Labor Pens

The leaves are changing colors, the days are getting cooler, and at feeding time a certain smell is in the air... especially by the buck pen.

This can only mean one thing... breeding season is sneaking up on us. As I prepare for the upcoming season, I can't help but reflect on last year. Several things happened during our rookie year that I want to learn from and implement some solutions so I don't end up in the same position I found myself in last January.

It was our first full-fledged kidding season. We had delivered once prior but not in the mass quantities we did in 2019. The first two does went fairly smoothly. With some help of a dear friend, we were able to get through them and deliver in total 4 healthy babies.

I was feeling on top of the world. I could do anything. I remember falling to sleep that night with a new sense of pride and confidence.  The next morning we went to do chores and check on our new arrivals and everyone was doing wonderfully. After the last few days of 10 degree temperatures, we welcomed this beautiful 60 degree Colorado day.

After chores, my daughter Aslyn and myself decided to eat some breakfast and then we would take advantage of this beautiful day and clean the barn. After-all, there wouldn't be very many days this winter that we didn't need five layers of clothes on. I did receive a little resistance from Aslyn since her best friend was visiting from California and it was her birthday, but after a few minutes it was decided that we would get some things done so we could celebrate her friend's birthday that evening.

As I pulled up to the barn in our 4-wheeler (you may refer to this as an ATV). I quickly realized that something was wrong. The mom who had given birth the previous night was with one of her babies in the corner and her second baby was laying by himself in a different spot. His body seemed life-less. I scooped him up, wrapped a towel around him, put him in my jacket and ran to the house.

If you want to read ALL the details on Moo's recovery and what we did, feel free to read the entire post here, but for the point of this story, I am going to fast forward a little.

That evening, I decided I would not be able to participate in Aslyn's friend's celebrations because of the little buckling that was quite honestly circling the drain. I encouraged the family to continue on into town for her birthday dinner and it was decided that my oldest adult-daughter Kellie would stay home with me and we would deal with the buckling. The best thing I could hope for at this point was that he would die while the kids were gone so I could have his body and all the not so pretty things taken care of by the time the girls returned. That being said, I hadn't lost all hope yet so I would continue to do what I could for him.

Since we were feeding him his mom's colostrum with a syringe and my supply was running out, I ran out to the barn to milk "mom" to replenish his stash. I pulled into the barn hopped in the pen that was holding Gia and started to milk her.

Out of no where I hear a yell that was undeniably one of pain and suffering and a tiny little bleat coming from the next pen. "Holly (insert swear words here)", I screamed and immediately called Kellie who was still in the house taking care of the sick baby.

"You are going to have to empty a laundry basket and put the baby in there for a minute, make sure to wrap him in plenty of towels and the heating pad in on him and come out here to get the milk".

"Why?" she asked.

"Enlighten is having her babies and I can't leave her because Gina is in the same pen with her as a companion and she not happy that a baby has joined the party" I replied.

Right THEN I looked over at Gina who had begun to sort of squat if you will.

"Oh no" I thought "not you too!"

By the time Kellie got out there to grab the milk in what was now a 7 degree night (so much for that beautiful Colorado day, right?), Enlighten had another baby and Gina was working on her second baby. I was smack dab in the middle of two moms in one pen delivering babies at the same time.

With a call to a friend who also had access to my barn cameras we got through all of the drama and saved the sick baby inside but I vowed that I will never have more moms due then I have labor pens for (which was really the whole point to this story to begin with).

The moral of this story (especially if you are new to breeding) is:

NEVER HAVE MORE MOMS DUE THAN YOU HAVE SEPARATE LABOR PENS FOR.

No judgement... it was my first year AND I learned from it

I found myself very nervous as I still had 14 more does to kid before my season was over. I made some adjustments, well the best I could under short notice and was glad I did because later in the season I had two more does deliver simultaneously. This time I had separate pens though! Temporary as they were.

This year you won't catch that happening to me again without being adequately prepared!