March 2009 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.


Preparing for kidding should start when does are first placed with a buck for breeding. Good management practices -- proper feeding, clean water, top-quality hay, dry pens, suitable bedding -- are part of the larger picture. The must do's cited in this article will put in place tools that the producer needs for kidding to go more smoothly and with less illness and death.

Readying the Facilities

Establish kidding/bonding pens for those problem births which inevitably occur. Five-foot sections of lightweight tubular metal with 4 inch by 4 inch panels welded to them and a gate in one panel work well.

Provide shelter from wind, rain, and very cold weather. Provide a place where kids can sleep away from dams so they don't get injured, smothered, or crushed. A shed with the inside walls lined with railroad ties at ground level and a low narrow bench built above the ties provide a good place for kids to hide. Do not enclose the underside of the bench; kids will pile on top of each other to keep warm and kids on the bottom will suffocate if a vertical wall blocks their escape.

All birthing/bonding areas should be free of ants and other pests. Ants can eat the eyes, noses, and mucous membrane tissues of newborn kids, causing permanent damage. Clean dry hay should be spread on the ground in advance of using these small pens. Do not use wood shavings in kidding areas. Shavings get into kids' mouths and noses, causing breathing problems, and they also interfere with mom's ability to use her tongue to clean her newborns.

During very cold or cold and wet weather, consider using reflector heat lamps with bulb guards in areas where kids sleep. Newborns and very young kids have difficulty regulating internal body temperature, but they can usually stand a lot of cold so long as their tummies are full of milk and they stay dry. Keep electrical cords out of reach to prevent kids from hanging themselves or chewing on them. Water buckets should be shallow and carefully placed to avoid a kid's drowning in them. Make provision during freezing weather to provide warm water to both dam and kids.

Do not overcrowd goats. They stress easily. Since goats have very fast metabolisms, they produce large quantities of urine and feces. Does need space to bond with their kids -- to learn their kids' smells and sounds -- and kids require the same. Overcrowding leads to filth (concentrations of urine, feces, and soiled/wasted hay) and filth leads to disease and death. The two biggest challenges in raising goats in any sort of managed conditions are overcrowding and proper nutrition and the problems which result.

Purchase in advance of kidding the following essential supplies.

Over-the-counter items:

  • Towels - cloth and paper
  • Q-tips
  • ant killer (livestock safe)
  • Fleet's baby enemas
  • ear syringe
  • Karo corn syrup
  • KY jelly
  • heating pad
  • pistol-grip hair dryer
  • paper and pens for record keeping
  • long heavy-duty shoestrings (great for pulling kids)

From Jeffers Livestock (click on the ad at right):

  • Rectal thermometer, digital (do not fail to buy this essential item)
  • Weak kid syringe and stomach tube (do not fail to buy this essential item)
  • ReSorb electrolyte powder packets (avoid products with psyllium in them)
  • Dimethox 12.5% oral solution
  • Procaine penicillin injectable
  • Iodine
  • Propylene glycol
  • Mastitis infusion tubes - penicillin-based
  • CaiPan peppermint udder cream
  • C&D anti-toxin injectable (another absolutely essential item)
  • latex disposable exam gloves
  • 60 cc syringe and 18 gauge needle
  • 1 cc syringes
  • 22 gauge x 3/4 inch needles (poly hub)
  • 3 cc syringes Luer-slip
  • 6 cc and 12 cc syringes Luer-slip
  • blood stop powder
  • Pritchard teats
  • tetanus anti-toxin injectable
  • Essential 3+T (overeating/tetanus vaccine by Colorado Serum)
  • colostrum replacer (not "supplement")
  • reflector heat lamps with bulb guards
  • 200 W clear incandescent light bulbs
  • goat milk replacer (not soy based)
  • 50% dextrose solution
  • Betadine surgical scrub
  • Betadine solution
  • CMPK or MFO
  • De-wormers ( do not use Valbazen on pregnant does; (Safeguard/Panacur doesn't kill stomach worms)
  • Ferrodex 100 injectable iron
  • Red Cell oral iron supplement
  • Water pails -- one- or two-gallon with handles
  • SWAT fly control
  • Toss n Trap fly traps
  • Fescue-balancer mineral (if tall fescue grass grows in your area)
  • Fortified Vitamin B Complex injectable
  • Oxytetracycline 200 mg/mL injectable (LA 200 or generic equivalent)

Make an adult goat stomach tube with funnel attached and PVC pipe to thread the tube through; see this author's article on Stomach Tubing on the Articles page at This is a big must do. Save 16 oz or 20 oz disposable plastic soda-water bottles with screw-on caps. Accumulate a supply of plastic bags such as those that WalMart uses to sack purchases.

From Register Distributing: 1-888-310-9606 Register Distributing

  • GoatGuard Probiotic Paste
  • GoatADE

From your vet (or VetServUSA, 1-800-421-0026):

  • Banamine injectable
  • Excenel RTU injectable
  • Nuflor injectable
  • Lactated Ringers solution
  • Dopram V
  • Oxytocin injectable
  • Dexamethazone injectable
  • Epinephrine injectable
  • Vitamin B 12 injectable
  • Thiamine (Vit B 1) injectable
  • Sulfadimethoxazine with Trimethoprim oral solution
  • BoSe injectable
  • Endosorb oral suspension
  • Baytril 100 injectable*

NOTE: Some of these items may be restricted for use with goats, depending upon the ultimate purpose for which they are being raised. Slaughter-bound goats must be medicated differently from breeding stock, pets, and show goats. Consult your vet for appropriate usage instructions.

We recommend purchasing Colorado Serum vaccines and products through Jeffer's Livestock. Click the Jeffer's ad banner above to visit the website.


Get it now at Register's Sheep & Goat Supplies

Did you know that a chilled newborn or kid is incapable of digesting milk or colostrum? Their bodies, in a means of trying to survive will shut down all non-essential organs necessary for life. The essential organs are the brain, heart and lungs. Digestion stops as the blood flow is focused on the essential organs. Adding milk or colostrum to a chilled kid will do more harm than good. Warm it up first, then feed it and make sure it is able to pass it's solid wastes after having suffered from chilling.
Don't miss the Chilled Newborns article this issue.

REPEAT: When these items are needed, there is no time to go get them. Buy them NOW. Designate a refrigerator specifically for goat supplies requiring refrigeration. Designate cabinets or shelves for items that can withstand normal room temperatures. Storing medications in a barn will ruin them. Products, including medicines, can often be safely used beyond expiration dates (in most cases) if they are stored at recommended temperatures and away from sunlight. Set up a workspace, including sink and running water. Get everything organized and properly labelled. Be prepared for your first kidding emergency.

Preparing Does for Kidding

If abortions have been an issue in the herd, consider injecting each doe with Oxytetracycline 200 mg/mL before placing them with a buck and every 35 days thereafter until each doe gives birth. There are several articles on dealing with abortion diseases and how to handle them.

Six weeks before the first doe is expected to kid, de-worm all pregnant does with one of the clear dewormers given orally (not the *white* dewormers). Do not use Valbazen; it can induce abortions. At the same time, boost the does' Essential 3+T vaccinations. Kids are not born with their own working immune systems; the Essential 3+T booster given their dams both protects the pregnant does and passes immunities to the kids which usually lasts until their immune systems start limited functioning around one month of age. Clean the does' systems of coccidia parasites by dosing them orally for five consecutive days with either Albon or its generic equivalent Dimethox 12.5% oral solution. Do *not* use CoRid; it is a thiamine inhibitor.

If time permits, trim hooves and tail webs. Hoof trimming is a good management practice. A doe with hoof rot or hoof scald cannot forage/browse well enough to produce adequate milk for her kids. A hairy tail web retains feces and placental matter after kidding.

Do not "flush" pregnant does with extra feed immediately prior to kidding. Grain should be very gradually increased during the last month of pregnancy, when fetuses are rapidly growing. Overgraining or improperly graining a heavily-pregnant doe can cause several very serious pregnancy diseases that can kill the doe and her unborn kids. Offer grass hay on a free-choice basis. Feed grain preferably before noontime -- especially in very cold weather -- and take up any that has not been consumed in 15 minutes. Do not feed extra grain at night. Instead, make extra hay available. As fetuses grow, the size of the doe's rumen decreases. The doe must have sufficient top-quality grass hay to keep her rumen functioning and still permit some room for grain intake. The long fiber in grass hay stimulates rumen wall contractions which in turn creates body heat to keep the goat warm. Feeding grain properly can be a tricky balancing act in managed herds -- and particularly to pregnant does.

If feeding alfalfa or other legume hay, gradually discontinue feeding it during the last four weeks of gestation. Legume hay (alfalfa and peanut) are high in calcium. As parturition approaches, the doe's body must release calcium from her bones. If she is being fed a high-calcium diet, calcium release from her bones will not happen and Hypocalcemia ("milk fever") can occur. Hypocalcemia is a life threatening illness for the doe and her unborn kids.

Don't forget the importance of exercise to the pregnant doe. Fat does can easily experience dystocia (kidding problems). Don't let heavily-pregnant does become *couch potatoes.* The time for extra grain is when the doe has kids on the ground and is making lots of milk (lactating).

With shelter in place, proper hay and grain and minerals available, supplies at the ready, and does in top condition, Now that you are prepared, the kidding can begin.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto ONION CREEK RANCH 3-8-09


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