Why Be There?
Birth is the most dramatic and life-threatening event in a kid's life. Your presence during and just after delivery can save lives. Should it be needed, prompt assistance during delivery will help get the kids off to the best start they can possible have. The new mother will thank you for it, and you will avoid a lot of potential problems with both the mother and her new kids.
How do you know when it's time to show up at the barn for the action? With little or no kidding experience, if you pay attention to the signs of impending birth does generally exhibit, there is usually no doubt when she is gearing up to deliver. Drag out the audio baby monitor and wait. Working nine-to-five puts a definite cramp into being present at each birth, and some people induce their does to kid on a weekend.
The fetus lives and grows in a fluid environment in the uterus. The mother's placenta nourishes the fetus and eliminates its waste products. As the fetus is expelled during labor, it quickly converts from a "water breather" to one that functions on oxygen. Events that interfere with this delicate transformation can spell catastrophe.
Breathing is the kid's first step toward independent life. As the mother delivers each kid, clean off its nose and muzzle right away to eliminate barriers that may interfere with the important first breaths. A stiff piece of straw or hay inserted into one of the kid's nostrils should stimulate sneezing. Or pinch an ear to make the newborn cry. Kids take in big lungsful of air when they sneeze and cry - just what they need! Suspending the kid with its front end lower than the rear end uses gravity to help clear fluid out of a kid's lungs. Drape the kid over your leg or hold it in the air by its hips or hind legs for a few minutes.
Check each newborn for defects at the earliest opportunity. If this is done quickly at birth, defective kids can be culled right away, before they dry off, nurse and get too cute. I know this is really hard to think about, much less do, until you've got a number of years of goat breeding under your belt. A good reputation can be built on producing good goats; a questionable one is built on producing defectives and poor-doers, and it also reflects your breeding program.
The doe's preparation for kidding results in a nest of well-pawed bedding which exposes dirt and manure. Just before a kid is born, lay down a clean towel or some newspaper behind the doe for it to land on. This helps to keep the umbilical cord clean. Keep the kid on this sanitary surface until you dip its navel in undiluted 7% iodine which helps sanitize and dry the umbilicus. Born into a unsanitary environment, kids can pick up many kinds of bacteria that can travel into the blood supply via the umbilicus to cause navel ill, joint ill or generalized septicemia. Any of these can cripple or kill.
The kid's first meal comes next. Help it out by making sure groceries are available. The keratin plug inside each streak canal can be difficult for the kid to dislodge by sucking. Express one or two squirts of colostrum from each teat to be sure they can get something to eat. Some kids take longer than others to find a teat and start nursing. Make sure kids eat as soon as possible, and you'll avoid waking up to starving, hypothermic kids the next morning.
While you're still in the barn with the dam and her new kids, check the environment for safety:
So why be there? To assist or call for help if the doe has birthing problems. To help the kid be born in a sanitary environment. To dip the navel to prevent infections. To make sure the teats are open so the kid can eat. And to make sure the kidding area is free of dangers you may not have thought to look for before.
May your kids arrive easily and enjoy a safe introduction to their new world!
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