Caring for a Pregnant Doe
We are now about a month out from goat kids arriving at Hostile Valley Farm, so it’s time to upgrade the care routine for our expecting mothers!
Before a buck even arrives at our farm, we start feeding a dairy goat mix to our does. Most of the year the goat’s eat only hay, forage, and timothy pellets, but breeding animals require more nutrition, so a few weeks before the buck visits we start adding dairy goat to the girl’s evening feeding routine. They’ll stay on this feed until they’ve been dried off after kidding and milking — and it’s also helpful to have a feeding routine built in before milking becomes a daily task.
About six weeks before kids are due, we start adding Molly’s Herbals Pregnancy Tonic (https://fiascofarm.com/herbs/mollysherbals.php/products/pregnancy-tonic) to the expectant mother’s feed. We add about 1/4 cup to feed nightly, and we will continue to offer the herbal formula for a week after kidding. This herbal mix helps reduce pain during labor, speeds up and eases labor, and helps in milk production by providing vital nutrients and vitamins.
Then one month before kidding it is time to really turn up the love for our ladies! The girls will get their hooves trimmed for the last time before kidding, and receive their CDT and BoSE injections. CDT vaccines are for tetanus and what is called ‘overeating disease’ in goats. These disease are both very easy to catch on a farm, and are highly fatal — so it’s well worth it to us to keep every goat up to date on CDT vaccines, and inoculating our girls a month before kidding helps them pass on some protection to their kids.
BoSE is not technically a vaccine but an injection of selenium and Vitamin E. Depending on your area, it’s common for soil and forage to be deficient in these minerals, minerals that are vital to goats. A yearly or even twice yearly injection of BoSE ensures a healthy herd. Without proper selenium, goats can develop severe muscle issues and die. Kids are particularly at risk, and a BoSE injection a month before kidding will help prevent these problems — it eases birth, prevents risk of miscarriage and delivery problems, and helps prevent ‘white muscle disease’ in new kids.
I also check my soon-to-be-mothers for their Famacha score. Famacha (https://web.uri.edu/sheepngoat/files/FAMACHA-Scoring_Final2.pdf) is a scoring system based on the color of the inside of the goat’s eyelid. Redder is better, and whiter means that the goat needs to be dewormed. A light color indicates anemia in your goat, and they should be wormed accordingly. We use Famacha scoring so that we only worm goats who need it, preventing the parasites from building up immunity to deworming. If a goat has a high Famacha score, we will worm at a month before kidding. If she has a low score, we only worm immediately after kidding. Even though we generally avoid worming unless Famacha score indicates its necessary, worming after kidding is a good idea because the goat’s immune system is weaker and they are more likely to be infected by parasites.
After a quick once-over of the goat’s body condition, they’re ready to go. Now we just keep an eye on their health and watch for signs of labor — hopefully we’ll have some healthy kids on the ground in about a month!