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Preparing for Kidding Season With Dairy Goats

By Laura Kieser
Extension Educator, Carver and Scott Counties

It is s a sure sign that spring is on its way when baby goats start arriving. Because goats are seasonal breeders by nature, we usually see most kids born February through April. Some producers in MN have already started kidding season with kids being born in January, and some herds have kids born as late as June. The two months prior to kidding/parturition is an ideal time to deworm and hoof trim does. Parasite control during the dry period will help prevent high levels of parasite exposure for newborns as well as the doe. It is also important to check and treat any external parasites. Hoof trimming is very important and helps the doe to be more mobile and comfortable as she walks around with her ever-growing kids en-utero. By trimming the hooves during the dry period, less stress is placed on the doe when it is time to give birth.

Late pregnancy is also an ideal time to give yearly booster shots of vaccines utilized in the herd. Vaccines give protection to the doe as well as ensure high levels of antibodies in the doe's colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk produced by the doe, critical for the kids to consume to provide passive transfer of antibodies. The most common vaccines would be for enterotoxemia (also known as overeating disease) and tetanus. Enterotoxemia is caused by Clostridium perfringens types C and D. A tetanus booster can be combined with the Enterotoxemia vaccine.

Additional selenium and Vitamin E may be given during late pregnancy if the soil in the area is selenium deficient. This will provide the doe sufficient levels for her needs and prevent white muscle disease in the developing kids. It is necessary to consult your veterinarian to obtain injectable selenium and vitamin E.

Nutrition needs to be continually monitored during late pregnancy. The doe should maintain her condition and weight. The developing kids grow rapidly during the last several weeks of pregnancy, as do the metabolic demands on the doe. It is important during the early dry period to provide good quality roughage to supply the dry doe's metabolic needs while ensuring an active, normally functioning rumen. Two to three weeks before freshening, her metabolic needs change dramatically and the doe requires more concentrated forms of energy, such as grain in addition to the good quality forage.

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Laura Kieser is an agricultural production systems educator with University of Minnesota Extension.