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Goats/Weak newborn kids born early


QUESTION: Hello, we have a very small farm of Oberhasli Dairy goats and kidding season has just started for us. We keep very good records of when our does are due and were surprised to see our doe, Rose, go into labor 1 1/2 weeks earlier than her due date. This is her 2nd freshening. The first freshening was a very healthy, uneventful one. This one, being that it was 1 1/2 weeks early, was not so uneventful. She had a boy, then a girl. The boy is 7 lbs. and the girl is only alittle over 5 lbs. They were both born very weak- especially the girl. We gave them selenium, cleaned umbilical cord, put heat on them, gave Nutridrench, and stayed with them for hours. The boy was able to nurse from Rose, but could not stand. The girl had no suckling reflexes at all. She was like a rag doll. Didn't barely even hold up her head. We were able to give her about 2 ccs of colostrum by use of a syringe. We were so happy to see that although she didn't suckle at all, she still swallowed the colostrum! After all of that, we went to bed for a couple of hours. My husband got up to see how they were doing and both babies were laying in a different spot with their heads up! We were amazed about the girl- we honestly were afraid we'd lose her. They both still can't stand, although we see the boy trying now and then. My husband put them both to Rose's teats, and they BOTH nursed! We are very excited that things are looking up for us, and now we need to know what we should do to keep things looking up. What can we do to get them stronger and on their feet? Can you please tell me if I should give more Nutridrench to the kids, or is there something else we can give? And if so, how often and how much? Also, I'm not sure if you can answer this one or not, but do you have any idea what could've caused our Rose to kid early? We've been breeding Obers for about 5 years now and never had a doe to kid early. We were very surprised. All of our goats are pasture raised with our own hay, grain mixed with sunflower seeds, and minerals/kelp/baking soda given free choice. We keep our kids on their mamas for the first 8 weeks before weaning. Thank you!

ANSWER: Hi there.  10 days early is not particularly early.  But a doe that is hit in the side by another goat can cause her to go into labor early.  Did she pass her placentas okay and did they look healthy?  A lack of selenium can cause early labor too.  I do not like to use nutridrench as it has propylene glycol in it and that can be poisonous to goats.  The kids sound like they have white muscle disease.  I would have advised taking them away from the mom and bringing them into the house to bottle feed.  Especially since being weak they are susceptible to pneumonia.  I use human selenium/E/D combination given every 3 to 4 months to all my goats as well as 4 weeks prior to kidding and to the kid goats when they are born.  If they are weak at birth kid goats need this mixture and then repeated in 2 days and at 7 to 10 days.  The mixture is one 200 mcg tablet (crushed and dissolved) mixed with half the oil from a 1000 IU vitamin E capsule and half the oil from an 800 IU vitamin D capsule, mix, and give orally.  For adults I use ten of the 200 mcg tablets again crushed and dissolved mixed with all the oil from a 1000 IU vitamin E capsule and all the oil from an 800 to 2000 IU vitamin D capsule.  The doe will get used to not having her kids around.  We have bottle raised all our kid goats for 30 years, yes it is a circus but we find it works well for the kids.  As an aside, had Rose stopped eating well before she kidded early? Hope this helps - let me know - Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you for the quick response! Our little boy is standing now- but rather wobbly. The girl is trying to. Both are nursing well when we put them to the teat. We did give selenium to our does 2 weeks ago (the selenium/Vitamin E paste), copper bolused them in February, and goat minerals (loose) are always available. The kids got the selenium/vit E paste shortly after birth (2cc according to instructions on tube), but they didn't swallow alot of it. I do have the human vitamins available as well (the ingredients you just shared with me)- should I try giving them that today? Rose didn't eat well all day yesterday- she looked uncomfortable. That is what got our attention first. She's eating great now, and acting normal. There is no afterbirth hanging from her, and none on the ground. We do not know if she ate it while we rested? And can white muscle disease be cured?

Thanks for the update.  Selenium to work also needs vit. D, that is why I use the human mixture. Would dose kids again with this mixture.  Also  the doe may have an intrauterine infection and that caused the early labor.  Hoping she just ate her placenta and if she did that can cause stomach upset which may be why she is not eating well. What is her temperature?  Would advise coverage for infection with injectable antibiotic. Would also start her on vitamin b1/thiamine to keep polio away.  


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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