Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gettin' Ready For Babies - Part 2

Yesterday was a departure from the mild weather we have enjoyed for the past week or so.  Because we are only 3 weeks or so away from a kid explosion, I spent part of the day sorting through my kidding supplies and staging them in our sunroom so they'll be ready to go when needed.

All births are attended by me and Don so that we can be sure each baby gets dried off, treated as needed, and is observed nursing to get colostrum which is only absorbed by the kid during the first few hours of life.  When they arrive in three's, it can be a very busy time for us and the new goat moms.  I hate to jinx my luck, but last year all kids were born healthy and during the daytime.  They also managed to pick the sunny mild afternoons that were sandwiched in between some pretty nasty weather.  The does were very considerate.  I hope it is the same this year.

Many of the supplies are stored in a tote that comes to the barn with me and it contains the followingitems:

  • puppy-training pads to catch the kids as they are born so they don't touch the bedding until navel cords are treated with iodine,
  • towels to dry off the kid, especially important when it is cold,
  • dental floss to tie off umbilical cords,
  • iodine to dip the navel cord to prevent bacterial infections,
  • a film container to put iodine in,
  • A bottle of BO-SE (selenium supplement).  If a kid appears weak and unable to stand it is often due to a selenium deficiency so an injection of this supplement is given to the newborn.

Emergency supplies, are always with me in case the doe needs assistance with her delivery.  These include a lubricant and sterile gloves in case I have to physically go in and assist positioning kids into the birth canal.  I also have a kid puller which is basically a rubber "snare" in case I can't find and turn the kids with my fingers.

The doe also needs a pick-me-up after all that hard work.  If she is just tired but still active then she gets hot bucket of water that contains molassas and karo syrup with salt and soda added.  Does will often drink up to 1/2 gallon of this immediately after kidding to restore their depleted energy reserves.  We also have treatments on hand in case she develops a metabolic imbalance due to the stresses of pregnancy and kidding.

Although most kids come along just fine and they immediately start nursing, there may be an occasional kid that may be too weak to nurse.  If they don't respond quickly to a BO-SE injection and appear to have no sucking reflex then the kid must be tube fed colostrum immediately.  I keep a feeding tube handy along with dried colostrum in case I can't manage to milk colostrum the mother for some reason.  Very occasionally a doe kids and develops an udder later.  Use of a feeding tube will usually save a kid that might otherwise die.  

Fortunately if the does are well cared for, most births proceed easily.  Just like having insurance, I prefer to be prepared for the worst, all the while hoping that most of the supplies that I have on hand will never be needed.


  1. Hve you been involved in other birthing processes before you had goats?

  2. I assisted with a litter of Spinone in Louisville a few years ago when I was contemplating having a litter of Spinoni with Trixie but I didn't really do much. Our first kidding was learn as you go.

  3. I wonder if the does hormones are more likely to be triggered to give birth when the weather is warmer? Better chance of survival. I've heard that for people, more births happen when there is a low pressure system. Low pressure systems are often associated with warmer weather (or snow in the winter.)

  4. I hope that is the case. It will be interesting to see if it holds again this year. Last year one doe kidded a bit early and it was a nice warm day.

  5. I hope you have nice mild days for your kidding too but you really can't count on it. At least you can be inside a barn and provide lots of straw. Only one time did I have a heat lamp in my barn for some new babies. I have no idea if it was really that cold or if I was just a newbie and a worrier. I haven't done that since. Good luck. I look forward to the stories.

    1. I really think we do a lot of things for our animal friends so that we think we're taking good care of them. I'm not sure the animals need it, at least mine don't seem to. I'll always remember my first goats. I made them a warm house and they slept as close to the outside as they could get by a gate and were covered with snow one morning.

  6. Wow you certainly are prepared! My niece thought she was last yr-first time for her-I was glad I happened to be there-cause they sure weren't!! I dont know a lot-but had many shetland sheep births and so they thought I knew something! haha they are very different-the shetlands did all the work and said good morning to me when I went out after the "work" was done!! puppy pads sounds like they would have been helpful-3 came when the vet had said one was all there was! Flannel shirts we were wearing worked!! Im excitied to see and hear about yours! I miss my goats-N.Dwarfs also-so much!! Take care~~Rain

  7. Glad you were able to help out your niece. Since we are still relatively new to goats and don't have anyone nearby to help out I decided I needed to be as prepared as possible. I know I'd miss my goats too. They keep me entertained and busy!