At last, the time of year comes when you are ready for babies OR ARE YOU?
Let me recap some vital information for any newbies reading:
1. Breeding season is typically between July and February, this is not a certainty so don’t happily put the girls in with the boys unless you want babies no matter the season.
2. Estrus is every 21 days and lasts for approximately 3 days with day number 2 being the usual choice for successful fertilization.
3. Gestation is 145 to 155 days. Some will go longer by a few days and some may deliver a little earlier. Single births tend to be at the long end of the time span and multiple births seem to be on the early end. Also, I have found that when the barometric pressure drops during this time frame is when the doe will drop her kids.
4. Generally we don’t suggest breeding a doe until she is either a year old or at least 80 pounds. A doe under a year old is still growing herself and it’s an awful lot to expect her to share her growing time with a fetus developing in her and making enough milk to feed her baby once it hits the ground.
5. A doeling can get pregnant at the age of 3 months and a buckling can produce sperm and make babies at the same age, so be careful how long you leave intact boy babies with mom and sisters.
The Time is Near:
Ok.. So now you are looking at your calendar and you DID write down the date of breeding right?.. I know you think you will remember what date who bred who.. But believe me .. You won’t be sure as the times nears. So I hope you did write down not only every time you bred but also any time the buck may have gotten out of his pen and with the girls, this is why we have surprise babies. And yes.. I have had my share!
Time to keep an eye on tail ligaments and other signs of oncoming labor.
Typical Signs of Early Labor (Not necessarily in order): 1.Appears restless, shy away from herd
2. Eyes glossy or luminous
3. Paying much attention to her sides and smelling the ground
4. Pawing at bedding or dirt
5. Looking behind her and talking to her sides (typically in a voice you have never heard=”mama talk”)
6. Talks to you alot as if she is telling you she is getting ready (she is, so listen)
7. Gets dreamy eyed or star-gazy (euphoric)
8. Looks less pregnant than she did before-sides have hollowed out, under-belly is full
9. Lifts tail frequently and urinates frequently, usually not much urine at a time
10. Lays down and gets up more than usual
11. Udder begins to fill more-looks tight and shiny-teats get full
12. Vulva becomes flabby then looks flat and opening looks longer
13. White discharge (this may or may not happen) changing to an egg-white looking discharge, sometimes may have some blood streaking in it.
Make sure you have somewhere clean, draft free and warm for your doe to kid in winter and cool, shady and airy (yet draft free on the ground level) in summer. Whether it’s a covered shelter in the goat yard, a place in the barn set up just for her.
We always pull our does in around a week or so before their due date into a private stall. In the stall have nice clean bedding. What you are looking for is the ligaments around her tail bone will fall away. You will be able to wrap your thumb and finger around it and touch underneath. When you can do this…she will deliver in next 24-hours. She will also start to look “sunken in” on the sides.
Goats have been having babies all by themselves for 1,000’s of years. There is about a 90% chance you will have to do nothing; just watch the show.
You will want to have some clean towels to clean the kid(s) if the momma needs some help for some reason. You also want some iodine ready. You will need to dip the belly button to prevent infection.
Some times you might need to help the momma deliver. If the kid is breach or has one leg back…it can be difficult for the momma to push the baby out. A proper presentation is the kid will have it’s nose directly in between it’s front hooves. They will come out just like they are diving into a pool. If they are not presented properly…you might need to “go in” and reposition the kid. Make sure your hands have been washed with anti-bacteria soap or have on rubber gloves. No matter which…if you assist (go in) you will need to give the goat antibiotics / pen to prevent any infection from your assistance.
If you are in a selienium deficient area…you will want to give the momma and kids a CD&T shot.
Minimal supplies you will need.
1. Clean towels for clearing baby’s nose and drying off baby -(hand towels gotten at the thrift shop are great).
2. Lubricant for assisting delivery- (Vaseline or KY Jelly will do but there are inexpensive non-greasy lubricants just for lamb and goat obstetrics- my favorite is ‘Superlube’ because it is antiseptic as well).
3. 7% iodine for navel cord dipping-( a film container works great for dipping navels) So you do not contaminate the whole bottle. You just put iodine in the film container dip navel in iodine and tip bottle and kid to make sure that the navel gets completely covered.
4. Dental floss or a navel clamp for tying off possible ruptured navels- (this does not happen often, but when it does you’ll need this).
5. Surgical gloves for keeping hands from transferring germs into mom should you need to assist-(These can be found at Walmart or any of the livestock supply house).
6. Scissors that have been sterilized, preferably surgical scissors but any will do for cutting navel cords shorter if they break long, you’ll want them about 1 ½ inches long-(kept in a plastic bag to keep them clean).
7. Alcohol for sterilizing scissors (30 minutes submerged in alcohol will sterilize) and cleaning hands before delivery.
8. Paper towels for general clean up.
9. Sterile syringes and needles- I use syringes for everything from injections to administering oral meds- 3 cc and 6 cc are great. (diabetic syringes measured in tenths are great for babies, you may have to change needles.. I have experienced the needles supplied are not strong enough, even for baby) I use short needles ½ inch and 3/4 inch 20 gauge.
10. BO-SE (selenium /vit E combination to combat white muscle disease) obtained from your vet before the big day for selenium injection for baby- in selenium deficient areas- check with your vet on dosage.
11. Penicillin Procaine G in case you have to go inside the doe to assist the delivery, you will want to put her on antibiotics for 5 days afterwards-to be safe.
12. Nasal spray or hemorrhoid medicine reduce swelling of vulva area in hard deliveries. (Both work great)
13. Probiotic paste or yogurt to replace the rumen flora after administering any antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria that keeps the rumen working as well as what bacteria you are combating in the body.
14. Disposable plain vinegar douche for cleaning out mom after a hard delivery or one with a dead fetus.
15. Molasses and/or Goat Nutri-Drench for replacing mom with vital minerals and vitamins after kidding, also for quick energy that was depleted during delivery. A bucket or bowl that holds at least a gallon for the warm water you will mix the molasses into. (I use about 1/3 cup to a gallon of water).
16. Propylene Glycol in case of ketosis-gotten at the vets or livestock supply.
17. Rectal thermometer for taking baby’s temp or mom’s.
18. Scale to weigh baby.
19. Camera and assistant-for recording that wonderful event-I use a video camera so if there are problems later I can look back to see if something went wrong during delivery and I have forgotten-Plus it makes great brag material!
20. Time to make sure your finger nails are shorter than short and remove any rings or bracelets before delivering kids- you don’t want anything that could tear her uterus should you have to go in to help
21. To prepare though…make sure you have some milk replacer ready in case something goes wrong with the momma.
Hope this helps when your kids are born.
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