Stages of Labor in a Goat

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Kid goats typically arrive within an hour of pushing efforts by mother goats.
Kid goats typically arrive within an hour of pushing efforts by mother goats. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Goats are similar to most mammals when it comes to giving birth to their kids. Many of the physical processes are the same. The stages of labor are nesting and pre-labor or very early signs, then the actual full labor and delivery of the offspring. Following that, the afterbirth (placenta) will be eliminated. If you are just starting out raising and breeding goats, consult a farm animal veterinarian in your vicinity for detailed information on how best to prepare for the arrival of kids. If one of your nanny goats starts showing signs that she's heavy with a kid, keep a watchful eye out. The gestation period is 146 to 155 days.

Stage 1

As the mama goat nears delivery, her udder will begin to enlarge and swell, until a few days before labor when it appears quite full. She may bleat often, and seem to get anxious. Her nesting instincts will kick in and she'll stir or kick up a bedding area. She'll look toward her backside more often, and may lose her mucous plug -- a discharge that can be clear or white, and tinged with blood. The hips will be more pronounced too. This stage can last several hours or up to 24 hours.

Stage 2

This stage is when active labor kicks in. The water bag, or amniotic sac, could descend -- it looks similar to a balloon. The bag could break or remain intact until the kid is born. The doe will seem to focus more inwardly, and may lie down or walk around a bit. Her contractions will build and you may see mucous, blood or the kid appearing. She'll begin to strain and pushing will commence. The kid could present by either its head or feet. The most ideal and normal presentation is when the kid's nose and toes present together. Bleating may increase, or the doe will pant and get quiet as she takes her last pushes, then birthing occurs when the entire body of the baby goat is outside its mother's body.

After Birth

The mother will usually clean the baby, but sometimes doesn't. A vet, the breeder or an assistant should wipe the kid's nose and clear it so it can breath. Some animals chew the umbilical cord, but the breeder might need to cut the cord. The placenta can take from minutes to a couple of hours to deliver. If you are helping a doe, never pull on the cord as hemorrhaging could occur. The doe may simply push once or twice with a contraction to release the afterbirth. Once it's completely out, check to make sure it's intact and no parts remain in her uterus. The baby then begins to nurse and the mother goat will calm and settle into her parental functions.

Suckling

Check the doe's teats to be sure they aren't clogged and milk is flowing. Colostrum is the first liquid that will come before the actual milk, and the baby will need this to help get its immune system off to a good start, as well as for general nourishment. If the baby doesn't latch on right away and nurse easily, you may need to help it find the teat. If another kids is about to be born, sometimes the mother seems a little confused or so preoccupied with the demands of the next pushing event, the first one may not get its chance until the second one is born. Try to help the kids get colostrum very soon after they are born.

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