Caring for a Doe and Her New Kid
7 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Caring for Pregnant and Nursing Goats
Your goats are likely to be fine giving birth without assistance, but after they kid, there are some things you can do to help the doe and her kid get off to a good start. The first thing to do when a doe is done kidding is to get her a bucket of warm water with a little molasses (about two gallons of water with 1/4-cup molasses) for energy. Then get her some grain and some fresh alfalfa to munch on while her kids learn to walk and nurse, and while you wait for the placenta.
After a doe has kidded, she goes into the third stage of labor: delivery of the placenta. This stage can take up to 12 hours, but usually the doe passes her placenta within an hour or two of kidding. If she has not done so within that time, contact your veterinarian. Dispose of the placenta by burying it deep, composting it, or burning it.
The dam will try to eat her placenta — most mammals do. You can allow her to take a few bites, but watch that she doesn’t choke on it.
Clean the kidding area of soaked straw and feed bags and add fresh straw. If you will be bottle-feeding, milk the doe out (milk all the colostrum out of her udder), heat-treat the colostrum if needed, and feed it to kids or freeze it for emergency.
Newborn kids may complain about being handled, but they need to be warmed and stimulated so they can get up. After the birth of a single kid, or between the births of multiple kids, take these steps with each newborn:
Use a towel to help the dam clean the kid.
Make sure you uncover the face first and determine whether the kid is breathing. If he isn’t breathing, rub the body to stimulate him; if that doesn’t work, swing him.
If you are on a CAEV prevention program or plan to raise the kids separately on a bottle, don’t let the dam clean the kid. Instead, wash the kid and put him in a separate box from other newborn kids until each has been washed and dried.
Tie the cord with dental floss and cut it about an inch from the kid’s body.
Dip the cord.
Pour some iodine into a film can or prescription bottle and hold it over the umbilical cord stump up to the belly. Turn the kid to coat the whole cord. Treating the cord with iodine helps prevent navel ill.
Check the kid for gender, number of teats, and any abnormalities.
Feed the kid.
Put the kid under the dam if it will be dam-raised. Watch the kid for the next 15 minutes or so. If she has trouble latching on and sucking well, help her out by moving her near the teat or putting the teat in her mouth. Some kids really resist; other little goats latch on and don’t back down.
Offer a warm bottle with several ounces of heat-treated colostrum if the kids will be bottle-fed.
To heat-treat colostrum, heat it in a jar in a hot water bath to 135 degrees Fahrenheit and hold it at that heat for one hour. Do not let the temperature go higher than 140 degrees or below 130 degrees.