MANAGEMENT
PRE-BREEDING TO BIRTH

Updated 12/9/07
Major management techniques are required for any successful farming operation. Since breeding and kidding are major parts of our business, getting kids on the ground and raised to selling point is a major concern. To have a successful goat operation, the bucks used are responsible for 50 percent of the genes into your herd; but after breeding, he is out of the pictures. Your does are critical in the operation. Does that are easily bred, carry the embryo until birth, have two kids with minimum intervention, care of the kids, and wean them at a respective weight, holds her body condition, and is ready to be bred again following her weaning the kids are the does you want to keep.

We make a continuous effort to eliminate culls from the herd. To us a doe who does not have good mothering ability, produce a minimum of two kids a year and raise her kids to weaning with little to no assistance is a cull.

The health of the doe at and before breeding is important. A doe who has been pulled down by her last kidding, illness, or parasites is not going to be as effective in her care of her embryos as a does in condition code score of 5 or above. Depending upon the forage available and the condition code score prior to breeding, we supplement with one to two lb of a 18 percent concentrate ration fed daily.

Prior to breeding our does and when they are on the upward slope of conditioning, we give our does, at our vet's recommendation, 2cc BoSe and 2cc Vitamin A,D,E.

Kidding is the fun part of our operation. Boers breed year around, so if you keep your buck with your does you are going to have kids virtually year around. We keep our bucks separated from the does herd for a couple of reasons. We want to determine, as best we can, the kidding date (based on our marketing plan); and we want to avoid kidding in the heat of summer or, if we have Christmas plans, around times we have vacations scheduled.

We "hand" breed. Now, that is not what you might think. When we observe a doe showing signs of estrus. These signs include hanging around the buck pen, flagging (or wiggling) their tails, and chattering - love talk with the bucks. After we determine when she is ready, we check our chart where we have determined who we want to breed her to or which semen we need for AI. If natural breeding, we move her from the herd and put her and the selected buck together on neutral ground - away from the other bucks to prevent fighting and away from the other does to prevent distractions. We leave them together until the breeding has been completed. If AI is the method of breeding selected, we move the doe to the AI stand and perform the procedure.

Next we record the day, the doe, and the buck. In addition, we mark the calendar for when her next cycle date would be so we will be sure to check her to see if she settled. If she comes back in heat, we repeat the process until she has settled. Our program automatically gives us a kidding date 150 days from the breeding date.

Approximately 45 days after breeding, we perform an ultrasound on the doe to check for pregnancy. Due to previous experiences with Ketosis, we are concerned about the number of embryos our does are carrying. If she is caring more than two, we are very watchfull of her, attempting to insure she gets adquante nurishment for triplets or quads. Pregnant does should receive plenty of exercise. They should be encouraged to forage, more for the exercise than the forage. An overly fat doe should be avoided, they will have problems kidding and carrying their kids. Body condition scores of over 7 should be avoided. Too much fat is not good for the does, pregnancy, or the kids. Clean, cool water and free choice trace-mineral salt should be available.

Three to four weeks before the due date, we vaccinate the does (booster) for clostridium perfringens C and D and tetanus toxoid (CD/T). Our drug of choice is Covexin 8. At this time we also administer a BoSe (Vitamin E/selenium) injection are to prevent white muscle disease in the kids since in our area the soil is moderately selenium deficient. (Check with your County Extension Agent to find our soil conditions in your area.) We also give each doe another shot of Vitamin A,D,E at this time. If necessary, we worm the goat, and we trim hooves and make sure the doe has no hoof problems.

A week prior to her due dates, the doe is moved into a kidding pen and the real surveillance begins. If possible, I like to begin tracking how the udder feels a few days before the due date, and often the condition of the udder is adequate to alert me that the day is upon us. Sometimes the udder will become quite firm as the doe 'bags up.' Other times it is not as noticeable. Some does give signs that kidding is not to far away by failing to act in a manner "normal" to her when I feed. Some does paw the ground, some talk to their stomach or make other out of the ordinary vocalizations. The doe may be restless and lay down then get up then lay down again as though she is looking for a comfortable position to have the kid(s). Birth isn't far off when a string of mucus appears from her vagina.
The old real estate statement of location, location, location is also important in the birthing of kids. In our case, we could let them kid in the upper or lower hay field where they spend their days, but due to predators, our goats are returned to the barn area at night; and as mentioned above, the last week before kidding our mothers-to-be spend their nights in a kidding pen. When we notice a doe going into labor, we pull her off the hay field and move her to her kidding pen. These pens have covered shelters, and the doe has her own private feed and water buckets. We use either fescue hay or shavings for bedding in the kidding pens.

Very few does require assistance during kidding though problems are always a possibility. Yearling does should be watched closely, especially if the sire throws large kids.

In the early stage of labor, she may arch her back and rear as she has contractions. She may complain (some loudly) about her discomfort. Note: some does kid laying down while others kid standing up. When she begins to push in earnest, her legs are stretched out away from her body and rise with each contraction.

At this point, more mucus may appear. Usually this mucus is quite firm but could be thin and runny. As the contractions get harder, she will push more of the mucous out and produce a bubble. The bubble pushed out is normally the bag the first kid is in.

As you see the bubble look for two front feet; they look like two little white spots. If you see two little feet and a nose coming out, things are going well. If the doe is in labor for a long period of time, you might want to considering assisting. When I say assisting, I do mean assist. You can’t do the work for her. I never pull on a leg or head to get it out. I always try to get the kid into a position for birth rather than trying to get the kid out. Most of the time it requires pushing the kid back in and maybe finding a second foot or turning a head.

Next the kid's head should appear - the dark area at the top, between the two white spots, can be seen. Once the kid's head is totally out, the sack the kid was in during gestation should bust. This fluid is quite slimy. The body of the kid follows the head, and finally the kid is out. The doe should start to lick the kid almost immediately. Some will not pay any attention to the kid for a few minutes, then get right to cleaning it up. Some will have a second kid before she has had time to clean up the first. Usually, the doe will lick the kid to remove mucus and stimulate its breathing. With a weak kid or inattentive mother, you might want to make sure the kid is freed from the amniotic sac and the mouth and nose are free of mucus

The kids will try to stand almost as soon as they hit the ground. The kid will be on it's feet very quickly. The kids and doe will usually vacalize to one another as the kids make their way to the udder for their first meal of rich colostrum. Within as short as an hour, the kids will be completely dry and probably taking a nap.

Two management practices are critical to the future health and survival of the newborn kid. The navel cord should be dipped or sprayed with iodine to prevent entry of disease-causing organisms through the cord and directly into the body of the kid. If necessary, a long navel cord can be cut to 2 or 3 inches in length. Dipping of the cord in 7% iodine to prevent infections not only prevents entry of organisms but promotes rapid drying and the eventual breaking away of the cord from the navel.

The second critical practice is insuring that the kids get colostrums milk as soon as possible after the birth. Usually within a half hour, the kids will attempt to stand and nurse. It is important that the kids nurse within the first few hours of birth to receive colostrum which provides immunoglobulins. The first milk the doe produces is colostrum and contains antibodies which the doe passes to the kid after birth. Consumption of colostrum must occur as early as possible and prior to 24 hours after birth. (The kid needs to consume 10% of its birth weight in colostrum during this first 24 hour period.) Since this milk is sometimes very think and sometimes the orfus is blocked, you should check to see that both (or all) teats are functioning and that milk is available from the teats. Most of the time, the kids will not need help finding the snack bar, but sometimes they may have difficulty in locating the exact location of lunch. Normally once they have found milk, they remember where it is located and return often.

We keep the mother and kids in the birthing pens for three or four days to allow them to bond. After that, we move them into an area where they have more space and began creep feeding the babies.

After each kidding, we clean out the birthing pens, put down lime, and replace the bedding. We clean out the feed and water buckets and prepare for the next kidding.

We want our kids to weigh between 8 and 11 lbs. at birth. Weak or underweight kids require extra care and effort. Underweight kids have a higher mortality rate if the kid is underweight either due to poor doe nutrition or being born premature. We weigh each kid the day it is born, recording the weight, and track the weight at two days, four days, and six days etc. This allows us to be reassured each kid is getting enough milk from the mother. If they are growing out on a scheduled, we cut the frequency of weight checks to once a week until the get to between 40 and 50 pounds, then they get to big to manage. We strive to get an average daily weight gain of half pound.

When weighing, each kid should be checked carefully to determine any abnormalities or deformities. (This is the time we dip the naval.) We also give each kid a squirt of either Nutridrench or GoatAde when we have them in to be weighed. By the second weigh-in (or before the mother and babies get turned back into the herd) we ear-tag each kid.

Before the kids reach ten days old, some people administer tetanus antitoxin to provide temporary protection against tetanus. At one month of age, some give tetanus toxiod (repeated one month later for newborns) and BoSe. The BoSe is repeated every six months and the tetanus toxiod is repeated annually. At about 3 to 4 weeks of age kids should receive a vaccination for C. perfringens CD and also tetanus or any bacterin for which there is a problem in the herd. A booster should be given in two weeks. We do not follow this schedule.

If for some reason the doe did not get her Covexin 8, BoSe, and Vitamin A,D,E shots prior to kidding, we will give the baby 2cc CD Antitoxin, 3cc Poly Serum, and 1/4cc BoSe at birth. This can be administered orally. We will continue with the CD Antitoxin and Poly Serum until the kids are old enough for their first vaccinations. Research has shown the kids do not start to build their own immunities until they are 10 to 12 weeks old, so we do not vaccinate until they reach this age.

We separate our buckling from our doelings at about three months. We wether all of our percentage bucks at two months, unless we are requested not to castrated a specific buck. We castrate using a band. We use a band because I hate blood and cutting causes blood. We give the bucklings their first Covexin 8 when we band. Normally wethers are sold for meat before it is time for their booster, but if we give a booster, we withhold selling for meat for 30 day.

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Ken and Pat Motes
Clear Creek Farms
33 South Clear Creek Road
Fall River, Tennessee 38468
Phone: (931) 852-2167
Fax: (931) 852-2168


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