PREPARING FOR KIDDING
PREPARING FOR KIDDING
Preparing for kidding must begin when does are placed with a buck for breeding. Good management practices -- proper feeding, clean water, top-quality hay, clean and dry pens, proper bedding materials, plenty of space (no over-crowding) -- are part of the larger picture. The information provided below will give you the tools you need for kidding to go as smoothly as possible and with less illness and death.
UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE TO SPEND CONSIDERABLE MONEY TO GET SET UP PROPERLY. Also understand that the money you spend to get ready for kidding is going to be FAR LESS than you will incur with dead kids and dead moms because you don't have the medicines and supplies that you need and you won't be able to get them when you need them. Believe me when I tell you that kidding problems will occur in the worst weather on a holiday weekend when vets are unavailable and stores either are closed or don't have the items you need. Even if you reach a vet, very few of them know anything about goats or have any interest in them. Murphy's Law will be in play: if things can get worse, they will. YOU must be prepared in advance.
My website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has many articles that will be helpful to you. Take the time to read, print, and put them in a binder that you can access when you need help. Feel free to contact me via phone if you need additional information. I am not a vet, but I've been raising meat goats since January 1990, host several meat-goat groups on the Internet (ChevonTalk and GoatER on Yahoogroups), publish MeatGoatMania on Yahoogroups monthly, and offer a one-of-a-kind meat-goat education program called GoatCamp™ on my Texas ranch every October. Details at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.
Readying the Facilities
Set up kidding/bonding pens for problem births which inevitably occur. Five-foot sections of lightweight tubular metal with 4 inch by 4 inch panels welded to them and a gate in one panel work well. They assemble and break down easily and can be set up in different configurations by removing dividing panels to make larger pens. My kidding/bonding pens were purchased from Northeast Gate Company in Paris, Texas in the late 1990's, and I've been pleased with their durability, functionality, and ease of use.
Provide shelter from wind, rain, and cold weather. (My website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has a Fencing and Pens article on the Articles page.) Provide a place where kids can sleep away from dams so they don't get injured, smothered, or crushed. A shed with the inside walls lined with railroad ties at ground level and a low narrow bench built above the ties provides a good place for kids to hide. Kids can get off the ground and sleep on the railroad ties, while dams sleep on the bench above or on the ground near them. Do not enclose the underside of the bench; kids will pile on top of each other to keep warm and kids on the bottom will suffocate if a vertical wall blocks their escape.
All birthing/bonding areas should be free of ants and other pests. Ants can eat the eyes, noses, and mucous membrane tissues of newborn kids, causing permanent damage. Before using ant killer or ant bait, read the labels and talk with your vet about products safe for use around goats. I use Amdro ant bait, but ants aren't a serious problem in dry West Texas, so I don't know how extensively Amdro can be used where ants are plentiful.
Clean dry hay should be spread on the ground in advance of using these small pens. Do not use wood shavings in kidding areas. Shavings get into kids' mouths and noses, causing breathing problems, and they also interfere with mom's ability to use her tongue to clean her newborns.During very cold or cold and wet weather, I use reflector heat lamps with bulb guards in areas where kids sleep. Newborns and very young kids have difficulty regulating internal body temperature, but they can usually tolerate cold so long as their tummies are full of milk and they stay dry. In areas of moderate cold such as the southern half of the United States, infrared bulbs are usually too hot and some of them produce a very bright light that can be uncomfortable for both dams' and kids' eyes. Keep electrical cords out of reach to prevent kids from hanging themselves or chewing on them. Water buckets should be shallow and carefully placed to avoid a kid's drowning in them. Make provision during freezing weather to provide warm water to both dam and kids. Learning how to THINK LIKE A GOAT™ will help prevent injuries and deaths. Goats are extremely curious animals.
Do not overcrowd goats. Goats require more space per individual than most other livestock species. Goats are like deer; they stress easily. Since goats have very fast metabolisms, they produce large quantities of urine and feces. Does need space to bond with their kids -- to learn their kids' smells and sounds -- and kids require the same. Overcrowding leads to filth (concentrations of urine, feces, and soiled/wasted hay) and filth leads to disease and death. The two biggest challenges in raising goats in any sort of managed conditions are overcrowding and proper nutrition and the problems which result. This point cannot be over-emphasized.
Purchase in advance of kidding the following essential supplies. Every item has an important useful purpose. Other articles that I've written explain their usages. Items in this first section can be purchase at Jeffers (1-800-533-3377) or in some instances your local WalMart.
Make an adult goat stomach tube with funnel attached and PVC pipe to thread the tube through; see my article on Stomach Tubing on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com. This is a big must do. Save 16 oz or 20 oz disposable plastic soda-water bottles with screw-on caps. Accumulate a supply of plastic bags such as those that WalMart uses to sack purchases.
From your vet:
NOTE: Some of these items may be restricted for use with goats, depending upon the ultimate purpose for which they are being raised. Slaughter-bound goats must be medicated differently from breeding stock, pets, and show goats. Consult your vet for appropriate usage instructions.
I REPEAT: When these items are needed, you won't have time to go get them. So buy them NOW. Designate a refrigerator specifically for goat supplies that require refrigeration. Select cabinets or shelves for medications and supplies that can withstand normal room temperatures.Storing medications in a barn is a good way to ruin them. Products, including medicines, can often be safely used beyond expiration dates if they are stored at recommended temperatures and away from sunlight. Set up a workspace, including sink and running water. Get everything organized and properly labeled. I sticker all medications with date purchased, from whom, and price for future reference and replacement. Be prepared for your first kidding emergency because it will happen.
Preparing Does for Kidding
If abortions have been an issue in the herd, I inject each doe with Oxytetracycline 200 mg/mL before placing them with a buck and every 30 days thereafter until each doe gives birth. There are several articles on www.tennesseemeatgoats.com dealing with abortion diseases and how to handle them.
Six weeks before the first doe is expected to kid, I de-worm all pregnant does with one of the clear dewormers given orally (not the *white* dewormers). Do not use Valbazen; it can induce abortions. At the same time, I boost the does' CD/T vaccinations. Kids are not born with their own working immune systems; the CD/T booster given their dams both protects the pregnant does and passes immunities to the kids which usually last until their immune systems start limited functioning around one month of age. I clean the does' systems of coccidia parasites by dosing them orally individually for five consecutive days with either Albon or its generic equivalent Dimethox 12.5% oral solution. CoRid is another product for this purpose but it inhibits thiamine production, so if you have to use CoRid, also administer Vitamin B 1 (thiamine) injections. An added advantage to using Albon or DiMethox 12.5% is that both contain an antibiotic to handle secondary infections. I also boost the does' pneumonia vaccine and I give them a sub-cutaneous (SQ) injection of Mineral Max or Multi Min. This product is a chelated (slow release) formulation of zinc, manganese, selenium, and copper that are vital to the doe's health and her ability to deliver kids.
If time permits, trim hooves and tail webs. Hoof trimming is a good management practice. A doe with hoof rot or hoof scald cannot forage/browse well enough to produce adequate milk for her kids. A hairy tail web retains feces and placental matter after kidding.
Do not "flush" pregnant does with extra feed immediately prior to kidding. Grain should be very gradually increased during the last month of pregnancy, when fetuses are rapidly growing. Overgraining or improperly graining a heavily-pregnant doe can cause several serious pregnancy diseases(ketosis, pregnancy toxemia, hypocalcemia) that can kill the doe and her unborn kids. Offer grass hay on a free-choice basis. Feed grain preferably before noontime -- especially in very cold weather -- and take up any that has not been consumed in 15 minutes. Do not feed extra grain at night. Instead, make extra hay available. As fetuses grow, the size of the doe's rumen decreases. The doe must have sufficient top-quality grass hay to keep her rumen functioning and still permit some room for grain intake. The long fiber in grass hay stimulates rumen wall contractions which in turn creates body heat to keep the goat warm. Feeding grain properly can be a tricky balancing act in managed herds -- and particularly to heavily pregnant does. When feeding alfalfa or other legume hay, I gradually discontinue feeding it during the last four weeks of gestation. Legume hays (alfalfa and peanut) are high in calcium. As parturition approaches, the doe's body must release calcium from her bones. If she is being fed a high-calcium diet, calcium release from her bones will not happen and Hypocalcemia ("milk fever") can occur. Hypocalcemia is a life threatening illness for the doe and her unborn kids.
Don't forget the importance of exercise to the pregnant doe. Fat does can easily experience dystocia (kidding problems). Don't let heavily-pregnant does become *couch potatoes.* The time for extra grain is when the doe has kids on the ground and is making lots of milk (lactating).
With shelter and sufficient space in place, proper hay and grain and minerals available, supplies at the ready, and does in top condition, let the kidding begin!
Suzanne W. Gasparotto ONION CREEK RANCH 1-12-14
Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
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