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BRED DOES & THE LABOR PROCESS:
So your doe is bred, congratulations! Does need more care then their male counterparts while they are pregnant.
Some people breed their does twice a year, I don't recommend it and am highly against it! My reasons why are because the does become wore out quick, don't live as long, have problems kidding, end up having a too big or low udder that causes nursing problems, end up getting sick easier and take more time and care. Does should be allowed to get as much exercise as possible during pregnancy, does who are locked up or put into small pens tend to have a lot more problems with the pregnancy and kidding because they can't move around, there is no doctor in the world who would tell a healthy pregnant woman to not exercise and be confined to a small pen with nothing to do. Goats are herd animals and it really stresses them out if they are kept by themselves. However, if a doe is due, and weather or first time mother is a factor you can pen her up at night and let her out during the day, that way she still gets exercise, but in case she goes into labor at night (happens alot) or the weather is bad you don't have to worry. Also, I prefer to put the bucks in with the does in late October/early November. The does will then start kidding in April, and should be done by June if you only leave the buck in for two months, enough time for two heat cycles. If the kids are born mainly in April/May, that gives the doe 6-7 months after kidding to get body weight back on and recover from it. I don't like having kids in the winter, it is harder on the does and the kids, you have to worry about frost bite, pneumonia, and ketosis more because the kids grow the most in the last month, and the doe hardly gets any nutrients at all. Then it is harder for her to recover and care for her kids. I've seen breeders who have had to bottle feed kids born in the winter, end up losing the mother, and often the kids. The goats get shut up in a barn and get sick and end up dying or needing to be treated when avoiding winter kids will prevent this. Plus the kids can't play, and if locked in pens, can get lice that will stunt their growth. I know of one breeder who breeds their does twice a year, the does get no more then two months of rest (while the kids are nursing) then are rebred. They are kept in small pens in a old dairy barn for the last month, will no room to move around. Then when the kids are born and the doe needs a C-section or the kids are weak and have to be bottle fed or both the dam and kids die, the breeder doesn't understand why the goats need all this extra care. Also the kids have lice all over them, the dams have no time to recover from the stress of being pregnant and giving birth.
I breed for goats who can kid without trouble, take care of their kids, recover quickly because they aren't confined for more then two days (to bond and I also make sure they get supplements in their drinking water and so they don't have to fight for grain) and then are back with the herd. The kids are able to run and play as much as they like, and I've never had a lice problem on them. Let the goats be goats and you will have far less problems then if you stick them in a small pen and treat them like cattle or sheep!
If you have bossy does, you might want to pen them away from younger or more submissive does so they don't get pushed around.
Some common problems of pregnant does.
Here are some common problems in pregnant does:
Abortions can be caused by bacterial or viral organisms, by the existence of specific conditions, by using certain medications, or by other factors.
Chlamydia (bacteria) and Herpes (virus) are two of the many disease that can cause does to abort. Abortion diseases include Leptospirosis, Salmonellosis, Q Fever, Listeriosis, Toxoplasmosis, Campylobacteriosis,and more. Infected cats transmit Toxoplasmosis in their feces. Keep grain covered and don't feed hay with cat droppings on it. Goats abort more easily then other species of animals so care must be taken to keep them healthy and in good sanitary conditions.
When several abortions occur around the same time, it is called an abortion storm. You should save as many fetuses and placental matter to be examined by a caprine vet or pathologist. There are diseases that can be transmitted to humans, so handle any aborted kids or matter with gloves.
Abortions can occur when a doe is butted by another goat, by disease, or if the fetus is deformed. While it is sad, in the long run it is the best for the dam and the kid(s). Aggressive does should be dehorned or penned away from pregnant does.
A wormy doe is usually anemic, and since the worms in her system are getting all the nutrients from her feed and not allowing her body to process them, the doe can abort the kids. Make sure you keep the pregnant does dewormed. Both Ivomec and Safe-guard is SAFE for pregnant does. Valbazen WILL cause abortions in pregnant does but can be given right after birth, and the doe should be dewormed after kidding, as the worms in her system become the most active and can start draining her of more blood.
Unfortunately there are not a lot of drugs, medicines, dewormer or vaccines approved for goats on the market. Goats are browsers and are closer cousins to deer then sheep and cattle. Many sheep vaccines are dangerous to goats, although the Casous D-T vaccine for CL has been used by me and I have not lost any goats to it. Your best bet is to call the manufacturer of the product you are unsure of to obtain correct information on giving it to goats.
List of supplies to have on hand when the doe starts to go into labor:
Phone Number of an experienced person who has handle goat births before.
Empty feed bags:
Birthing is a messy and feed bags are good to deliver on. They can be removed once they're soiled and replaced with dry. Have at least 4 per doe ready.
Two rolls per doe. Use these to get the initial glop off the babies and dry them.
Big garbage bag:
For the soiled towels, bags and afterbirth.
Use the flashlight to check that the kid is in the correct position when the bubble first appears. Hold the flashlight behind the bubble and shine it through the bubble. This will light up the whole thing and you can see much better how the kid is positioned. Hopefully you see two feet.
Knife or scissors:
To pop the bubble and cut the umbilical cord, if necessary. It is not always necessary to "pop the bubble", but it is good to be prepared.
To sterilize the knife or scissors, if necessary.
So you can wash up just in case you have to "go in". Use Betadine Veterinary Surgical Scrub.
Just in case you need to wash up.
To dip the kids navels. Do this as soon after birth as possible. Dipping the umbilical cord and naval in 7% iodine keeps out naval ill and any other bacteria that may travel up the cord. It also helps the cord to dry faster.
Empty film canisters:
These are perfect to put the iodine in to dip the navels.
To tie the umbilical cord, if necessary.
Pritchard teat & clean pop bottle:
To give the kid his first meal if he is having trouble feeding on his own but can still nurse.
Weak lamb or kid syringe:
To feed the kid if he is too weak to nurse on his own.
"Quiet" Hair Blow Drier:
You can now get models that are relatively quite (or at least not as loud). Use the drier to finish getting the kids dry, especially if you are going to put sweaters on them. If it is cold, the newborn kids usually like the warmth of the drier. The extra warmth can help "jump start" slightly weak kids and helps get the blood flowing to weak legs.
Actual birthing process:
Follow the link to see an actual goat birth.
If all goes well, you will have kids in about 146-155 days of gestation. Some does, especially with multiple kids, will give birth earlier, while others may go longer. Sometimes it just depends on the goat!
Stages of Goat Fetal Development:
* Heartbeat audible at 20 days' gestation
* Limb buds visible at 28-35 days' gestation
* Digits identifiable (cloven hooves) at 35-42 days' gestation
* Eyes and Nostrils differentiated at 42-49 days' gestation
* Eyelids close at 49-56 days' gestation
* Horn pits appear at 77-84 days' gestation
* Hair around Eyes and Muzzle is visible at 98-105 days' gestation
* Teeth erupt through gums at 98-105 days' gestation
* Body hair occurs at 119-126 days' gestation
Sometimes kids are born premature which can be cause by a doe being hit or butted by another doe and abort. These kids have a very poor chance of living. Or sometimes the kid is malformed and it is the body's way of ridding the gene pool of a faulty goat.
Signs of labor:
Most of the time before labor approaches the doe will have a very full and swollen udder, and can start to become more aggressive towards other goats as she nears the end of her pregnancy. She will often start to hang back from the herd about a week before she is due. She will also start eating less as the kid(s) began their ascent to the birth canal. About 24 hours before kidding her ligaments (the muscles that run down either side of her tail bone) will loosen and feel soft. To check these, have the doe face away from you and put the heel of you hand on her rump with your fingers facing downwards towards her tail. Now on either side of the tail bone you should feel the string-like muscles, if they are very soft she is 24 hours off. If you can't feel them at all and can almost put your fingers around the tail bone, then labor is 10-12 hours off. During the first stages of labor she will be more reluctant to walk, and will lie down and get up quite a bit. A long thick string of clear to murky white or yellow mucus will usually start to hang from her vulva. When the water breaks she will start to lie down and really push, often stretching out on her side with all four feet extended. The bubble will appear and disappear quite a few times before appearing fully, and at that time you should be able to see the head/legs of the kid. When any doe kids make sure she can be away from the rest of the herd to avoid stress and rejection or confusion of the kids. Birth can come very quickly, but if she doesn't have the first kid an hour after the water breaks you may need to go in and feel what is wrong, kids can become twisted, be born backwards or have a leg or head turned back. It can also take up to hour between kids as well. Most births are normal; the head is between the front feet in what looks like a person doing a dive. They can also be born breech, meaning they are born backwards, hind feet first. The breech position is actually easier on the doe as the head and shoulders aren't forced as soon through the cervix. Some births can have a kid born normal, and the other kid can be breech. I have had a set of twins like that and both are healthy and normal.
If the first kid is not born within an hour of labor, you or your vet needs to reach in and feel what is wrong. You will want to scrub your hands with soap and water, and wearing clean rubber gloves are even better, as it helps prevent the transition of bacteria. To make it easier and less painful on the doe, use ether KY Jelly or another gentle lubricant. You must be gentle when moving kids as it is very easy to injure the doe or her kids. Plus infection is also a major factor when doing this. Have someone hold the doe in a standing position; it will make it easier to feel what is going on inside and also to not put so much pressure on your hand. Gently insert your fingers and hand into the birth canal, working your way upwards. You should be able to feel a kid, ether by the hooves or the head. A live kid should suck on your finger if you put it in its mouth. The front feet and the head should be close together, and if you need to pull, do so above the knee to reduce the possibility of damage to the joints. Pull downwards, not straight out gently, and pull as the doe pushes.
When the kid hits the ground, clean its nose and mouth of any fluid and then stand back to let the doe examine her kid. If the doe is weak or is starting to push another kid out make sure the first kid can breathe and keep an eye on it. If you needed to pull the first kid, the second one should come out easier as the second is often smaller then the first. Plus the cervix has been stretched more to make it easier as well.
Sometimes a birth is hard, and the kid has a hard time breathing. You can take a piece of clean hay or straw and gently poke it into the kid's nostril. The kid should shake its head and start sneezing the fluids out. Holding the kid upside down by its hind legs may sound cruel but will make fluid removal quicker. Once the fluids are out return the kid to its dam. Sometimes a difficult birth cause by Cesarean Section or a vaginal delivery, giving 1/10th's of a cc of respiratory prescription Doprem under the kid's tongue is a good way to get the kid breathing like it should. Normally as the kid is being pushed through the birth canal, fluid is squeezed from the kid's body. But with a C-Section or if the kid remains in the doe longer then an hour it will not happen. Does shouldn't be moved from were their water broke, as they will do everything in their power to get back to that site. Do not separate the doe and kids until she has cleaned and fed them, smelling is one way the kids and doe bond, vocalizations are another. In bad weather a expectant doe should be put in a small three foot by three foot pen to kid, then you don't have to worry about them getting separated or not bonding. A heat lamp can be wired with wire, not string, on a corner of the pen, make sure it is high enough that the doe won't burn herself. As icky as it might seem, you should give the doe a chance to eat her placenta when she passes it. Not only does it replace lost nutrients and protein, it will also make her milk come in quicker and easier for the kids to nurse. If the doe eats part or none of the placenta and you can tell she is done with it, bury or burn it to avoid attracting flies or other pests. In the pen straw or hay should be used as bedding. Pine shavings stick easier to wet kids and it is harder for the doe to clean them. It can also plug their noses and irritate their eyes. Cedar shavings should NEVER be used as they are toxic.
Colostrum is the first milk any mammal produces for its young. In it the dam passes antibodies, jumpstarts the digestive, immune and respiratory systems. If a kid doesn't receive colostrum or a colostrum REPLACER (not supplement) the chances are slim the kid will make it. A kid that does is often smaller and more likely to get diseases.
All kids should get at least 10-15% of it's body weight of colostrum in the first twelve hours of life, after that the body is unable to digest it. Ideally colostrum should be obtained during the first two hours of life and should get a half to a full ounce of colostrum for each pound of body weight. If you notice the kid having trouble getting milk the dam might have a teat which is plugged. Gently scrape off the plug using your clean fingernail. It won't hurt to strip a little milk out to get the teat working again.
Sometimes kid early in fetal development dies inside of the doe. If there is another living kid behind the dead one they will both likely die in utero. Does usually deliver the dead kids, however if she fails to she can die from toxins from the decaying kids. If you suspect dead kids you should call a vet right away. Afterbirth should be passed shortly after her last kid is born. If you know it has not been passed and not simply been ate, you should give a shot of the prescription drug Ocytocin. But it needs to be given within eight hours of kidding, as like humans the cervix closes quickly after the last kid. Does will have bloody discharge for up to two weeks after kidding. It is normal and it is the body's way of ridding the doe of the remaining residues from the birthing process. Anytime you have to go into the doe's body you can introduce bacteria and cause an infection. Give 2cc per 50# of body weight of Benzanthine Penicillin five days in a row. You can also spray the doe's vulvas with gentle iodine to prevent bacteria from getting in.
Aborted kids should be checked as soon as possible by a vet to make sure that a bacteria or virus isn't infecting your herd. Keep the kid's or fetus's body cool, but not frozen along with any placental matter.