If this is your first time going through the process of breeding and kidding with your goats, this guide will take you from start to finish. Be sure to check out our new calculator in part one which will calculate your Nigerian Dwarf’s kidding date.
Late Gestation Care
At about six week prior to kidding, if you vaccinate your herd, you’ll want to give your doe a CD&T shot. This is a vaccination for Clostridium perfringens (type C and D) and tetanus. Giving it to your doe at this stage passes on immunity to her kids. We do not do this with our herd, but many do. That’s totally your call.
Kids are starting to grow fast and your doe is going to need more nutrition to sustain herself and her babies. Five weeks prior to kidding, slowly begin to add grain rations to your doe’s diet.
Two weeks prior to kidding you’ll want to use clippers to trim up your goat’s vaginal area and udder. Having the hair clipped around the vagina keeps the area cleaner and having the udder cleaned up makes it easier for the kids to access the teats. Some does won’t need an udder trim, but we have one that resembles a Wookie under there and even I have trouble locating her teats in all that hair.
This is also the time to get your Kidding Kit in order. Although we prefer to let things happen naturally, intervening only when absolutely necessary, plan for the worst case scenario. Feather & Scale Farm has an excellent article about what to have in your kit and why you might need it.
Signs of Labor
Much like with standing heat, your doe may some one, some, or all of these. Many won’t should a single one of these signs of labor. One minute she’ll be hanging out with everyone, doing her goat thing, the next thing you know there are babies under her nursing. If you haven’t read the Doe Code of Honor, I highly suggest it.
A few weeks before labor
- The udder will begin to fill during the last few weeks of of pregnancy. As time approaches her udder will become firm.
- Her hips may begin to appear sunken as the kids drop.
A few days before labor
- Her tail ligaments will loosen. This is really hard to identify, so don’t count on being able to tell.
- If you can still feel the kids moving inside the doe you have about 12 hours to wait. Movement becomes almost nonexistent as they get into position for birth.
- She may become restless. You might see her getting up and down, moving, and pawing.
- Her teats should fill about 24 hours prior to kidding.
A few hours before labor
- She may look at you and lick your hands and plead with her eyes for you to be with her, even if she usually just tolerates your existence.
- You’ll see a mucus string discharge. It is a natural lubricant for the labor process. A long milky string is a sure sign that the time is fast approaching.
- Within hours of kidding, if you pull gently down on your doe’s eyelid and it will be bloodshot.
- She may refuse to eat or just nibble when she normally has a good appetite.
Labor is happening
- You may see her looking back sideways and talking. She will put her head on her flank as she talks to her kids.
- She may stare off into space for 30 – 60 seconds. This is early contractions.
- She may breath heavily and look worried. This is the beginning stages of labor.
- She will lay down and vocalize as her tail rises and falls. This is the beginning of heavy labor.
- Her water will break. The time has arrived.
Most of the time labor goes off without a hitch. Fias Co Farm has a wonderful guide on assisting if labor isn’t happening smoothly on it’s own. Assuming everything goes well, mama and kids will need minimal after care. We like to give our doe some Milk Money Herbal Goat Treats to help her produce enough milk to sustain her hungry babies. After that it’s just a matter of sitting back and watching those beautiful babies explore the world.
It’s an amazing experience to be a part of. Enjoy every moment of it.
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