Factors That Maximize Litter Size
Maxine Kinne

Q.  My does have problems delivering single kids. These singles are large and hard to pull. Can I do anything to reduce the size of the babies or get my does to have more babies in each pregnancy?

A.  It really helps to focus on all the little details of management, nutrition and reproduction to maximize litter size. There are some linked articles at the bottom of the page that expand on this information on this one.
 

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If you live in a selenium deficient area, supplement with Bo-Se 2 to 4 weeks before breeding. It helps ovulation rates and higher conception rates. Bo-Se is only available through your veterinarian.
 

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Keep internal and external parasites at a very low level. Your veterinarian can help you diagnose which parasites may be a problem in your herd. Deworming about a month prior to breeding helps get the doe into better condition for healthy estrus and conception..
 

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Free choice loose minerals may enhance the reproductive process.
 

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Breed on strong estrus cycles. The theory is that more ovarian follicles produce higher amounts of estrogen and result in more intense signs of heat. If a doe has 5-day heats, breed her on both, as she may ovulate on both.
 

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Keep does in medium body condition for breeding. Thin does can have problems conceiving and during pregnancy. Fat does may conceive fewer embryos and/or bring fewer fetuses to term.
 

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Keep kids out of does who produce large litters. Genetic selection for prolificacy results a 2% increase per year in litter size. Bucks out of larger litters probably also pass this trait to daughters, as their mothers had the trait.
 

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The general fertility of young does (under one year) and aged does is reduced, so they can't be expected to produce like they will (or used to) in the prime of life. 
 

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Include pelvic capacity, particularly longer rumps from hips to pins, in your selection program. If your does have ample room, they will have less trouble delivering.

Related Reading
Feeding During Pregnancy
One + One Shouldn't = One
 



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