During the night Branwen dropped her first kid! This little buckling has been christened “Gwern”, the son of Branwen in Irish legend. If you remember, Branwen and Bran were born on St. Patrick’s Day, so the twins were named after twins in the Irish pantheon. Gwern also means “Alder” in Welsh. Though the story is tragic, like most legends of the time, we hope to see Gwern shining in his golden light as a strong new member of the herd at Leafhopper Farm. He’s already stolen our hearts and showed that even in cold weather, goats are so hardy and strong from the moment they’re born. Branwen also deserves major shout outs. She dropped her kid like clockwork, and had no complications. Both mother and kid are thriving, and Gwern is already trying to eat alfalfa with his mother and grandmother.
Brownie is about to pop, though with her, it could be another week before she’s ready to kid. I gave up on the calendar date, which passed two weeks ago. This was the first year I tracked the gestation of my goats, and obviously, I was off on when Brownie was actually bred. In watching her udder expand, I would say she’s due by next week at the latest, and though I will not bet on that, I will be prepared for the second kidding.
Our herd should have three new kids by Spring, and that will be the most goats we’ve had in our small herd. We’re now breeding a ADGA registered Nigerian Dwarf buck “Brockstaro” to our ABGA registered Boer does. The genetics should give us a great dual purpose breed. Though Leafhopper Farm does not wish to become a dairy, we will enjoy more fresh goat milk from our does. After the kids beguine eating solid food, we’ll take a mason jar or two from full udders from time to time, without starving the babes.
If Brownie does drop triplets, a lot of hard work will go into bottle raising one of the three. Goats only have two teats to feed kids, and the third kid will be left out of the feeding and starve if not raised by people with a bottle, or, if you are lucky, a doe with only one kid adopts the other one. Since Branwen is only in her first freshening (breeding), she will not be able to support two kids in a healthy way. Therefor, we’re stuck bottle feeding if triplets are born. Having more kids than you can feed seems counter productive to survival, and I would agree, but remember we’re working with highly domesticated genetics, in which people see numbers as the end game. We’re always wanting more, so we engineer it in our animals for ultimate production on an industrial scale. Biology can only be pushed so far, and goats only have two working udders, not 3, or 4. Trust me when I say if that was possible, the milking industry would have done it a long time ago.
We’ll keep breeding goats for the long term work of browsing back blackberry at Leafhopper Farm. The genetic diversity of our herd will continue as we breed down size and focus on good milk production too. We’ll continue to hold our numbers under 8 animals at any given time, to protect the overall health of the goats, and the land they live on.