It is crucial to know what’s normal and what’s abnormal during kidding (parturition) because the life of the kids and your doe depends on it. It is not common that does need assistance giving birth, however it is also best to be prepared when something goes wrong. This article briefly outlines the ‘what to expect when expecting kids’, in order to have a smooth kidding.
The first phase of kidding…..
In the first phase of parturition, up to 4 hours before the kid appears, the doe will start to show a variety of different behaviours. These include; signs of nervousness, loss of appetite, stress, bleating, pawing at the ground, laying down and a mucous discharge can be seen. The muscles around the tail, above the vagina, will become loose within 24hours as the birth canal begins to expand. When your does is going through contractions she will also aim to make an area on the ground to lay in and roll onto her side. In this period, cervix dilation occurs, hormones will signal contractions and the foetus will start to move into the birthing canal. Moving your doe’s into a kidding shelter prior to this is always helpful, as it means that these first signs are less likely to go unnoticed.
Phase two: The Escape
Entering into the second phase, the kid should be in the birth canal and the water sac will break. From the time the water sac has broken, the first kid should be born within 30 minutes. This is an essential time because if there is any obstruction of the uterus, the kid is too big or if the kid is not in the correct position, it may be trapped in the uterus and die of asphyxiation. The proper position for the kid to exit the birth canal should be front feet first as shown in the following diagram.
Commonly the kid may enter the birth canal in the wrong position and thus the doe is not able to push the kid out within 30 minutes. In this case intervention is needed and the kid needs to be manually pushed back and rearranged into the correct position. Ideally, when rearranging the kid, clean gloves and short fingernails are required so that no tears in the uterus or any infections occur that could impair future pregnancies.
Any following kids should be expelled swiftly within a 30minute time frame of each other. Ensuring that the amniotic sac (fluid containing sac covering the kid) has broken and is clear of the nasal passage allowing the kid to breath is necessary after each birth. furthermore, checking that all kids have exited the doe is important. This can be determined because the last kid will exit along with the afterbirth signalling the commencement of the last phase of parturition.
Phase three: The
cruical first hours of life
Lastly, the doe will pass the foetal membranes in the third phase of parturition anywhere between 30 minutes to 8 hours after the birth of the kid/s. It is important to take note that the foetal membranes have been expelled otherwise the doe may encounter issues associated with the uterus such as infection or obstructions. It is a natural instinct for the doe to eat the foetal membrane and perfectly normal if this occurs.
Signs that the doe may need further care and veterinary assistance includes; if the doe appears weak, cannot stand, does not nurse her kids or has a low heart rate. Afterbirth still hanging out from behind the doe is normal and will fall off within 48 hours. However, if this does not occur then a vet may be needed for treatment or you can intervene to help remove it in a sterile environment.
Why is the afterbirth outside hanging outside the doe?
The reason for afterbirth taking time to fall out is due to the sac being attached the wall of the uterus and in a sense, tears off over time. The weight of the afterbirth hanging outside the doe is what helps to add enough pressure for the lining to tear slowly and drop off. This is to avoid infections within the does reproductive systems.
Within a few minutes of being born, kids should be standing, alert and attempting to drink from the mother. Indicators that a kid may need to be taken from its mother and hand raised is if the kid appears weak, dull or abnormally small. Also if the doe’s have more than 2 kids she may not be able to feed more than 2 based on her size, udder size, teat formation, diet and overall health. If this is not looked at closely and assessed, the doe will lie on the weakest kids and kill them as this is a survival instinct. to avoid this it is sometimes better to just always remove them if they are more than 2 or 3 kids.
What they need to be okay…
It is vital that each kid drinks colostrum, produced by the mother at birth, within the first hour of life. Colostrum contains antibodies that provide protection from diseases as well as energy, minerals and vitamins for a healthy start to life. Intake of colostrum can either be from the mother herself or by collection and tube feeding weak kids. Furthermore, if the kids are strong and attempting to drink yet the mother is rejecting them, the kids may need to be removed and bottle fed. If both the doe and her kid/s look happy and healthy, the kids are drinking and the doe is nursing, your job is done!
On one last note, trust your instinct, because if something doesn’t seem right,
The best way to learn is