Sunday, August 22, 2010

For New Goat Owners - Please Read

I had a sad experience on Saturday as we were heading to the County Fair. A neighbor called as we were half-way down our road and said that their goat had been in labor since 2 pm the day before. It was 7:15 AM. We didn't make the turn to the main road, but headed to the next block and parked in front of their house.

There was first freshening doe on her side worn out with all the straining she had been doing for the past 15 hours.

Some people buy a goat because they think they will be good weed eaters, some because they think it will be an easy, cheap source of free milk, some because they think they are cute. Whatever the reason, don't think that any animal can be put out in the pasture and be given food and water and nothing else. Just like having children, goats require care and a knowledge of how to handle and raise them.

Most people have a first aid kit or first aid supplies in their home. Bandaids, antibiotic ointment, something to sterilize and clean a wound with. Most people have some sort of pain killer and probably some type of cold remedy. Many have vitamins or other health supplement. Most people know how and when to administer any of that.

If you went to a hospital to deliver a baby, then you would expect the hospital to have the proper equipment on hand and proper medications to take care of the infant and the mom. Or, if you have your child at home you would have many of the same types of things.

It should be that way if you have animals. Here is a list of things that we always have on hand for caring for our animals in during kidding. There may be some things that you have that you find helpful, I hope that you leave a comment so I can learn a little from you, too.
  1. A clean, quiet place for the goat to kid
  2. Flashlight & batteries or lights in the barn just in case you have to help a goat at night
  3. Latex gloves – In case you have to assist. Some people like to use their bare hands, I like gloves because I also play guitar and have longer fingernails on one hand. I don't want to hurt the animal on the inside.
  4. OB Lube – In case you have to “go in” to assist.
  5. 7% iodine – To treat the umbilical cord to prevent navel ill. 
  6. Film container (or spray bottle) – for dipping or spraying the umbilical cord with iodine.
  7. Dental floss – To tie the umbilical cord, if necessary.
  8. Blunt nosed scissors – For cutting the umbilical cord if it is too long.
  9. Alcohol or another type of sanitizer - to sterilize tools, hands, anything that might have to go inside the doe.
  10. Baby nasal aspirator – To remove fluids from newborn’s mouth & nose, if necessary. We know of one family who saved some kid's lives because they had one on hand.
  11. 3 old but clean towels – To dry kids to prevent chill & dry hands.
  12. Blow dryer - if our doe is kidding in cool weather we always use a blow dryer to make sure the kid is dry and warm before it takes it's first drink.
  13. Bottle & Nipple – In case you need to bottle feed
  14. Lamb / kid puller – In case of a kid that is positioned wrong. (Usually just your hand is enough to help a doe that needs help but it is a good idea to have one).
  15. Weak lamb syringe & feeding tube – To feed kids too weak to nurse.
  16. Feed bag (garbage bag) – For picking up the afterbirth.
  17. Soap & warm water - for washing up in case you need to assist.
  18. Digital thermometer – To check the temperature of chilled kids, to check the temperature of the doe if she has had any birth trauma
  19. Nutridrench (we use molasses in a pinch) – nutrient and energy supplement, we usually give one squirt to the kid, sometimes a few squirts to the mom. Sheep and goat nutridrench is the same formulation, we buy whichever is cheaper
  20. Colostrum — either powdered or frozen from last year's kidding, just in case you loose the doe and need to save the kid(s).
  21. Phone number of at least one vet that is familiar with goats - in case of an emergency.
I always have the following on hand whether it is kidding season or not. If you have a problem, you need to have the necessary supplies on hand even if you have a veterinarian. If you call a vet and you have supplies on hand, they can suggest to you what to do while you are trying to get the goat to the vet. If you don't have any supplies, you may loose the goat.
  1. Fortified B Complex
  2. Naxcel or Excenel (vet Rx only - 0 withdrawal)
  3. Penicillin - for snotty noses, polio, and mastitis
  4. Eprinephrine (for anaphylactic shock when given injections vet Rx only)
  5. Kaopectate or Pepto Bismol - for scours
  6. Probiotics - give when off feed or after antibiotic treatment
  7. Electrolites - prevent dehydration during stress
  8. Kaptan or Clorox for ringworm & other fungi
  9. 5cc and 12cc Syringes
  10. 18g x 1" and 22g x 1" Needles
  11. Drench gun or syringe
  12. BluKote or another type germicidal and fungicidal
The goat owners that we helped are very good people. But they didn't have much on hand to help their doe or any kids that were born. They had always just come out and there were babies with no problems.

But not this time.

There is a 30 - 30 - 30 rule when a doe is kidding (or a ewe is lambing) (Managing Kidding and Lambing by Mary C. Smith, DVM Page 3/8)
As a guide for when to interfere, use the 30-30-30 rule. If a ewe or doe goes into labor or part of the fetus or placenta shows, allow 30 minutes for delivery to be completed before examining the dam. An exception would be if the lamb or kid is yellow with meconium, indicating that it is already short of oxygen and needs to be delivered rapidly. If everything appears to be in normal position and posture, allow a further 30 minutes before delivering the lamb or kid. If the mother has had one or more fetuses unassisted but an additional fetus is believed to be present (part visible, further straining, fetus ballottable through the abdominal wall) allow a further 30 minutes to elapse before delivering the next fetus.

It takes a doe about 5 hours to deliver kids. Four hours for the cervix to dilate, one more hour to deliver.

I had never gone in to assist a doe. I have good friends who are very knowledgeable and I read alot, especially about goat care. I have had the procedure described so many times to me that I felt that if I didn't help this doe, then she would die.

The first thing we did was take her temperature, which was normal. I asked if they had Penicillin or Vitamin B on hand, any syringes and needles. No, they didn't. They had gloves, alcohol (70%) and some Vaseline, and an oral thermometer. Vet2Be called Hubby and had him bring down the meds we knew we would need.

Vet2Be gave her a shot of Vitamin B complex and a shot of PenG (5cc). Then he stayed by her head, talking to her and soothing her. He was in his good clothes ready to show (white shirt, black pants) so he couldn't help as much.

After putting gloves on and rinsing my hands with alcohol, I went in to find out what the problem was. Since I hadn't done this before I knew it would take me a few minutes to figure out what I was feeling.

All I could feel was a lump of kid goat. I thought it was the rump, but it turned out that the kid's head and both front legs were pointing towards the tail, which was towards the doe's head. What I was feeling was the back of the kids neck. I knew that I would have to get the head and both feet forwards in order to get the kid out.

It took me about an hour to do that. All the while Vet2Be was at her head telling her she was going to be okay, and scratching her cheeks. All the while I was praying that I would be able to figure out how to get the legs and head in the right position.

While I was working with the doe, the owners were calling around to find a veterinarian that would look at their doe. They finally found a vet that would see the doe if they brought her in. While they were getting their van ready and a tarp to lift the doe into the van, I finished pulling the kid out with the help of another one of the people that was helping.

As of last night, the doe looked like she might live. The vet had given her another shot of PenG (5 cc) and sent the family home with enough for the next few days. I felt badly because the doe had a tear inside. The vet said that they let that type of injury heal on it's own. The owners should just rinse it daily and keep it clean.

The moral of the story is, please, please, learn about your goats. Please keep medications and supplies on hand in case of an emergency. There really isn't time to go to the farm store to buy what you need. There might not be a vet available quickly, especially one that will treat goats. Read, read, and read more so that if an emergency arises, you will have the information you need and you will be able to be calm while you decide what to do.

One book I recommend (yes, it probably cost more than your goat did!) is the current edition of Diseases of the Goat by John Matthews. It has great information and is fairly easy to understand. At $80, it is a great deal for all the information it contains.

I know it seems like alot of money to buy the supplies you should have on hand, but in the long run it will save you heartache and vet bills.


Laurel said...

I noticed a couple of things that weren't on your list, OB Gloves- the ones that cover up to your shoulder it not only keeps you clean but keeps you from putting dirt/bacteria in the uterus. Nolvasan, as an all purpose disinfectant wash, scalpel in case mom dies and you have to do an emergency c section (only happened to us twice but we did save the babies that way), injectable dextrose-quick energy to save a dieing or frozen lamb-inject directly into the stomach. A feeding tube and syringe to tube feed weak lambs/kids unable to suck. Therabloat, we've had one bloat as she was in labor, that was odd. A good alarm clock so you can get up to check progress on labor every little while during the night ;)

TJ said...

Thanks Laural! I'll add them to my list. I had forgotten about the Therabloat, someone at the county fair said they have it on hand all the time.

Where do you get the OB gloves?

I forgot the tube--I've got one, but haven't ever used it (thank goodness!)

And how do you administer the injectable dextrose? Is there a site (or a page in Small Ruminant binder) that shows how to administer it (future post?)

I am not up to doing a C-section--although I remember you describing it! That's WAY beyond my comfort zone!

My thought is to re-post the lists in January for any new goat owners who are looking forward to kidding. I'm not an expert, but I think the more places lists like this are posted, the better for newbies!

So if you have any other tips or hints or ideas, let me know.