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BREEDING.... Pygmy Goats
11 years ago
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Breeding Pygmy Goats

Breeding Pygmy goats requires some expertise, and new owners are usually discouraged from attempting it until they've owned goats for a few years and have become very familiar with their needs, behavior and anatomy. You do not want to breed a doe that is too young. Wait until at LEAST 9 months old, but better 10-12 months. Earlier breeding can stunt the growth of both the fetus and the pregnant doe. The most preferable way of breeding your doe is to hire a stud. This way you are only caring for and feeding a ‘smelly’ buck for a few weeks. If you happen to love your buck however, you will need to build separate quarters and a pen for him from your does. You want to breed does to the same or similarly-sized breed bucks that have good genetics that you want passed down to your future herd. Another plus is you'll be able to make some money by renting him out as stud. Bucks should be kept separate from milk does except for the breeding season.


** When Your Pygmy Doe Is In Season **

  Many owners are surprised to learn that unlike dairy goats, a female pygmy goat is “in season” year round.  Her cycle lasts typically 18 to 23 days. Many times you won't even know a doe is fertile except for more bleating than usual and perhaps a small amount of clear discharge. Breeding bucks need to be in sound physical condition, because during mating season they go 'off feed' and may lose as much as 50 pounds. It is important to offer the bucks quality rations during breeding season in order to keep them in good shape. Females do not usually go 'off feed' during breeding to the extent that bucks do, but it is important that their nutritional needs are addressed prior to breeding. The condition of the doe at breeding time has a huge impact on the resulting offspring. However, do not get them fat; fat does may not breed at all. Does experience ascending, cresting, and descending levels of heat. The cresting level is when she is most receptive to conception. The doe must be in a standing heat before successful insemination can occur. Remember that a doe can short-cycle or have false heats, particularly if breeding is attempted while she is still nursing kids. The doe's age and general health can also affect her breeding ability.


** Length of Gestation **

  Gestation lasts between 145 and 153 days. Does will bear one to four kids. Twins and triplets are the most common. A solitary kid usually only occurs during a first pregnancy. Most kids weigh only two or three pounds at birth. Movements of the fetuses can often be felt between 3½ to 4 months. Put the doe on a stanchion. Put the heels of your hands together and spread your fingers wide apart. Place your hands just in front of the udder with your fingers extending into the flanks. Press upward into the belly and hold for a few seconds. You may feel one or more kids moving. The right flank is the most promising area to feel movement, as the rumen takes a lot of room on the left. It is somewhat difficult to palpate kids in fat does than those in appropriate condition. A small single fetus may sometimes avoid detection, especially in the presence of an exceptionally large amount of amniotic fluid.


**Care during early and late pregnancy**

During early pregnancy does can be fed to maintain their body condition unless they are thin and need to improve their body condition. Pasture or average quality hay is sufficient to meet their nutritional requirements. Be sure to allow the does access to a free choice mineral mix that has been balanced for goats. This will help to ensure that the does remain healthy throughout their pregnancy. Be careful not to overefeed the does. Most animals produce fat externally over their body, however, goats produce fat internally. This can cause problems in late pregnancy for very fat does. They will not be able to eat enough to meet their ene

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energy requirements and can develop pregnancy toxemia or pregnancy disease. The body fat and the growing kids will take up so much room that nannies become too full to eat enough to meet their nutritional needs.


During the last third of pregnancy, the does need to be monitored more closely. The nutritional requirements during this time increase to provide for the growth of the unborn kids. Does can begin to eat about 1/2 pound of grain a day in addition to the average quality hay that they have been eating. As the doe approaches the last few weeks of pregnancy, you may want to increase the quality of the hay they are eating to prepare them for lactation. Once the doe has her kids, the amount of grain can be adjusted upward to 1 to 2 pounds of grain. Does nursing twins or triplets will require more grain than does nursing a single kid.


Always have plenty of clean fresh water available to does at all times. Supply free choice mineral formulated for goats. In Selenium deficient areas, 5 weeks before kids are due have your vet give a Selenium/Vitamin E (bo-se injection) to prevent the occurrence of white muscle disease.

*3 weeks before, start adding Vitamin  E to food each day. Just cut a capsule of human 1000 IU  Vit. E open and squirt it on the food. 

*2 weeks before In Selenium deficient areas give another Selenium/Vitamin E shot.

*Five to seven days before she is due, start putting the doe in the birthing stall (which you have cleaned out and disinfected with bleach water) by herself at night (just in case).  A barn monitor is great so you don't have to do “midnight checks”.


** Signs of Labor**

Your doe may show any, all, or none of the following signs. Remember…ALL DOES ARE DIFFERENT. There is no guarantee what your particular doe will do. You just have to learn her particularities as you go by experience and observation. The best way to tell if your doe is going into labor is to know your particular doe and look for anything out of the ordinary.


*Ligaments are “gone”. These are located on either side of her spine about halfway between where her back starts to slope down and her tail.  The ligaments seem to come out of the spine and slant down toward her pin bones. As the birth nears, the ligaments loosen.  At first they will feel hard, like pencils.  They will gradually start to soften and once they're “gone” labor is close at hand. Get used to running your hand down your doe's spine to check the ligaments and the raising of the tailhead. Once you no longer feel the ligaments the doe will probably kid within 12 hours. Keep an eye on her tail head. You will find that the tail head rises as the doe gets closer to labor. You can feel the change in her tailhead when you check the doe's ligaments.

*“Far away” look in the doe's eyes. Eyes wide. The whites of eye may get slightly bloodshot.

*Pawing at the ground (making a nest).

*Laying down, getting up, laying down, getting up, laying down, getting up....

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*Long clear string of “goob” (mucous) hanging from the doe's vagina.  (The doe can start having small amounts of white discharge a month before kidding). If the goop is yellow, kidding should happen very soon.

*The doe's udder is full and tight.

“The doe may start “talking” to her babies.

*The doe may do a lot of stretching and/or yawning.

*If the doe does anything that makes you say, "Gee, she never did that before."

*Just plain “acting weird” and not what is ‘normal’ for her. This is why it is important to KNOW your doe and have a relationship with her, so you will be able to notice changes in her behavior, disposition etc.


** Hazards of Pregnancy **

  One of the biggest hazards during pregnancy is the kid growing too large for the doe. Although they are not routine, it is not uncommon for a doe to require a caesarean section. Breeders often have to reposition a kid in the birth canal that is not coming out. Women and men with small hands can easily perform this maneuver.


   It's important that if you decide to breed your doe that you know the lineage of the buck to prevent her having a kid that is too big.


  Another danger during pregnancy is pregnancy toxemia. This risk is elevated if the doe has been overfed or is overweight. If the goat is overweight, her liver won't be able to metabolize nutrients properly, especially during late pregnancy. Pregnancy Toxemia (ketosis) is a potentially fatal condition that can affect pregnant does in their last five weeks of pregnancy, or shortly after freshening. Ketosis, if detected early, can be treated successfully, but mortality is high if not detected early.


Pregnancy toxemia (ketosis) is not a virus or bacteria, but rather is a nutritional deficiency. Ketosis usually affects does within five weeks before their kidding date. Symptoms include dullness or depression, and not eating well. Symptoms will progress to general weakness, not walking, or walking oddly. These symptoms can rapidly progress, and cause the doe to sit down, and be unable to rise. Does reaching this stage may have reached an irreversible stage of the condition.


Ketosis can be treated successfully if detected early. Urine tests, such as Keto-check, are generally accurate. However, it is best to suspect ketosis anytime a pregnant doe behaves oddly, or is sitting down more than usual. Treatment usually consists of giving the doe propylene glycol, which is non-toxic and commonly used in a variety of food products you can  get from your vet or from a veterinary supply

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If this product is not available, use molasses or Karo syrup. (DO NOT USE Ethylene glycol which is in anti-freeze and highly toxic) It is therefore acceptable to give the doe propylene glycol if symptoms indicate the condition, but the doe is unable to be tested.

Prevention is the best way to avoid the condition. This includes top dressing the feed of does in late pregnancy with sugar or molasses. Molasses can also be added to the goats' water.


** Chlamydia **

Abortions in goats may be caused by a wide variety of problems. Some abortions are of non-infectious origin. The occasional butting that causes the fetus to die inside the dam, for example. However, abortions are most often attributable to infectious organisms, and the most common infectious abortion disease which you may encounter is Chlamydiosis.


Chlamydia psittaci, the bacteria responsible for causing Chlamydiosis, is unusual because (unlike most other bacteria) it can only multiply in living cells. There are many strains of this bacteria, some of which cause respiratory diseases (pneumonia), keratoconjunctivitis (pinkeye), and arthritis.


Chlamydiosis not only can cause abortions but it is also responsible for the birth of weak kids. Perhaps one can conclude that many cases of Weak Kid Syndrome may actually be attributable to Chlamydial infections in the herd. This analysis is based, of course, on the assumption that the producer is providing an adequate level of nutrition and care for pregnant does. Both abortions and weak kids can be caused by poor management practices, such as improper protein, roughage, and mineral levels.


Female and male goats can contract Chlamydiosis at any point during their lifespans. A goat can be a carrier yet never display symptoms of the disease, or (if female) it can have a Chlamydia-induced abortion and also remain a carrier.


Chlamydial symptoms may be confused with other health problems. Chlamydiosis appears first as a vaginal discharge as early as 10 days before an actual abortion takes place. Initially this discharge can casually be mistaken for watery diarrhea; however, closer inspection reveals that its texture and color are visibly different and the secretions are coming from the vagina. The infected dam appears healthy and active until the discharge evolves into pieces of fetal and placental tissue, at which time she becomes slightly lethargic and depressed. Oftentimes the doe never goes off-feed.
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Chlamydiosis has been thought to occur only during the last two months of pregnancy, but this is not always the case, and chlamydial abortions can occur during the first 45 to 60 days of gestation. Depending upon the timeframe during her pregnancy that a doe became infected, she may abort the fetus or she may carry the pregnancy to term and deliver either stillborn, mummified, or live but very weak kids. Occasionally the live births have visible lesions, the placental material is always visibly different from its normal condition, making its examination by a veterinarian essential. Retained placentas are common.


Chlamydial bacteria multiplies in the living cells of the intestinal and genital tracts. It slowly damages and then kills the fetus by preventing the transfer of nutrients from the dam through an increasingly-thickened placental membrane. The fetus literally starves to death. Because this bacteria needs about 40 days to do its dirty work, a doe infected in the last weeks of pregnancy may deliver live but very weak kids. She will, however, usually abort in her next pregnancy. There is some belief among professionals that a doe aborts only once in her lifetime but may always be a carrier; however, research is needed to further examine this theory. Eventually the infected herd develops some level of immunity to the disease. The herd members unable to adapt simply die off.


The doe must be removed from the herd and kept in isolation until the vaginal discharge has completely stopped; this can take up to two weeks. Because the major avenues of infection of healthy animals are vaginal discharges, aborted fetuses, placentas, and infected feces, all remaining fetal and placental material must be immediately collected and burned. Bleach or similar disinfectant must be used on the ground and on all objects with which the aborted materials came in contact.


Always feed pregnant does using feed troughs. Do not feed them on the ground where they may have access to infected fetal or placental material. Good hygiene is essential in attempting to prevent and control Chlamydiosis. Many abortion diseases, including Chlamydiosis, are zoonotic (can be transmitted to humans), so pregnant women should not have contact with bred does.


Like most abortion diseases, Chlamydiosis best responds to tetracycline. A good preventative program involves innoculating all does with LA 200, Maxim 200, or an equivalent oxytetracycline product twice prior to breeding, once at 60 days before being introduced to a buck and again at 30 days before mating. Innoculate all bucks and all kids annually, because they can be carriers of this bacteria. During breeding and for two months of gestation, feed all animals in the herd a pelleted ration to which chlortetracycline has been added. Discuss with your goat veterinarian at what time frame during gestation and for what duration the treated ration should be fed.
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Aureomycin (chlortetracycline hydrochloride) containing 10 grams per pound of chlortetracycline, added to feed at a rate of five to ten pounds per ton, is an effective as well as affordable dosage. If using a custom feed ration is not a option, Aureomycin antibacterial soluable powders are available for use in drinking water; follow package directions. Because it is illegal (not FDA-approved) to combine a coccidiostat with Aureomycin in a feed ration, drop the Coccidiosis preventative out of the mix. Reintroduce the coccidiostat as soon as 30 days prior to kidding and continue its usage through the kids' first five to six months of life. The Chlamydia vaccine made for use with sheep has not been tested for effectiveness in goats and is not approved for usage in this species.


Be prepared. Have the phone number of a vet or experienced goat breeder handy, in case of an emergency. Know when your doe is going to kid. It should be 145-155 days from the date she was bred. Different breeds of goats kid, on an average, differently. Most goats "average" 150 days, but that does not mean they can't go longer with no reason to be concerned.

The doe can give birth standing up or lying down, it depends on the doe, and both are normal. When the doe finally "gets serious" and starts to push, the first thing you should see is "a bubble". You will see it slowly appear. When it is finally sticking out enough, try to look inside it and try to see if you can see feet. They will be white. First you will see one foot. You may only see one foot for quite awhile eventually you will see the second. The head appears next resting on the legs, in the "diving position". Usually the tongue is sticking out. The "bubble" can break at any time. Once the head is out, the rest of the kid can come out quite quickly.

So soon as the baby is completely out, pick the kid up by the back feet and hold him up firmly (he will be slippery). Clear the mouth and nose. (it helps to have someone else present to assist you) Holding the kid up helps any liquid that may have gotten into the lungs to drain out quickly. As soon as the mouth and nose is cleared, place the baby on a clean empty feedbag, towel, or clean dry straw in front of the mother. The mother can then clean her kid and bond with him. Help the mother dry the kid then check to see if the mother has any more babies in her.

(Some people dry the kids off with single sheets of newspaper. Some use paper towels. Some herdsmen wash the kids in warm water in the sink and then blow-dry them with a hair dryer. Good idea if you have the right setup in your barn (although I would not recommend it if you live in northern C-O-L-D areas). If the kid seems weak or chilled use a blow dryer or rub vigorously with a dry towel. You can place the baby in a box of clean dry straw and put a heat lamp on it until it is dry. Kids should be trying to stand up within 10-15 minutes. After birth, using goat blankets, sweaters or coats for babies [and even mother] can be a life saver in freezing temperatures.)

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Dip the naval with 7% strong iodine.

Use a little cup and keep it off your hands. It is strong! Repeat two or three times within the first hour to make sure the entire umbilical area is covered. If the umbilical cord is bleeding, tie it off with dental floss about 1 and 1/2 inches from the body. If the umbilical cord is too long, tear it off about 1 and 1/2 inches long. Use your fingernails to tear it. Do Not Cut with scissors as it tends to bleed. Redip with strong iodine.

Once the kids are all out and dried off squeeze the mother's teats to make sure they are working and not plugged. Sometimes they are plugged, and you will have to squeeze hard to get them unplugged. Sometimes they are not plugged at all. Now assist the kids in finding the teats. This can sometimes be extremely frustrating. You may need to hold the teats for them at first. Sometimes the kids will find the teats and nurse on their own with no help at all. You may want to help to make sure they get their colostrum (first milk) as soon as possible. The kids really must get their colostrum within 1 hour of birth. Once the kids are up and walking and nursing on their own leave the mother and babies alone to bond.

**Possible signs of trouble**

*doe repeatedly starts pushing hard but gets up and stops labor, then lies down and starts again

*doe repeatedly gets up and down and arches her back and elevates her rear end as though trying to line up the babies

*discharge is rusty red and beginning to look septic

*parts of a baby are visible but doe is unable to deliver in spite of straining very hard

*doe is in hard grinding labor for more than 30 -45 minutes with no results


**Determine the problem**

*wash does vulva with mild soap and water

*wash your hands and arms and scrub fingernails well

*lather hands with betadine scrub


 and squeeze a generous ribbon of surgical lubricant on the fingers

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*have an assistant hold or restrain doe

*gently enter the vagina and dilate if necessary

*feel and identify the parts of the kid that are in the birth canal

*determine the problem and the corrective action necessary to rectify

**Abnormal births**

The normal birthing position is most commonly called the "Diving Position"
This is where both front feet are coming first, with head, resting on legs, pointing forward.
Soles of feet are "pointing down"

“Abnormal” birth positions can be any of the following (some cause no problems, others can cause a very difficult birth (which sometimes can result in losing the kid, the mother or both) Study the pictures of the various positions so you have an idea in your head if you encounter this you will know what you are doing when you have to reposition.

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*head first with one foreleg; can be delivered this way but easier on the doe if you reach in and find the other leg and carefully pull it forward so the head is resting on both legs. The kid should deliver easily now. Just be sure the head and legs belong to the same kid.

*head first with no legs; cannot be delivered this way. Similar to the previous case, but you will probably have to reach in and push the kids head back to make room for the legs. Slide your hand along the head and neck until you find the shoulders, then locate the feet and gently bring them forward with the head resting on the legs. Kid should deliver easily now but you may need to help pull.

*breach position with hocks first; cannot be delivered this way but easy to correct. Just reach in and find the feet and carefully pull them forward so both rear feet are together and extended through the vulva. The kid should deliver easily now.

*breach position with rump and tail; similar to the previous case; but you will probably have to reach in and push the kids rump back to make room for the legs. Slide your hand along the rump until you find the legs, then locate the feet and carefully bring them forward so both rear feet are together and extended through the vulva. The kid should deliver easily now but you may need to help pull.

*front feet first with head upside down; can be delivered this way but may be easier on the kid if you rotate the entire kid so that the kid's back is upward toward the does back. Sometimes it is hard to turn the kid around if the feet and/or head are already visible. Just make sure that the kid curves around the doe's pelvic arch as much as possible even if it is slightly twisted. You will probably need to help pull the kid.

*feet first with head thrown back. cannot be delivered this way. This is probably the most difficult of the abnormal positions to correct, especially if the doe has been in hard, unproductive labor for a considerable time and/or the kid is very weak. You will have to reach in and follow along the body and then along the neck until you locate the head. You may be surprised at how long the neck is and how deep you have to go (up to your elbow). The trick is to get the head forward and keep it there! If the kid is weak the head will keep flopping back every time you withdraw your hand to pull on the legs. In this case you will need your OB puller

 A rubber loop is best but you can use a thin noose made of nylon cord. Carry the noose in with your hand and slip it over the kids head. Position the head on the front legs and snug up the loop. Keep tension on the puller with your free hand and then withdraw your hand and grasp the feet. Pull on the feet and the loop at the same time and the kid should deliver just fine. Use plenty of surgical lubricant as this is time-consuming and things start to dry out. The kid may be weak and the doe tired (see “Possible Complications” below).

*two heads with somebody's feet; cannot be delivered this way. Al
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*two heads with somebody's feet; cannot be delivered this way. Although this situation is somewhat intimidating at first, it is fairly easy to correct. The trick is to match up the head and feet of the same goat. Usually one kid's head will be more advanced than the other so push the other back and feel along the neck to the chest and down each leg until you can locate the feet of the kid whose head is more advanced. You may have to push the other kid back quite a ways to make room to work. Then carefully bring the feet forward until the head is resting on the legs. The kid should deliver easily now but you may have to help pull the kid.

*mismatched head and feet; cannot be delivered this way. This usually occurs because one kid is presented head first with it legs back and a second kid's feet and legs have slid under the first kid's head. Since there is no room for the second kid's head it is usually turned back along its side. You will have to push the second kid back to make room to work. Slide your hand along the first kid's head and neck to the chest and then down each leg until you locate the feet. Then carefully bring the feet forward until the head is resting on the legs. The kid should deliver easily now but you may have to help pull the kid. When you go back for the second kid the head will usually be presented normally or will come forward easily so that it is resting on its forelegs. The kid should deliver easily but you may have to help pull the kid. If you have trouble keeping the head forward see the previous discussion on using an OB loop.

*no presentation, necessary to determine if the doe is sufficiently dilated and the cervix is open. The opening to the cervix should be dilated at least three fingers for normal birth. If not dilated then it may be too early. Wait a while and check the doe again. You can't hurt the doe by checking. If the cervix is open and all you feel is a side or ribs the kid is probably dead, but there may be live kids behind it: Push the dead kid back until you can turn it so that it is presented front feet/head first, or hind feet first Use plenty of surgical lubricant as the dead kids seem to be dry. You will have to pull the kid since the doe will probably not push very hard.
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**Possible complications**

*infection; if you  had had to ‘go in’ and help deliver, and the invasion has been extensive or prolonged, the doe may need antibiotics

*swelling, if it is excessive the doe may need analgesic (pain reliever)

*tears; either by the doe or the herdsman may require antibiotics and an analgesic

****Depression; if severe, doe may need a lot of comforting

Though, it is true that most births take place normally and need no assistance, physically, not many people discuss the mental problems the new mother may face. Many "first timers" have no idea what is going on. They have no idea that they were pregnant or that the pains they were experiencing were anything more than a really difficult poop. Instinct guides them and tells them what to do, but sometimes their instinct does quite "kick-in". They may lay, looking off into space, thinking, "goodness that hurt" and not even notice that there is a little baby that now needs cleaning off. This is the main reason you should be present at every birth. And it is not only the "first timers" that have "mental" problems. "Experienced" mothers may also seem to not quite know what to do.

The first thing to do is make sure the new mother cleans her baby. This is where the bonding starts and is extremely important. If the mother will not clean her baby, take some of the "goo" that the baby is covered in and place it on the mother's nose. She will lick it and eat it to get it off her nose. Usually a taste or two of the birth goo is enough to "kick-in" the cleaning instinct. Now, gentlly, point the mother's nose at the baby and she should start cleaning. Help her clean the baby, getting the baby dry is very important, but try not to interfere with the bonding that is going on.

As soon as the baby starts bobbing his head around looking for a meal, you can attempt to help him find a meal. First, give the doe's teats a squeeze to make sure they are flowing freely and not clogged (sometimes they will have a little "plug"). Often, you can help the baby eat before he can really stand. Do this by holding the baby and pointing him at the teat. You cannot force the baby to eat by pushing his head at the teat. This will not work and only makes it frustrating for everyone. He will instinctually fight you pushing his head or forcing the teat into his mouth.

Point the baby at the teat and if the teat is on the long side, you may point it at the baby's mouth to help him find it. It's a little hard to do this without "getting in the way". Reach your hand around from behind and point the teat with just one finger, lifting it toward the kid's mouth.
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Helping the kid nurse can be incredibly frustrating. Just try to be patient with both the baby and the mother. Give the mother some grain as her "reward" for a birthing well done and while she is eating, help the baby get his first suck. Once he has sucked, he will want to suck again, and so will be motivated to find the teat himself. Once in awhile you will have a doe who will not let her baby nurse while she is eating. In this case, remove the grain.

Sometimes the mother is so into cleaning the baby, she won't stand still to let the baby nurse. In this case, hold the baby so his butt is where the mom can reach, but hold her collar so she can't turn around completely. Now hold the baby to help him nurse.

Then there is the type of new mother who is freaked out by the whole experience. She has no idea why this little "thing" keeps going at her udder. She will kick and jump and all around drive you nuts. She is just having a mental block and doesn't understand that she needs to let her baby nurse. In this case, you must be patient. You can hold her collar and hold the baby at her udder. Sometimes the baby nursing will help her instincts kick-in. You may only be able to have the baby get one short suck before she kicks or moves away. Tying the mother or putting her in a milk stand doesn't help and only makes matters worst. The mother has to be able to see and smell the baby. She needs to know it is her baby going at her udder or she will kick and jump even more. Just keep letting the mother lick her baby, and then move the baby to the udder. As if telling her "See, it's your baby. Your baby wants to nurse". Keep working with her gently and calmly.

If it's getting to be over an hour, and the baby still hasn't been able to nurse. Then milk the mom a little to make a bottle for the baby. Put the baby in your lap and feed him just enough to "get him going". Once he has tasted milk, he will want more and will work to get it. Now, take him and point him at his mother's teat. Once you finally get the baby sucking, the mother usually calms down. It may take time, but it will all work out in the end.

Sometimes, the mother tries to help the baby get at her teats so much that she picks up her leg and holds it up in mid air while the baby sucks. She will eventually realize she doesn' t have to do that.

Once you see the baby nurse from his mother on his own, your work is basically done, leave the baby and new mother alone in their private stall to bond.
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**What if the mother won't nurse?**

 It sometimes happens, no matter what you do and how hard you work at it, the mother refuses to nurse her baby for one reason or another. It does happen. Maybe she feels she is only "up to" raising one or maybe two kids and refuses the remaining kids (very often, she will keep the boy and refuse the girl). Maybe she isn't cut out (at least this year) to be a good mother. Sometimes a doe is a very bad mother when she first starts out and grows to become very good mother in later years. Maybe she didn't bond with the kid well enough after birth, so does not understand that this is her kid (this is why it is so important to be present at the birth, to make sure the mother bonds with her kids). Maybe she has been confused by other does kidding around her and thinks the other kids are hers and her baby belongs to someone else. There are many possibilities why the mother may decide not to feed her own kid. Maybe the kid is weak and nature tells the doe "survival of the fittest; don't bother with the weak kid". For whatever reason, if a doe does not except a kid within 24 hours, it is highly unlikely that she will ever accept him. In any case, if the mother will not nurse her kid you may be forced to bottle feed. You should always be prepared to bottle feed because you never know when this may happen.

Babies need to have colostrum within 1 hour of birth. Colostrum contains antibodies which the baby needs to develop a healthy, working immune system. The ability to absorb these antibodies decreases each hour and after 24 hours, the baby cannot absorb the antibodies anymore. This is why it is a must that they receive colostrum as soon as possible their first day of life. The colostrum also contains extra nutrition to help them along in their first days. This is why it is good if they can continue to receive the colostrum for a few extra days. But, at the very least, they need to have a few ounces of colostrum within the first few hours after birth. Always have a small amount of viable colostrum in your freezer, "just in case."

After they receive colostrum, bottle fed kids should be fed fresh (you can milk the mother) (or frozen, bottled or carton) goat's milk (not canned). If you do not have access to goat's milk, you can use kid milk replacer or use regular whole cow’s milk from the grocery store (add 3 Tbs. of corn syrup per gallon of milk). However milk replacer formula can often cause diarrhea.
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Oral electrolytes……If the intake of milk is inadequate to meet the needs of the baby (diarrhea, imbalances, malabsorption), use of oral electrolytes given in addition can help. These usually come in packages of powder to which warm water is to be added. In kids which are critically ill electrolytes can sustain life for a few days while underlying causes are corrected. Their main purpose is to restore the electrolyte balance, which has usually been upset in kids which are very ill.

If the hole in most nipples is too small it will need to be made bigger. Use the larger type of "lamb nipple" and make the hole bigger by cutting an X in the top with scissors. You can use regular human baby bottles and nipples because they let the air into the bottle much better than the lamb nipples while the kid is drinking, making it easier to drink from. No matter what type of nipple you use, you must cut an "X" in the end of the nipple. Make the X a little bigger than you think it needs to be.

If the baby does not want to nurse, you must work with them. Sometime is it extremely hard to get a kid to take a bottle. Be patient. Get him in your lap, pry open his mouth and shove in the nipple. He may struggle and not want the nipple. Milk will probably get everywhere but into the kid. Have paper towels on hand. Put yourself in his place. He has no idea what the bottle is and what you are doing. He wants his "real" mommy. Keep working with him. Speak calmly to him sometimes making sucking sounds helps him understand what you are trying to get him to (sometimes). Eventually hunger will aid you and he will realize the bottle is food. It is especially hard to get a kid to take a bottle if they have nursed from a real teat. Meanwhile, you may need two people to hold the mother, who had refused the kid, so that the baby can nurse. When I bottle-fed Piddles, she sat in my lap, while I had to hold the bottle under my chin so she could ‘butt’ my neck as though it were her mothers’ udder. (sometimes I sat on the floor as she stood, but I always had to hold the bottle under my chin so she could butt my neck!!) This way worked very well for me right from the start. But keep working with your kid until you find a method that works. Make sure the milk is warm (103*), make sure the nipple is soft and warm. Kids don't like hard cold nipples because they aren't like a warm real one. Keep the nipple in your warm pocket until right before you try the bottle.
11 years ago

A kid's system is designed to drink from a nipple that is higher than his head so that milk goes down the "right way", bypassing the rumen, which is not functioning yet. When you hold the bottle, you need to hold it up, at an angle so his head is pointing slightly up and his neck is slightly extended as he drinks.

Here is a schedule you can use. Some kids wean faster, some slower. Since I could not eat weeds, browse and grain (although I ‘pretended’ to ‘eat’) to show Piddles what to do, she was on the bottle for nearly 6 months!!! But even though she WAS eating grass, browse, hay and grain after 3 months, SHE still wanted the bottle 1-2 times a day. I felt if she thought she needed it, I would accommodate her. It helped with the bond between us so much that to this day she still believes I am her mother.

·         Day one- 6 oz. colostrum, every 4 hours.

·         Day two- 8 oz. colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day

·         Day three- 10 oz. colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day

·         Day four- 10-12 oz. colostrum/whole milk, 4 times a day.

·         For the next week- 10-12 oz. whole milk 4 times a day.

·         For the next 2 months- 10-12 oz. 3 times a day.

·         For the following month- 10-12 oz. 2 times a day.

·         10-12 oz. once a day for two weeks after.

Tip for weak, small or sick bottle babies: When a bottle baby needs a little extra boost use the following special formula: 3/4 whole milk, 1/4 Ensure Plus (you can use the vanilla brand) With weak or sick kids, you may need to feed more often than every 4 hours.

11 years ago

***After an exceptionally traumatic delivery the doe may require several days of treatment including intrauterine infusion. You may need to call your veterinarian****

**Clean up**

Delivery of the afterbirth:

    1. usually occurs within 3-4 hours

    2. may take as long as 12 hours

    3. if not hanging from the doe partially delivered look around in the bedding

    4. doe will sometimes eat the afterbirth

    5. if doe does not clean, she may need infusion and/or veterinary assistance

Discharge of excess uterine fluid:

    1. clear to slightly bloody discharge is normal

    2. may occur for 2 to 3 weeks after delivery

    3. if discharge is pus-like or reddish in color and/or increasing in volume, may require antibiotics and/or veterinary assistance


**Care of the doe**


Give the doe a warm drink of water to which you might add a little molasses or dark karo syrup.

Keep the doe in a confined area until she cleans

You can medicate her if necessary.

Watch the doe's grain and water consumption carefully for the next couple of weeks. If she goes off feed or seems depressed you have to worry about ketosis If you suspect ketosis, ask an experienced herdsman or your veterinarian for advise on treatment.

Provide plenty of dry straw in a draft-free private stall for doe and kids. Keep them warm and do not allow the doe access to the outdoors if it is extremely cold weather, or cold, rainy, damp conditions, as the kids will follow her outdoors and be exposed to the elements. This can lead to frostbite, compromise their health, or cause a myriad of complications.

11 years ago

**Care of the kid(s)**


* Bottle feeding? It is best the kids them at about the same time every day. DO NOT OVER FEED! The babies are greedy little pigs and will eagerly drink somebody else's bottle, so keep track of who has been fed. Too much milk will make them scour. Just be sure to keep everything clean. 16oz pop bottles work fine and are cheap. Lamb nipples work well but are hard to get on the bottles. A better choice are the lamb bar nipples. They fit most bottles and the babies seem to like them. However, if you run across a kid that is weak and/or just won't take the regular nipples, you might try a Pritchard flutter valve nipple which is very soft and pliable and much smaller. You can order any of these nipples from the major mail order suppliers.

*If you DO disbud….baby goats are usually disbudded when they are 4 or 5 days old. It seems to bother them less when they are younger. Many herdsmen use a disbudding box and plans are available for building your own. If you are new to this procedure, it will probably be best to have an experienced herdsman do it for you at first. Eventually you will want to get your own disbudding box and iron and learn to do it yourself. Have somebody that knows how to do it coach you until you gain confidence. Personally, I do not disbud my goats.

*If you tattoo…tattooing the babies is usually done at the same time that they are disbudded, especially if you use a disbudding box The tattoo tongs and letter/number sets are fairly expensive so you may want to have an experienced herdsman do it for you at first. After you start producing a lot of babies, you will probably want to get your own tongs. If you share tongs and/or letters with somebody just remember that the tattoo usually bleeds and you want to be careful exchanging blood with other goats. The CAE virus is present in all body fluids of a positive animal.

*It is really important to establish a regular prevention program to control coccidiosis in the baby kids. There are several choices among the drugs that are recommended for the control of coccidian, all of which are off label for dairy goats. One of the most popular is Corid (20% amprolium. The usual regimen is to treat the babies monthly beginning at one month of age and continuing until they are 7 months old. Treat for 5 consecutive days and then withdraw for 21 days. The simplest way to administer Corid is to add it to the milk at the rate of 1/2 level teaspoon to a gallon. This works well for an approximate 20 LB baby being fed 1 and 1/2 pints of milk per feeding. Larger babies will require proportionately more per gallon. If the babies are weaned then you will have to prepare a drench. Add 1 and 1/2 ounces (5 1/4 level tablespoons) of Corid to one quart (32 ounces) of water and then administer 3cc of the mix for every 10 pounds goat, once daily, for 5 days.

*The babies acquire immunity to most diseases from their mother in utero and are protected for the first 30 days their life. After that they need their own vaccinations to remain protected. Assuming the doe received the requisite vaccinations for overeating disease, tetanus, and white muscle disease the babies will need the following vaccinations/shots at 30 days, followed by a booster at 60 days and a second booster at 180 days:

2cc - intramuscular - Combination: Perfringens CD & Tetanus toxoid

1cc/40 lbs - subcutaneous - B0-SE (Vitamin E and selenium).
11 years ago

**Normal things to look for**The bottoms of the baby's hooves will "shed" their protective white coating right after birth.

  • The kid's first poop will be "black tar"

  • The kid will poop "yellow mustard poops" for at least a week after birth.

  • The kid may poop and pee right after birth, even before he has his first meal.

  • Sometimes it takes a couple days for the babies legs to straighten out completely and/or work properly (you may want to give them a Bo-Se shot).

  • There is usually one afterbirth per kid, but sometimes there is only one per kidding even if there are two kids. If you don't find the afterbirth, the mother probably ate it (gross, but not a problem)

  • The mother will "leak" blood and goo for about 2 weeks after kidding


Kids can be weaned once they have reached about 22lb/10 kg. However, the earlier the weaning age, the greater the weaning shock. The weaning shock at earlier ages requires a higher standard of husbandry. If convenience is important, wean kids at between 8 and 10 weeks of age, or a little older. The weaning weight you choose will usually depend on economic and management considerations.

Weaning can be abrupt, or it can be gradual with milk being withdrawn by restricting the amount fed and the number of feeds per day.

Whichever weaning method you use, kids must be consuming, and have ready access to, high-quality solid food if they are to be weaned young, plus a mineral and vitamin mix. The ration may include some high-quality roughages, such as chaff, to assist rumen development. It is important for clean water to be available at all times.


**Pre-weaning**Kids can eat solid food from about 1 week of age and are often seen ruminating at about 2 weeks, so it is important to give them good-quality hay or chaff and suitable concentrate from 1–2 weeks of age. You can also rear kids on calf or lamb pellets, which range from 18–25 per cent protein.

Usually both hay and rations are provided ad libitum, although, particularly with concentrates, you should try to match the allowance with the kids’ appetites to reduce waste.

Milk replacers may have low levels of fat-soluble vitamins, so an injection of vitamins A, D and E at birth, and administration of vitamin drops (according to label directions), will enhance performance. Vaccinate kids against clostridial diseases such as enterotoxaemia and tetanus, and you can include a coccidiostat in the solid feed ration.

11 years ago

It is important to make sure that energy and protein supplements are kept fresh, so it is recommended that you feed new material daily. You can prevent fouling by putting the food and water trough outside the pens, which will force the kids to reach through to feed and drink.


**Early weaning**

For early weaning to be successful, give kids a supplement of high-energy dry feed from age 1 week onwards. Continue with about 18 per cent protein (calf starter pellets containing 18–25 per cent protein are suitable) for the first 2 weeks after weaning, and progress to 16 per cent protein at 8 weeks of age.

If you have larger numbers, you may prefer to mix your own supplement. An example of a suitable ration to use is cracked grain (55 per cent), soybean meal (25 per cent), wheat bran or hammermilled hay (18.5 per cent), salt (0.5 per cent) and a mineral and vitamin mix. This should provide 18–20 per cent protein. Two weeks after weaning, reduce the soybean meal to 20 per cent, increase the hay to 25 per cent, and add 0.5 per cent limestone.



Good results have been obtained using a variety of concentrate feeds to rear kids after weaning. A 16 per cent protein ration is satisfactory. From about 12–14 weeks of age you can rear kids solely on good-quality pasture.

It is recognized that kids which continue to be housed after weaning grow faster than those reared on pasture. This lower growth rate of animals on pasture is attributed to the relatively low energy intake of goats at pasture and to problems caused by internal parasites. Management of young goats at pasture, while more viable economically, should take these factors into account.

Kids reared with access to high-quality ‘clean’ pasture (that is, pasture with no parasitic larvae) can be weaned successfully at an early age. When weaned onto ordinary pasture, they will consume more pasture than will sucking kids, and consequently they will also consume more parasitic larvae.


 **** In any event, if this is your are a first time breeding your goat(s, be sure to team up with a veterinarian or an experienced breeder who is willing to help you. It takes training to handle a livestock birth, and an expert can help you avoid problems before they start.*****

11 years ago
Thank you for being patient. You may post now and add anything you want that I may have omitted or forgotten. I tried to be thorough, but could have missed some important topics or did not address some issues, so feel free to post any additional helpful info or hints.  Please do tell the rest of us about the methods you find have worked for you, any problems you may have encountered, or help answer questions with your knowledge and experiences.
preganant goat
11 years ago

This is just the info that I needed. I think you answered all my questions.  Great job Sharon!  I have a part pygmy/milk goat, and she is due to give birth here very soon. This will be here 3rd set of kids. Anyway, she by mistake got breed with a big mountain goat( which broke into our fence to get to her)  do you think the babies will be to big for her to birth. I am concerned that it might be a problem. What do you think? 



11 years ago

Each goat is different, and each delivery is different. Two of the goats I have are half Pygmy and part boer, nubian and alpine out of a pygmy doe. apparently the mother had no problems delivering, but she also had 3-4 other live births before too. On the other hand, Piddles mother had kids 3 times and was bred to another pygmy. She died right after giving birth to 3 kids....only Piddles survived.

 I would say if this was her first time, than a problem is very likely to occur if she was bred to a much larger buck. Even having had kids 2 other times as she has, does not guarantee things will go smoothly, not even if the buck was the same size. In other words, there is really nothing written in stone as to how a birth will go since there are many things that factor into it.

 Most times there are no complications or difficulties, but you can never be 100% sure, not even if the doe is an old pro and she is in excellent health, and everything appears to be going normally. In your case, since you know she was bred to a big buck, if i were you, i would start to watch (and seperate her) when her time is getting close. have a baby monitor in the stall and be available when she starts to have the kids as you may very likely be needed to help her deliver. make preperations ahead of time as mentionted in the above post. have everything ready so you aren't running around and panicking at the last moment.

 Were you present for her other two deliveries?? All the advice I can give is just be there in case she is having any difficulties and preferably have someone with you, like hubby, relative or friend, if you are inexperienced. (and maybe even if you aren't because it always helps to have extra hands)

11 years ago

Hi Sharon,

Thanks for the info. I really appreciate it.  She had her babies today though,infact had them all by herself,cause we were at work,but everyting went fine. She and the babies are doing GREAT. She had 2,and they are sooooooooooo cute...cant wait to spoil them..

Thanks again!


How wonderful!!!
11 years ago



Here i was coming back to add some more advice and to find the babies are already here and there were no problems!!! Whew!!! Thats terrific!  Any chance for some photos??? I am curious to see how they turned out! Were they bigger than usual for a pygmy?? Anyway...below was the advice I was going to I will anyway just in case this happens to anyone else (or to you again)

If it happens that a much bigger buck gets to your pygmy doe, check with your vet to see if (s)he will do a C section at any
time of the day and night. If not, find one who does. There's a good chance the little one(s) will be too big to pass naturally. They should be there when she goes into labour. If not, you may lose the doe and the kid(s).

11 years ago

Thanks Sharon,

I am working on the pics right now. Will get them out soon . No, they wasnt any bigger than normal. I was actually surprised considering the size of the buck. he was the most ugly goat and meanst looking goat I have ever seen. Its amazing how something so cute,and pretty can come from that.....LOL  

Thanks again,


It's a BOY!!
8 years ago

Wahoo!!!  We had a big buck born tonight! Hope the pic comes through - I'll put some on my page tomorrow!  He got stuck with his head only out - gosh were we scared!  Momma is a bigger pygmy & daddy is a Nigerian Dwarf - this lil BIG one came out with us pulling him at a whopping 5 lbs. 3 ozs.!!  Thank God everyone is great!!  Have to brag he is so beautiful!!  Thx for reading!!

Bucky & Skippy!
8 years ago

OK - I cannot post pics - lol!!  What am I doing wrong? 

Well, I put them on my page!  Have a look!! Bucky is just beautiful! 

The scarey part of Pygmies is this: he weighed 5lbs.3ozs. at birth & got just his head out, shoulders stuck for quite some time, me syphoning nose & mouth, momma pushing, & my hubby pulling, we did not think he would make it, look at pics, he is broad like a football player!  Finally my hubby was able to pull him out & he tried to bleat!  Best squeak I ever heard!!  Standing in like 10-15 minutes! 

Anyway - it is most important to try to be there for births - if we hadn't been there to help pull him out we probably would have lost both momma & baby.  Thank God everyone is OK.  No, the dad is not big, he is a Nigerian dwarf that stands about an inch or so above momma who is a bigger pygmy herself, so you never know.  We are so grateful that they are OK!

Thanks for 'listening'!

8 years ago

"I cannot post pics - lol!!  What am I doing wrong?" 

Not sure how you are trying to post pics so can't say Here is a thread which may help....hopefully it won't make it seem more complicated!! It really is pretty easy.

If you are taking the pics from your Care2 albums the easiest way is to copy, then paste them in the message box. Anyway, here are two of the photos of your new buck.....I dragged and dropped them here

Bucky!  Looks like a football player to me!!


I see he has half a white belly band only on the right side LOL

Bucky resting!!

Sleepy time!!

"I put them on my page!  Have a look!! Bucky is just beautiful!" 

By 'your page' did you mean in your albums? I went to your website, but didn't find pics of the new buckling. But did find one on your My Space page

Anyway....yes he is VEERRRRY cute!!!

"he is broad like a football"

It appears as if his front legs are bowed out?? If so, 'usually' nothing to worry about. Most times crooked or bent legs in newborns straighten out.

"it is most important to try to be there for births - if we hadn't been there to help pull him out we probably would have lost both momma & baby."

YUP!!! Since I am in rescue I don't breed, but if I ever rescued a pregnant doe, I would definitely invest in some monitoring equipment and put it in the cameras...etc. And when the doe's time gets close I'd put up a cot in the barn and sleep out there until the babies are born. Particularly if it were a first time mom. With African Pygmy goat births, there can be a lot of complications. They seem to have more problems during gestation and delivery then their little cousins, the Nigerian Dwarf.

Thanks for sharing!! Your buckling is toooo sweet!!