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SIGNS OF HEAT & BREEDING:
A doe in heat will indicate her breeding interest by wagging her tail rapidly for the buck ("flagging"). Her urine contains pheromones which tell the buck that she is ready to breed.
A doe's heat cycle is approximately every 18-21 days.
Signs of heat: (A doe may exhibit any, all, or none of these signs)
* "Flagging" (wagging) her tail.
* Mounting other does.
* Letting other does mount her.
* Letting herself get beat up without defending herself.
* Having a "crush" on another doe.
* No interest in feed.
* Swollen and/or pink rear end.
* Mucous discharge from her vagina
* Tail hair is wet and/or clumped together.
* Baaing for no reason.
A doe's heat lasts anywhere from 6 hours to 3
days depending on the doe.
Bucks will urinate upon their faces, beards, and front legs. They will then approach the flagging doe and she will squat and urinate, thus making them place their noses in the stream of urine. Raising his head high and turning it from side to side, the buck will curl his upper lip to detect the pheromones which tell him that the doe is receptive to being bred. Bucks have their own special way of getting the ladies in the mood. Along with their smell and peeing habits they also have some certain behaviors that may seem odd, especially if you have never seen it before. These mannerisms are most often exhibited toward the doe in heat, but because breeding and dominance can be so closely related, you will also see does and wethers, as well as bucks asserting their dominance over each other (or you) by exhibiting these traits. Also, does in heat will exhibit these traits and this is called "acting bucky".
These mannerisms are totally normal and the buck may try them on you as well as a doe. When a buck is "in the mood" he doesn't always care what sex or species he tries to breed. If a buck exhibits these traits at you, he may have a crush on you and you should be careful that he doesn't try to mount you when you aren't looking.
* Tongue flapping- The buck will lower his head and flap his tongue at the side of the doe (or you).
* Leg pawing - The buck paws at the side of the doe with a straightened leg. This is usually done at the same time as tongue flapping.
* Blubbering- This is done toward the doe (or you); it can be done in conjunction with leg pawing and tongue flapping.
Does have ascending, cresting, and descending levels of heat-much like cattle. The cresting level is when she is most receptive to conception. This mating ritual described above continues for as long as a day and one-half. The doe must be in a standing heat before successful breeding occurs. Until then, she will run from him, all the while flagging her tail. Sometimes the doe will make sounds similar to those of the buck. During standing heat, some does cry out as if in pain. When successful breeding occurs, the buck will throw his head back as he ejaculates his semen. Does often hunch up their backs or squat as if urinating but don't. The sight of goats breeding actually brings other does into heat. Nighttime breeding is common because the nights are cooler. Breeding takes a lot out of bucks, so it is important to keep them in good shape.
CARE OF BUCKS:
Bucks are not hard to care for. They need a separate pen from the does when they are not breeding so you don't have doe kids being bred too young or to their father. The fencing should be sturdy so the buck can't beat it up and get through it. A draft-free shed with bedding (ether pine shavings or straw, don't use cedar shavings as they contain chemicals) and a play area are important in keeping him healthy and happy. A buck should have another companion, ether another buck, or a wether. Make sure if the buck has horns, so does the buddy, and visa versa, since they will head butt and it will keep them on even ground with no unfair advantages. Good grassy hay, and a little grain during the breeding season/winter is all they need along with a mineral block at all times. Fresh water in the summer, and unfrozen water in the winter. Give them a couple of stumps to play on and to rub against. They should also have shade in the summer to prevent them from becoming temporally infertile from the heat. Bucks and wethers can get urinary calculi from too much grain, stones build up in their bladder and because the urethra is S shaped they can't pass through, causing pain and death as the bladder bursts.
BRED DOES & THE LABOR PROCESS:
So your doe is bred, congradulations! Does need more care then their male counterparts while they are pregnant.
Feed clean, grassy/alfalfa hay along with a cup or two of Purina Goat Chow or a goat feed with copper once a day per doe. Make sure they always have fresh, clean water and a GOAT mineral block (Sweetlix). Does should have a place to get out of the rain and cold, and shade during the summer months.
Study cattle panels or woven wire.
Before breeding, if you live in a selenium deficient area, give 1/2cc of Bo-Se, and then another 1/2cc of Bo-Se a week before kidding. Ask your vet if your area is selenium deficient, because too much is as harmful as too little. Does should also get a booster shot of CD/T two weeks before kidding to give the max amount of protection to their kids. A Lepto-5 shot a week before breeding prevents abortion.
Also, 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 commom 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 are 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 lights 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 no 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 eather 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 eather 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 it's 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 makes it 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 it's young. In it the dam passes antibodies, jumpstarts the digestive, immune and respiratory systems. If a kid doesn't receive colostrum or a colosrum 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.
There is nothing cuter then a goat kid. Here is how to take care of them.
As soon as they are born, dip their navel in strong 7% iodine and place a cord clamp as close to the navel as you can get it. This prevents infection from traveling up the cord and making the kid sick. After a few days the cord & clamp will fall off on their own. It is also a good idea to submerge the cord clamp in iodine before putting it on. If it is very cold out, you might want to place the doe and her kids in a pen by themselves with a heat lamp in one corner. Make sure the kids are dried off before moving them to prevent them from getting a chill. The heat lamp should be out of reach of the doe, and wired to a board or nail. Do not use string as it can fray and break, the heat lamp can cause fire if it falls on straw or shavings.
Once all the kids are born, let the doe dry them off and bond with them. You usually don't need to help her, unless she has a lot of kids and it is chilly out. Make sure all the kids receive enough colostrum-first milk. The first milk is thick and creamy yellow contains the important immunities the kids need to survive. If a doe rejects a kid, ether milk out some of her colostrum and stomach tube feed it to the kid, or if you have frozen goat or cow colostrum, warm to room temperature and feed them that. It is always a good idea to freeze extra colostrum in case a future doe doesn't have milk.
When stomach-tubing colostrum, milk, or electrolytes, the kid should be placed on its side on a soft towel on a firm surface, with its head towards the side from which you will be funneling the tube already attached to a weak-kid syringe. Measure the tube from the kid's mouth to the location of the stomach so you have some idea of how far to insert the tubing. Hold the head steady and control its body with your other forearm and carefully thread the tube into the kid's mouth and down the side (not than down the center) of the throat. If you meet resistance, pull the tubing out and begin again. When it is in, gently blow and then list to the end of the tube. You should hear crackerling noises that are made by the stomach. If you can feel air coming out of it you are in the lungs.
When pouring liquid into the funnel, limit the amount to half an ounce at a time to make sure the kid doesn't bring the fluids back up into the lungs. It is good to pinch the tube from time to time to give the stomach a chance to contain the fluids. To make it easier for the fluids to go down lift the kid's head up a little, but don't stretch it all the way up. When you are done tube feeding the kid, pinch the tube and count to 20 seconds, and then slowly remove the tube to prevent fluids from trickling down into the lungs. Colostrum is thick and so you may want to dilute it with a little warm water to make it flow down the tube better. Use wire to unstop the tube if it becomes clogged.
To tell if the kid is full or still needs more, place the kid on a level surface on all four legs and feel the stomach with both hands in front of the hind legs. A full stomach will feel firm but shouldn't be tight. If the kid's stomach is soft and jelly-like it needs more fluids.
Don't tube-feed colostrum or milk to a kid who is too weak to hold its own head up. Give it some sugar water, molasses or Karo syrup to give energy until it is able to lay on it's keel on it's own.
I prefer to dam raise the kids, they do better on her then being bottle babies. If you handle them daily they will turn out as friendly as bottle kids. Make sure you seperate the bucks from their sisters and dams before they are three months if you keep them intact, there is no reason that a buckling bred his sister because you couldn't band or remove the kid.
Disbudding & Banding:
Disbudding is done when a kid is two to three days old with a hot disbudding iron. Contact your vet so they can do this for you if you don't want your goats to have horns. A hot iron is applied to each of the kid's horn buds and held on for 2-3 seconds, as you slowly rotate it. When you are done, there should be two copper colored rings were the horns where. This is a two person job; someone needs to hold the kid while the other does the disbudding. The kid will kick and scream, and you need to make sure you don't hold the iron on too long as it can start to burn the skull and damage the brain.
This is done on older goats. Bands are placed around the horns as close to the skull as possible. Then the bands are wrapped with duct tape to prevent them from rolling up the horn. Here is a link to a site that shows how it is done. http://www.arizonapygmygoats.com/dehorningoldergoats.htm
This is for bucklings you don't want to keep intact, banding should be done at 2 1/2 months to allow the urinary system to mature. Before banding give a CD/T shot to guard against tetnus. To band, you must have a standard bander used for calves and docking lambs. Here is a link to a picture of one: http://www.animart.com/cgi-bin/details.cgi?sku=2608702008&line=Calf_Supplies
To use, you place the green rubber castrator band over the four closed prongs of the bander. Then have someone hold the kid while you gently pull down on his testacies. Make sure both are descended, do not band if there is only one. While grasping the testacies, squeeze the handle of the bander to open it up, stretching the rubber band. Then, with the prongs facing upwards, place the band around both testacies and slowly release the handles. The ring will be around the testacies and now you need to gently slip the bander off the ring. The kid will probably cry and walk funny for a while, this is normal.
Vaccination, Deworming, & Hoof trimming Schedule:
Newborn: Dip navel in 7% iodine solution and use cord clamp.
2-3 days: Disbud kids.
2 weeks: Deworm with Safe-guard dewormer.
1 month: Give first booster shot of CD/T.
2 months: Give second booster shot of CD/T. Trim hooves if needed. Castrate or band bucklings not used for breeding.
3 months: Wean or sell bucklings dam. Sell or wean wethers.
14 weeks: Give first booster shot of Lepto-5.
4 months: Give second booster shot of Lepto-5.
20 weeks: Deworm with Ivomec orally. Trim hooves if needed.
Every 6-8 weeks until 8 months of age: Deworm and trim hooves if needed. Rotate dewormers to reduce the risk of resistance in worms.
8 months: Before breeding, vaccinate does and breeding bucks with Lepto-5. Breed first time does to small buck to reduce the chances of a difficult labor and birth. Write down when does where first exposed to buck so you have idea when they are going to kid.
10 months: Trim hooves. If does are pregnant, do not trim again until after doe gives birth, struggling during hoof trimming can cause abortions.
2 weeks before kidding: Give booster shot of CD/T and deworm with Ivomec.
After kidding: Deworm with Levasole or Valbazen dewormer. Follow the above schedule for each breeding and new kids.
Please note I am not a vet and nor do I claim to be one. What is written on these pages is what have worked for me, and may not work for you. PLEASE CONTACT A KNOWLEDGEABLE VET IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS BEFORE DOING ANYTHING RECOMMENED HERE!! I cannot be held responsible for problems caused by malpractice or treatment of any animal
All in all goats are hardy, fun animals to own. Wether you have a few as pets or breed & show, keeping them healthy is a lot cheaper then treating a disease or problem. Deworm and trim your goat's feet every 6-8 weeks as needed. I would have a fecal test done on your goats by a vet once or twice a year to see which worms are the most abundent, and then you can deworm with something that will take them out, or switch to another type of dewormer so they don't become immune to it. Shots should be given once a year and followed faithfully for every kid. Same goes for preventing coccidiosis, something that is easier to prevent then treat in kids and older adults. While it may seem at times annoying to do, it's a simple way to prevent problems arising and then having to spend lots of money on a vet or treatment. Get to know your goats, how they each act and look. You can almost always catch a problem early on just by knowing how each goat interacts with each other. A bossy doe who is hanging back or getting pushed around is likely to be sick or injured. A goat hanging back from the herd and slow to get up and to the grain could have hurt it's leg or back. Treat cuts and scrapes as soon as you see them before they become major problems from infections. But above all, enjoy your goats! They love treats and attention and can help ease stress, there is nothing funnier or cuter then a bunch of kids hopping around like frogs and leaping in the air!