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Prenatal Care
Preparation for Kidding
& Signs Labor

The following is how we care for our pregnant does from breeding up until they give birth.

Also, see below for preparation for kidding, determining when the doe is getting ready to give birth and signs of labor.

Know when the kids are due by always knowing when your doe was bred.
  They will be born approximately 150 days from conception (give or take 5-7 days).

50 days before the kids are due:

The mom to be should have been dried off 10 days earlier. Does should have 2 months off from milking before they kid again. (We actually give our does 5 full months off before they kid; when they get bred, I stop milking them and they will naturally wean their kids)

Give the mom a hoof trim.

Mom should have access to good all-purpose minerals free choice.  Don't use minerals intended for sheep because it does not contain copper, which goats need.  I also like to mix Diamond V Yeast Culture XP-DFM* in with my free choice minerals.  Offer baking soda free choice as well. For more info on feeding goats in general, click here.

*Yeast Culture helps increase ruminal bacteria, which, in turn, aids in digestion and helps the goats better utilize their food. It also contains extra protein and vitamins. We find when we feed this yeast our goats health is generally better and their coats are shinier. We also find that it increases milk yield. We have our local feed store special order this for us.

 

5 weeks before:

In Selenium deficient areas give Selenium/Vitamin E shot or gel.  We use Selenium Gel.

At this time, we start giving our does Pregnancy Herbal Tonic & Vitamin E powder (horse supplement) daily with their grain ration. For more info on feeding pregnant does, click here.

 

4 weeks before due date:

Give Enterotoxemia & Tetanus vaccine (if you choose to vaccinate your animals- we do not).  The dose is 2 ml, sub-Q for all weights.

 

3 weeks before due date:

Start adding Vitamin  E to food each day. (We used to start at three weeks, but now a days we start this at 5 weeks; you can decide which you want to do).

We used to cut a capsule of human Vit.  E open and squirt it on the food.  We used IU 1000 caps.  We'd throw the "spent" capsule on the food as well; they eat it up with no problem.

 

2 weeks before due date:

In Selenium deficient areas give another Selenium/Vitamin E shot or gel.  We use Selenium Gel.

Get together all the items you need for your birthing kit.  Click here for a birthing kit checklist.

 

1 week before due date:

Have your birthing kit ready.

Trim your finger nails and keep them short and clean.

Clean out your kidding stall and disinfect it with bleach water (one "glug" per bucket of water.)  Bed it with some nice clean straw.  We clean the kidding stall out totally on a weekly basis.

Shave the does udder, belly in front of her udder, tail and around her "privates".  (See photos below) We use the regular electric hair trimmers used for humans.  You can buy a trimmer for less than $20 and it will last for years of prebirth hair cuts and shaving the kids' heads before you disbud them.

Why give a hair cut?

  1. Having a hair cut is very helpful in keeping an eye on her changing body (udder & tail head) and will help you determine when she starts going into labor.
  2. This will make it easier to clean her up after the birth
  3. It helps make it easier for the new born kids to find her teats and nurse.
  4. It makes to easier and more pleasant to milk her. (See photos below).
  5. If you don't shave the doe's tail, it will get caked in bloody goo when the doe starts "leaking" blood goo a week after kidding.   It's easier to pull off the hardened goo when it isn't all stuck in the doe's tail hair

Before "birthing haircut"

After "birthing haircut"

 

A week before she is due, start putting mom up at night in the kidding stall.  We like to put her up with one of her closest friends and/or family members who she gets along with well and never fights with.  Goats do not like to be alone, so giving the doe a friend helps keep down stress. If she fights with everyone, let her be by herself; she'll deal with in ok.  If she gets picked on up by everyone, let her be by herself, she may actually appreciate being "safe" for while.  Putting the doe up at night before the actual kidding time gives her time to adjust to her "private stall"; this makes for less stress at kidding time.  A barn monitor is nice at this point so you don't have to do "midnight checks". For years we used just an audio monitor, but finally invested in a video monitor and that was money extremely well spent! location of ligaments

 

Keep checking the doe's tail ligaments and tail head. 

Place you hand on the doe's spine, right where it starts to angle down.  Put your fingers on one side of the spine and your thumb on the other side.  Now run you hand slowly down her spine toward her tail, feeling along the spine and the areas just to the sides of the spine (about 1 inch along each side).  As you run your fingers down the spine, you will feel the ligaments.  The ligaments are located on either side of her spine about halfway between where her back starts to slope down and her tail.  The ligaments seem to come out of the spine and slant down toward her pin bones.  (See picture)  They feel similar to the size of pencils. If you can't find them, keep trying, going slowly down the spine.   You need to learn to feel for the ligaments because as the birth nears, the ligaments loosen.  At first they will feel hard, like pencils.  They will gradually start to soften and once they're "gone" labor is close at hand. 

As you feel for the ligaments you'll also be feeling for the physical changes in the tail head.  As labor drawing near, the area along the spine will seem to sink and the tailhead seems to rise. 

Get used to running your hand down your doe's spine to check the ligaments and the raising of the tailhead.  Once you no longer feel the ligaments and you can practically touch your fingers and thumb together around her tail head, the doe will probably kid sometime within the next 12 hours.


Running fingers down the doe's spine to feel for ligaments. 

Start at feeling just below where the back starts to slant and run your fingers down toward the tail head.


She had totally "lost" her ligaments.  It feels like you can practically reach around her Tailhead.

This doe is delivered 3 1/2 hours after I took this photo


Feeling for ligaments


This does body has noticeably changed. Her tail head is raised and there are sunken areas on either side of the spine near the tail.

Most noticeably is the angle of the slant of her back has really gotten steeper.

Below are photo examples of the how the doe's body changes as she gets ready to give birth.

Two days before kidding.
Back straight.

One hour before kidding.
Back arching (having a contraction); tailhead raised.

 

ALSO SEE THESE PAGES:

Click here to go to the kidding page.- You need to read this entire page BEFORE you doe starts kidding.

Kidding Positions Albums

Birth Related Photo Albums

Goat Birth Video

Signs of Labor

Always keep in mind that every doe is an individual and every doe is different.

As much as I'd like to say to new goat owners, "This is exactly what to look for." Your doe may show any, all, or none of these signs. ALL DOES ARE DIFFERENT. There is no guarantee what your particular doe will do. You just have to learn her particularities as you go by experience and observation.

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 best way to tell if your doe is going into labor is to know your particular doe and look for anything out of the ordinary.

Ligaments are "gone". (See above) Feeling the ligaments and the tail head are my main warnings that kidding may happen within the next 24 hours.  Note: Ligaments have been known to "come and go"; you can't feel them at all and then they reappear. I have not had this happen very often, but it can happen.

The doe's tail head is noticeably raised. (See above). You can practically put your fingers all the way around the spine right before the tail. Feeling the the tail head and ligaments are my main warnings that kidding may happen sometime within the next 24 hours.

"Far away" look in the doe's eyes. Eyes wide. The whites of eye may get slightly bloodshot.

Pawing at the ground (making a nest). A doe can start doing this many hours before kidding: they can do this all night long only to kid in the mid morning (ask me how I know).  When a doe starts pawing a lot, I keep checking on her knowing she could kid anytime, be it in 1/2 hour or 12 hours.

Laying down, getting up, laying down, getting up, laying down, getting up....  It's really hard to get comfortable when you are really pregnant and going into labor.

Long clear string of "goob" (mucous) hanging from the doe's vagina.  If the goop is amber, it is amniotic fluid, and kidding should happen very soon. (Note: The doe can start having small amounts of opaque white discharge a day, a week or even a month before kidding; this is the "plug").

The doe's udder in full and tight. Some people refer to the udder getting "shiny" or "glossy"; this would be because if the udder getting full and tight, and thus the stretched skin becomes shiny.  Be aware that though it is most common for a doe to "bag up" before she kids, she could wait until the last minute or even not really start "coming into her milk" until after she kids.  Every doe is different.

Note:  It's alwasy good to have Mo'Milk Mix on hand just in case the doe kids without milk or without enough milk to feed her kids. This is an herbal formula I formulated to aid in milk production in lactating animals. 

The doe starts drifting away from the herd. You don't want her having her kids hidden off in the woods somewhere; you might want to go ahead and put her up in the kidding stall.

The doe becomes more vocal. It a doe is normally quiet and all of a sudden starts making little sounds, it may be a good idea to put her up in the kidding stall.

The doe may start talking to her babies before she delivers them. 

The doe may do a lot of stretching and/or yawning.  (see photos below) The stretching can be the doe trying to get the babies in the correct birthing positions. Stretching along with tail arching are actually contractions. I've never been able to figure out the yawning.

The doe may become more affectionate toward you.  The doe may even start licking you.  It is ok to let her do this.  Keep in mind this does not always happen.

The doe may become more afraid of you or not want you to touch her. If the doe is "wild" she may get really wild as she gets closer to kidding.  Other examples: We had a doe who was always extremely friendly but decided she did not want to be touched a few weeks before kidding.  In the middle of labor, as we were assisting her, she changed back to her "old loving self".

If the doe does anything that makes you say, "Gee, she never did that before."

Acting weird.  We have a doe who's only sign of labor is acting slightly odder than usual.


This doe is entering labor.
She is having a mind contraction. 
Note the way she is holding her tail. 
It looks like she is stretching her tailhead up and
her tail is arching toward the ground.


Goldie Jr is kidding for the first time;
we call this being a "first timer". 
She has a little udder and small teats. 
This is a normal udder for a timer.

Note there is no "goo" or any sign of discharge from
her vagina.  She kidded 2 hours after this photo.


Stretching her back out to help get the babies in the correct possition.

Another view of the doe having a contraction. 
Tailhead stretching up and tail arching down
If I see this display from a doe, I do not leave her side
because she is going to kid soon.


All the work was worth it!

Congratulations Goldie Jr on the birth of your first child,
a fine son, Kandinsky.

 

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