Marble Creek Acres

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Artificial Insemination Update

Momma Echo and Gma Taho helicoptering
By Amelia Crise

By Amelia Crise

As the year speeds on by into May, we are just about finished up with our kidding season. In years past we’ve been pretty even, percentage wise, between doelings and bucklings. Surprisingly, this year we’ve had a record number of bucklings, 77.78% and just 22.22% doelings...must be something in the water this year. The different groups that we belong to on social media suggest that a lot of other Kiko producers are experiencing similar outcomes this year also. Fortunately, we have had more customers interested in bucklings for pack goats and pulling carts for work around the farm, rather than doelings, this year; thus far, anyways, and of course we are seeing a glimpse of increased prices for meat too the last few months.

Each month, either myself, my dad, or my mom write for The Goat Rancher. We pick whatever topics we feel like discussing each month. It has become a great way to share our thoughts, as well as, collect more information about the goating world that may help us later on. Once and awhile, maybe every couple of months, someone reaches out, generally via email, with questions about our articles. It could be about winter water, tanning hides, or even interest in this years’ kids. I have actually had five inquiries about my last AI article! Most were interested about the general process and how it worked on a smaller ranch, but some allowed and wanted me to go into greater detail about the process and my experience. This was perfect for me! It allowed me to discuss the process and think on things in the off season. All in all, it seemed to be a very popular topic, so I thought I would let the May issue of The Goat Rancher function as an update on our AI experience.

Taho was growing rounder and rounder; we were sure she was holding at least two hostages. There are several of our does that allow us to “feel the kids”, relishing the human attention, while the little ones are growing inside! Taho, however, is NOT one of those does! She does not allow us to even come close to her or give her a good scratching and especially, not feel the kids. The closer her due date got, the more excited I became. My first AI kids!

Taho kidded on March 6th, four days early. Concerning but not unheard of. Typically, our Kikos kid right at 150 days +/- a day. She kidded a beautiful buckling and doeling. Mom exclaimed, “that’s a belted kid!” Almost immediately they were working on getting up and moving around. The second, the doeling, was a little more unstable, as we generally see with the second born. But even she was up in a matter of minutes, bumping around for milk. Both were able to get their colostrum fix all on their own, get dried off by their dam and generally were mobile in about 10 minutes with the constant attention from momma.

We are unsure of exactly what caused the early delivery. Unfortunately, something just wasn’t right. Neither of the kids survived. While both the kids were immediately up and milking, within ten minutes of doing so, each basically keeled over. It wasn't a temperature issue with the kids. Sometimes kids aren’t able to maintain their temp in 0 degree weather or below well or momma isn’t able to lick fast enough to get them dried before they cool. We have stalls for kidding but our herd isn’t penned up. They have an open air style barn so we try to be handy should their be an issue, especially with the low temps. In this case though, they simply died within about five minutes of each other. We'd had 21 kids so far at that point, and only a problem with those two. With only two dams left to kid, no other problems have arisen with delivery.

The only thing we can think of is that the antibiotics we had to give Taho caused her to deliver early and the kids weren't ready or the antibiotics somehow played a role in something not forming right within the kids. About two weeks before Taho kidded, she got pneumonia, had a temperature of 106, and was completely down...not eating, barely moving, letting us touch her, very odd since she is not a people goat, so it was easy to tell something was up. We had temperatures that fluctuated from the upper 40s to way below zero overnight. After a dose of antibiotics, the next day she was up, eating and moving just fine. Two weeks later, she kidded, and the kids died. Very disappointing to have kids die with any goat, but especially disappointing as it was my AI doe.

For about two weeks after Taho’s kids died, she continued to call for them. Quite sad to say the least to our human ears. Fortunately, she found something new to worry about. Taho’s doeling Echo from two seasons ago had kids nine days after her, a doeling and a buckling. Echo is a fantastic mom, which doesn’t come as a surprise at all. Her kids just keep packing on the pounds. So much so, it seemed they had two moms. What do you know? They do!

About a week and a half after Aral and Inle, Echo’s kids, were born, Taho sort of adopted them. It seemed that just as Crazy Horse fed from the breasts of every woman in his tribe, so too do these kids...well, kind of. They certainly get more milk than the other kids. We have heard this happens sometimes, but have never actually seen it on our own farm. Taho protects and feeds those kids just like they are her own. Echo continues to care for her kids. It’s kind of a tag team effort. They all sleep together usually with Mom and Grandma sandwiching them in between. Taho frets over her grandkids, helicoptering almost, while Echo gets a chance to eat in peace. It is actually quite fascinating and has been entertaining to say the least. While it seemed Taho was kind of lost when her kids died, she seems appeased again with her grandkids to worry over.

It has definitely been a learning year when it comes to Artificial Insemination and goat birth. While we have had a kid stillborn before, we have never had kids that were so alert, mobile and doing well that turned so suddenly. It was very unfortunate losing kids, both for business reasons and personally, but it has served as a learning experience for all of us on the farm. All we can do is keep learning in hopes of better operating our farm and providing the goats great lives while they are with us, as short a time as that might be. Definitely not the result I was hoping for this year, but I am excited to have another go at infusing new genetics into our herd next fall through the use of cervical artificial insemination, hopefully with better results! We will be sure to update everyone next fall when we start our AI protocols again. Happy kidding to all the producers out there!

(Josh and Kathy Crise, and their grown children, Amelia and Kevin, operate Marble Creek Acres in Lee, Maine. For interest in a future year’s Kiko waitlist, questions, or if you have topics you might like to read about in a future Goat Rancher, we can be reached at 207-619-3758, email [email protected] or