Preparing for the Birth of Baby Goats
Making sure a doe is in good health and good body condition before she
gives birth is one of the best way to ensure healthy kids. Here are a
Ideally, you should start thinking about nutrition even before you
breed your goat. A doe should be neither underweight nor overweight at
the time of breeding. By feeding her a nutritious diet such as Purina
Mills® Goat Chow® or Show Chow® Goat Ration along with natural forage,
you help ensure that she won’t need to overcome any nutritional
deficiencies during pregnancy. And you can be confident that she’s
getting the proper balance of vitamins and minerals she needs to
produce healthy kids.
Gestation for goats is 150 days, or about 5 months. During the first
three months, you can feed the doe as usual and allow her to maintain
her normal healthy exercise routine of walking and grazing. Healthy
exercise is important because she’s going to need strength at the end
of pregnancy to carry the extra weight of a fetus or fetuses.
In the last two months of pregnancy, the feeding routine may need to
change. During these final weeks, the unborn baby or babies are
growing at a tremendous rate in preparation for birth. Depending on
the size of the unborn kids, a doe may not have enough rumen capacity
to eat as much as she usually does. Without proper nutrition, she’s
more likely to have smaller, weaker kids, yet she simply cannot
consume enough foodstuffs to get the nutrition she needs (especially
if they’re of poor quality).
Consequently, now is the time to increase the concentrate (grain)
portion of her diet and reduce the hay portion (it’s important to do
this gradually so as not to change the rumen pH too fast). A small
amount of fat added to the feed is another way to increase her energy
intake. Providing smaller, more frequent meals will also allow her to
consume more energy.
Although goats can typically go for long periods without drinking
water, the final days of pregnancy is no time for that. Water is the
major component of amniotic fluid and milk and should be made freely
available at all times.
A disease often seen in goats (most often in dairy goats) is pregnancy
toxemia. During late-term pregnancy, especially when carrying multiple
kids, a doe may be unable to derive all the energy she needs from
feed. As a result, the doe’s body begins to extract energy from its
fat reserves. The breakdown of large amounts of fat results in
compounds called ketones floating around in the blood. In large
concentrations these ketones have a toxic effect and the animal can
develop acidosis of the blood. Symptoms include apathy, a rough coat
and disorientation. Your vet will need to administer glucose and
electrolytes to help your goat get well.
The good news is that you can prevent ketosis or pregnancy toxemia by
getting more energy into the late-term pregnant doe. Simply increase
the grain portion of her diet and add fat as needed, as described
Also, about 30 days before the due date, vaccinate against Clostridium
perfringes Types C & D and Tetanus. By vaccinating in advance, you
will give the doe’s immune system time to produce antibodies that can
be passed along to her newborn kids through the colostrum.
Finally, during the final two months of pregnancy, keep unnecessary
stress to a minimum. Avoid transporting the doe for long distances,
and don’t perform any routine management activities such as foot
As the big day approaches, you may notice telltale signs that your doe
is preparing to go into labor. In fact, about two weeks prior to
kidding, you may want to consider moving your doe to a kidding pen
where you can observe her more carefully.
One of the first signals that the delivery date is near is a drop in
appetite. Some does may paw the ground or become cranky. She may even
vocalize. Frankly, any behavior that is out of the ordinary can be an
indicator that she is getting ready to give birth.
When the time comes to go into labor, she will probably look for a
secluded spot to delivery her babies. At this point, it’s best to
allow nature to take its course. Kidding normally takes about 20
minutes. If the doe is straining longer than that, it could indicate
an abnormal presentation and she may need your help. Always keep the
phone number of your veterinarian close at hand.
We hope these tips and suggestions will prove helpful. Good luck, and
congratulations on the new kids.