We like to do things Naturally but I still would not expect a human mother-to-be to give birth alone, without, at least, the aid of a midwife. The same goes for our goats. We are present at every birth and we always assist to some extent (even if that is just helping to clean off and dry the kids). Because of this, we have never lost a doe or kid due to complications in child birth.
"They" say most
goat births take place without any problems, but you should always be
prepared to assist if needed. We have found goats need assisting more often than "They" say.
Have the phone
number of a vet and/or experienced goat breeder handy, in case of
Know when your
doe is going to kid. Keep track with the Excel based Breeding / Kidding Record Spreadsheet & Calculator or use this Due
Date Calculator to figure out when your doe is due to kid. The doe should kid between 145-155 days from the date she was
bred. Different breeds of goats kid, on an average, differently. Most
goats "average" 150 days, but that does not mean they can't
go longer with no reason to be concerned. (Of course to get an average,
you have to have some go longer and some go earlier). Our goats (LaManchas)
average 5 days "early", meaning they kid on day 145, BUT
we have had them kid successfully up to 13 days early and had one wait 'til day 156. Goldie, our herd queen did this
one year and worried me to death <smile>.
Have a kidding stall ready: a clean
environment ready for the kids to be born into. See Kid
the kidding starts, what you should be seeing and feeling. Know what
a normal birth should be like, so that you can act fast, if there
are any problems. See Kidding Photos and the Birth Related Photos Albums
Study the Kidding
Positions pictures below as well as the Kidding Positions Albums . Develop a mental picture of the way
the kid(s) are positioned inside the mother. If there are problems,
and you have to "go in" you want to know what you have to
do ahead of time, and not have one hand in the goat and the other
holding pictures and instructions.
Be aware that goat midwifery is learned (i.e. presentation, position of legs, etc.) and also instinctive (i.e. this is taking too long, she's uncomfortable). Read, learn and be perpared, but also trust your instincts. Every situation is going to be differnt.
The doe can give
birth standing up or laying down, it depends on the doe, and both
We are present at every birth and assist the doe. To not worry about getting involved in your doe's kidding. If your doe is friendly and likes you, she may appreciate the help. Do not worry that your getting involved will upset any bonding with the kid. Your assistance can help bonding happen sooner and with more assurance.
Be prepared for a mess. Have lots of towels and puppy training pads on hand. Use a feed bag to deliver the kid onto, it will get very wet and messy with glop and goo. Have another feed bag on hand to use as an absorbent garbage bag. Get the "glop" cleaned up as quickly as you can so the area stays fairly dry and the doe concentrates on her kids. The doe will naturally want to clean up all glop and goo, so if you don't get it cleaned up, she might waste precious "baby bonding time" licking glop off the ground instead of concentrating on her baby.
When the doe finally
"gets serious" and starts to push, look at the clock and take note of the time. You should have a kid out in a hour. If a kid is not delivered within one hour after the doe gets serious, something is wrong and she need help to deliver the kid.
The first thing you
may see is "the bubble" (the bubble may sometimes break inside the doe and so you don't see the bubble- this is ok too) . You will see it slowly appear.
When it is finally sticking out enough, try to look inside
it and try to see if you can see feet. They will be white. First you
will see one foot. You may only see one foot for quite a while, eventually
you will see the second. The head appears next resting on the legs,
in the "diving position". Usually the tongue is sticking
out, this is normal. The "bubble" can break at any time and it is ok. The head is the hardest part to get out. Once the head is
out, the rest of the kid can come out quite quickly.
baby is completely out, this is what we do...
One person picks the kid up by the back feet and holds him up firmly
(he is slippery). The other person then wipes the mouth and nose with a paper towel.
This holding the kid upside down, helps any liquid that may have gotten into
the lungs, to drain out quickly. As soon as the mouth and nose is
cleared, the baby is placed on a puppy pad in
front of the mother. The mother can then clean her kid and bond with
him. Get the baby in front of the mom ASAP and get her cleaning it. If she isn't interested, push her head down so she sees the baby and tell her it is hers and she needs to get to work. More information is provided on this below.
Help the mother
dry the kid and check to see if the mother has any more babies in
her (See Bouncing). Assist with any more
kids the doe may have.
Once the kids
are all out and dried, or during a lengthy break between kids, squeeze the mother's teats to make sure
they are working and not plugged. Sometimes they are plugged, and
you will have to squeeze hard to get them unplugged... you gotta get them going, so squeeze until you get them clear. Sometimes they
are not plugged at all.
Now assist the kids in finding the teats.
This can sometimes be extremely frustrating. The kids just don't seem
to "get it". You may need to hold the teats for them
at first. Sometimes the kids will find the teats and nurse on their
own with no help at all. I always help because I want to make sure
they get their colostrum (first milk) as soon as possible. The kids
really must get their colostrum within 1 hour of birth. More information is provided on this below.
Once the kids
are up and walking and nursing on their own, our job is done, and
we can leave the mother and babies alone to bond and rest.
I would not expect a human to give birth without a little help and I don't expect our goats to either. We always assist at least a small amount in every birth.
If the delivery
is not progressing as you think it should, you may have to assist.
The doe should have delivered her first kid within an hour after her first serious push. Think about what is happening and what you are doing. Stay calm. If
you are worried or afraid, or the doe may pick up on this and become
even more stressed.
If you feel the need to help by pulling, pull only when
the doe pushes. Think about what is going on, you need to get the
shoulders through the cervix. The shoulders are wide. Do not pull
both legs at once. Pull one leg, then the other, one leg more in
front of the other.. You are trying to "ease" the shoulders
though the cervix, one at a time. Don't pull straight out ... pull
at a downward angle (if the doe were standing up). Do not pull too
hard. See Correct "Diving" Position Album for more information on pulling and correct leg and shoulder placement.
If the baby is
in the wrong position, you will have to "go in". Make sure
your nails are cut short before the kidding starts. You must
wash your hands and arms with a disinfecting cleanser such as Betadine
Surgical Scrub (See Suppliers). Also,
clean the back end of the doe. Lube up with an proper OB lubricant and an additional squirt of Betadine.
Start with just one finger, and try to feel what is going on. Work
slowly and stay calm. Insert you hand/arm as necessary (Depending
on your size, you may go in, if need be, as far as your elbow). Picture
in your mind what you are feeling. Feel for legs and try to discern
the position of the kid(s). Know what you may have to do ahead of
time. (See Kid Positions below and Kidding Positions Albums) If you
do have to "go in", you should give the doe antibiotic shots
or Immune Support Tincture for the next few day to ward off any possible infection.
After the birth...
Though, it is
true that many births take place normally and need no assistance,
physically, not many people discuss the mental problems the new mother
may face. Be aware that your doe is a thinking feeling being and that giving birth is a confusing, scary and painful event.
Always keep in mind that every doe is an individual and every doe is different.
timers" have no idea what is going on. They have no idea that
they were pregnant or that the pains they were experiencing were anything
more than a really difficult poop. Instinct guides them and tells
them what to do, but sometimes their instinct does not quite "kick-in".
They may lay, looking off into space, thinking, "goodness that
hurt" and not even notice that there is a little baby that now
needs cleaning off. This is why you need to get the kid in front of the mom ASAP. If you let "Nature take it's course" the kid could die before the mother realizes it is her baby and she should clean it. This is the main reason we try to be present at
every birth. And it is not only the "first timers" that
have "mental" problems. "Experienced" mothers
may also seem to not quite know what to do. We have a doe who, every year, needs to be reminded that she just had babies and needs to care for them.
The first thing to do is make sure the new mother cleans her baby.
This is where the bonding starts and is extremely important. If the
mother will not clean her baby, take some of the "goo" that
the baby was/is covered in and place it on the mother's nose. She
will lick it and eat it to get it off her nose. Usually a taste or
two of the birth goo is enough to "kick-in" the cleaning
instinct. Now, gently, point the mother's nose at the baby and she
should start cleaning. You can help her clean the baby, this does not usually interfere
with the bonding between mother and child if the doe is actively licking the baby.
As soon as the
baby starts bobbing his head around looking for a meal, you can attempt
to help him find a meal. First, give the doe's teats a squeeze to
make sure they are flowing freely and not clogged (sometimes they
will have a "plug"). Often, we will help the baby
eat before he can really stand. We do this by holding the baby and
pointing him at the teat. You cannot force the baby to eat by pushing
his head at the teat. This will not work and only makes it frustrating
for everyone. He will instinctually fight you pushing his head or
forcing the teat into his mouth.
Point the baby
at the teat and if the teat is on the long side, you may point it
at the baby's mouth to help him find it. It's a little hard to do
this without "getting in the way". I usually reach my hand
around from behind and point the teat with just one finger, lifting
it toward the kid's mouth.
Helping the kid
nurse can be incredibly frustrating. Just try to be patient with both
the baby and the mother. We often give the mother some grain as her
"reward" for a birthing well done and while she is eating,
we help the baby get his first suck. Once he has sucked, he will want
to suck again, and so will be motivated to find the teat himself.
Once and a while we will have a doe who will not let her baby nurse
while she is eating. In this case, remove the grain.
mother is so into cleaning the baby, she won't stand still to let
the baby nurse. In this case, hold the baby so his butt is where the
mom can reach, but hold her collar so she can't turn around completely.
Now hold the baby to help him nurse.
Then there is
the type of new mother who is freaked out by the whole experience.
She has no idea why this little "thing" keeps going at her
udder. She will kick and jump and all around drive you nuts. She is
just having a mental block and doesn't understand that she needs to
let her baby nurse. In this case, you must be patient. You can hold
her collar and hold the baby at her udder. Sometimes the baby nursing
will help her instincts kick-in. You may only be able to have the
baby get one short suck before she kicks or moves away. We have found,
that tying the mother or putting her in a milkstand doesn't help and
only makes matters worst. The mother has to be able to see and smell
the baby. She need to know it is her baby going at her udder or she
will kick and jump even more. Just keep letting the mother lick her
baby, and then move the baby to the udder. You're telling her "See,
it's your baby. Your baby wants to nurse". Keep working with
her gently and calmly.
If it's getting
to be over an hour, and the baby still hasn't been able to nurse.
Then milk the mom a little to make a bottle for the baby. Put the
baby in your lap and feed him just enough to "get him going".
Once he has tasted milk, he will want more and will work to get it.
Now, take him and point him at his mother's teat. Once you finally
get the baby sucking, the mother usually calms down. It may take time,
but it will all work out in the end.
mother tries to help the baby get at her teats so much that she picks
up her leg and holds it up in mid air while the baby sucks. She will
eventually realize she doesn' t have to do that.
We do not leave the mom and kids until we see the kids nurse on their own. Once we have seen
the baby nurse his mother, our work is done and we
leave the baby and new mother alone in their private stall to bond.
if the mother won't nurse? It sometimes happens, no matter
what you do and how hard you work at it, the mother refuses to nurse
her baby for one reason or another. It does happen. Maybe she feels
she is only "up to" raising one or maybe two kids and refuses
the remaining kids (very often, she will keep the boy and refuse the
girl). Maybe she isn't cut out (at least this year) to be a good mother.
We have had does be very bad mothers when they first start out and
grow to become very good mothers in later years. Maybe she didn't
bond with the kid well enough after birth, so does not understand
that this is her kid (this is why it is so important to be present
at the birth: to make sure the mother bonds with her kids). Maybe
she has been confused by other does kidding around her and thinks
the other kids are hers and her baby belongs to someone else. There
are may possibilities why the mother may decide not to feed her own
kid. In any case, if the mother will not nurse her kid you may be
forced to bottle feed. You should always be prepared to bottle feed
because you never know when this may happen. See Bottle
We will try our hardest to get a doe to except a kid, but sometimes we decide is is just best for everyone involved if we bottle feed. In this case, the bottle fed kid still lives with his mother and sibling. The sibling bond is very close. The refused kids learns to avoid mother if need be. If he has no sibling, he is put withkids of the same age. We never raise a kid in our house away from the it's herd. The kid need to live with the herd so he can grown up and learn to be a well adjusted goat and member of goat society. Make sure there is a kid house in the stall for the kid to go into and sleep in and stay warm if need be. Give him a sweater if it gets really cold at night. It is harder for a kid to be taken from the warm human house to the cold outside daily than it is for him to just adjust to one temperature of the barn and the outside world.
Dipping the umbilical cord:
The next thing
to do is dip the babies umbilical cord in 7% iodine.
If umbilical cord is too
long (over 2 inches), you may need to cut it a little shorter. Tie it off with a bit of dental floss so it will not bleed. Cut as need with scissors dipped in the iodine. Have someone hold the kid so his belly is facing down. Hold a film cup full of iodine right udder where the umbilical cord is and bring it up so it firmly touches the kids belly. The cord will be totally in the cup at this point. Now, holding the cup firmly against the kids belly, have your helper tilt the kid back while holding the cup to his belly. He'll probably yell at this point 'cause what you are doing is weird and you do this to make sure the entire cord area is coated with iodine. Tilt him back right and remove the cup and put him back with his mom.
It's ok for the mom to lick the iodine.
Sometimes the mother will lick and lick
the umbilical cord so much that it bleeds. Then, the mother's instinct
is to lick the blood clean, which only makes matters worst. Tie the
cord with some dental floss and give the mother a little grain to
keep her busy while the bleeding stops.
Speaking of things mother goats do to their kids:
Some new mothers will paw and paw at her new kids. She is doing this to get them up, moving and nursing. She is not attacking her kid, or intentionally trying to hurt them. Some new moms are worse than others about this and it's frustrating because you don't want the mom to accidentally kill her kid. We never have even the most enthusiastic of mothers kill their kid.
Pawing is not a sign of a mother refusing her kid. If she refuses a kid, she will ignore it, or butt at it with her head in an effort to get it to leave her alone.
things to look for after the birth:
The bottoms of
the baby's hooves will "shed" their protective white coating
right after birth.
The kid may poop
and pee right after birth, even before he has his first meal.
The kid's first
few poops will be soft sticky "black tar".
The kid will
poop "yellow mustard poops" for at least a week after birth until he begins to eat solid food.
Some mothers are better than others at cleaning their babies butts off and keeping them clean. You may need to clean the kids butts off on occasion. Make sure no hardened poop plugs up their butt holes, because this can happen and the kid will not be able to poop.
takes a couple days for the babies legs to straighten out completely
and/or work properly (you may want to give them a Selenium Supplement).
There is usually
one afterbirth per kid, but sometimes there is only one per kidding
even if there are two kids. If you don't find the afterbirth, the
mother probably ate it (gross, but not a problem)
Starting about a week AFTER the kidding, the mother will begin to
"leak" blood and goo for about a week or more. This is normal.
below represent the possible positions of the kid(s) while they are inside
the dam (mother). These are not the only positions that the kids may
take, but they give you an idea of what you can expect.
birthing position - "Diving Position"
Both front feet
are coming first, with head, resting on legs, pointing forward.
(Souls of feet are "pointing down".)
(Not as common)
Both rear feet are
coming out first.
(Souls of feet are "pointing up".)
Two kids, in proper
positions, "taking their turns".
Birth"- Butt first
Sometimes the doe
can deliver this position, sometimes she can't.
We have had a few breech births here and have never had to assist.
To assist (if necessary)-
Push kid back, maneuver one rear leg so it is coming first, and then
maneuver the other leg.
One front leg bent back.
To assist- Reach
in and pull the "bent back" leg so it is in the "diving
Head bent back.
To assist- Push
kid back, reach in and try to get head to face forward into "diving
Kids are in the correct position or may also be "tangled",
and are trying to both come at once.
To Assist- Reach
in and feel which parts belong to which kids and try to straighten them
out. You must figure out which legs go with which kids before proceeding
any further. Push one kid back, to allow the other to come first.
you feel the kids move when they are still inside the doe?
I have been able
to feel babies about two weeks before the doe kids. I cannot always
feel them, but sometimes, with practice, I can. If you place your
hands on the goat's right side "belly", you can sometimes
feel the kids move. BUT, if you feel the left side, what you think
might be a kid could be the rumen (stomach) movement. Do not think
if you feel movement on the left side, it is a kid.
many kids can a doe have in a single kidding?
A doe can commonly have between 1-3 kids in a single kidding.
2 kids is the most common.
1 is the second most common ("they" say first timers usually have
a singles kid, but we have not found that to be true; they can have
kids just as often as experienced kidders.)
3 is not out of the question and can happen almost as commonly as
4 is less common, but possible.
Goats can even have 5 or 6kids, but this is rare.
How can you tell how many kids a doe will give birth to.
You really can't tell anything by just looking at a doe. You can guess, with experience, but even an experienced guess can be totally wrong. You just cannot tell if a doe has another kid in there by looking at her. A doe may look like she is going to have 3 kids and only actually have one, and via versa. From years of experience, take my word for it, you may be absolutely sure the doe must have another baby in there by the looks of how wide she is, and she might really not.
A doe can still look "with child" after she has finished kidding.
Larry and I were laying bets of whether one of our does would have 3 or 4 kids, because of her size, she was a big as a house, and when she kidded she surprised us with one single kid that was just 6 pounds (7 being average). The way I knew the doe was done was be getting her to stand up so I could physically feel/bounce her. But, this technique of feeling only works after a doe has delivered to at least one kid already. Please also see the information provided here: Feeling for more kids.
see the following links for more info about does, kidding, and preparing
for kidding: Care
of bred does-
Prenatal care (starting at conception). Signs of Labor- How
can you tell when your doe is going to kid.
Photos- These pages give you a idea of what typical, and non typical,
goat births (kiddings) may look like. Ligaments-
Feeling for these can help you tell when your doe is going to kid. Birthing
to have on hand before kidding begins "Bouncing"-
With this technique you can early check to see if the doe has finished
kidding or not.
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