Last month we spent our time preparing for the "Big Event". We got our kidding kit together and watched for the signs of imminent kidding.
So you go out and the doe is now going into labor. She’s actively pushing, and you see a bubble emerge from the vulva. I generally shine a flashlight on this bubble to see if I can observe the kid. It is reassuring if you see a little snout resting on two little hooves. At this time, patience is of the essence. Sometimes the doe will pop that baby right out. If she does, you’re lucky. More often than not, she’ll take her own sweet time. She may even get up, stroll casually over to the manger, and start eating. The kid might even slurp back inside. Personally, that drives me up the wall, but its perfectly natural. Give the doe plenty of time to do things on her own. Most of the time, she does not need our "help". A rule of thumb is to assist the doe if she has not presented a kid after either two hours of hard labor or roughly 30 minutes after you’ve seen body parts (snout, foot, etc.) In either of these events, it may be prudent to take the kids. This can be indeed intimidating for the novice. It is helpful to have access to either a veterinarian or an experienced goatkeeper, and a mobile phone can be most helpful It is beyond the scope of this article to cover difficult births. Most kiddings are "normal", and the doe does all the work. After what at times may seem like an eternity, the bubble bursts, and the baby slides out onto the clean feedsack you had in your kidding kit. Dry the baby vigorously with the clean towels. Remove any mucous from the mouth and nostrils, and make certain that the baby is breathing normally. The breaths should not be raspy. If necessary hold the kid up by the rear feet until it gives a lusty cry - you can pinch the tail a bit to encourage a good loud howl. Most probably, the umbilical cord was severed when the baby was born. If it is unusually thick, cut, with the sterile scissors, the umbilical about two inches from the belly. Place the small bottle containing the iodine over the navel, all the way to the belly, and invert baby and bottle. This will douse the navel with iodine and prevent navel ill. At this time you can also trim the tiny hooves with scissors so that he/she gets a good start on sound feet. If there is excessive bleeding from the navel, tie off the severed cord with clean dental floss (after you’ve dipped the navel in iodine). Now you can place the clean, dry baby in the kidding box. If the next kid is rolling off the assembly line, just repeat the process. If the doe is taking her time or it is a singlet kid, this is a good time to warm up the heat-treated colostrum. When all kids are delivered, give the kid his or her first bottle - a minimum of 2-4 ounces of colostrum. Preferably each kid gets his slug of colostrum within the first hour of life. Let the baby snooze for an hour or two after it is fed, and turn your attention to the doe. She has done a lot of work, so now is the time to give her a bucket of fresh, warm, molasses water. This helps to replace the fluids she lost during the birthing process and to replenish her energy reserves. After she has drunk her fill, we feed the doe and milk some colostrum from each udder half to relieve pressure on the udder and to encourage release of the afterbirth (if she hasn’t already passed one for each kid). We do not totally milk out the doe until the second day, in order to reduce the chance of giving the doe milk fever. Finally, the doe is fed, watered, and milked, and we then turn our attentions to the stall. Generally speaking, we remove the afterbirths, and shovel up any particularly soggy dirt or gravel. This waste goes into an empty feed sack and is taken to the dump, so that predators are not attracted to the fluids. Fresh agricultural lime goes down on the floor, and we bed the doe with clean, fresh hay. By the time all that is finished, its time to feed the babies more heat-treated colostrum. The babies will have 4-5 feedings during their first 24 hours, after which, we scale back to 3 feedings per day. At this time, there are but two things to do - love the babies and ENJOY!!!