Since I made the decision last spring that I was going to breed Karen I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of breeding season. I have been biding my time, "prepping her" for her upcoming pregnancy by making sure her selenium, copper, and other vitamin levels are where they should be. Deficiency in such nutrients can not only affect her ability to be bred, but also the size and health of her litter. I also started paying attention to her heat cycle to know her signs, so I could track it and anticipate when she may potentially go into heat as the time got closer to arrange a date with her boyfriend. Animals certainly are unpredictable, and despite my best efforts to track her cycle and know her signs of heat, it proved to be more of a challenge than I thought.
Seeing as how this is the first year I'm jumping into the kidding pool, I opted for late spring kids, shooting for the April - May range. I am not comfortable nor confident enough at this point to bring some February and March babies into the world when winter still has its hooks in us. I have done the whole hypothermia thing with Karen before and I tell ya, it's no picnic. I can't imagine dealing with that and a newborn kid. Nigerian Dwarfs have a ~150 day gestation period, so in order to have April/May babies, that means Karen has to be bred in November/December.
Once November rolled around I was on high alert for signs of her being in heat. A wether (Alan) really can come in handy for this as he will try and mount her, even though he doesn't have the equipment to back it up. Because does are in standing heat for only 24-48 hours, it's a small window of opportunity to recognize the signs and get her to the buck for a visit. After three separate instances where I thought Karen might be in heat, putting her in the truck, and driving her to my friend's farm only to have her wanting absolutely nothing to do with the buck, I knew this wasn't going to work. We both suspected that being taken away from her home followed by a 25 minute car ride was stressing her out, making her anxious and unwilling to be bred. That left us with our only other option which was to bring the buck to her.
So for the rest of the afternoon I kept checking in on them and making sure everything was going smoothly, and it was. Well, later on that afternoon I was heading out to go to the store and I went to check on everyone first and caught Karen and Pendalton right in the middle of the act. She was in full blown, standing heat showing every text book sign. Flagging her tail, nuzzling and nudging him with the occasional head butt, and standing like a statue for him. Just a mere three hours after bringing him home she went from showing zero interest in him, to standing heat. She was bred numerous times that afternoon, as well as the next day.
Pendalton's visit was cut extremely short, and only ended up staying for a couple days rather than a couple weeks. Having a bred date of 12/2, I am able to draw blood from Karen on New Years Day - 30 days after, to send to a lab and be tested for the pregnancy hormone. Fingers crossed that Pendalton's visit albiet short, was effective. Stay tuned for the results!
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