January 2018 Issue



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Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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Eating the placenta ("afterbirth"):   It is normal for the doe to eat all or part of her afterbirth during the birthing process  -- sometimes  before she feeds them. Do not throw away the placental material until she has had this opportunity. Consuming the afterbirth assists in milk let-down and production. If she kicks dirt over it or ignores it, she is likely through with it. Handle placental material   using disposable gloves.  Some diseases, especially abortion illnesses,   are transmitted through contact with afterbirth and may be zoonotic (transmissible to humans). Remove discarded placental material to avoid attracting predators and insects. Ants will attack a kid's mucous membranes and eyes. Keep birthing/bonding areas ant free. Read insecticide labels for safety of use around livestock.

Teat flow & nursing:   During the first 24 hours of the kid's life, check  colostrum  flow in the dam's  teats.   Some teats have small orifices that restrict milk flow.   Mastitis and congested udder can occur at any time.  Make sure the kids are nursing   both teats.   Kids tend to stick with the first teat they nursed.  This can result in a lopsided udder and inadequate milk  if  they are all sucking the same side.

Colostrum:   Make sure that each kid gets adequate colostrum. This thick, rich, yellowish-colored first milk is vital to the kid's survival. Colostrum contains essential antibodies unique to your specific location to protect the newborn and kickstarts the kid's digestive, respiratory, and immune systems. (Bring  only open, i.e. not bred  does to your property   and give them time to adapt and develop antibodies that are location-specific to protect the health of their kids before breeding them. This is why you should never buy bred does. )

The dam has all the colostrum  that she will produce when she gives birth. When that udder full of colostrum has been consumed, she begins to produce  milk.   Make sure that colostrum is   used to benefit her kids.  Each kid needs about one ounce of colostrum for every pound of body weight in its first 12 hours of life, which equates to  about 10-12% of body weight in colostrum over 24 hours.

Meconium ("plug"):   The kid should pass the meconium shortly after receiving its first colostrum. This "rectal plug" is black, sticky,  and won't appear again. Subsequent milk feces will be "mustard yellow."  Some does' colostrum is so rich that the feces will harden on the kid's rear. Pull it off and apply  petroleum jelly on the kid's butt to prevent re-sticking.   This will change as the doe's colostrum turns to milk.  Occasionally a doe's colostrum is so thick that you may have to thin it with a small amount of water for the kid to be able to suck it from her udder.

Navel cord:   After the kids have been cleaned and fed (or sooner, if wet weather),  carefully cut the navel cord to a shorter length if it is dragging the ground and dip it up to the belly  in strong iodine to prevent infection. Joint Ill, also known as Navel Ill, occurs when bacteria travels  up the newborn's wet navel cord and into its body. Bacteria wicked up the wet navel cord can incubate for weeks, usually settling in the leg joints, causing pain and lameness that,  if left untreated,  never goes away.

Thiamine and BoSe:   Stressed or "dumb-acting"  kids should be given a 1/2 cc injection of Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) IM; thiamine tends to "wake up" the kid's brain.   If selenium deficiency exists in your area,  injection of 1/2 cc BoSe is appropriate.

Uterine infection (metritis):   Any manual entry into the doe's body increases the risk of bacterial infection (metritis).  I administer Penicillin sub-cutaneously over the ribs using an 18-gauge needle for five consecutive days at a dosage rate of five cc's per 100 pounds bodyweight after all the kids are delivered and the dam has cleaned and fed them.  After a difficult delivery, I give the dam a Banamine  injection  to take the edge off her pain so she is more interested in her kids.

Flushing the uterus:   If the delivery was difficult and I  had to go in manually to pull kids,  I flush the doe's uterus as soon as she has delivered and fed her kids before the cervix closes  with a solution of equal parts of Oxytetracycline 200 mg/mL (LA 200 or equivalent) and distilled water delivered through a douching syringe or large enema bulb. A  Sterile Saline Solution  may be substituted if oxytet 200 mg/ml and distilled water are not available. Once the kids are pulled, I may give the doe a 6 cc injection of dexamethasone IM (dosage based upon 100 pound liveweight of dam). Three days after getting the kids out, if the doe survives, I may give her   2 cc lutalyse to clean her out. The possibility of tearing the uterus is very high with  difficult births; she may bleed out.   If she survives for 72 hours after the difficult birth and is peeing, pooping, eating, and drinking normally, the dam will probably live.   Caesarian section is advisable under these conditions if a vet is available.

Udder problems:   A large udder does not necessarily mean lots of milk. The doe could have mastitis   and  the udder  could be filled with swollen tissue  (edema)  rather than  milk.    Check regularly for milk flow and sufficient amount of   milk by hands-on inspection.  For at least the first week of the kid's life, check the kid  several times a day to make sure it is getting enough milk. Place the kid on the ground in standing position, supporting its own body. Put your  four fingers in front of the back legs and feel the stomach. It should be firm but neither tight nor loose. A kid has no reserves to fall back on and its body is solely focused on growth. When it is empty, the kid has to be refilled with milk or dehydration and starvation will occur within a few  hours.

Sometimes people incorrectly    attribute dead kids to having been hit or sat upon when death is usually the result of hypothermia (sub-normal body temperature resulting in   dehydration and starvation). Newborn and young kids have difficulty regulating their body temperatures.  They can be fine in the morning and dead by early afternoon.  A tummy full of milk means less chance of hypothermia, dehydration, and starvation.    With  goats, it is usually the simplest thing.

Feverish kid:      Occasionally a kid is born with fever or develops fever shortly after birth. Feverish  kids will not nurse. You must get the fever down with medication and hydration, then tube-feed the kid with colostrum until it gets strong enough to nurse its dam. If you bottle feed the kid, it will learn the feel of that nipple and will be difficult to get onto its dam's teat. Generally one injection of Banamine  along with   five (5)  days of  Excenel RTU  will solve the problem. SQ administration of Lactated Ringers will help rehydrate the kid.

Abortion diseases  & weak kid:   Some births occur normally but the kid  is  weak and unable to stand. Late-term abortion diseases are  one cause of Weak Kid Syndrome.   I put a hypothermic kid in a sink of warm water to bring its core body temperature above 100*F before I stomach tube colostrum (or anything else) into it.   Do not put colostrum or milk into a chilled kid.   Body temperature must be above 100*F before putting  anything into a kid's stomach.      When a  kid is chilled and struggling to survive, its body diverts blood from the stomach to essential-for-survival organs like heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver, leaving insufficient blood flow to the milk stomach to digest colostrum or milk. If you put colostrum or milk into a chilled kid, you will likely kill it. See  my article entitled Health Problems of Newborn Kids on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Dead in utero:  Fetal development can stop for many reasons and the fetus can die inside the pregnant doe. If a live healthy kid is behind the dead fetus, labor contractions will stop, the kids will die, and the doe will die from toxins produced by the decaying fetuses  inside her.  You need  to learn the warning signs of a doe in the early stages of labor who doesn't give birth and know how to get those kids out. See my article entitled Health Problems of Pregnant and Lactating Does on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Passing the placenta:  The doe should pass her afterbirth within 24 hours after delivering all her kids. Retained afterbirth is life-threatening. Afterbirth is not considered "retained" until 24 hours after kidding. If  you are  absolutely positive that the doe has not passed the placental material and 24 hours has passed since she kidded (she  or your livestock guardian dogs  may have eaten it), then a 2 cc injection of oxytocin should be given to clean her out. Do not  pull on the hanging afterbirth; it must separate  naturally or she will bleed out and die. Don't be alarmed if the doe sloughs a bloody discharge for a couple of weeks  after kidding.   So long as the material isn't filled with bright-red blood, this is normal.

Necropsy:    If a doe aborts or has a dead kid inside her, you should have a necropsy done on the dead kid to find out why. An organism may exist within your herd which could affect other pregnant does and the health of your entire herd. Refrigerate (do not freeze) the kid's body and the afterbirth  and deliver it to your vet for immediate examination and analysis.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas     1/1/18

Consultation & Evaluation Services for Hire

I've decided to expand my business to include consultation & evaluation services for people who are either thinking about raising meat goats or are currently raising them and want to improve their operations

Please contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at 324-344-5775 or email at onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com

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Bucks available for sale:


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Pat Cotten 501-679-4936
Bending Tree Ranch located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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