We’ve been very fortunate that our Nigerian Dwarf does have kidded with very few difficulties and are very good mothers too. I’m always amazed at the way they care for their kids – as newborns, waking them every few hours and encouraging them to nurse – as they grow older and they want to nurse all the time, regulating how often the kids nurse but still encouraging the weaker ones to nurse frequently.
Even if they don’t need help and kid without difficulties (and most goats do) there is some basic goat care after kidding that we should be prepared to help with (and have our kidding supplies on hand):
Basic Kid Care
- 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 at the naval (we use plain dental floss for this) 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 (you 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 (see Newborn Kids Need Colostrum for more on this). There are four possible sources of colostrum in decreasing order of benefit for newborn kids:
- Mother – the doe produces colostrum for about 24 hours after kidding.
- Frozen Colostrum bank – you can put colostrum 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 the colostrum (put in a warm water bath instead) or you’ll destroy the benefits.
- 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, then a CDT shot is only necessary at 30 days. If the dam was not given a CDT shot 30 days in advance, 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.
Basic Doe Care
- Warm water – the doe will have lost a tremendous amount of body fluid so it’s important to re-hydrate the doe (you can also add electrolytes to the water) and they like the water to be warm.
- 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.
- Deworm – worm the doe a week prior to 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 stall for at least 3 – 5 days to promote bonding 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.