Pre/post kidding preparations for dairy goat does and kids

Prepared by Dick & Anne Pigman
Wooden Bridge Ranch
1261 Poppy Valley Road
Buellton, CA 93427
(805) 688-5586

October 15, 1995

    1. Phase I - early labor.
    2. Phase II - actual delivery.
    3. Phase III - clean up.
    4. Problems with delivery.


  1. Vaccinations/shots (30 days prior to kidding)
    1. 2cc - intramuscular - Combination: Perfringens CD & Tetanus toxoid
    2. 1cc/40 lbs - subcutaneous - B0-SE (Vitamin E and selenium).
  2. Grain/training (15 days prior to kidding).
    1. Start does on goat ration 1/2 cup - gradually increase to 2 cups. When doe comes into milk feed grain at the rate of 1 LB per day for maintenance plus 1/2 pound for every LB of milk produced. Divide total by 2 for amount to feed at each milking.
    2. Feed doe on milk stanchion - start training by handling udder.
    3. Make it a happy time with lots of praise - especially important for first fresheners.
  3. Kidding pen/supplies & equipment (5 days prior to kidding).
    1. Clip doe with #10 blade around tail and vent, down back legs and escutcheon, and under belly to navel
    2. Prepare kidding pen - bed with clean dry straw.
    3. Collect kidding supplies:
      1. bucket for warm water
      2. betadine or provodone scrub
      3. surgilube or KY jelly
      4. 7% iodine & small cup
      5. OB loop
      6. newspaper - separated into single sheets
      7. scissors
      8. dental floss
      9. molasses or dark karo
      10. paper towels
      11. udder wash
      12. clean towels
      13. nail brush & nail clippers
    4. Get milking equipment ready.
      1. stainless steel bucket & strainer
      2. gauze milk filters
      3. teat dip
      4. paper towels
      5. scale
      6. record sheets
      7. pasteurization equipment
      8. thermometer
      9. detergent
    5. Collect kid feeding supplies.
      1. 160z pop bottles
      2. nipples - lambbar and pritchard
      3. bottle brushes
      4. funnel
      5. supply of heat treated colostrum


Phase I - early labor.

  1. Isolate doe on her early due date (145th day)
    1. normal gestation is 145 - l55 days
    2. may be necessary to change bedding if doe is in kidding pen more than a day
    3. favorite time of day for delivery is late afternoon or early evening
  2. Signs of early labor!
    1. appears restless
    2. eyes luminous
    3. smells the ground
    4. paws the bedding
    5. looks behind her
    6. stargazes
    7. hollows out.
    8. tail lifts up
    9. rises and lies down frequently
    10. udder begins to fill
    11. vulva becomes flabby
    12. white discharge

Phase II - actual delivery.

  1. Prepare the doe.
    1. wash genital area with udder wash
    2. remove water bucket so babies won't drown
    3. stay with the doe in case she needs help
    4. watch color of discharge carefully
  2. Signs of final labor!
    1. copious discharge
    2. strong labor pains - about 2 minutes apart
    3. ears stand out - lips curl
    4. doe begins to strain
    5. fluid filled bubble may appear
    6. water may break
    7. second bubble may appear
    8. feet and or nose may become visible
  3. Normal presentations: The doe will usually deliver either of the following presentations without assistance:
    1. head lying on the forefeet with the chin about. the knees and kids back toward the does back.
    2. both rear legs in the birth canal with kids back toward the does back.

Phase III - clean up.

  1. Delivery of the afterbirth:
    1. usually occurs within 3-4 hours
    2. may take as long as 12 hours
    3. if not hanging from the doe partially delivered look around in the bedding
    4. doe will sometimes eat the afterbirth
    5. if doe does not clean, may need infusion and/or veterinary assistance
  2. Discharge of excess uterine fluid:
    1. clear to slightly bloody discharge is normal
    2. may occur for 2 to 3 weeks after delivery
    3. if discharge is pus-like or reddish in color and/or increasing in volume, may require antibiotics and/or veterinary assistance

Problems with delivery.

  1. Possible signs of trouble.
    1. doe repeatedly starts pushing hard but gets up and stops labor, then lies down and starts again
    2. doe repeatedly gets up and down and arches her back and elevates her rear end as though trying to line up the babies
    3. discharge is rusty red and beginning to look septic
    4. parts of a baby are visible but doe is unable to deliver in spite of straining very hard
    5. doe is in hard grinding labor for more than 30 -45 minutes with no results

  2. Determine problem.
    1. wash does vulva with mild soap and water
    2. wash your hands and arms and scrub fingernails well
    3. lather hands with betadine scrub and squeeze a generous ribbon of surgilube on the fingers
    4. have an assistant hold or restrain doe
    5. gently enter the vagina and dilate if necessary
    6. feel and identify the parts of the kid that are in the birth canal
    7. determine the problem and the corrective action necessary to rectify

  3. Abnormal presentations.
    1. head first with one foreleg; can be delivered this way but easier on the doe if you reach in and find the other leg and carefully pull it forward so the head is resting on both legs. The kid should deliver easily now. Just be sure the head and legs belong to the same kid.

    2. head first with no legs; cannot be delivered this way. Similar to the previous case, but you will probably have to reach in and push the kids head back to make room for the legs. Slide your hand along the head and neck until you find the shoulders, then locate the feet and gently bring them forward with the head resting on the legs. Kid should deliver easily now but you may need to help pull.

    3. breach position with hocks first; cannot be delivered this way but easy to correct. Just reach in and find the feet and carefully pull them forward so both rear feet are together and extended through the vulva. The kid should deliver easily now.

    4. breach position with rump and tail; similar to the previous case; but you will probably have to reach in and push the kids rump back to make room for the legs. Slide your hand along the rump until you find the legs, then locate the feet and carefully bring them forward so both rear feet are together and extended through the vulva. The kid should deliver easily now but you may need to help pull.

    5. front feet first with head upside down; can be delivered this way but may be easier on the kid if you rotate the entire kid so that the kid's back is upward toward the does back. Sometimes it is hard to turn the kid around if the feet and/or head are already visible. Just make sure that the kid curves around the doe's pelvic arch as much as possible even if it is slightly twisted. You will probably need to help pull the kid.

    6. feet first with head thrown back. cannot be delivered this way. This is probably the most difficult of the abnormal presentations to correct, especially if the doe has been in hard, unproductive labor for a considerable time and/or the kid is very weak. You will have to reach in and follow along the body and then along the neck until you locate the head. You may be surprised at how long the neck is and how deep you have to go (up to your elbow). The trick is to get the head forward and keep it there! If the kid is weak the head will keep flopping back every time you withdraw your hand to pull on the legs. In this case you will need your OB puller. A rubber one is best but you can use a thin noose made of nylon cord. Carry the noose in with your hand and slip it over the kids head. Position the head on the front legs and snug up the loop. Keep tension on the puller with your free hand and then withdraw your hand and grasp the feet. Pull on the feet and the loop at the same time and the kid should deliver just fine. Use plenty of surgilube as this is time consuming and things start to dry out. The kid may be weak and the doe tired. See also complications.

    7. two heads with somebody's feet; cannot be delivered this way. Although this situation is somewhat intimidating at first, it is fairly easy to correct. The trick is to match up the head and feet of the same goat. Usually one kid's head will be more advanced than the other so push the other back and feel along the neck to the chest and down each leg until you can locate the feet of the kid whose head is more advanced. You may have to push the other kid kid back quite a ways to make room to work. Then carefully bring the feet forward until the head is resting on the legs. The kid should deliver easily now but you may have to help pull the kid.

    8. mismatched head and feet; cannot be delivered this way. This usually occurs because one kid is Presented head first with it legs back and a second kid's feet and legs have slid under the first kid's head. Since there is no room for the second kid's head it is usually turned back along its side. You will have to push the second kid back to make room to work. S1ide your hand along the first kid's head and neck to the chest and then down each leg until you locate the feet. Then carefully bring the feet forward until the head is resting on the legs. The kid should deliver easily now but you may have to help pull the kid. When you go back for the second kid the head will usually be presented normally or will come forward easily so that it is resting on its forelegs. The kid should deliver easily but you may have to help pull the kid. If you have trouble keeping the head forward see the previous discussion on using an OB loop.

    9. no presentation, necessary to determine if the doe is sufficiently dilated and the cervix is open. The os, (opening to the cervix) should be dilated at least three fingers for normal birth. If not dilated then it may be too early. Wait a while and check the doe again. You can't hurt the doe by checking. If the cervix is open and all you feel is a side or ribs the kid is probably dead, but there may be live kids behind it: Push the dead kid back until you can turn it so that it is presented front feet/head first, or hind feet first Use plenty of surgilube as the dead kids seem to be dry. You will have to pull the kid since the doe will probably not push very hard.

  4. Possible complications.
    1. infection; if invasion has been extensive or prolonged, may need antibiotics
    2. swelling, if excessive may need analgesic
    3. tears; either by the doe or the herdsman may require antibiotics and an analgesic
    4. depression; if severe, may need a lot of comforting
    5. an exceptionally traumatic delivery may require several days of treatment including intrauterine infusion. May need to call your veterinarian


  1. Care of the doe.
    1. Give the doe a warm drink of water to which you might add a little molasses or dark karo.
    2. Keep the doe in a confined area until she cleans
    3. After the doe has rested a bit take her into the milk room, get her up on the milk stanchion and milk out the colostrum.
    4. You may have to help her up on the stanchion. If the doe has had a really rough kidding, you may have to milk her flat.
    5. After she is milked out, you can medicate her if necessary.
    6. Keep the milk separate for three milkings as it still contains colostrum in decreasing amounts.
    7. Watch the doe's grain and water consumption carefully for the next couple of weeks. If she goes off feed or seems depressed you have to worry about ketosis If you suspect ketosis, ask an experienced herdsman or your veterinarian for advise on treatment.

  2. Care of the kid.
    1. Clear the newborn kid's nose and mouth of any fluid . Then dry it off with single sheets of newspaper. Later you can use a towel but get as much of the slime off as you can with newspaper. Some herdsmen wash the kids in warm water in the sink and then blow dry them with a hair dryer. Good idea if you have the right setup in your barn. If the kid seems weak or chilled use a blow dryer or rub vigorously with a dry towel. Place the baby in a box of clean straw and put a heat lamp on it until it is dry. Kids should be trying to stand up within 10-15 minutes.

    2. Dip the naval with 7% strong iodine. Use a little cup and keep it off your hands. It is strong! Repeat two or three times within the first hour to make sure the entire umbilical area is covered. If the umbilical cord is bleeding, tie it off with dental floss about 1 and 1/2 inches from the body. If the umbilical cord is too long, tear it off about 1 and 1/2 inches long. Use your finger nails to tear it. Do Not Cut with scissors as it tends to bleed. Redip with strong iodine.

    3. The newborn kid will need 4 oz to 8 oz of heat treated colostrum in the first 4 hours. Keep coaxing the newborn to nurse. They may do better if it is quiet and there are no distractions. Let the baby have all the colostrum it will drink usually about 4 ounces a feeding. If it refuses or drinks very little, wait 1/2 hour or so and try again. In subsequent feedings continue to feed colostrum until the baby has consumed at least one pint, and then switch to regular milk after 24 hours. newborn kids should be fed 4 times a day for the first couple of days and then you can cut back to 3 times a day until they are consuming a least a pint at a feeding. Then you can cut them down to 2 times a day.

      Giving new babies their first bottle(s) is sometimes a trial. Just be patient and keep, trying until you get the baby to nurse. It is usually easier to hold the baby on your lap for the first few feedings. Most of them will start sucking right away but you may have to pry their mouth open to get the nipple in. Just remember, the baby is programmed to reach up to nurse its mother so you need to elevate the bottle and make the baby reach for it. Keep some tension on the nipple by pulling the bottle slightly away from the kid. Do not push the nipple into the baby's mouth. Apparently, this does not feel natural and the baby will try to back away.

      After the babies are on regular milk, give them one to two pints of warm milk in the morning and one to two pints of warm milk in the evening. It is best to feed them at about the same time every day. DO NOT OVER FEED! The babies are greedy little pigs and will eagerly drink somebody else's bottle, so keep track of who has been fed. Too much milk will make them scour. Just be sure to keep everything clean. 16oz pop bottles work fine and are cheap. Lamb nipples work well but are hard to get on the bottles. A better choice are the lamb bar nipples. They fit most bottles and the babies seem to like them. However, if you run across a kid that is weak and/or just won't take the regular nipples, you might try a Pritchard flutter valve nipple which is very soft and pliable and much smaller. You can order any of these nipples from the major mail order suppliers.

    4. Baby goats are usually disbudded when they are 4 or 5 days old. It seems to bother them less when they are younger. Many herdsmen use a disbudding box and plans are available for building your own. If you are new to this Procedure, it will probably be best to have an experienced herdsman do it for you at first. Eventually you will want to get your own disbudding box and iron and learn to do it yourself. Have somebody that knows how to do it coach you until you gain confidence.

    5. Tattooing the babies is usually done at the same time that they are disbudded, especially if you use a disbudding box The tattoo tongs and letter/number sets are fairly expensive so you may want to have an experienced herdsman do it for you at first. After you start producing a lot of babies, you will probably want to get your own tongs. If you share tongs and/or letters with somebody just remember that the tattoo usually bleeds and you want to be careful exchanging blood with other goats. The CAE virus is present in all body fluids of a positive animal.

    6. It is really important to establish a regular prevention program to control coccidiosis in the baby kids. There are several choices among the drugs that are recommended for the control of coccidia; all of, which are off label for dairy goats. One of the most popular is Corid (20% amprolium. The usual regimen is to treat the babies monthly beginning at one month of age and continuing until they are 7 months old. Treat for 5 consecutive days and then withdraw for 21 days. The simplest way to administer Corid is to add it to the milk at the rate of 1/2 level teaspoon to a gallon. This works well for an approximate 20 LB baby being fed 1 and 1/2 pints of milk per feeding. Larger babies will require proportionately more per gallon. If the babies are weaned then you will have to prepare a drench. Add 1 and 1/2 ounces (5 1/4 level tablespoons) of Corid to one quart (32 ounces) of water and then administer 3cc of the mix for every 10 pounds goat, once daily, for 5 days.

    7. The babies acquire immunity to most diseases from their mother in utero and are protected for the first 30 days their life. After that they need their own vaccinations to remain protected. Assuming the doe received the requisite vaccinations for overeating disease, tetanus, and white muscle disease the babies will need the following vaccinations/shots at 30 days, followed by a booster at 60 days and a second booster at 180 days:
      1. 2cc - intramuscular - Combination: Perfringens CD & Tetanus toxoid
      2. 1cc/40 lbs - subcutaneous - B0-SE (Vitamin E and selenium).

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