April 2009 Issue



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Pregnancy and kidding are serious medical conditions that can be dangerous for both dam and kids. Producers must be prepared to assist when problems occur. A species that has early sexual maturity, short gestation, and multiple births can experience dystocia (kidding problems). Hopefully producers will not encounter these conditions, but it is wise to prepared for the worst while hoping for the best.


  • Gestation: length of time from breeding date to kidding date
  • Parturition: the act of giving birth
  • Dystocia: any type of kidding problem
  • Normal body (rectal) temperature: 101.5* F to 103.5*F

The doe's pregnancy ranges from 147 to 155 days. Gestation for triplets, quadruplets, or more is slightly shorter. Triplets, quads, or more kids may be born prematurely. Premature kids have unerupted teeth (teeth completely in the gums). Kids born either hairless or with all teeth completely in the gums often do not survive, regardless of supportive care. Kids born 7 to 10 days' premature have under-developed lungs and almost always die. Breathing problems are common in premature kids because the lungs are the last major organ to develop fully. Premature and full-term kids can be born in the same litter. The kid that didn't get enough nutrition in utero will be premature. Bucklings at full term have teeth that are only slightly through the gums, while full-term doelings are born with teeth completely out of the gums. If a premature kid survives, it may have continuing health problems throughout its life.

Improper breeding (a large-breed buck bred to a smaller-breed doe) can result in the inability of the doe to deliver big-framed kids (dystocia). In such cases, Caesarean section is usually required. Pulling kids that are too large can result in tearing the doe's uterus, resulting in her inability to breed or her death.item11

Several days before the pregnant doe's labor begins, she will leave her herd to find a quiet place to give birth and bond with her newborn kids. Kidding in crowded areas results in babies and dam not learning each other's smells and sounds and leads to abandoned, starving, or dead kids. Does without kids may steal another doe's newborns yet have no milk with which to feed them.

The worse the weather, the more likely the doe is to go into labor. Changes in barometric pressure may influence kidding. Labor is beginning when the doe paws the ground, lays down, gets up, paces, and paws the ground repeatedly. When the doe starts the kidding process, small amounts of white mucous ooze from her vagina. When labor starts, a tear-drop-shaped bubble emerges from the doe's vagina. At this point, her water has not broken, the placental sacs are intact, and the kids are still breathing through their connection to her body. After the bubble bursts ("water breaking"), there may be a gush of fluid yet the placentas may still be unbroken. This can be a very confusing time for the producer. Each kid has its own sac (except for identical twins).

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If a kid doesn't appear immediately, the only way to know for sure is to glove up, insert two or three fingers into the vulva, and carefully feel for an intact placental sac. Do not break the sac. If the cervix has not dilated, the producer won't be able to reach the sac. If the cervix has dilated, the doe is pushing, the kid is not coming out, and the placental sac has broken, then pull the kid, using the techniques described in this article. The kid must come out quickly or it will drown in placental fluid. Do not wait for a struggling doe to push a difficult birth out if the placental sac has broken.



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