It wasn’t as if baby goats weren’t expected. But quadruplets? And then, just days later, quintuplets?
Nine baby goats born to two mothers in one week!
That is just what the Nappa family experienced at their Southold farm earlier this month.
“They’re really rare,” said Sarah Nappa, who, along with her husband, Anthony, raises goats at their Shared Table Farmhouse. She said she read an article that placed the odds of goat quintuplets being born at one in 10,000, “so maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.”
The owners of Anthony Nappa Wines in Peconic have been raising goats on their farm for four years. They have Nigerian Dwarf goats, a smaller breed of West African origin that has the appearance of larger breeds because of their balanced proportions. That breed of goats don’t stand taller than two feet and have an ideal weight of about 75 pounds, according to goats.extension.org.
Shared Table Farmhouse encompasses a little under three acres. “It’s mostly just a homestead for us, but we raise chickens for eggs and a couple of ducks for eggs,” said Sarah Nappa, a Southold Town Board member and trained chef, who, like her husband, studied agriculture in school. “We have bees for honey. We have a large vegetable and fruit garden and we have an orchard.”
And they have goats (not to mention a horse and a pony).
Some new additions arrived May 10 around 3 a.m. when a doe named Maisie gave birth and delivered some surprises. Goats typically give birth to two or three kids at a time, Nappa said. So, she thought it was extraordinary when Maisie had quadruplets.
Then, about four days later, something even more extraordinary happened. Another doe, Poppy, had been in labor all day and into the night.
“Then, around 9:30 at night, it was go time,” said Nappa, who acted as a midwife in the birthing stall. “She started to deliver the first one. It took a long time. It was a little bit tricky, and he came out pretty exhausted. I did have to really syringe out a lot of stuff, and the next two came pretty quickly and I thought, ‘OK, there we go. This should be about it.’ And then there was a fourth one. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh? What are the chances that we’re going to have two sets of quads?’ And then, as I’m doing that, then I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh! She’s having another one.’ And here comes the fifth one. I was like, so overwhelmed. My husband came out and brought me some more towels, and I was like, ‘There’s five!’ ”
Typically, newborns weigh two to three pounds. The quintuplets later weighed in between 1.3 pounds and 1.9 pounds, standing about six inches tall and less than a foot in length.
All told, four female goats on the farm had 14 babies within 10 days of each other. The total number of goats on the property rose to 24. With so many mouths to feed, Nappa said she supplemented the feedings of the newborns by milking another female goat.
Not only are goats known for being good pets, but pure white goat’s milk is sweeter than cow’s milk and its high milk-fat ratio is good for making cheese, yogurt, ice cream and butter, said Nappa.
Also, the goats maintain the property in their own way.
“They basically fertilize for free,” Nappa said. “They mow down the weeds and they keep the property nice. So, we’re always moving them around and they do the work for you. I mean, I love it. That’s how farming used to be a hundred years ago. You would have animals do the work for you.”
The baby goats, which are all for sale (for more information, contact [email protected]), are popular with the Nappas’ young sons, Leo, 7, and Enzo, 5.
All the mothers and their offspring are reported to be doing well. That includes Poppy, the mother of the quintuplets.
“I feel like, when they’re all around her, she is just kind of looking around like, ‘Are they all here?’ ” Nappa said. “There’s a little bit of [a] flabbergasted [look] on her face, but she’s a great mom. She’s really attentive to all the babies. She’s really patient. She stands there and lets them all eat.”
Nappa sounded relieved that the stressful period was over.
“It was a crazy couple of weeks,” she said. “It was a lot of sleepless nights and waiting for these little ones to arrive. Now at least I can get some rest — at night anyway.”