This is one of the most important times of your year, and if you want plenty of lusty replacement stock, you must be prepared to bring your Does about to kid to the most favourable and sheltered place, and one near enough for you to observe daily. Because of the high twinning rate in goats the twins are born lighter than single Kids, and the Doe has her work cut out to clean two Kids and usher them to the warmth and sustenance of that first drink of colostrum. Your Does should have been vaccinated and drenched, which can be done at the same time (I use extender capsules) and she should be shorn if possible or at least belly crutched so that the Kid can find their way to the milk.
Feeding the Doe through her pregnancy can be tricky, as she needs a maintenance level for the first three and a half months, as over feeding at this stage can cause problems later. The Does nutritional needs increase greatly in the last six weeks of pregnancy, and should be fed accordingly, research has shown that Mohair follicles are formed in Kids at this time. Lack of feed can affect the Kids lifetime fleece, and the high demand for food remains throughout the lactating time. But do not have your Does overfat at Kidding, as this may cause kidding problems.
A few hours before kidding the Doe will take herself from the main mob and choose her spot. She is likely to become restless and bleat, the vulva will look pink and prominent and her udder will be flushed and full, mucus will form a trail from the vulva.
Kidding is normally very quick and easy due to the small size of the Kids to Doe. Something to look for after kidding is retained afterbirth. I noticed a Doe was always by the water and drinking a lot, so I took her temperature, which was high, and I also noticed a frothy yellowish discharge coming from her vulva, so I called the Vet in a hurry. He found her cavity to be filled with fluid, which suggested blood poisoning. Antibiotics were started immediately but failed to save her, so just be aware that if the Doe looks unwell this could be the cause.
The first two hours are vital to the bonding process and interference at this stage is not recommended, A young Doe can get alarmed and run off and not come back to her Kid, and sometimes they just sit and look at it for some time before the instinct takes over.
The Kid will drink from anyone in the first two days, any mothering on that needs to be done it should take place within these times.
The newborn Kid is very susceptible to the cold and wet so it is vital they are either born or taken to shelter in these conditions, sometimes the Does are more likely to find shelter if they have been newly shorn. It pays to make regular rounds if the weather is cold and wet as the Kids cannot last for too long exposed. Do not just remove the Kid without the Doe knowing what you have done with it, you may have to take Doe and Kid inside together or move it in short bursts and make sure mother is there with it until you have reached the shelter, the Kids are normally mobile in 2-3 days.
Marking and Identifying New Kids
The Angoras habit of leaving their Kids at the place of birth for a day or two makes it easy for us to ear tag them. Record details of parents that were established during tupping, and Kids number and sex also if it is a single or a twin. We have the tags printed with numbers, before the Does start to Kid (tattooing is no longer compulsory). Everyone has their own method of numbering and colour coding tags – we start the numbers with the end number ie. 1995.
We start all tags with 501, 502, and we use a different colour for each year.
Ageing goats is the same as sheep, small teeth, when they are up to one year old and then two big teeth every year thereafter until they are full mouth which is eight teeth.
In the near future we are going to have to tag goats under the mind a system which applies to all other farmed stock, which enables the end user to be able to track the animal back to its origin, and follow its drenching, antibiotic, etc. status.
Care of the Newly Born Kid
If you are near at the time of birth, contain your impatience and wait until it is obvious that the Doe has accepted, cleaned and fed her Kid or Kids. Give her longer to cope if she has had twins before going to inspect the new arrivals.
The only exception to this rule is if the conditions make it essential to interfere such as an obviously weak Kid, or the fear of cold conditions leading to hypothermia then move Doe and Kids to shelter.
Never try to lift a very cold limp Kid to the udder and forcefully squeeze milk down its throat. When we do this to a Kid who cannot manage the swallow reflex because it is stiff with cold, the milk delivered enters the lungs, and the Kid can either drown in it or develop pneumonia fairly quickly.
There are lots of ways to warm cold weak Kids, but the quickest way is to place the Kid in a plastic bag (with head out) and immerse them into warm but not hot water, and give them a good rub until they start to respond. The plastic bag saves having to dry them, and the Does smell remains. Give them a good rub to stimulate them and then place in a box with either a warm hot water bottle or I use a heat light. I find it is best to leave them somewhere that is warm and quiet until you hear the call.
After a short time we hear bleating and as this becomes stronger the Kid starts to get to its feet. When it can stand up strongly this is the time to test its ability to suck, either take back to its mother or have a supply of frozen colostrum, homemade or artificial. Make sure it gets a feed and it should then settle down for a sleep.
Angora Kids will not leave their mothers chosen birthing spot for up to two days, when you see them tottering after her, they are sick of waiting for her return. But they rapidly get stronger and soon join the clusters of earlier born Kids playing together or lying dozing in the sun. They like to form gangs and stay together, only following Mum when the mood takes them. The Doe will return and call her Kid out of the mob for its drink. There is always one Doe that will baby-sit the gang.
This is a good reason to tag your Kids as soon after birth as possible.
Many breeders will have different ideas on the most effected time to wean. Weaning can take place as early as 8 weeks, if there is a shortage of grazing. In this case the young should have preference and be run on the best grazing available and the Does removed to slightly leaner rations. However we do not wean until 3-4 months and this still allows the Does plenty of time to regain their vigour and body weight ready for tupping.