PENDLETON, Ore. — After five months of pregnancy, “Magnificent Mary” was so big she could barely walk.
Finally on March 24, the nanny Nigerian dwarf goat was ready to give birth. She had four kids in just half an hour, which was remarkable enough. But it was the fifth that came an hour later and really took Mary’s owners, Richard and Jeannie Prowse, by surprise.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Richard Prowse said. “It just blew my mind when number five popped out.”
The Prowses, who live outside Pendleton, have raised dairy goats for 30 years and they’ve never seen quintuplets before. Goats usually have between one and three kids per litter, but five are extremely rare; the odds are about one in 10,000, according to one estimate.
As Mary — short for Marigold — got bigger and bigger, Jeannie Prowse said she knew multiple births were coming. Prowse thought triplets or maybe even quadruplets were possible, but she certainly didn’t count on delivering quintuplets.
“It was total shock and surprise,” Jeannie Prowse said. “It’s pretty sensational to have five live babies.”
All of the kids survived, and on March 30 they were already prancing and jumping lively around the Prowses’ red barn in front of their house. There’s Minnie and Benson (who was born back-end first, Mariota (named after the former Oregon Ducks quarterback), Polly and fifth and final: Cinco.
In all, Marigold gave birth to three billies and two does, each one inheriting the striking blue eyes of their father, Picasso. The Prowses say they will likely keep both females for their herd, which is registered with the American Dairy Goat Association. The rest they will sell the others to families looking for a pet or 4-H animal.
Nigerian dwarf goats are smaller and easier to handle, Jeannie Prowse said, but still deliver a good amount of milk for their size. The Prowses use goat milk to make cheese, yogurt and are venturing into making soap.
It will take two months to wean the quintuplets off their mother. Until then, Jeannie Prowse watches closely over the babies, bottle feeding when they’re hungry and setting up a heating lamp in the pen where they huddle up to sleep.
Successful breeding starts with good genetics and ends with good feeding and care, she said.
“We’ve always worked hard at what we do,” Jeannie Prowse said. “And then, when something like this happens, we just feel very blessed.”