Dear fellow animal lovers! Have you ever wonder what to do when your doe is in labor? Should we help her ourselves or just let her be? Or does calling a vet will be a better choice? Let’s say your doe is pregnant, then about 150 days or 5 months later there will be a new resident or a few of them in your household. You see the signs that she’s about to give birth, and now you are considering which options would be the best for your doe. All those options are possible, depend on the doe condition.
Let nature takes its course, they said. Sure, a doe can labor by herself naturally. But if you are raising goats in your homestead or backyard as pets, for example, you may want to know how to take care of your doe during her pregnancy until she finally labors. Keep your doe healthy and there won’t be any problem even though you don’t assist your doe on her labor. Just make sure to keep an eye on her just in case something happens.
But what if you want to be involved in this miracle of life situation? Or you just happen to read or listen to your fellow goat owner that assisting a doe in labor is a must? Well, though we believe that assisting a doe in her labor is not an obligation, doesn’t mean we suggest you to ignoring the doe in labor. There is a belief that helping your doe in labor minimizes the possibility of losing doe or kids because of birth complications, and while we don’t suggest you to fully involved, there are few things we can do to help her labor. Here we have 5 easy steps to assist a goat giving birth in a homestead.
- Understand the stage labor
There are two stages. The first one is when uterus contracts and dilates, pushing the unborn kid on its way against the cervix. This process can last about 12 hours for does that are giving birth for the first time, but it is different for every goat.
Your doe will be restless in this stage. She may look around like she can’t figuring out what is happening on her. Sometimes she will lick herself, or you. Other times, the doe will look like digging.
The second stage is when the doe pushes the babies out of her uterus. Her contractions get stronger and the kid will start moving down the birth canal if the kid is lined up correctly.
From the time your doe starts pushing until the kid is birthed should be only 30 minutes. If it takes longer than that, there is a possibility that the kid may be malpositioned or the doe may have another problem. This is why we suggest you keep an eye on the doe during labor. Check out whether the kid is stuck or malpositioned to determine whether your intervention or even a vet is needed.
You will see thicker discharge, sometimes with blood, and then a bubble that wrapping the baby goat at the opening of the vagina called the amniotic membrane. Usually, you can see a nose and one or two little hooves if you look in the bubble.
- Don’t pull the baby out
Your doe can labor while standing or laying down, depending on what most comfortable for her, and the majority of kids are born with “diving” position; head first, sometimes with a front foot or two, and sometimes without. If your doe is standing during her labor, the kid will hang from the rear and you may assist her labor by grabbing the kid, but don’t pull the baby. Let your doe pushes her baby out. A doe is more than capable of handling the labor on her own. Even in a rare case that the baby is breech (kid comes out with the tail first), your doe still able to push her baby out.
If the doe can’t push her baby, help her by gently pulling the baby out. Remember, the keyword is gently because we don’t want to bring harm to either the baby or the doe.
- Clean the baby
The goo may disgust to some people, but cleaning the baby is one of the easiest steps to assist a goat giving birth in a homestead. There are some cases where the amniotic membrane doesn’t break when the kid comes out. If that happens, break it and clean the fluids from the kid’s mouth and nostrils so the kid can breathe, cough, or shake her head to clear excess mucus.
Prepare some towels and check out how to treat newly born goat here.
- Help them bonding
Your doe will be bond with her kids by cleaning the placentae off of them. Yup, we suggest you clean the baby off, but let their mom do the rest. If your doe doesn’t look like she is interested in her kids, keep shoving them onto her until she licks them. Make sure the mom is licking her kids because this is a huge part of their bonding.
- Understand the birth problem
If goat kids are small, breech presentation is not a problem. Although, there is a risk in a breech birth which is the possibility of inhaling amniotic fluid.
Another position that can result in a problem and sometimes require assistance and reposition include front legs back (you’ll see a nose and tongue hanging out but no hooves), head back (hooves out but head back, commonly to one side), transverse (across the uterus with a side near the cervix), or crown presentation (the top of the head coming first). If you encounter a malpositioned kid, call a veterinarian or an experienced goat owner to assist you or talk you through it. Have a veterinarian perform a cesarean if you are unable to get the kid into the right position.
Understand the problem will help you to be prepared for the worst and decide which solution is the best for your goat. We hope your doe will have a smooth delivery and healthy kids. Good luck!