Two teats good, one teat bad!
One teat bad! As any breast-feeding mum will tell you, both sides need milking out.
Uppermost, or more to the point, uddermost in June’s mind for several weeks after a doe has kidded. If the newborn get into the habit of drinking off only one side, then that’s one teat bad – bad for the mums and bad for us.
Minnie’s udder is lopsidedly deformed because the one kid she had four years ago only ever drank off the one side. June’s efforts at milking out the other side on a daily basis all came to nothing when Minnie gave birth a few days before we had to stay in Queenstown for a couple of nights to sell our felt products during the day at the Arts and Crafts Market.
The kid hadn’t taken any milk from one teat the entire time we’d been away, and the left chamber of the udder had ballooned out to an alarming degree. Painfully tight and with a distended and tender teat, Minnie’s goat understanding wasn’t up to the job of knowing what was needed anymore. All she knew was that she was in great discomfort and didn’t want her kid or anyone or anything near that teat.
It took tied back legs, gentle massaging of the udder, and 10 minutes of gently coaxing down of the milk by June before the udder was emptied. But the damage had been done. The ligament suspending the udder was permanently stretched and weakened and a valve no longer controlled the release of milk into the udder – it just flowed straight on in to this unsightly bag.
For the months that Minnie was in milk, we could go away for only two nights. The need to milk out that side so regularly sure didn’t work in our favour, but at least it meant that Minnie remained healthy and free of mastitis.
At a first kidding, does will often have just the one. We hoped that Minnie, a mum several times over, would have healthy twins this season and that June would be able to get the kids into the habit of drinking off both sides. It hadn’t worked last year because, although she had twins, one had a blunt, deformed snout and died a few days after birth. Despite June’s best efforts, she couldn’t get the healthy kid to drink off the distended side. A couple of nights away and it would be close to dragging on the ground!
“Minnie’s had a big, healthy-looking girl,” June said. Just the one – now that’s a truth that hurts. But who honestly knows what nature and nurture are up to? And this time round the surprise was a pleasant one.
I leave my desk to ask June whether the kid, now two weeks old, is drinking off both sides. “All milked out – made the udder look pretty normal. And while Minnie was in the shed, stretched high on her back legs to get at some hay, the kid was having another go at sucking on the teat on the bad side and Minnie didn’t mind.”
One teat bad not so bad after all! Should be able to wangle three nights away camping with family at Okains Bay on the Banks Peninsula – no problem.