So, you’ve done everything you can to prepare for kidding season. The goats are healthy and happy. The kidding area is clean, dry and almost perfect. We are ready for our goat labor and delivery.
Not sure if you’ve prepared for kidding season – read our post 6 Simple Steps to Your Best Kidding Season Yet.
But now you find yourself a week away from your first kids being born and you realize you have no idea what’s next. What do you do? How do you prepare for the actual labor? What is normal goat labor? What if you’ve done everything right preparing for kidding season and you still have a problem?
Kidding season can be at best stressful and at worst panic inducing. But you don’t need to panic. Below I have outlined the 5 Crucial Steps you can take to prepare yourself for your goat’s labor and delivery.
Step 1 – Recognize Normal
Know what a normal birth looks like and be familiar with the signs and symptoms of a problem birth.
YouTube goat births. Trust me there are more videos than you ever knew you wanted to see. I will explain the process below but you really can’t beat seeing it live for understanding what’s coming.
Do you know the 3 phases of goat labor? If not, you can read more about what normal labor looks like and what you can expect during your goat’s labor and delivery in the post The Single Best Thing you can do to Help Your Goat during Labor and Delivery.
Step 2 – Understand the Problems
1 – Read up on signs and symptoms of problems.
2 – Know what delivery presentations create problems, be familiar with the symptoms of pregnancy related illnesses like toxemia, ketosis, and milk fever.
3 – Flag or photocopy information from vet manuals on treatments for kidding problems and keep them in your kidding kit or a readily available binder.
Guys, the amount of problems that can present during labor and delivery can give you nightmares. The best advice I can give you is to stay calm, remember that labor is a process that takes time and recognize that every slightly abnormal event does not mean catastrophe.
Step 3 – Know your Goats
Every goat shows symptoms of labor differently. Some like my oldest doe present in a classic manner. She separates herself from the herd, she paws the ground and she gets up and down trying to get comfortable. Others, like our doe Rainy, give absolutely no indication that anything is going on. She has been known to show up for feeding time during labor.
Step 4 – Have a well-stocked Kidding Kit
Some things like gloves, scissors and stomach tubes can last year to year. Other items like medications may need to be replaced every year. It may seem wasteful to purchase something and not use it but trust me when you need it you will be thanking every star in the sky you had it. It’s worth the peace of mind.
Need a kidding kit checklist? Get your own copy from the Farm Crew Resource Library, you can sign in for access below.
Step 5 – Don’t be afraid to call for help
Keep the phone number of other more experienced breeders on hand for questions. And keep the vets number on hand in case you need them.
Sometimes we, as farmers, homesteaders and livestock owners feel like we need to know all the things and be able to handle all the emergencies. I think it is just part of our self-sufficient and capable personalities.
But, no one is going to judge you for making the call for help. We have all been there.
I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have called other breeders, or the vet, or even the neighbor (sometimes you just need more than two hands) for help.
Other breeders have gone through what you are experiencing and may have tips and techniques you haven’t tried. Call them.
Call your vet. Don’t wait until the dam and her kids are so far gone you don’t even have time to get them to the clinic. If you think you have a problem doe, call your vet and give them a warning ahead of time.
An example from our own farm.
We had one doe who had beautiful babies but had some trouble kidding, she always had big kids and was extremely myotonic. We lost her first kid because I didn’t keep good records and thought she wasn’t due for another couple of weeks. I learned a hard lesson that first season.
Her next pregnancy I knew when she was due, I set reminders on my calendars and I pretty much stalked her the last two weeks of pregnancy. The week she was due I called the vet’s office and put them on standby. As soon as she went into labor I called and let them know she had started. It’s a good thing I did. After trying unsuccessfully to help her deliver the kid, I loaded her up and took her in. It was after five, but they had waited on me. She ended up needing a C-section. There is no way she could have delivered that baby, even with my help.
Because the vet was on standby and I didn’t hesitate to call on them we saved our doe and we got an amazing buckling and one of our future herd sires. He is our only kid from that doe. For obvious reasons, we did not breed her again.
Call your vet. They are there if you need them.
Get organized and keep important numbers on a single sheet. Print it and keep it in your kidding kit, tacked to your barn wall and in a convenient place in your home. You can download our free Emergency contact sheet if you don’t have your own. Just click the link below for access to the resource library.
Sometimes no matter how well prepared you are, you will experience problems. It happens to all of us. It doesn’t mean you are a bad goat owner or that you shouldn’t try breeding your goats again.
Learn from the problems. Was it a management mistake? Maybe that goat just isn’t cut out to be breeding stock. Maybe there were environmental factors that contributed to the problem.
Evaluate and make a plan for going forward. You’ve got this and you should know that for every one problem delivery you are going to have 10 deliveries that are ‘normal’ and go off without a hitch.
Want a lighter read and a breeders only secret for goat labor and delivery? Check out the post Goat Kidding – 1 Surprising Secret why You Never get the Date Right. This is a bit of goat delivery wisdom you don’t want to miss.