Preparing For Kidding
With kidding just around the corner, it is essential that you are prepared. Preparing for kidding can be just as difficult and time consuming as the kidding itself. You must make sure your does have the correct level of vitamins, minerals and feed, and that you have a kidding pen and supplies ready.
Lack of the right vitamins and minerals is the biggest cause of dystocia in goats. Well-fed and supplemented goats almost never have long, hard labors, malpresented kids, and the like, which sadly, people have accepted as normal. It is not normal-there is an underlying issue which is usually a mineral deficiency. For example, in 2012 our goats had the correct blend of minerals. We had 3 goats kid and one problem in the goat that had quads. After kidding the milk tasted bad due to the minerals they were getting so the next year, nobody had minerals. We had four does kid and all four needed help and one retained her placenta. You must supplement minerals even if they are getting grain. Some people have said that the grain mix gives all the minerals your goats need. This simply is not true. Below are the most essential minerals.
Copper- For the most part, copper does not cause dystocia but affects the kids instead. Kids out of copper deficient does are often weak, cannot stand or even nurse, and have bone abnormalities. Most do not live.
The best way to give copper is to find a good, loose mineral with the correct level of copper in it, and feed it free choice. Another option is to top-dress the doe’s grain with a teaspoon of copper sulfate weekly. Also, you can bolus twice yearly but it is better if they can have a more regular supply.
Selenium- Selenium deficiency can cause stillborn kids, malpresentation, retained placenta, weak and unthrifty kids, crooked legs in newborn kids, and abortions. Selenium and Vitamin E work hand in hand so make sure you have sufficient amounts of both. Kelp is a very good source of Selenium and should be fed free choice. It should supply all of the Selenium needed. BoSe is and injectable source of Selenium and Vitamin E which should be given to kids and adults as needed. The dosage is 2ccs for adults and ½cc for newborn kids that have crooked legs. BoSe is RX only. However, if kelp is fed free choice this should not be necessary.
Potassium- Lack of potassium causes dystocia. If a doe does not have potassium, her blood vessels become constricted especially in the uterus and cervix. Without a sufficient blood supply, they do not perform as they should. Apple cider vinegar is one of the best sources of potassium. It is cheap, easy to feed, (just dump it in their water) and has numerous other benefits. Make sure you buy the unpasteurized kind with the “mother” still in it.
Vitamin A- The reproductive system gets very weak and ill without Vitamin A. Kids usually die within two weeks if the dam was Vitamin A deficient. Good quality alfalfa hay contains all of the Vitamin A that goats need. The vitamin also comes in injectable form from your local feed store.
Calcium- If calcium needs are not met, does are very likely to get mastitis, and milk fever. A good source is dolomite powder.
Feed is also important. Most of the growth of the fetus is in the last two months of pregnancy. Therefore, does should be given grain during that time. The grain you feed should have 16% protein. It is best to start with a small handful and work your way up so that when they kid they are getting about 2 cups of grain daily.
Raspberry leaf is a good supplement to give to goats in the last four weeks of pregnancy. It contains numerous vitamins and minerals which strengthen the uterus and leads to a fast, easy kidding.
Although it is not essential, and kidding pen for the doe is very helpful to have. It allows the doe to give birth without dominant does bothering her, and you don’t have to deal with curious, friendly goats eating your supplies or hair when attending the labor. It also gives the kids a chance to get steady on their feet and become able to move fast enough to escape head-butting herd-mates.
The pen should be at least 6x6 with solid walls so the kids cannot crawl through any gaps. The water buckets should be hung on the wall so a doe doesn’t accidentally birth a kid right into the bucket. Kids may also be playing around and fall right into the bucket and drown so please elevate those buckets for a couple of days following birth. Also, have a nice, clean bed of straw laid for the doe.
A kidding kit can vary greatly with contents. Mine consists of towels, a feeding tube, SuperLube, and a bottle. Most people recommend towels, SuperLube, bulb syringe, iodine, floss, scissors, gloves, paper towels, and garbage bags. I choose to keep things basic but either way is fine. Make sure you get a lot of towels-it is always a lot messier then it seems like it should be.
So now you should be prepared-or be getting prepared anyway. Always remember-minerals are invaluable when it comes to health and kidding, a kidding pen is handy, and a kidding kit doesn’t have to be all that complicated. Good luck, happy kidding, and have lots of does!