Preparing for goat kidding starts well before your does start dropping their kids. In fact, it starts around two months before the kidding begins. For those who are new to goat farming you may wonder how to prepare for goat kidding.
Being ready for goat kidding means that you look after the health of your does, making sure that the stalls/sheds are clean and ready and checking your kidding equipment to make sure that everything is on hand that you need to assist in the delivery and initial care of your newborn kids.
Kidding is an exciting time but can also prove to be a nervous time for those have just stepped into the world of raising goats. Let’s take you by the hand and steady your nerves.
Taking care of your doe
The first step in making sure that you are all set for kidding is to make sure that your does are healthy and in optimum body condition. Any nutrition deficiencies that your doe faces can affect the health of the fetus resulting in newborn kids having birth defects or, in extreme situations, death.
Watching the doe’s diet
When it comes to the nutritional needs of your doe you need to increase the intake closer to kidding time. Remember your female goat is now eating for two (or more) and a lot of the minerals, proteins and vitamins provided in your feed is being passed on to the fetus. As the fetus or fetuses grow within the doe, her rumen is being reduced in size through the increase in the size of the fetus. This makes the nutritional needs of the doe a bit of a guessing game.
Provide her with high-quality feed such as alfalfa hay which will provide her and her unborn babies with the minerals, vitamins and proteins that they need. Also, the hay is readily digestible and helps to keep the does rumen functioning.
Adjusting the calcium intake of your pregnant goat can minimise the chance of her suffering from “milk fever” which is caused by a lack of calcium release from her bones to meet the calcium needs of her body and that of her fetus or fetuses. Milk fever can prove fatal to your doe and her babies. If you have any concerns, contact your vet.
Add grain to your doe’s diet two months before kidding but make sure that you introduce the grain incrementally. A sudden increase in the grain intake of your doe can lead to grain overload (acidosis) which can be fatal to your goat. Start with only a handful of grain each day and slowly increase the amount to half a pound.
Keep an eye on the feeding patterns of your pregnant does. If you see that they are underfeeding or overfeeding you need to take action. Underfed pregnant goats are susceptible to ketosis which is caused by your does not getting enough energy in their diet. To reduce the risk of ketosis, make sure that you only feed high-quality hay to your does and watch to see that they don’t consume too little or too much grain.
Finally, trim the hooves of your doe so that it’s easier for her to stand when giving birth. Also, shave the hair around her tail and back legs so that any faeces or placenta doesn’t get caught up in the hair.
Look at my doe’s Body Condition
The whole point of adjusting your doe’s dietary needs is to make sure that she is healthy and providing the right nutrients, vitamins and protein to the unborn kids growing inside her. Additionally, the diet regime means that you are maintaining your doe’s body condition.
The optimal Body Condition Score (BCS) is between 3.0 – 3.5 which means that your does are in a healthy state and can deliver kids that are fine, the doe can produce colostrum without any issues and they are able to provide sufficient amounts of milk. BCS ranging from 2.0 – 2.5 can lead to shorter periods where the doe is on heat as well as the possibility of your goat being infertile. BCS lower than 2.0 or higher than 4.5 can lead to pregnancy toxemia.
Check the body condition of your does by physically feeling them. If you notice that they are becoming undernourished or overfed then you need to adjust their diet so that they are at that healthy range of 3.0 -.3.5
Time for a health boost
To make sure that your doe and kid are safe when it comes to kidding time you should look at giving your doe CDT and BoSe injection a 4 to 6 weeks before kidding.
A CDT booster shot four weeks before kidding will protect the kid from enterotoxemia (overeating disease) caused by type C and D strains of Clostridium perfringens bacteria which are in all goats to in small levels. A CDT shot immunises the young goat from tetanus which can be found in soil.
If you live in areas that are selenium deficient you should give your does a BoSe injection (which is a Selenium/Vitamin E booster). A BoSe shot will stop white muscle disease developing in kids.
Get the shelter ready the kid is on its way!
Now that you have your does on the right track regarding their diet and health it’s time to look at getting the birthing area prepared. That means a clean, safe environment for your doe to give birth.
The kidding pen should be big enough to allow your doe to deliver her baby (or babies) comfortably without being cramped. Also, a small area where there isn’t much room to move can lead to the newborn kid being hurt accidentally by its mother or, in a worst-case scenario, squashed by the doe.
Make sure that the pen is warm as you don’t want the newly-delivered kid suffering from hypothermia.
Also, check to see that there are no pests living in the area where your doe and her kid are going to reside while they bond. There are several ways you can reduce the chance of pests existing in the pen such as cleaning out the hay and the bedding at least once a week (or more if you think that the area is becoming unsanitary).
Checking your kidding kit
You have your kidding pens all set and ready to go what a great goat carer you are. Yet you can’t stop there. There is still more to do. Is your kidding kit ready? The last thing you want to find when it comes to the delivery of the kid is to discover that you are lacking an essential piece of equipment. So, go and make sure that your kit is fully stocked and everything is in working order.
A kidding kit needs to have the following:
- Phone number of your vet or someone that can assist you in times of difficult births
- Towels (to dry your kids with)
- 7% iodine to dip the umbilical cord (so as to stop any parasites passing into the kid)
- Small plastic canisters (for the iodine so you can dip the umbilical cord)
- Sterilised scissors (to trim the umbilical cord)
- Dental Floss (to tie off the umbilical cord)
- Flashlight (for additional lighting in dark pens and to check the position of the kid)
- Heat lamp (to keep newborn kids warm)
- Disposable gloves (in case you need to give your doe a hand)
- Lubricant (to make it easier to reach inside your doe and help reposition the kid)
- Feeding bottle and nipple (for those times when you may have to hand-feed the kid)
- Frozen or powdered colostrum (to give the young goat in case the mother can’t)
- Kid puller (to help in the delivery of the goat)
- Anti-bacterial soap (for washing yourself before reaching into your doe to help deliver)
- Warm water (for cleaning yourself after the kidding has completed)
- Feeding syringe and feeding tube (for the kids that have difficulty feeding)
- Thermometer (to check the health of the goats)
Make sure that buckets, feed bottles, nipples and scissors are thoroughly sterilised. Also, check that your feeding syringe and feeding tube aren’t blocked, Check the flashlight and make sure that it’s going to last the distance (have spare batteries on hand). Test that the thermometer is working and giving an accurate reading.
By doing the groundwork and making sure that your kit is ready to go means that your kidding should go without a hitch, yet if you think you need help or moral support you can always ring your vet!
You’re all set. Happy kidding!
When it comes to preparing for kidding, the preparation time doesn’t start a day or two before the doe delivers. No, no, no! It begins a couple of months before through you considering the diets of your pregnant does so that they can deliver healthy offspring. You also need to make sure that your does have a CDT and BoSe shot so that the kids have no health issues.
By you cleaning the stall and setting up sanitary kidding pens will mean that there is no risk of your doe or her baby (or babies) from contracting worms.
Your kidding kit is all set and fully stocked. All you have to do now is wait…oh, the kids are coming!
No problem..you’re ready!