The Waiting Room

Beekman 1802 is a seasonal farm which means that during the winter months we breed the entire herd.  This gives the goats (and Farmer John) about a 5 month respite from the morning and afternoon milking ritual.

Watching the birth of anything, be it human or any other animal, is one of the most beautiful moments in life.  On the farm it’s a signal that winter will eventually come to an end and all the world will once again spring to life.

We thought we’d give you a little glimpse into what to expect when you’re expecting 120 baby goats over the next several months.

Last Month of Pregnancy

During the last month of pregnancy the doe will need more energy to keep up with the demands of the kids growing inside of her. During this time, her belly will grow and her udder will begin to produce colostrum, the first milk. At this point the doe has more difficulty getting up and moving around due to the weight of her pregnancy.

Last Week of Pregnancy

During the last week of pregnancy the doe’s body begins to prepare for kidding. A few days before she goes into labor, her vulva will begin to change from light pink to a dark pink color. The vulva will also begin to swell. The udder is full of colostrum and will feel tight and hard. The last change to take place is a relaxation of the muscles of the hip as the body prepares itself for the birth.

The Onset of Labor

At the start of labor, the doe will become unsociable and restless. (This happens to Josh, too)   She moves away from the main part of the herd and will spend extra time getting up and laying down. Her vulva will be very swollen and will appear very relaxed. If it is feeding time, the doe will be reluctant to eat with the rest of the herd.  This is one of the clues Farmer John looks for to know when to expect an overnight delivery.  He’s VERY accurate with his predictions.

As the onset of labor gets closer, the doe will start to dig a nest in the straw. As the labor progresses, the doe intermittently stands up and lays down. She may also turn circles while bleating.   This can go on for quite some time, especially if it is a doe’s first experience delivering.  She will also protect her nest vigorously by head butting any of the members of the herd that become too curious.

The first sign that the kids are coming is the appearance of the water bag. Once the water bag breaks, the kids are typically born within 30 minutes.  One of the most amazing things we’ve seen is the baby goat and the entire amniotic sac coming out at the same time, so the baby looked as if he was being born in a bubble.    Farmer John sometimes uses a piece of straw to rupture the sac.

It is normal for the doe to lick the bedding where the water has broken.

The Birth Process

Once the water breaks you soon see the appearance of the front feet. The kid’s head should lay above and between the front legs in a normal presentation. The feet should also be pointing downward in a normal presentation. Feet that are pointing upward are generally from a breech birth. Kids can be born in the breech position, but as soon as a breech-positioned kid is born, he is held up by his back legs and rubbed down his sides to help remove any fluid from his lungs.

The next step in the birth process is the appearance of the head. Most of the time a thin membrane will still cover the kid. This membrane should break as the kid is born.  If it doesn’t and the mother is preoccupied with caring for other births and does not clean the infant, the kid might suffocate

It’s amazing how smoothly the process goes without any intervention from those of us gawking.

When the doe stands up after the kid is completely out, the umbilical cord will break on its own.

Once the kid is born, Farmer John checks to make sure that it is breathing. He wipes the head and nose off well to make it easier for the kid to breath. If the kid is not breathing, he inserts a piece of straw a short way into a nostril to encourage the kid to sneeze.

The new mother then licks the kid to clean it off and begins “talking” to her kid. This is a bonding process for the mother and kid. They will be able to use this audible imprint to identify each other once they are turned out with a group of does.

Most goats give birth to twins or triplets.  It’s fairly uncommon to have a singleton birth.

A vigorous kid will soon be trying to stand up. For weaker kids, they may need a few minutes longer (sometimes up to an hour) before they are ready to stand up to nurse.

Soon after the birth, the new mothers are given a mixture of molasses to help restore their strength.  They also will consume the after birth.

Using the mother’s milk, Farmer John bottle feeds all of the new births.  This helps the babies become more accustomed to human interaction which makes for a friendlier and more manageable herd.

The first to arrive...

Within a few weeks, the new kids will wean off of milk and start eating straw and grain.  As long as the goats continue to be milked, they will continue producing the milk that has made the Beekman 1802 soaps and cheese so famous around the world.

By late fall, the milk production cycle gradually wanes.  Once levels fall below a certain volume, the goats are no longer milked and the breeding starts again.

by Josh and Brent

Reader Comments

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Sherri Kent

I love the both of you!
I wanted to tell you I just watch the birthing process, with tears running down my cheeks. Did not realize the babies are so large. I have been involved in the birthing of kittens and dogs, and have even helped the moms. It is a wonderful event to be apart of. I would sure be in my element on the farm.
I delight every time you are on the shopping network, and after seeing the website, which is great.
I would love to buy 1 of everything you have. So you will soon be seeing my orders. The two of you amaze me and you work so beautifully together. It just kinda flows. So you have a new customer that thinks you are the BEST. Thank You so much for that video, you will never know what it meant to me. Sherri

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Cindy

We have been delightfully blessed this past week with 3 new kids !!!!! We have the eldest Doe Nanny who should have delivered first but has not…until today around 5pm. Then heartbreak came as she delivered a fully developed Baby who appeared to be stillborn. We arrived after the placenta and afterbirth came out. The Mother was just standing over her to try and get her awake…..It is heartwrentching. How can we help the Mother, and is it possible that she has another to deliver? It is now 9:14 and no sign. We took out the afterbirth and the kid, watered and fed the Mother….not sure how to help her. Have been waiting on vet to call back. No response yet…..

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Amy Young

Hi, I loved your book, The Bucolic Plague! I tell everyone to read it! Our Nigerian goat Daisy, just gave birth last night here in Michigan where it was a record low of minus 20 degrees! So unfortunately, both babies did not make it. We were devastated! It was our first and her first birth. But our other doe is very pregnant and due any time. We are hoping for joyful bouncing babies to welcome to the farm! You are both an inspiration and we are just a couple of yuppies from the suburbs who decided to buy a farm 2 years ago, and we are loving every minute of it, even the hard parts, because it is just the cycle of life!

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WG

We lost two kids this morning. Is there anything we need to do for the mama doe? We are watering her, but she seems to have no interest in getting up. We had lowest temps last night and this morning, unfortunately we were unable to get them in time. We don’t want to lose mama, but she is not wanting to move at all. Thoughts? Help? We are waiting on the vet response.

Thank you,

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Frances Young

John, hopefully the recurring miracle keeps you energized! There’s nothing like being on the business end of making cheese (so incredible!!) and soap! Thank you for all you do!

Frances Patterson Young

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Helen Alexander

Love the babies, all of them are so cute, would love to have one.
My Granddaughters all call me Goatie and I love it!
Bless you all.

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JoAnne Smith

Farmer John,
You are warm and caring man and your gentleness shows through in the caring of your goats and animals. It is so heartwarming to know that there is still a corner of the world where people genuinely care for one another and along with that, the care for the “innocents”- the animals. Never change-be who you are-we love you just that way!!

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Bonny Andrilla

Can`t wait to visit and sample your soap and cheese. Do you encourage folks to visit and interact with the mamas and kids? It would be an awesome experience for our grandkids. Good luck on your 2013 season.

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kirsten

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS BLESSING, I AM SUCH AN ANIMAL LOVER . OH I JUST WANT TO KISS AND HOLD THE LITTLE BABIES. YOU SHOULD SELL RAFFLE TICKETS AT THE MERCANTILE TO WIN A CHANCE TO GO FOR A 1 HOUR VISIT TO SEE THE BABIES. I KNOW IT SOUNDS CRAZY BUT I HAD TO TRY..

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Tammy Sullivan

What happened to the goat cam? I really miss it, will it be back??

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Lori Satterfield

HI, I hope you guys like the photos of my Jake with one of our baby goats. It's a beautiful site around the farm when we have the little ones playing around. We can sit out there for hours with them, watching them. I know you guys must feel the same way! These are a actually my Mom's goats, but we're all still family. My sons have been fortunate enough to be there for the birth of a few of them. Lovely creatures!!

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Dnyaneshwar Vasaikar

Any one tell me the….. When doe are give births to the kid…then after how much month Kid are able to give birth?

Thanx

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lynda wilkie hemond

Josh and Brent please restore the LIVE goat cam, I just

love it. I am going to follow all the gardening tips too.

We used to raise and "can" all our own food. and make our

own baby food for my sons.They both grew up to be 6'4''.

so watch out.

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