During the pregnancies (we have two does, they were a week apart with their pregnancies) I fed them Kalmbach grain, black oil sunflower seeds, and plenty of hay. Toward the end of their pregnancies I cut a vitamin E capsule and squirted it on their food and sprinkled it with Diamond V yeast. Since kidding, I've continued with the vitamin E to aid in healing, and the yeast to help with dry, flaky skin (some say the yeast helps with milk production as well, however, that's not my intention for using it).
Signs of Labor
If I were to point out the main signs of labor for a newbie, I would highly encourage them to check the ligaments daily. If you check them early on in the pregnancy and are at ease finding them then you'll know without a doubt when they're gone. The ligaments are located on either side of the tail where the tail meets the does hind end. Most people say they feel like pencils, I like to say they feel like a small bungie cord because they're not as rigid as a pencil. Upon entering labor, those ligaments will soften and eventually disappear. Gone, to the point of being able to squeeze your way completely around the tail. Pure mush.
|You can faintly see the "plug", white mucous,|
dripping off the doe.
I noticed a white discharge, called the "plug", on both does just a few hours before each kidding in addition to the disappearance of the ligaments. One doe had the white discharge which was followed by a long string of amber mucous, which is the amniotic fluid. However, that amber mucous never appeared on the second doe, which threw me off my game. The saying that no two pregnancies/labors are alike is most definitely true.
Inability to Get Comfortable:
Both does were very uncomfortable. They could only lay down for a few minutes at a time before they were up again pawing at the ground. One even stood with her butt in the corner trying to "sit" on the wall.
In addition to the main signs that I easily noticed above, a goat in labor may "bag up" or their udder will fill in to the point of being very tight and possibly even shiny in appearance. This didn't happen with either of mine so it isn't a tell tale sign.
The does tail may take on a strange angle.
They may stare off into space, or be very loving and affectionate.
|Longer, thicker string of amber colored mucous.|
This is the amniotic fluid.
If everything happens as it's supposed to, both hooves will present first along with a little nose and a precious pink tongue.
My first kid presented nose first. which sent me into a small panic. If I learned anything from that first baby, it was to immediately "break the bag" and begin suctioning that little nose and mouth. Suction, suction, wipe, and more suction. Let the mom handle the pushing. It is possible for the doe to deliver successfully this way. If the doe seems to be in distress or is not progressing after 20 minutes or so, then you'll need to contact your vet or "go in" to bring the legs forward.
When that first baby finally came out, I spent so much time working on him that I didn't realize that 3 more pretty much "fell" out behind me. I immediately went through and broke all of their bags and cleared their faces, held them upside down to drain any additional fluids and then laid them on puppy pads so they didn't get tarred and feathered in pine shavings. I then moved them in front of momma so she could clean them.
After the Kidding Care for Kids
After the kidding (breaking the bags, clearing faces, suctioning, and allowing mom to clean them for a few minutes) I took each baby one by one and dipped their umbilical cord in iodine. I tilted them back a little so to get the iodine right up to their belly. A dear friend of mine showed me that it isn't necessary to tie them off. Umbilical cords have very small veins in them and if you cut them (without tying them off properly) they could bleed. She showed me that to shorten the umbilical cord you simply tear it, this way the veins retract on themselves thus creating a seal.
Nursing - Be sure to clear the teat of debris by squeezing out a little colostrum before the baby starts nursing. Return the baby to mom and help guide them to the teat. A few of my babies didn't want me forcing them so I just put them in the general area and they were able to sniff and bump around until the found the teat. You may have to bend the teat toward their mouth for them to find it faster though. Moms will naturally lick the rear end of their babies to stimulate the nursing instinct in the baby.
|Placenta on feed bag, easy clean up.|
To make sure the doe is finished kidding, you can "bounce" her belly. You stand behind the doe and reach around her belly with both arms and lift up a few times to feel for bones. If there are no bones, she's finished.
At this time there will be discharge and a long string of mucous, just leave it. Within an hour or so the placenta will emerge. The doe may eat it or just leave it. I had one do each. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them eating it, it's gross, yes...however it's very natural and will not hurt them. Some say it provides the doe with a vitamin enriched meal that helps them heal faster. I won't argue.
TIP: Old feed bags do work wonderfully for kidding. If you cut them lengthwise, they cover a lot of ground. You can lay them under your does rear end and it catches a lot of water and mucous, making clean up much easier.
In the days to follow:
Make sure babies are nursing regularly.
Watch each one to make sure they're active and not hiding (inactivity and hiding can be signs there is something wrong with the kid. If you notice either of these, please get help fast, babies will deteriorate rapidly if you do not intervene.
Does will get their first deworming dose approx. 2-3 days after kidding. We used the Apple Flavor Ivermectin paste at 250 lb. dose. You'll need to give a second dose 10 days later to catch the worms complete life cycle.
Temperature, temperature, temperature.
If you notice quiet or standoffish babies or momma, take their temperature (digital thermometer rectally with a little lubricating jelly works great). Normal temperature is between 102-103 degrees.
I noticed raspy breathing in one of the babies and found her laying throughout the day when her brother was up and moving around. I took her temperature and it was 105. We started her on a 5 day treatment of antibiotics and she recovered quickly.
Baby poop can be sticky, make sure their behind doesn't get caked with poop preventing them from going.
I'm sure I'll tweak this post as we go, there's always something more to add!!