by Morgan Wemmer
When close to kidding, does should be kept in a clean and dry environment. This will help decrease the risk of injury or infection for the dam and kids. If you are kidding in cold weather, make sure the heat lamps are in proper working order and placed safely away from straw and hay to reduce the risk of fire.
It is recommended to build your “kidding kit” prior to kidding so that everything is in one place and you are ready for your new arrivals. This should be checked yearly and updated as needed. Include the following in your kidding kit:
· Identification tags
· A scale to weigh kids
· BoSe (injection to be given shortly after birth)
· Needles and syringes
· Iodine (at least 7%) for a naval dip
· Latex gloves/obstetric sleeves
· Kid/lamb puller
· Record keeping system
· Towel to dry kids if needed
· Feeding tube
· Emergency phone numbers for nearby veterinarians
· Digital thermometer
This list is not exhaustive but the items are commonly recommended by industry professionals.
Parturition, or labor, often has three stages. These stages can vary in length, depending on the doe. The first stage of labor can last from a few hours up to 24 hours; it is usually recognized by loosening of the vulva and tendons/muscles near the tail head. There may also be white discharge during this time, and the doe may appear restless and uncomfortable. Hip bones may become more prominent as the kid drops into the birth canal. Does will not yet be pushing, and no waterbag or red discharge is present.
During the second stage of labor, you may find the doe pushing and seemingly in pain. You may also see the presence of a water bag at this time; the doe in this stage of labor may be straining, bleating and laying down often. During this stage is also when the kid will be delivered. Kids should present with a nose and two hooves with the toes pointing up. If presentation is abnormal, correction may be needed. If correction is needed, be sure to remove all jewelry, wear gloves, and use a sterile lubrication. When changing the kid’s position, it is best to do so while the doe is in a resting period. If you must pull the kid, it is best to do so when the doe is pushing. When pulling a kid, pull downward towards the doe’s feet. After the kid is delivered, if the doe has not yet gotten up to clean the kid’s nose herself, clean the nose and lay the kid beside the doe. Shortly after kidding, the doe and kid should be moved to a pen alone to encourage bonding. If there is more than one kid, be sure to move them only after all kids have been delivered. This will keep the kid from being laid on while the doe is still laboring.
The third stage of labor is when the afterbirth, or placenta, will be delivered. This could take a few hours after the birth of the last kid. Do not try to pull the placenta out, as pulling of the placenta leads to an increased risk of infection. If a doe has not passed the placenta, call your vet. Discharge is normal for two to three weeks after kidding. If discharge has a bad odor or becomes pus colored, call a vet, as these are common signs of infection.
It is extremely important to ensure that kids nurse within 30 minutes after delivery. This will provide antibodies and nutrients from colostrum. After 12 hours, the digestive tract of the kid is unable to absorb the maternal antibodies.
The newborn kid’s umbilical should be dipped or sprayed with iodine that is at least 7% to help prevent joint ill and other possible infections. Birth weights should also be taken, which can be done using a hanging scale and a bucket to hang from it. Place the kid in the bucket and record the weights. Identification and/or scrapie tags can also be put on at this time. An injection of BoSe, typically .5 cc or .25 cc for a miniature breed, should be given to help prevent selenium deficiency and white muscle disease.
Morgan Wemmer, is an Extension Assistant for Livestock Programming at Kentucky State University. Originally from Houston, Ohio, Morgan earned her degree in Livestock Management from Eastern Kentucky University. EKU is where she expanded on her love for agriculture, and decided to focus her knowledge on small ruminant reproduction.