How to Get Ready for Kidding
4 of 8 in Series: The Essentials of Caring for Pregnant and Nursing Goats
To make your goat's kidding go more easily and protect both dam (mother) and kids, you need to take certain precautions before the big event. Here are some tips for having a successful kidding season.
Preparing the doe
During the last two months of pregnancy you need to do some routine care to make sure that the doe and you have an easy kidding. You can take a few simple steps to ensure that everything goes well both during and after the kidding:
Give a BoSe shot: If you are in a selenium-deficient area, give her a BoSe shot — a prescription selenium/vitamin E combination — five weeks before the expected kidding date. Doing so helps prevent uterine dystocia (abnormal labor), aids in passing the placenta, and helps prevent white muscle disease in kids.
Vaccinate with CDT toxoid vaccine: If you vaccinate your goats, give a CDT booster shot four weeks prior to the expected kidding date. Doing so provides the new kids with some immunity from enterotoxemia and tetanus in the first few months of life.
Trim the tail and udder area: Trimming a week or so before the expected kidding date helps the doe stay cleaner during and after kidding. For goats with hairy udders, a trim makes it easier for kids to find the nipple and start nursing. A few weeks after kidding, the doe will develop some bloody discharge that builds up around the tail area. Removing the hair minimizes build-up.
Stop milking: If your goat is still lactating, you need to stop milking her for the last two months of the pregnancy so that her energy goes into growing the kids and preparing her body for the pregnancy. She won't need as much grain when she stops milking, but don't decrease it suddenly.
Setting up a kidding pen
Start getting a pen ready for kidding a few days before the pregnancy reaches the 145-day mark. Clean any used straw or wood shavings from the pen, sanitize the walls with bleach water and put in a thick layer of fresh straw or wood shavings. Sanitize an empty bucket and have it ready for water when the time is right.
Put together a kidding kit
Putting together a kidding kit takes a little time up front, but it saves you time and trouble in the long run. At a minimum, make sure you have the following items available at kidding:
Seven-percent iodine for dipping cords
A film can or prescription bottle to hold iodine when you dip cords
Flashlight, if you don't have good lighting in your kidding area
Phone numbers for your veterinarian and a more experienced goat owner in case of complications that you can't handle
Dental floss for tying cord before cutting
Bulb suction for clearing kids' nostrils or airway
Old towels (one for each kid you expect, plus an extra)
Betadine surgical scrub for washing the goat and your hands if you need to assist with the delivery
Sterilized surgical scissors for cutting the umbilical cord
Disposable examination gloves
K-Y Jelly or obstetrical lube
A feeding syringe and tube for feeding weak kids
Empty feed bags to put under your goat and to use for after-kidding clean-up
Empty pop bottle with Pritchard teat, in case you need to bottle-feed