We were fortunate that Tinker Bell kidded without having difficulties, and is a very good mother too. I’m amazed at the way she cares for her kids – as newborns, she’d wake them every few hours and get them to nurse – as they’ve grown older and the stronger kid wants to nurse all the time, she regulates how often he gets to nurse but still encourages the weaker one to nurse frequently. She also cleaned everything up after kidding – I suppose it’s to prevent predators from finding the young; but it’s still incredible that they can do it themselves.
Even if they do it themselves and kid without difficulties (and most goats do) there are things that we should be prepared to help with (and have our kidding supplies on hand):
- Breathing - make sure all the kids are out of their birthing sacks and are breathing. Because Nigerians have so many multiples, they sometimes get focused on getting a couple cleaned up and may miss one of the babies – it’s critically important to make sure no babies are being missed and that they’re all breathing.
- Naval Dip – be prepared to tie off the umbilical cord an inch or two from the naval (this is what the dental floss if for) and then cut the umbilical cord (this is what the surgical scissors are for) on the doe side. Regardless of whether you or the doe cut the umbilical cord, make sure the leftover umbilical cord and naval get covered with 7% iodine (can use spray or dip the umbilical cord and naval).
- Colostrum– kids need to get colostrum within about 6 hours (12 hours is getting late) and it’s best to make sure they get it within the first 2 hours. Colostrum is how the mother transfers the antibodies that will protect the kid until it can manufacture its own protection. There are four possible sources of colostrum:
- Mother – known as fresh liquid gold (the doe produces colostrum for about the first 24 hours).
- Colostrum bank (frozen) – put in the freezer in quantities that you’ll use in Ziploc bags (date the package – it’s good for about a year). Do not microwave or overheat to reconstitute (put in a warm water bath instead) or you’ll destroy the benefits. We forgot to get some of this from Tinker Bell due to the excitement, but will be sure to get some when Jewel Box kids.
- Another Farm
- Artificial Sources – goat colostrum replacer from sources like Jeffers, etc.
- BoSe Shot – in areas where selenium is deficient, some give a BoSe shot to all kids and some give a shot to only those that appear weak. Administer the BoSe subcutaneously at ¼ to ½ cc per kid at 1 to 3 days*.
- CDT Shot – if the mother doe was given a CDT shot 30 days in advance of kidding, some say that the CDT shot at 1 – 3 days is not necessary – that then the CDT shot is only necessary at 30 days. Administer the CDT shot subcutaneously at 2 cc’s per kid at 1 to 3 days and then again at 30 days (they need to have the one at 30 days as a minimum)*.
*Whenever vaccinating, have Epinephrine on hand in case of shock, 1/10 to ¼ cc to be administered subcutaneously.
- Warm water – the doe will have lost a tremendous amount of body fluid so it’s important to re-hydrate the doe (some owners also add electrolytes to the water) and they like the water to be warm. Tinker Bell drank her first bucket down so fast after freshening I was shocked – I’d never seen a doe drink that much, that fast.
- Remove teat plugs – it may be necessary to remove teat plugs so the kids can get the colustrum – and be sure to verify that all the kids are really drinking.
- Introduce concentrate – introduce the doe to more concentrate (grain) slowly; give her lots of your best quality hay as she ramps up on grain.
- De-worm – worm the doe within a day of kidding so that by the time you’re ready for milk, the wormer will be out of her system (Ivermectin and other wormers are not allowed in drinking milk).
- Promote bonding – keep the kids and mother together in the kidding for at least 3 – 5 days to promote boding between them.
There are many situations that could arise that would require more assistance so it’s important to have the Vet’s number on hand too, but being prepared for what’s outlined above is a good idea as a minimum. Soon you’ll have adorable kids bouncing around the stall, and friends or family lining up to see them.