Kidding Season Essentials - For the Does
Kidding season is an exciting time of year, but it is also a time when breeders need to be extra-vigilant and prepared. We discussed Kidding Kit Essentials in an earlier post, so this will focus on some items to have on hand for your pregnant does and does that have given birth recently. A later post will address some milking doe essentials.
A few necessities:
Ketone Strips or Meter
Energy supplement such as Polypropylene glycol or Nutri-Drench
Weight tape or scale
A thermometer was mentioned earlier but it cannot be stressed enough how useful one is in diagnosing illness in livestock. A goat’s normal body temperature ranges from 102-104 degrees Fahrenheit. Knowing your goat’s “normal” is helpful for diagnosing slight fevers.
Now that antibiotics usually require a veterinarian prescription, it is wise to have at least a few doses of at least one kind of antibiotic on hand. Does that have had difficult deliveries or have needed assistance might require a round of antibiotics.
There are many forms of calcium supplements, including gels, liquids, and injectables. Even human calcium carbonate chewable tablets are useful in a pinch, especially during sluggish labors or in the case of only slight deficiencies, and are often more palatable than other supplements. Calcium supplements are necessary in cases of hypocalcemia (milk fever) when the doe is not getting enough calcium in her diet. This can occur in late gestation or post-kidding (1).
Pregnancy Toxemia or Ketosis almost always occurs pre-kidding, usually in late gestation – lactational ketosis is possible but uncommon. Simple ketone strips from the drugstore are a good way to diagnose or rule out this metabolic disorder. There are also ketone meters for livestock that require just a drop of blood – this can certainly be faster to get than waiting for a doe to urinate in some instances. To treat the earlier stages of pregnancy toxemia, the doe needs an energy boost - polypropylene glycol or Nutri-Drench are good products for this. Corn syrup or molasses can also help. Advanced cases of pregnancy toxemia are difficult to treat at home as they often require glucose given via IV (2).
A phenomenon called the periparturient rise occurs – “a temporary loss of naturally-acquired immunity to gastro-internal parasites that begins approximately two weeks before parturition and continues for up to eight weeks after.” (4) In other words, your doe might be more susceptible to parasites after kidding and will likely be shedding a lot of parasite eggs on your pastures that will hatch and turn into infective larvae. Your herd, including young kids, will later be ingesting these larvae, especially in the spring when conditions are favorable for the larvae but the new grass is still short. With all this in mind, many breeders choose to deworm their does shortly after kidding. Read more about deworming on these posts - https://www.heftygoathollerfarm.com/blog/categories/parasite-management
For all these medications and supplements and especially for proper deworming, you must know the weight of your doe. While a scale is the most accurate method for weighing, a cloth tape and a weight formula found here - http://www.infovets.com/books/smrm/C/C098.htm - can give you a good estimate. Note that the dairy goat weight tape is usually not accurate for Kinder goats, but it does have a side that is just inches, and that can be used with the aforementioned weight formula.
While most livestock folks have a variety of syringes and needles on hand, some of the treatments mentioned above require large volumes of liquids that would be better administered with a drench gun.
A few more useful items include: molasses to add to warm water to offer post-kidding, sturdy clips or straps to hang water buckets well out of reach of newborns, and extra troughs or buckets for does that will be separated into birthing stalls/pens.
I do hang buckets up high enough for the first couple days that kids cannot hop into them. I offer my does warm molasses water post-kidding, especially in cold weather. Most will happily slurp down a half gallon, at least. I do this because 1. Molasses is an energy boost after labor. 2.Molasses encourages water consumption and 3. Molasses is a good source of iron and the doe has lost some blood. Lastly, have a plan and contact (or two) for emergencies. Keep a phone number of a veterinarian or experienced breeder where it will be easy to find. Know how you can load and transport a pregnant doe in case you need to make an unexpected trip to the vet. Know which vets will make farm calls before kidding season begins.
With some essentials and some “just in case” items on hand, you can go into kidding season confident you can care for your does and kids to the best of your ability. For more goat medicines, I have a more complete list here - https://www.heftygoathollerfarm.com/post/goat-medicine-cabinet-the-basics Happy kidding!