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It is crucial to know what’s normal and what’s abnormal during kidding (parturition) because the life of the kids and your doe depends on it. It is not common that does need assistance giving birth, however it is also best to be prepared when something goes wrong. This article briefly outlines the ‘what to expect when expecting kids’, in order to have a smooth kidding.
The first phase of kidding…..
In the first phase of parturition, up to 4 hours before the kid appears, the doe will start to show a variety of different behaviours. These include; signs of nervousness, loss of appetite, stress, bleating, pawing at the ground, laying down and a mucous discharge can be seen. The muscles around the tail, above the vagina, will become loose within 24hours as the birth canal begins to expand. When your does is going through contractions she will also aim to make an area on the ground to lay in and roll onto her side. In this period, cervix dilation occurs, hormones will signal contractions and the foetus will start to move into the birthing canal. Moving your doe’s into a kidding shelter prior to this is always helpful, as it means that these first signs are less likely to go unnoticed.
Phase two: The Escape
Entering into the second phase, the kid should be in the birth canal and the water sac will break. From the time the water sac has broken, the first kid should be born within 30 minutes. This is an essential time because if there is any obstruction of the uterus, the kid is too big or if the kid is not in the correct position, it may be trapped in the uterus and die of asphyxiation. The proper position for the kid to exit the birth canal should be front feet first as shown in the following diagram.
Commonly the kid may enter the birth canal in the wrong position and thus the doe is not able to push the kid out within 30 minutes. In this case intervention is needed and the kid needs to be manually pushed back and rearranged into the correct position. Ideally, when rearranging the kid, clean gloves and short fingernails are required so that no tears in the uterus or any infections occur that could impair future pregnancies.
Any following kids should be expelled swiftly within a 30minute time frame of each other. Ensuring that the amniotic sac (fluid containing sac covering the kid) has broken and is clear of the nasal passage allowing the kid to breath is necessary after each birth. furthermore, checking that all kids have exited the doe is important. This can be determined because the last kid will exit along with the afterbirth signalling the commencement of the last phase of parturition.
Phase three: The
cruical first hours of life
Lastly, the doe will pass the foetal membranes in the third phase of parturition anywhere between 30 minutes to 8 hours after the birth of the kid/s. It is important to take note that the foetal membranes have been expelled otherwise the doe may encounter issues associated with the uterus such as infection or obstructions. It is a natural instinct for the doe to eat the foetal membrane and perfectly normal if this occurs.
Signs that the doe may need further care and veterinary assistance includes; if the doe appears weak, cannot stand, does not nurse her kids or has a low heart rate. Afterbirth still hanging out from behind the doe is normal and will fall off within 48 hours. However, if this does not occur then a vet may be needed for treatment or you can intervene to help remove it in a sterile environment.
Why is the afterbirth outside hanging outside the doe?
The reason for afterbirth taking time to fall out is due to the sac being attached the wall of the uterus and in a sense, tears off over time. The weight of the afterbirth hanging outside the doe is what helps to add enough pressure for the lining to tear slowly and drop off. This is to avoid infections within the does reproductive systems.
Within a few minutes of being born, kids should be standing, alert and attempting to drink from the mother. Indicators that a kid may need to be taken from its mother and hand raised is if the kid appears weak, dull or abnormally small. Also if the doe’s have more than 2 kids she may not be able to feed more than 2 based on her size, udder size, teat formation, diet and overall health. If this is not looked at closely and assessed, the doe will lie on the weakest kids and kill them as this is a survival instinct. to avoid this it is sometimes better to just always remove them if they are more than 2 or 3 kids.
What they need to be okay…
It is vital that each kid drinks colostrum, produced by the mother at birth, within the first hour of life. Colostrum contains antibodies that provide protection from diseases as well as energy, minerals and vitamins for a healthy start to life. Intake of colostrum can either be from the mother herself or by collection and tube feeding weak kids. Furthermore, if the kids are strong and attempting to drink yet the mother is rejecting them, the kids may need to be removed and bottle fed. If both the doe and her kid/s look happy and healthy, the kids are drinking and the doe is nursing, your job is done!
On one last note, trust your instinct, because if something doesn’t seem right,
The best way to learn is
Hoof trimming, an art form and back breaker in the least. There are a few different types of methods that can be used to suit the animals needs as well as the handlers.
Firstly, the regularity in which farmers may perform this time expensive task depends on the topography, the breed of goat and simply how quickly the hooves grow. In rockier country compared to soft, wet ground, hooves may not need to be trimmed as frequently. Furthermore, some goat breeds have better hoof conformation than others and may not need to be trimmed as much. The following pictures may aid as a guideline for those whom are unsure as to when to trim their herds hooves.
How do I restrain the goat correctly?
Next thing to consider, is what infrastructure you need in order to effectively restrain the goat’s legs so that you won’t break your back or get a kick in the face. Some producers prefer a simple goat crush and can move around the animal picking up their hooves one at a time to trim. For small herds, running the herd through a race and choosing to restrain the goats manually may be preferred. Although, I must warn that there is a higher potential for horns to the legs and a sore back after this method. For tamer goats, simply having them in a head crush and accessing their hooves by picking them up individually can also work effectively. Another method, for those with a few dollars to spend and prefer to work with ease is a goat cradle. These are great for large herds and will halve the amount of time and labour input. It consists of a similar style to a sheep cradle, whereby, the goat is flipped on its backside, without any harm, the hooves are trimmed and the goat is swiftly tipped and released back to standing position.
What equipment will I need?
After deciding upon a method to restrain the goat/s to trim their hooves, one must consider the method in which trimming is performed. The most common method is simply using special hoof trimmers that you can buy from any local farm supply store. These are used exactly like a pair of secateurs or pliers to trim down the excess hoof. Another method, I would recommend for extremely overgrown or very tough hooves is using an angle grinder. Although this may sound painful, it is the very opposite and can be performed very quickly to trim large amounts of excess hoof growth. A filer may be used in conjunction with the above methods to get an extra smooth trim and can be used to get to parts of the nail that trimmers and an angle grinder cannot do. A combination of these methods can be used to get a very overgrown hoof back to perfect.
So whats the correct method?
There is no perfect way to trim hooves but following a simple rule of clipping the hooves only down to the sole of the hoof will ensure that no injury or bleeding will occur. Simply clip the sides of the hoof and the toe, one at a time, until it is inline with the sole (base of the hoof) and straight. The back, or the heel, also needs to be trimmed down until it is straight and level with the front of the hoof. The finished product should be a hoof that is level with the ground. If bleeding has occurred, the hoof has been trimmed too short. However, this is not a major problem and powder can be used to stop the bleeding.
Hoof trimming doesn’t have to be difficult and it is such a necessary husbandry task to do to keep your goats healthy. The vast majority of joint pain, lameness and structural problems goats incur are due to poor hoof conformation. Regular trimming will go a long way to keep your goats on their toes.
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The gestation period of a doe is a short 150 days in which adequate husbandry measures must be implemented in order to deliver happy and healthy kids. There are four main stages of gestation and different things that can go wrong in these time frames. These include; early embryo loss, late embryo loss,abortions and birthing problems. This article will delve into what happens at the different stages of gestation, what may cause loss of productivity and howto care for the doe at each stage along the way.
The Buck and your Does…
Before we go into the details, a few parameters need to be considered to ensure healthy breed planning. Firstly, a 1-year-old buck can serve up to 10 does maximum and by the age of 3 years old he will be able to serve up to 40 does at one time. Not overloading your prize buck with too many does is important for his optimal growth and development. Secondly, does will only reach sexual maturity between 8-12 months depending on the breed, season and nutritional status. Roughly 2 weeks prior to the joining period, it is common for breeders to increase the doe’s daily food intake, referred to as flushing, in order to increase the Body Condition Score of the does. This increases ovulation rate of the herd and will increase the likelihood of twins or triplets thus improving productivity.Lastly, detecting embryo loss, monitoring the doe’s pregnancy and making records of the herds pregnancy rate are all important in order to ensure an efficiently producing herd. Having a local vet on call can be very helpful after the joining period to detect which does are pregnant and which does may need to be re-joined. This brings us to the first stage of gestation where the buck and does are joined so mating can occur.
How joining occurs!
Once the does are in a healthy condition and preferably wormed, the joining period should commence for approximately 6-8 weeks. As the doe’s oestrous cycle lasts on average every 21 days, a long joining period ensures that each doe has cycled at least once or twice and the bull has the ability to cover them all. Goats naturally cycle between February to June in order to drop kids in late Winter to Spring. However, out of season breeding is very common and is possible via the ‘buck effect’. This refers to the introduction of a buck into the herd which in turn induces ovulation within the following 10 days. Therefore, breeding all year round means that farmers are able to have 3 kidding’s in 2 years to increase production.
At the commencement of joining, the buck should be removed and the does placed on a paddock with plenty of pasture. The first 6 weeks after conception is the early gestation period in which early embryonic loss can occur. Some of the main reasons for this include; genetics, animal’s environment i.e. toxicity from plants, endocrine function, for example, hormonal imbalance and intrauterine function and lastly, the buck’s sperm quality. Therefore, an overall soundness examination of the does and the buck in the case that conception does not occur can be helpful in order to find out the cause to the loss of productivity. Furthermore, checking the environment for any toxic plants as well as checking their genetic background can aid in ensuring efficient breeding. During early gestation it is also essential not to stress the animals as this may cause resorption of the embryo causing early embryo loss. Stressors may come from handling, being with other non pregnant goats, travelling, malnutrition, disease and all should be avoided during this period.
During the later stage of gestation, 4 weeks from predicted kidding, daily feed intake needs to increase marginally to maintain the does at a BCS (Body Condition Score) of 3-4. It is important to maintain the does at a moderate BCS throughout gestation in order to supply enough nutrients to the growing foetus. Feed may include; quality hay, high protein grain, loose or lick minerals, vitamins and concentrates. Also at this time prior to predicted kidding, the does should be vaccinated with an appropriate goat vaccination for the region. This ensures that the antibodies produced in the mother by the vaccination will be passed through the umbilical cord to the foetus. This provides disease protection to the foetus for the first few weeks of its life.
Its almost time to drop!
Two weeks prior to kidding, I personally recommend getting prepared for unexpected early parturition. It is not an ideal situation when one of your does is kidding the the middle of a paddock during a storm.Therefore, bringing your does into a shelter a few days before their expected kidding is a great way to avoid any unplanned situations as well as keeping the doe protected whilst she kids. Having a shelter or shed for the does to kid is a helpful provision as it provides an ideal safe place from predators and the weather.
Whether you’re a beginner breeder or an expert, embryo loss,abortions and fatality due to birthing problems can occur regardless how much hard work you may put in. It is a natural process of life and sometimes cannot be prevented. However, taking the above small measures to look after your does and your buck can help to increase your kidding rate. Keeping kidding records can be crucial because, although, there may be a margin of natural fatality that is unpreventable, sometimes a disease or infection that is unnoticed can cause a major loss of productivity. From the period of joining through to kidding a loss of no more than 10% is ideal. For example, if 100 does were joined, 90 does would kid. However, if these kidding rates were below 90%, it would mean that more attention to breeding management or a herd assessment would be needed in order to increase productivity.
All in all, watching your does give life is a beautiful thing regardless whether it’s a high producing system or your house pet. This article serves the purpose of providing gestation parameters and information on important husbandry measures for a general goat herd. However, remember that, each farmer, region and herd is dissimilar and requires different care and attention.As the saying goes, no one knows your goats as well as you know them.