The tasks of raising dairy goats is a year round effort. What to do and when to do it? Here’s a year round guide written by Mary Blankevoort, DVM, to help you…
Prepare for Kidding
- Have kidding area cleaned and bedded with fresh straw several days before the doe’s due date.
- Get supplies ready:
- A good light in the delivery area.
- A clean bucket for water.
- Surgical scrub such as Nolvosan, or a bottle of mild detergent (Ivory, Joy) for cleaning hands and the vulva of the doe.
- Obstetrical lubricant (Lubrisept, K-Y) and, if possible, disposable obstetrical gloves for assisted births.
- Dry towels for cleaning and rubbing kids.
- Iodine (7% tincture) for dipping navels. A small jar or film canister for individual use is handy. Dip navel immediately after birth, and repeat in 12 hours.
- Scissors for umbilical cord.
- Keep frozen colostrum from a safe, CAEV-free source. To heat-treat colostrum, heat colostrum to 135ºF in a double boiler or water bath and maintain temperature for one hour.
- Clean bottle and nipple for feeding colostrum.
- Feeding tube (12-18 French) and large syringe (35-60 cc, with catheter tip) for giving colostrum to weak kids.
- Tape doe’s teats one week before due date with teat tape. This will prevent kids from possibly nursing a CAE-positive doe.
- Segregate CAE-positive parturient does from the rest of the herd to prevent horizontal transmission from infected genital secretions.
- Remove kids from doe immediately after birth.
- Feed colostrum from a safe source within the first couple hours after birth. Give 10% of kid’s body weight within 18 hours (e.g., 13 oz. for an 8 lb. kid). Then feed pasteurized milk, CAE-free milk, or milk replacer.
Nutrition for the doe
- Have pregnant does on a rising plane of nutrition in late gestation, i.e., good quality grass hay, supplement with some leafy alfalfa. Gradually increase grain ration in last few weeks to provide energy.
Disease Prevention: Does
- Be sure does are boostered for CDT in last 4-6 weeks prior to due date. Consult your veterinarian for advice on selenium supplementation for does and kids in deficient areas.
- Deworm doe 1-2 weeks postpartum.
Disease Prevention: Kids
- Begin Coccidiosis preventive or start monitoring fecals by three weeks of age.
- CDT series at 4, 8, and 12 weeks of age.
- Begin deworming at 6-8 weeks.
- Be sure kids have gotten their CD-T boosters (e.g., 8 – 12 – 16 weeks).
- Wet weather has given parasites a big boost in many areas. Practice regular helminth (worm) control in all groups of animals. Doses of dewormers in goats are usually 2X the cow or sheep dose (4X the cattle dose for Fenbendazole–PanacurR). In the case of Ivomec, use the oral formulation. Resistance to all dewormers is appearing, so monitor success with quantitive fecal exams.
- Rotate pastures every several weeks, if possible.
- Coccidiostats for kids.
- Check for external parasites; keep animals clipped and clean.
- Be careful with grain overload during peak lactation, and when getting ready for show. Increases in concentrate feed must be made gradually, over a couple of weeks.
- Be sure fresh water is present at all times. Consumption goes way up in warm weather, and during lactation.
- Monitor presence of poisonous plants which may have grown within reach of animals.
- When hauling in hot weather, provide good ventilation. If you break down, will animals have fresh air and water?
- At show time, be careful not to “over-udder” a doe, as she can develop an allergic reaction to backed-up milk under pressure.
- Build buck up for breeding season. Give him Vitamin-E/Selenium in Selenium-deficient areas. Keep feet trimmed. Give him a good diet of forage and increasing amounts of concentrate in late summer.
- Check and trim feet. Treat foot rot as necessary.
- Check teeth on older bucks.
- Shorten or remove scurs prior to breeding season.
- Clip belly. Examine penis and prepuce for injuries and inflammation.
- Check general body condition. Improve nutritional status if too thin.
- Bo-Se in selenium-deficient areas.
- Check and trim feet before rainy season.
- Correct body condition before breeding, especially if she is too fat. Fat around the ovaries may cause poor fertility. In general, corrections in body condition (too thin, too fat) are easier and safer to make before the doe is dried off.
- Bo-Se in selenium-deficient areas.
- Do milk cultures now, to pick up subclinical mastitis.
- Consider dry-treating the herd, where mastitis has been a persistent problem.
- Check fecals in different age categories (does, kids) – to evaluate parasite loads. Treat accordingly.
- Consider fall deworming, coming off summer pasture.
- CAEV testing: Kids over 6 months old, new additions to the herd, any animals of questionable value or condition. Cull accordingly. Feed as few animals as possible through the winter.
- Pregnancy check does early enough to be able to rebreed this season if open.
- Booster vaccinations (Clostridium perfringens C & D, and Tetanus) in mid- to late-gestation at least 6 weeks prior to kidding. This promotes high colostral antibody levels at parturition.
- Booster Vitamin E-Selenium in mid- to late gestation, in Selenium deficient areas. This bolsters uterine muscle tone and helps prevent uterine inertia and retained placentas.
- Get does into their desired body condition while they are still milking; e.g., if too fat, reduce grain before drying up. Don’t dry her up and then starve her. There will be fewer problems with pregnancy toxemia if weight changes are made while doe is still metabolically active.
- Pregnant does should get plenty of exercise. Fit and trim does are easier to freshen, less susceptible to pregnancy toxemia.
- Don’t feed 100% alfalfa as a ration, especially to does in late gestation. Balance with grass hay so that does can mobilize their own calcium at the time of freshening.
- Keep an eye on geriatric animals for weight loss and chilling.
- Routine foot care for all animals.
- Monitor for external parasites (lice) during this period where animals may spend more time indoors with less sunlight.
- Eliminate moldy feed.
- Get to know and enjoy your animals better during this slow time!