Admit it, you've never tried it in fact it's quite sweet and tasty. Not that it is worth it to take up mare milking any time soon.
When it comes to early labor it doesn't matter whether it is a mare, a sow, a dog, or a goat, if babies are headed out the back door Mom's joints are going to have to loosen or the little ones aren't getting out the barn door. Maybe, that wasn't the proper way to say it, I should of said vulva but I like barn door - its more homey and folksy. Now when your looking at that barn door, shortly before labor it often appears swollen, and pinkish. Much more noticeable on the Saanens I had but Chicory skipped that part of pinkish and swollen and didn't hang slightly open like many I've kidded. Nope, Chicory like so many other goats I've known didn't read all those prenatal books. She didn't have time with all that eating and drinking, and taking all those naps. She leads such a rough life.
So though I've read the books it didn't mean she was going to go by the book. She didn't and though all the triplets were lined up just right, the skin around her vulva never stretched like it should keeping the barn doors locked up tight. Like I said some things just have to happen and those are the things you look for. A loose hanging barn door isn't always one of those things you see but you'll know that there is a problem when nothing comes out.
So I'll go over the have to's and your doe will pick and choose the want to's and don't count on each delivery to be the same. It often isn't.
1. A goat's gestation is around 140 to 150 days. Chicory chose 152 this year. Starting to get the picture?
2. Every goat's joints will loosen in preparation for birth. Now they don't have to get carried away and that means every joint loosen to the point that their joints pop in and out. Yes, Chicory again. For a month before kidding you could hear them pop with each step she took. This made it critical that I keep her hooves trimmed so she was walking as correctly as possible and not stretching out ligaments in the wrong direction. Okay, I slacked off the last week and a half but I didn't think the poor girl could stand on three legs and not fall down.
2. What I was really watching for was the loosening of her rump. The one that was fairly flat before this stage for it will raise higher and higher as birth approaches. Some of my does get to the point where they can't even hold up their tails before going into labor and it flops to the side. This is one of those have too's. The spine has to raise up to allow the birth canal to open.
For the rest of the does who's tails are aren't beyond flaggin, I put my hand on top of the rump near where the tail attaches, grip gently, my fingers curling around the tail bone. If they meet she's really loose. Then I know labor is soon, usually within a few day, most likely 24 to 48 hours. Though don't hold me to it as I've been made a liar more often can I can count by one goat or another.
3. The does udder will be fairly full by now and shortly before labor it will normally stretch to taunt. Oh I've had a few older girls fill half way and then during labor fill the rest of the way up. I even had one old girl that didn't fill all the way up until a couple days after kidding. A yearling's udder has to develop so it will be full when she goes into labor. 4. The mucus plug I thought was a sure sign of going into labor within 12 hours but Chicory slimed for near on to nineteen hours. Don't get excited if you've missed this stage for I often don't see the plug and sometimes it isn't secreted until labor begins. Often it isn't this thick either. Chicory had the slimiest deliver I have ever experience in any species I've worked with. The purpose for it is to plug the entrance causing a barrier against bacteria to prevent it from entering the cervix as it dilates. Dear Chicory went into overdrive on this part and I've still haven't found out the hormone involved in producing this slime -still researching. My leads say oxytocin, anyone know?
5. See that dip in front of Chicory's hip bones. That's the kids dropping into position. With an older doe, Chicory is only two, then this becomes much more pronounced. Alright, yeah, with an older doe this area always looks a bit sucken in but none the less look for a pronounced change.
6. When a doe goes into labor she will paw a great deal. They call it the Nesting Stage. Eventually she will paw and lay down, get up and paw some more and lay down. Unless your Chicory and she skips the laying down on the job position and does it all standing up.
7. When the real thing occurred and the pains were more intense, Chicory moved on to the What Have I Done stage. This is where she pawed the sawdust filling the air with its particles and push her head up against a wall when she was having a contraction. Usually at this stage they aren't laying down during the strongest peak of the pain. I kept looking for an opportunity to catch Chicory showing the whites of her eyes in alarm as the contractions came but alas, I was disappointed. My Saanens were real pros at it.
8. Chicory progressed from the What Have I Done Stage to Oh My Aching Butt. That's when she switched from pressing her head against the plywood to pressing her rump against it. It wasn't long before she started to lift a hind leg in pain when there was a really good contractions. With young doelings, they often cock their heads and stare back in bewilderment at their stomachs. A what is going on back their look. 9. Even more than all these signs, I'm looking for the increased arch in the rump. This is Chicory having a strong contraction. This rounding arch will become higher and higher as the spine raises to allow the kids to progress out through the birth canal.
The spine will be standing up now, a hollow indent on each side. Then comes the water bag but we've already gone beyond this point so... that's where I'm stopping.
What have I missed oh wise ones?