Mickey Nielsen 2007, Liberty Farm Cashmere
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As a Cashmere goat breeder I work all year to get two things; a healthy fiber crop and live healthy kids on the ground each spring. Healthy kids start with the management of does before and while the does are pregnant. After five months of waiting no one wants to lose kids once they are on the ground. Here are some things to watch kids and environment for at kidding time to spot potential problems.
Abnormal interaction between the doe and kid.
Extreme cold wet freezing weather.
Foreign objects lodged in mouth.
Heat lamps that are to low or that can fall.
Lame or weak within the first week.
Low birth weight
Loose panels or plywood.
Lying in the same place.
Lying on their side.
Not up and nursing within one hour
Too quite or too noisy
Watery or white colored stools.
Weak; cold mouth & tongue.
Abnormal interaction between the doe and kid, any time a mother doesn’t clean up, bites or butts their kid this indicates a problem. The goal is to not have any rejections; this is accomplished by culling out does with poor mothering instincts, and making sure your bucks and does are as healthy as they can possibly be at breeding time. That means CDT vaccinations, parasite control, good pasture, quality hay, a good mineral/protein block or Bo-Se supplement shots, and a little grain for the does.
The majority of the time cashmere does are very hardy and capable of kidding and raising kids with little to no intervention on our part. Extreme cold, wet, freezing weather happens at times here in the North, when the weather is extreme you need to have a plan. Having some jugs (small stalls 4’x 6’) to put your does and kids in with a heat lamp will save you hard losses in these conditions. If you find cold kids a warming box is a must.
Jugs must be sturdy and stable. Some does will be very protective and will demolish a jug if they can see a doe in the pen next to them.
Foreign objects lodged in mouth; such as sawdust, or bits of hay. The first year we moved to our highway house was pretty make shift for the animals, it happened to be a really wet year and the place we fed was turning into a swampland. We decided to bring in a couple loads of shavings to help get the animals up on something dry. It worked great for that but it sure caused us problems with the kids in the spring. We became very vigilant that year in watching for anything sticking out of a kid’s mouth or kids that don’t get up and run when you walk by. We really haven’t had a problem once the shavings composted away. But, I always keep a look out for any thing hanging out of a kid’s mouth.
With the extreme cold last year I discovered that turning a 50 gallon plastic barrel upside down, cutting a small doorway for kids and drilling a hole on the top I could make a kid nest with a heat lamp that the doe couldn’t get to. Just remember heat lamps are nothing to fool around with. Secure them with chains, check with your insurance company to make sure what they require for you to be insured when using a heat lamp.
Lame or weak kids within the first week; if you have a kid that can’t seem to get up to nurse or that walks with his hoofs curled under him, this can be white muscle disease or selenium deficiency.
Giving your bucks and does Bo-Se shots is important in many parts of the country. I do this twice a year at minimum. I give 3-5 cc at 2 weeks before breeding and again at 6-2 weeks before kidding, then all the kids get ½ cc within the first 24 hours of birth. Some kids just never can get up the strength they need if they are selenium deficient, you can try giving them more Bo-Se to see if that will help. Make sure the kid isn’t cold; always treat cold first. (Consult with your veterinarian before administering drugs to your goats)
Low birth weight is also a sign of selenium deficiency, poor nutrition or high worm load in doe. Our average kids’ birth weight is 5.5 pounds. By giving the does a little grain (about ¼ pound) while they are pregnant it helps ensure the kids are healthy and keeps my does in top form for lactation demands. Having tried the “feed less for finer fiber theory”, it just made trouble for us; low birth weights, under conditioned does, dander in the fleece, sick goats, rejected kids, none of this was worth any effect it may have had on fiber diameter.
Loose panels or plywood that kids may get behind, out of, or that may fall over are a hazard for kids and adult goats. ALL panels and plywood must be securely attached to prevent goats from getting smashed. It happens oh so easily.
Kids lying in the same place too long or they don’t move away when you walk by is a sure sign of trouble. Unless a kid is sleeping they should always get up and run from you. If not, check their mouth for foreign objects, check for dehydration, find mom and see if she is letting him nurse.
Lying on their side and unable to hold their head erect is a sure sign the kid is cold and weak, this is also a sign of selenium deficiency.
Meconium is the kids’ first bowel movement. If a kid is born with a dark yellow to light brown type film this indicates the kid was stressed enough before birth to defecate. Normally they do not defecate until after they are born.
Not up and nursing within one hour, signs of cold, weak and or selenium deficiency.
Sticky stools that become caked under tail have never taken the life of any of the kids but it sure makes a mess and can make their little bottoms sore which could become infected. If I see this happening I try to get it pulled off as soon as possible, the longer it sets up the harder it becomes to get off.
Too quite or too noisy can be signs of abandonment, hunger, weakness, cold.
Watery or white colored stools can be signs of coccidiosis, treat healthy goats first and then the sick ones to avoid spreading. To improve your herds’ resistances to parasites you may want to consider culling goats that become ill with coccidiosis. It is important to treat as soon as you see signs of coccidiosis for best results. There are products that you can put in feed or mineral blocks to prevent coccidiosis.
Weak; cold mouth and tongue these kids must be warmed up first. A warming box works great for this.
Normally cashmere kids are quite hardy and do fine on their own, but it is good management practice and good for the bottom line to prevent needless lose of kids after birth. By watching kids and the environment for these simple things you maybe able to prevent the loss of a kid or two.
KID GOAT WARMING BOX*****
1 square plastic milk crate 1 cardboard box (bigger than the milk crate)
1 hair dryer 2-3 old towels
Cut a small hole in the side of the cardboard box. Cut the hole toward the bottom of the box just big enough to place the nozzle of the hair dryer in the hole.
Place the milk crate in the cardboard box with a small towel in the milk crate.
Place the cold kid in the milk crate on the towel. Use the second towel to cover the top of the cardboard box. Turn the hair dryer on med/low and let it run until you hear the cold kid who has now warmed up standing and crying for milk. This can take 30 minutes or longer. If the temperature in the box gets too hot, pull back the towel on top or turn the hair dryer down.
Do Not Leave The Warming Box Unattended.
A caution: If the kid is lying to close to the hair dryer the heat can cause burns, place your hand in front of the running hair dryer to check. You may need to hang a towel on the milk crate between the kid and the dryer. Check the temperature and the kid often.
This warming box works so well because the milk crate allows hot air to flow completely around the kid, bottom, top, and sides.
How do you tell a kid is cold and needs a warming box? Place your finger inside the kid’s mouth. If it feels cold to your finger, the warming box is needed. Warm the kid first, and then give warm colostrum.*
Mickey Nielsen - 2006 -Liberty Farm Cashmere
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Successful Kidding begins long before the first doe starts pawing at the ground inpreparation of birth. Things like the doe and the bucks’ general health at the time of breeding play a major role in kidding success stories, along with milk production, nutrition, parasites, record keeping, shelter, and vaccinations.
Healthy does readily conceive and often carry multiple kids. Producers should select for does that consistently produce and wean an average of 1.5 kids per pregnancy. The length of gestation in goats is five months. It is possible to attain an average of three pregnancies per doe every two years, most herds are not managed to do so. Operations which attempt twice-a-year kidding will need to provide sustained supplemental feed to their does during lactation and at breeding times.
Young does may be bred in the first year at 7-10 months of age. Body weight relative to breed is more important than age and can influence lifetime performance. Postponing the breeding of doe kids much beyond 10 months of age makes them not as easily settled at first breeding and they may have lower lifetime productivity. Breeding does too small can cause permanent stunting of growth.
"Flushing", (feeding females to gain weight just a few weeks prior to breeding) is one feeding technique known to be effective in the enhancement of ovulation rates and kidding percentages. Increasing the number of ova shed during the estrus period increases the likelihood of twinning. Where management systems preclude supplemental feeding, the scheduling of breeding during times when natural forage is plentiful can produce similar results.
The importance of record keeping is based on the assumption that you are trying to do something with your goats other than have them for pets.
Basic information for each goat:
Date of Birth Birth Weight
Number in Birth Sire & Dam Information
Guard Hair Color Fiber Color
Vaccination Records Worming Record
Veterinary Records Fiber Harvest Records
Current Weight Current Picture
Sire & Dam information should always include the farm of origin.
The Kidding Record should include:
Does Weight before Breeding & Doe’s Weight at Weaning Number of Kids Born Kid Birth Weights
Colors of Kids Kidding Problems
Sire Information Number of Kids Raised
Weight of Kids at Weaning
Records for breeding bucks should include:
Total number of doe’s bred & number of kids born
Total weight of all kids born Colors of Kids
Total Weight of Kids at Weaning
All of these facts on paper help us to make decisions to reach goals of improvement in our areas of choice.
Milk Production:Genetics is a powerful thing. It plays a major part in the milk production factor. If you have a doe that is not producing milk or enough milk to raise her kids to weaning please don’t use that doe or any of her off-spring in your breeding program or sell them or her to others to breed. To keep labor and expense to a minimum, and to keep producing the best cashmere goats we can; we must focus on keeping animals that can reproduce and raise their kids with as little input from us as possible. No matter how nice the body or beautiful the fiber she is not a breeding doe if she can’t raise her kids. If your goats can successfully raise their kids on their own, that means more time for you and less time in the barn.
Nutrition:Does must have quality and quantity of forage and /or hay to produce kids and fiber. Forage/hay should always be the number one choice of feed for your goats, that is what their stomachs are designed to process. Protein blocks are a great way to ensure that your goats are getting the added protein they need while bred and lactating. Adding a small amount of concentrate to their diet may be needed by those in colder climates during times of cold snaps and the last month of the pregnancy and the first month of lactating.
Because of the fuzzy nature of cashmere goats it is important to feel each and every one of your does for their weight condition. This is best done before you breed and four weeks before kidding when you give vaccinations. Does found in poor condition well require extra attention for successful kidding. It is important to observe your doe’s behavior often. Some signs of problems include; does standing off by themselves, head hanging down, not coming to the feeder and not chewing their cud.
Vitamins and minerals are also an important aspect of nutrition. Goats’ requirements are different than sheep, cattle and horses. Find a top quality vitamin & mineral mix for your goats and feed it as recommended. Does with inadequate mineral intake can have dander, birthing problems, weak kids, retained placenta, death of doe and kid’s.
Bred and lactating does require large amounts of fresh clean water. Does will not drink sufficient amounts of water if the water is to cold, if you live in a cold region you must keep the water from freezing.
It is important to understand that not feeding what your goats require can rob you of productivity and profits and paying attention to your doe’s nutrition means fewer problems at kidding.
Talk with your veterinarian about your goats nutritional needs
Goats that are susceptible to heavy parasite loads require more feed, de-wormers, time and management. This all adds up to more cost and less time for you. Consider culling out goats that are prone to heavy parasite loads.
The ideal is to only worm your goats twice a year; two weeks after the first frost in the fall, and in the spring after kidding. A doe that has parasites will have a difficult time maintaining her health while bred. This can cause unsuccessful kiddings to occur.
There is some belief that goats that are more susceptible to parasites pass this on to their off spring. Consult with you veterinarian about your herd parasite management.
In most areas of the country cashmere goats don’t require much shelter, something to get out of the wind, rain and snow, nothing fancy. What is called run in shelters, (a three sided low roofed shelter that they can run into when they want) is the best. By keeping the roofs low the goat’s body heat is retained in the shelters. It is important that there is enough square footage that the does can get away from each other. The herd pecking order must to be considered when providing housing. What ever your shelter is or made of it has to be strong and secure. Goats are often killed by plywood or wire panels falling on them. Shelters don’t have to be pretty but they have to be safe.
Cashmere goats do not require kidding pens to kid. Cashmere goats that are allowed to kid in the field generally do quite well at taking care of the birthing process themselves provided they have enough shelter and space to stake out their nest when the time comes.
We have used everything from dog houses, a pick-up canopy, old wooden steps and discarded porches to expensive plywood shelters. Currently we are using old apple bins..after all we live in apple country. These bins are perfect. They have a low roof that helps to keep the goats body heat trapped inside. Plus they are small enough that if I need to move them I can do that myself, they tumble around really well. Cut a doorway on one side turn them over and you have a personal run in shelter for a doe and her kids. Note that the pick-up canopy works great for a while, just know that in about two years you will need to discard it as the goats tramping all over it cause the metal to break which becomes hazardous.
Enterotoxemia is caused by Clostridium perfringens, an organism present in the gut of many, if not all animals. Under the right circumstances, it multiplies to high numbers and secretes an enterotoxin (poison produced in the gut) which is absorbed from the gut into the blood stream. This enterotoxin circulates to the brain and other tissues causing serious tissue damage which often results in death. Enterotoxaemia may occur in goats of any age. The disease is generally associated with overfeeding and indigestion which frequently leads to "gut stasis", an important factor in the pathogenesis of this disease. It may occur in young kids when they are consuming considerable quantities of grain, but are still getting plenty of milk. Other factors which may predispose young or adult goats to enterotoxaemia are excess concentrate feed intake, sudden access to palatable feed, or changes in feed or forages offered.
Goats must be vaccinated against enterotoxemia and tetanus. This is often referred to as a CDT shot. Some veterinarians recommend vaccination every six months for goats. Follow the directions of your veterinarian.
Supplemental selenium should be provided either in the feed/mineral mix or by injection of 5 mg selenium (BoSe) four to six weeks prior to kidding. This is particularly important in selenium-deficient areas. Deficiencies of this important trace mineral are thought to contribute to an increased rate of retained placenta in does.
White Muscle Disease (WMD), a degenerative disease of muscle tissues, is frequently observed in kids raised in geographical areas where selenium is either deficient or unavailable in the soil. Kids affected with WMD often appear "stiff". Many will "arch" their backs and assume a noticeably abnormal posture when standing. This disease can be treated if diagnosed early enough but prevention through timely selenium injections and feed supplementation is best. Current recommendations for young kids are an initial injection of 1 mg selenium (BoSe) at one week of age which should be repeated at weaning.
Does at Kidding Time:How much time and human contact you give your does and new born kids will depend on your goat operation. There is no right or wrong, you decide what works the best for you and your goats.
If you can try to be around at kidding time, it is one of the greatest parts of raising goats. Plan to watch from a distance to avoid stressing the doe. Relax and let your healthy doe have some time to do what she is built to do. When the doe starts to push notice the time and wait. Give the doe an hour of pushing before you even think about intervening.
After the kids have hit the ground don’t be in a hurry to get involved. Let the doe clean them and talk to them. The doe with all her licking will break off the umbilical cord, stimulate them to get up and find food. If an hour passes without the kid successfully nursing you will need to intervene. Examine the doe’s teats to make sure there is milk, remove any wax plug and spray a little milk on the kid’s nose. Cold kids that will not suck must be warmed up first. If all attempts to help the kid suck fail, you will need to use a feeding tube. (This is not as hard at it seems but it does require hands on learning. Find someone to teach you how to do this).
Weak kids at birth that can’t get to the dinner bucket on their own should be noted and not kept for breeding. Also feed and mineral intake for your does should be evaluated before breeding again. Does that routinely have weak kids should be culled.
Bring warm water, a little grain and hay to the new mother, good mothering instincts will keep the doe away from the rest of the goats for a few days.
Young does with twins can get a little confused with two wet screaming things coming at them from all sides, if you see a doe starting to reject one of the kids you will have to place her in a small pen with the kids for 3-4 days. Rarely do healthy cashmere does and kids need help, those are the keepers. Does that experience kidding problems routinely should be culled.
Does with triplets require an extended time in a jug (kidding pen) to ensure that all kids are getting their needed nutrition and that everyone has bonded, most triplets need to be supplemented with a bottle.
If you can’t solve a kidding problem call your veterinarian.
Management of Kids from Birth to WeaningThere is really no need to spend hours and hours at the barn waiting for kids to be born if you are raising healthy strong does. A check in the evening, the early morning, and when you feel the need too during the day should be all that is required. Most of us have a life to live along side our goat life so it is important to raise goats that are hardy, able to give birth and take care of the kids without human intervention.
Again how much time and human contact you give your new born kids will depend on your goat operation. You decide what works the best for you and your goats.
Things to have in your pockets are:
Small hanging fish scale
Plastic shopping bags
Small note book and pencil
Ear tags and applicator
Iodine for dipping the navels.
BoSe and syringes
Now you are prepared to tag, dip, weigh, record, and vaccinate kids as you find them.
In the event of a kidding problem, you also want to have:
- Kid size feeding tub
- Warming box
- Elbow length delivery gloves
- Old towels
- KY jelly
- Veterinarian’s phone number.
Nutrition of KidsKids begin nibbling at feed very young. Provide an area where the kids can get to small amounts of hay without being knocked around by the does. Start introducing grains very slowly,remove any grain that is not eaten in 20 minutes to avoid mold.
Creep feeding should be kept to a minimum as studies have shown that animals fed concentrates while young do not develop the stomach capacity needed later in life to process large amounts of forage/hay.
We have found that training kids in the first year to come to grain is a great help when we want to bring them in from the pasture.
Parasites in KidsCocidia is a concern with young kids that are in confinement or under intensive grazing systems.
Outbreaks of coccidiosis are caused by poor sanitation, overcrowding (or overstocking), and stress. Consequently, coccidiosis can be controlled by good sanitation, clean water, not feeding on the ground, and not overstocking pens and pastures. Disease outbreaks can be prevented by administering Corid (Amprolium) in the water supply or by including a coccidiostat in the feed or mineral. Rumensin (monensin) and Deccox are FDA-approved to prevent coccidiosis in goats. Outbreaks of coccidiosis can be treated with sulfa drugs and Corid.
See Web-Sites under Parasites.
Vaccinations of Kids
Kid goats do not need to be wormed or vaccinated for enterotoxemia or tetanus when they are born. Kids from does that were vaccinated 2-6 weeks before kidding needn’t be vaccinated for enterotoxemia and tetanus until 10-12 weeks old and then with the a booster in 6 weeks.
Those living in selenium deficient regions may need to administer ½ cc BoSe to each kid at birth, ½ cc syringes used by humans are great for new born kids. The selenium must be room temperature or it becomes too thick to draw.
See Web-Sites under Vaccinations.
Cautions and ConcernsDo not use shavings as bedding with young kids, kids tend to nibble on every thing, any thing no matter how small hanging out of a young kid’s mouth should be investigated, open their mouth and get a good look at their throat to make sure it is clear, we saved a number of kids by doing this.
We learned from a sage sheep rancher at a lambing school that as you walk though your goats consider any kid laying down a problem kid and make them get up and move. Doing this has disturbed lots of kids but has helped save a few that were not thriving for one reason or other. Also listen for kids that cry an unusual amount, they may not be getting adequate milk. Check out the kid and the doe.
Secure all plywood, panels, and buckets, these things if not secure can become death traps in an instant. ****