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Getting does ready for kidding

Getting does ready for kidding

Many of you already have kids on the ground, while others are patiently watching the baby bumps grow. Here are some tips for getting your pregnant does ready for kidding:


Mineral supplementation – Ideally, you should start supplementing your does with the proper minerals before breeding for the best results. Goats need a lot of minerals daily in order to stay healthy. The best way to supplement them is to use a loose mineral blend that is designed specifically for goats. Stay away from salt licks, mineral blocks, or non-goat mineral blends. These will not have enough of the essential minerals that goats need.


More minerals! – Depending on the minerals found in the soil and in the plants where you live, your pregnant goats might need added selenium and copper supplementation. The loose goat minerals will provide a lot of their daily needs but some goats can still be deficient. Copper can be given by bolus (a gel capsule filled with tiny copper rods). The best way to bolus your goats is to dose them on an empty stomach, use a pill gun to get the goat to swallow the bolus without chewing it, then follow the boluses with a dose of probiotic gel or selenium/vitamin E gel. The gel will adhere to the boluses as they settle in the bottom of the rumen and allow for slow absorption of the copper.  Slow absorption is the key because you don’t want all that good copper passed directly out through the digestive system. You want it to stay in the rumen and be absorbed. Selenium can be given in the form of a prescription-only shot of BoSe or MuSe, or you can use selenium/vitamin E gel.


Vaccinate – Most people vaccinate their pregnant does for tetanus and enterotoxemia when they are 4-6 weeks from their due date. This can be done by using the CDT vaccine. Vaccinating your pregnant does will not only protect them from the deadly consequences of tetanus and enterotoxemia infection, but they will produce antibodies that can be passed from doe to kid through the colostrum. This will transfer some immunity to the kids. Enterotoxemia is common in kid goats and can be extremely fatal so any extra protection you can give them by vaccinating your does is great.


Alfalfa – The last few months of pregnancy are a great time to start supplementing your does’ diet with alfalfa. Alfalfa is high in calcium, which is necessary for creating strong bones in the kids and essential for producing milk. Pregnant and lactating goats should have alfalfa in their diet at all times. The calcium in alfalfa is not only an essential mineral but it helps to balance out phosphorus that is found in grain products and grassy hay. An imbalance in the calcium to phosphorus ratio can lead to many problems including urinary calculi, hypocalcemia, and pregnancy toxemia.


Grain – The last few months of pregnancy are also a great time to start increasing your does’ grain ration. Take a kitchen scale out to the barn and measure how much grain your goats are getting in pounds. By the last week of pregnancy your does should be getting 1.5 lbs of grain a day. You can adjust this amount up if the doe looks like she is carrying 3 or more kids. Grain should be increased to a peak of 3 lbs per day at about 3-4 weeks post kidding. Try not to feed more than 4 lbs. of grain a day. For more information, please see here.


Milk stand etiquette – It’s best to train your first fresheners to use the milk stand before you have to milk them. Get them used to jumping on the stand, eating their grain, and getting off the stand. They may not like their udders touched at this point but don’t worry about that. Most does welcome their udders being touched once they start producing milk and they learn that being milked will make them feel more comfortable.


Get your milking supplies ready – Make sure you have everything ready. Get your stainless steel milk bucket out of storage, order your teat dip or spray, find the teat wipes and strip cups. It’s important to use clean milking habits from the start. The udder should be washed and wiped prior to milking. Milking should be done into a clean and sanitized bucket. Then the teats should be dipped or sprayed with antiseptic to prevent infections. Prior to kidding is a good time to get out your clippers and trim the winter fur that has grown on your goats’ udders. It’s a lot cleaner and easier to milk a trimmed udder than to fight through the hair to find the teats.


Rose has been raising goats near Vermontville, New York, for 10 years. She has raised dairy goats, meat goats, and fiber goats. Over the years, she has learned a lot of information and tips for raising happy and healthy goats. Rose loves to share the information she has learned to help goat owners and aspiring goat owners to take good care of their animals. Goats are intelligent, resourceful, funny, useful animals that have unique needs when compared to other farm livestock.
In 2011, Rose stared the Adirondack Goat Club to bring together goat owners and enthusiasts all over the area. The mission of the club is to create a network of people who can rely on each other for help with their goats, for the sharing of information and equipment, and for the sale and trade of quality animals.
Rose lives on her farm with her husband and 3 year-old daughter. Currently the animal count is up to three Alpine dairy goats, one Saanen dairy goat, two Boer meat goats, one Angora fiber goat, 28 chickens, one rabbit, one barn cat, and two dogs. The extra milk on the farm goes into goat milk soap that Rose sells locally.
Contact Rose Bartiss at or follow her blog at Her soap can be found on Facebook at Rose’s Goats.

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