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Doe needs, last three weeks of pregnancy

 
Thekla McDaniels
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I got a nigerian dwarf doe last spring. She was bred on March 15. So, I figure she should kid on or about August 13th. I have been around goats and sheep, and this is not the pregnant goat's first time, and she has not had any problems int he past. Still, it is my first time being the responsible human.

The doe came from a small dairy with dedicated and conscientious management. She had not been on concentrated feed of any kind, so I followed suit. She has suffered no upset in her poop, so I figure her rumen has beeen healthy since she came to me. She's been without goat or sheep for company, so I've kept her company myself, and watched closely what she eats, and I think she has not lost conditioning due to poor feed. She has a caprine mineral supplement available. She eats a lot of kochia, bind weed, prickly lettuce and morning glory, some amaranth. She loves dried grass clippings I use as mulch. She eats other things too, but those are things she seeks out. She isn't very excited about the white red or sweet clover, the alfalfa, eats only a bite or two. She doesn't eat much grape vine, or apple tree leaves. She far prefers dried bind weed to all those lovely green high protein things. Now doesn't t hat sound just like a goat? She seems healthy, coat shiny, energetic and friendly. I dried her up in late May, and her udder shriveled to nothing, and is now looking fuller, but not bulging. Her pen's been moved from one place to another, and I think she is not overloaded with parasites, but how do I know for sure? Is it really OK to go on her clear eyes, sleek coat, healthy poop, energy level and general attitude about life? This is good enough for me re my health, and my children's health, but, is there something I'm missing, due to lack of experience?

I'm interested in any suggestions insight experiences advice you can offer.

Any supplements the doe should receive? Any super handy supplies to have all gathered up? (Iodine, soft nylon cord, gloves, clean dry towels, lubrication gel of some kind) I am hoping not to play James Herriot, but I've held the goat when my sister did... It's my impression that she should not be in labor beyond a couple of hours, but if I don't know when she started?...

Most likely, I'll go out one morning, or come home from work one afternoon, and find 3 little doelings frolicking around her. Just the same, the permies forum is one of the friendliest places on earth, and there might be someone who can give me some tips and reassurance.

Thanks

Thekla
 
Renate Howard
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Look up the FAMACHA chart for goats - there's a way to tell if they need to be dewormed by looking at the color of the skin in their eyelids (and gums but that's less reliable).

Are you offering her the minerals free-choice? Goats really need a lot of minerals. Kelp is best but depending on your area also copper boluses, extra calcium or magnesium, maybe iodine. I personally believe fluoride in the water upsets their mineral balance so I only give mine rainwater. They also need baking soda free-choice.

Pat Coleby has a great book on natural goat care that has really extensive information on managing their health.

I've read that exercise is very important to them having an easy delivery. If she's in a small pen that doesn't cause her to walk very far it might be a good idea to take the goat on daily walks the last few weeks. The exercise is supposed to help the babies move into position. With our goats, once we get out of the yard where they're familiar with the area, they'll follow us closely and are really fun to take hiking. Just don't push the pace on her - if she starts breathing hard let her catch her breath and maybe go more slowly.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Thanks for the reference Renate. I'lll take a look at her eyes. She is getting free choice goat minerals, and walking some, she does not have a small pen, and comes out to walk around our place with me, but I can take her walking in unfamiliar territory. That will also give me a a chance to see how quickly she tires out. (I remember being pregnant, it does make a difference even in vigorous fit and healthy individuals).

What does the baking soda provide her, or is that already covered somewhere else ?

Thekla
 
Renate Howard
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Sometimes because of what they eat their rumen can get too acidic, which can be very bad and lead to complications, the baking soda offers them a way to buffer it, it can prevent bloat and also poisoning from eating the wrong plants. Most goats seem to know when to use the baking soda to self-medicate as needed.
 
greg patrick
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I completely agree with the advice given by Renate. Let me share what I do with my does. I never give them grain except to train them. I bring in lots of tree trimmings. Right now they're eating chipped palm. Last week it was olive. The does in milk (standards) get a small flake of alfalfa a day to bump up milk production. I give them free feed dolomite, baking soda, Redmond salt block, and kelp (Iodine is probably the most important mineral during pregnancy). I also throw a piece of copper pipe in a bucket with some ACV, let is soak a bit, then top it up with water. Minerals will keep your kids from getting pneumonia, but if they do get sniffles and go off their feed, use Tylan. I also occasionally sprinkle DE over their alfalfa to help with parasites. I do a deep litter in my pens with all the dead leaves, sticks and straw, but I get zero summer rain so it works here. I muck out when rain is forecast.

I take my does for grazing walks daily; they won't want to go out the day they freshen so that will be your cue it's show time. They always wait for me to leave before they freshen.

I don't do anything when the kids come except help them latch if they're having trouble. Actually my own kids take care of that. De horn them on day two or three. I use an X-30 and it works great. You'll need a dwarf adapter. Have it on hand BEFORE you need it. Mom will probably bleed a little for a week or two. If mom doesn't eat the placenta, feed it to the chickens.

I always throw a bale of straw in the pen when I think it's about time, but they always drop the kids in a pile of poo. I think they must do this on purpose to get 'em covered in beneficial bacteria.

Since it's summer make sure you've got the flies under control. Provide lots of cinder blocks for the kids to bounce around on.

Don't be afraid to get in and handle the kids A LOT. We handle our kids as soon as they've gotten their first milk. They love the attention and will quickly bond to you. All our kids follow us around like little puppies.

Have fun, and post lots of pictures!
 
Renate Howard
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When they kid, the mothers will often paw at the babies. It's very disturbing looking but supposedly they don't really hurt them -it's to stimulate them to get up and nurse and they only do it the first few days. Don't take the babies away thinking they'll get hurt or the goat is a bad mother.

Some shave their butts before they kid to help clean them off afterward. I didn't on mine and the blood dried in clumps on her tail fur and was nasty looking.

I just read that the hormone changes just before birth cause a barber pole worm population explosion so check her eyelids frequently to make sure they don't go pale on you - which indicates anemia and can kill her quickly.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Well, it is day 145 for my pregnant doe. Swollen vulva, rounded and shapely udder. Maggie is still energetic and has a fine appetite.

I looked at the FAMACHA chart and her eyes, and they seemed OK. Not as bright red as they could be, but not ashen or pale pink. She does not like me pulling her eyelids open, so I keep my eye on the mucosa sometimes visible at her vagina, it's downright rosy, so, parasite count must be tolerable. DE is a great idea, I'll get some of that too. I don't want her to die of parasites, but I don't want to poison the whole place with wormer either. I read that one of the brand name wormers kills the dung beetles (and no telling what other countless members of the soil community) in the pasture for several months. If she was really anemic it seems like she would be listless, tired, and her respiratory rate would increase. (no hemoglobin to carry the oxygen).

I guess I'll get some kelp to have side by side in her mineral feeder, too.

I've moved her pen to a place close to the house, and will move again after the blessed event, keeping her close by so I can keep an eye on her more easily.

I never knew about the pawing, and yes, that would have upset me. If I see it, I will watch closely, but at least have a reference point .

I am pretty excited, she doesn't seem big enough to have triplets, but what do I know?

Thanks for all the suggestions. One day this will be as familiar as when my cat has kittens.

Thekla


 
Renate Howard
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My Eva hollered like a woman in labor when she had hers. It scared me and I almost missed the event - had run in to use the phone to call farmer neighbors to see if they could come assist. She calmed right down when her baby was born then the second popped out like an afterthought.

Watch to see that she lets both (all 3?) nurse and accepts them all. Some new mothers forget the first born or decide they don't like one of their babies, but not often.

If you want to help rub them dry, some old towels on hand might be helpful. That is, if she has them in your presence - some, I hear, would rather do it in private and will wait until you're gone - mine wanted me there.

On the second day, Eva was so engorged she didn't want her kids to nurse and they had trouble latching on because the teats were so huge so I had to milk her out some to help them out. I held the nearest foot with one hand and milked with the other, just onto the ground because she wasn't having it until she found out I was bringing her relief, then she held still for me like a champ, and has ever since. Dairy animals often get engorged because they were bred to make much more milk than is natural, so it's something you need to keep a watch for if your goat is dairy or part dairy.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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more thanks, Renate.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Just wanted to say that last Sunday, day 154 from an observed breeding, my Maggie delivered 4 healthy kids out back of the windbreak while I had dinner guests. 3 bucklings and a very tiny doeling, who is gaining faster (proportional to her body weight) than her brothers. Everything is going quite well despite my efforts to take care of things.

I appreciate all the help.
Thekla
 
Renate Howard
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WOW! 4? That's really cool!!! Mostly the animals seem to know what they're doing and do fine without us!

Some would remove and bottle feed 1 or 2 of the bucklings to make sure the doeling would get enough to grow well, but that's in dairy herds where the females are more valued.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Hi Renate,

They are pretty cute too.

Shame on me, but I also value the females more highly, which is why I watched very closely the first few hours and days, weighed them on a baby scale that shows 1/2 ounce accuracy. Went down to the medical supply store and got the means to stomach tube feed her if need be, just because I could not bear to have miscalculated, and wake up on day two to find her weak, fading away. If I had any reason to believe the doeling was not getting all she needed, I would remove two of the bucklings, sell them as a pair to someone who wanted pet (future) wethers.

When ever I go out to visit them, I hold the bucklings away, letting little miss get all she wants. As I said, she is gaining larger percent of her body weight than the bucklings are, so I guess she is full of it!

Renate, do you know anything about Henry Milkers/ Maggiedan Milkers and so on? There is another thread where two of us are looking for info from experienced goat keepers, but there is not much from experienced users of such devices. The title of the thread is "Hand milker for dwarf goats?" If you have any expertise/experience/ references to share I hope you will help us out!

Thanks

Thekla
 
Renate Howard
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Never used one, many experienced people say the suction will eventually ruin her udders. Others love them.
 
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