So far we have been quite blessed with time to rest between kiddings. That is bound to change this coming week. Three does bundled together to kid on Feb 26 and 27 and two more to follow on March 3 (littermate sisters due on the same day) - I expect to be swimming in babies.
Considering herd dynamis, I am not putting fresh does back with heavy bred does so I am transitioning groups into temporary housing until we are finished with kidding season and I have narrowed down my keepers. Christie and Zia moved into their new lodgings today - they are quite happy to have the space for themselves and I am happy about a new gate that swings open smoothly to get them in and out at milking time.
Millie, Truffle and Fern - my next kidding bunch - have also moved into their VIP housing today. So much easier to check on does in the shed than it is in a crowded barn and I may stick to this system if it works. I am not a fan of kidding stalls, that is moving a doe in labor or close to her due date into a separate stall away from herd mates and often in surroundings she is not familiar with. Many of mine have kidded right in the barn, in pasture or on a hill in their pen with the entire herd there ... but with a 3 month span of kidding season and does ranging from senior to first fresheners, the herd dynamics are changing fast and I had to make adjustments.
I have a 12x12 shed that comfortably houses 2-3 does. It is located right north of our back door and very convenient for evening checks. We can also run an extension cord out for a small utility heater to keep comfortable while on baby watch. The does are only locked up at night and allowed to roam the rest of the day which ensures plenty of excercise in late pregnancy. I moved Christie and Zia about a month out of their due date and they have just now vacated the shed and moved into a small pen adjoining the doe pen. They can see and interact with the rest of the herd and are on different feed regiment (milk stand grain) than the rest of the pregnant girls. My first fresheners and younger does in the barn in their late gestation would be no match for a returning herd queen who already sheded her baby weight - so not to encourage fighting, I am keeping Christie and Zia separated for now.
Millie, Fern and Truffle will stay and kid in the shed - they are getting more attention this way, I can monitor eating and they don't have to compete for feed with the rest of the herd. Shed is heavily bedded with straw for comfort and warmth - this has been a win-win solution so far with our limited space availability and I will post updates on how it's working for us. Most of my older milkers will be sold this year as the first fresheners take their place so not everyone will be returning to the main barn, but eventually all milkers will go back as usual and all junior dry stock will occupy another pen, leaving me 4 pens to tend to - milkers, juniors, bucks and babies.
Always work in progress :) Below a couple of candids of the girls in their winter fuzzies, carrying their wide load, making tiny little udders or filling their big ones, huffing and puffing as they shove at the feeders. And they are about as candid as they get - with muddy wet ground that gives under their hooves, posty legs as the ligaments relax and those hairy tails - no glam here until spring time with green grass, baths and summer hair cuts :) I don't clip udders until they are in milk since I am yet to figure out how to shave "dry raisins", lol.