours of irregular contractions with no evidence of cervical dilation, usually occurring well before a due date); everyone stated that checking the cervix was necessary. Unfortunately by this time Ann had left, but being the true friend that she is, she returned and assisted with the vaginal exam that ended up being performed next to the hay feeder. Hint: warming the Betadine and surgical lubricant in a pail of very warm water went a long way towards gaining Tink’s cooperation. Verdict: cervix still closed. Whew! The only harm done was the loss of a night’s sleep and some embarrassment on Lisa’s part for calling everyone to the barn on a false alarm.

Oh well, at least we’ve had a dry run for the true event in a week or two. One that we will undoubtedly miss entirely.