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An abortion is a premature expulsion of a fetus before full gestation has elapsed. (Considine, p. 93)
For a complete summary on abortion, treatment, prevention, how to send samples to the lab, and other information, go to “Seminar notes” and read the notes from Reproduction and Breeding of Dairy Goats by Dr. Scott Haskell.
There is an excellent slide show by John Plant, Veterinary Specialist, on abortions in sheep at http://www.aasrp.org/. It has photographs of what each disease looks like in the placenta, so you can identify the cause of abortion if you don't have access to a veterinary laboratory. The diseases similar in a goat.
If a doe aborts after 141 days gestation, the fetuses have a pretty good chance of survival. Before that date, they generally die. (Considine, p. 93)
If a doe aborts, give antibiotics or plain penicillin SQ in the neck, just ahead of the shoulder. For an average size doe use 10cc. Then give 5 more shots of 5cc. 12 hours apart. Isolate the doe until the discharge stops so she doesn’t contaminate the other does. Clean the pen thoroughly after use. (Harvey Considine, p. 93) (Note: Always check with your veterinarian before giving any medications)
LinksCaprine abortion http://www.cyfernet.mes.umn.edu/meatgoats/components/pdfs/CaprineAbortion_McClanahan.pdf
Abortion in goats http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index.jsp?cfile=htm/bc/110306.htm
Abortion and Perinatal loss in Sheep and Goats http://uwadmnweb.uwyo.edu/VetSci/Courses/PATB_4110/2009_lectures/36_reproduct_sheep/HTML/Class_Notes.htm
Causes of caprine abortion: diagnostic assessment of 211 cases (1991–1998) http://jvdi.org/cgi/reprint/13/3/265.pdf
Infectious Reproductive Diseases Of Small Ruminants http://extension.usu.edu/files/publications/factsheet/AH_Sheep_19.pdfCauses of infectious abortions in goats http://www.aces.edu/pubs/docs/U/UNP-0079/
Buck: 5 months (Smith, 440)
Doe: 7-10 months (Coffey, G, 8)
Keep bucks separate from does after 4 mo. to prevent inseminating does that are too young.
(Coffey, G, 9)
At first breeding, doelings should weigh 60% of the average adult weight for their breed. If they are lighter than that, hold
them back and increase their nutrition until they are the right weight, but do not go beyond 10 months of age or their
reproductive performance will decrease. (Harris and Springer)
ADGA recommends that goats weigh at least 80 pounds before they are bred (ADGA).
Breeding does at 7 months, to freshen as yearlings, increases their lifetime milk production. (Coffey, DG, 18)
Only about 80% of doelings (first year fresheners) will conceive. Approximately. 95% of does that kidded the previous year
will conceive. (Hart, Goat Management Tips)
Goat reproduction: puberty and sexual maturity http://www.extension.org/pages/Goat_Reproduction_Puberty_and_Sexual_Maturity
Artificial insemination article and overview of costs http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/goats/newsletter/goatproducersnewsletter1105.pdf
Artificial insemination of dairy goats http://aces.nmsu.edu/pubs/_d/d-704.pdf
Artificial insemination of dairy goats http://cahe.nmsu.edu/pubs/_d/d-704.html
Artificial insemination of dairy goats http://cahedev.nmsu.edu/pubs/_d/d-704.html
Reproductive Technologies http://www.luresext.edu/goats/training/reproduction.html
Overview of Artificial Insemination of Kentucky Meat and Dairy Goats http://www.uky.edu/Ag/AnimalSciences/goats/pubs/AIG10307.pdf
Stage 1: Dilation of the uterus
Uterine contractions force placenta, fetus and fluids against the cervix to dilate it. This stage lasts up to 12 hours in first time fresheners. Does who have given birth before will go through this stage more quickly.
Stage 2: Straining and delivery of kids
Contraction of abdominal muscles, lasting two hours or less, and is completed by expulsion of the last kid.
Stage 3: Expulsion of the placenta and involution (decrease in size) of the uterus.
Normally happens within 4 hours of birthing. (Smith,
Two positions are normal for single births:
1) Anterior position
Kid is head first, spine up, with both front legs extended forward out of the birth canal. The head lays forward
on the legs, with the infant's nose about level with the knees. Over 60% of goats are born in this position.
2) Posterior position
Kid is butt first, spine up, with both rear legs extended out of the birth canal.
When there are twins, the first kid often comes head-first with front legs extended toward you, and the second
with the hind legs extended toward you.
The birth canal has to be open three finger widths in order to allow delivery of the fetus. http://www.goats4h.com/pigman.html
1) Labor is not progressing. The goat stands up and lays down repeatedly.
2)The doe seems to be trying to line up the babies inside her, by arching her back or elevating her backside.
3) The discharge becomes "rust" colored.
4) You can see body parts, but the doe can't deliver them.
5) The doe is in hard labor for more than 30-45 minutes, but cannot deliver. (Pigman)
When a doe has been in hard labor for 1/2 - 1 hour with no results, or if the placenta has been showing for that long, then you may need to assist her. (Smith, 431
It is best to have someone with smaller hands assist in delivery. Large hands can damage the birth canal. (Zimmerman) (Smith qt 432)
The vulva should be washed with milk soap before examining the doe. You should wear gloves, use a lot of lubricant. (Smith, 432) (You can buy long, disposable OB gloves for this purpose.)
Pushing the kids back into the mother (called repelling) gives you the room you need to adjust their position so they can birth normally. (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction.)
When you are assisting a birth, and are trying to sort out
the newborn’s legs, bend the knee and hoof joints on the leg. If they both bend the same direction, you
have a front leg. If they bend opposite
directions, you have a back leg. (Dr. Emma Ewing, DVM, Village Veterinary
Clinic, Bonduel, WI. Personal interview
Identify what parts of the body are in the birth canal, and use the table below to find out what to do.
Table Summarized from http://www.goats4h.com/pigman.html,
and from personal interviews with experienced producers.
1) Stand to the side of the doe.
2) Reach around and under her with your arms, and lock your hands together under her abdomen.
3) Quickly lift her belly right in front of the udder and allow it to fall down into your hands, which are still clasped under her. If it feels like:
a) a thud or a falling rock, that indicates that there is a baby in there.
b) a soft ball of doughy material, that signals that the placenta has not passed
c) soft and flaccid (relaxed muscles) and no kids are felt, then the goat is done birthing and the placenta is out. (Nickel, p.17)
Dip cord in tincture of iodine. This prevents infection and promotes rapid drying and breaking away of the cord from the navel. If cord is long, cut it to a 3-4" length. If cord bleeds, tie off with surgical suture material. (Dawson)
Goats generally have 2-4 babies, but there are rare instances of 5 or 6 babies. Twins are average.
Feel the ligaments in the red area
See http://www.jackmauldin.com/management/detecting_labor.htm for
photographs of the signs that take place one week prior to birthing. When you see these signs, get the doe to the
birthing area. There are also
pictures of the signs the she is very close to delivering.
1) Goat seems restlessness
2) She lays down and gets up often
3) She makes a "nest" in the bedding, often off in a corner or in a dark, private place.
4) Looks back at her tail to see what is happening.
5) White discharge appears
1) Discharge increases
2) Hard labor pains about 2 minutes apart
3) Lips curl and ears stand out from straining
4) Bubble full of fluid appears and breaks.
5) Larger bubble appears
6) Both feet appear, followed by head and body, or both feet appear, followed by butt, body and head.
If something else appears, see the "Abnormal Presentation" section.
Summarized from www.goats4h.com/Pigman.html, Haskell, Herd Health Program,
and interviews with experienced producers.
Summarized from www.goats4h.com/Pigman.html, and personal interviews with experienced producers
Goats generally birth after , less commonly at night. (Haskell, Caprine and Cercidae Reproduction)
Older goats sometimes can't expel their kids due to weak uterine muscles. A helper can hold up a doe's belly, maneuvering it to get kids closer to the vaginal opening so that another person can reach in and grab them if the mother can't deliver. (Nickel, P.19)
A discharge (lochia) will be seen for up to three weeks post-birthing, but it should not smell. If it continues longer, or smells, then the uterus is infected and you should call the vet and have the goat treated. The uterus should return to pre-pregnancy size within 4 weeks of birthing. (Smith, 431)
The goat should be milked out into a separate container and the colostrum should be heat treated and bottle fed to the newborn as soon as possible after birthing. You can milk her on the pipeline, but do not put colostrum into the pipeline and bulk tank. Use a mini-milker to milk the newly delivered goat after all of the well goats have been milked, but before the sick or mastitis goats are milked. If the goat is very weak, you may need to milk her by hand. See the nutrition section for instructions on heat treating and feeding of colostrum and milk to kids.
You may want to give the mother some warm water with Karo syrup or molasses in it after she births. Watch her carefully for several weeks after birthing. If she stops eating or seems ill, call the vet.
Difficult Births (dystocia)
Dealing with Difficult Births http://sheepandgoat.com/news/dec2005.html#dystocia
See the diagrams in Harvey Considine’s book Dairy Goats for Pleasure and Profit at p. 108. Shows different ways the fetus can be arranged in the uterus and what to do to help the doe deliver.
Pre/Post Kidding Preparations For Dairy Goat Does and Kids http://www.goats4h.com/Pigman.html This article contains complete instructions for delivering kids where the presentation is abnormal.
Body Condition Score should be 2.5-4.0 at the beginning of breeding season, and should be maintained throughout pregnancy. If a goat has a body score of 4.5 or more, or under 2, the goat very likely will get pregnancy toxemia.
Three parts of breeding cycle (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction):
(1) the non-breeding period,
(2) the transition period at the beginning and end of the cycle, and
(3) the main breeding period.
(Table adapted from Damerow)
* Heat: the female reproductive cycle
**Standing heat: that point in a doe's heat cycle when she is receptive to the buck
Tropical climates: goats potentially can breed year round.
Temperate climates: heat cycles begin in response to decreasing light. The amount of light outdoors diminishes as summer gives way to fall, and this stimulates heat in the does. (Smith, 412)
In temperate climates, goats can potentially breed August through March. (Smith, 412)
The doe is usually bred 45 to 60 days into her lactation and should be bred every year. (Harris and Springer)
Since heat starts in response to diminishing light, you can stimulate “out of season” heat cycling by putting a timer on your barn lights. Set it for 20 hours a day starting January first. Leave it at 20 hours for 2 months. Do this for both the does and the bucks. Then reset the timer to 15 hours a day on March first and slowly decrease the # of hours of light until you are at the same daylight hours as the outside light.
Does will come into heat in May.
You may need to pen them with the buck instead of breeding individually, as the heat period may be shorter than normal, increasing the chance you will miss the heat period. (Kapture)
When you use lights to stimulate heat you need to get the does bred just as soon as they first come into heat. Don’t wait. If you happen to have a period of intense early spring heat outdoors 2 weeks before the does are bred (mid-April), it shuts off their heat period, and this can result in half of the pregnancies not developing. It destroys all your work with the lights.
Check does at 18-24 days post breeding. If in heat, the first breeding didn’t take. Rebreed. (Considine, 92)
To get adequate light for out of season breeding, you will need one foot of fluorescent light fixture (hanging 9 or 10 feet off the floor) for every 10-11 square feet of floor space. The man who invented this program used fixtures with two four-foot long fluorescent bulbs. You can use other fixtures as long as you get the same amount of light. (Kapture) Some extension offices have light meters that can be loaned out to test the lights levels in your barn to make sure you have enough light.. Also, don’t forget to wash your barn light bulbs after fly season.
Does bred out of season have a heightened risk of hydrometria (cloudburst) pregnancy. The doe looks and acts pregnant, but isn’t. (Smith)
See Scott Haskell, DVM, MPVM, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction from Small Ruminant Clinical Diagnosis and Therapy, http://www.rmncsba.org/SMALLRUMINANT.pdf
There are two management options to decrease risk to older does.
1) If you need milk production, just milk her through and don't breed her every year.
2) Of you need kids more than milk, you can extend the length of her kidding years by drying her up after kidding. Then let her rest until the next breeding. (Nickel, P. 19)
You can buy "ram" harnesses that can be used on bucks. When the harness is put on the buck, and the buck mounts the doe, chalk rubs on her backend, letting you know that she has been bred. When she comes in for milking you can see the chalk and write down the breeding date. This really helps when you are pen breeding.
The harness which is sold at Fleet Farm will not stay on the
buck and causes sores on the buck's chest. You must sew the straps so they don't loosen and slide around and pad
the chest piece with sheepskin.
For an alternative, see http://www.premier1supplies.com/img/instruction/24.pdf . There are also good instructions there for using a buck harness.
"Flushing" (adding supplement to increase nutrition prior to and just after breeding to increase kidding rate) is not necessary if the doe has a good body condition score (BCS 3-4) If body condition score is low (2 or below) then flush with 0.5-1.0 lb. of whole shelled corn/head/day. (Hart, Goat Management Tips)
Breeding plan (PDF) Excel Chart that allows you to coordinate breeding of different groups of goats
Breeding Plan (Word) Excel Chart that allows you to coordinate breeding of different groups of goats
Breeding and Birthing Chart Excel chart that allows you to record breedings and births
Breeding and Kidding Management In The Goat Herd http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/an_sci/extension/animal/meatgoat/MGBrdKidd.htmBreeding Record Calculator http://fiascofarm.com/goats/breeding-kidding_sheet.html
Goat gestation calendar http://www.goatbiology.com/animations/gestcalculator.html
Goat gestation calculator http://www.jackmauldin.com/est_birthing_date.htm
-The buck should be weighed or weight-taped, FAMACHA scored and Body Condition Scored 3 months prior to breeding. This will give you time to build up it's weight and body condition before breeding season if it is not adequate.
-The body condition score should be 3-3.5. If it is higher or lower than that, adjust feed to achieve correct score before entering breeding season.
-The FAMACHA score should be 1 or 2 (pink inner eyelid). If 3 or higher, treat with anthelmintics. (See drug database in Medical section.)
-Just prior to breeding season, clip excessively long hair from underside
-Check ease of movement. Does the buck have trouble walking? Hip or leg pain? If so, he will not be able to mount the does. Find another buck.
-If you buy a herd right before breeding season and the buck is too fat, do not put him on a diet at that time. Keep feed steady, and make sure you don’t feed any extra feed. Move food and water apart so he gets exercise. He will also run off excess weight chasing does. (this section summarized from Mangelsdorf, p. 23)
Scrotal circumference should be at least 25-28 cm. at 100 lb (45 kg.) of body weight. (Coffey, G, 9)
Scrotal circumference predicts the fertility of daughters, so you want a buck with a large scrotum. (Smith)
Make sure both sides of the scrotum are the same size, are smooth and lump-free and are well attached. (Mangelsdorf, p.23)
The scrotum should not have two separate oblong chambers, but instead, one chamber with a indentation
between the two areas. (Smith)
1 full grown buck can service 50 does. He should not service his own daughters. (Smith)
A mature buck is capable of breeding over a hundred does per year, but often is asked to do less. (Belanger, 152)
Normal semen concentration: 2 billion sperm per cubic centimeter of semen, with at least 70% of them moving forward. (Smith)
The following stressors may affect conception rate: moving the buck right before breeding time, sore legs, feet or back, illness, poor nutrition, obesity, too thin. (Mangelsdorf, p. 23)
Extreme heat due to the environment or due to fever from illness can kill sperm cells. (Mangelsdorf, p. 23)
Sperm cells ready to ejaculate today were processed in the
testes up to 60 days ago, with the average being 6 weeks. Therefore, the first ejaculations may contain poor quality
sperm. (Mangelsdorf, p. 23)
A buck will coat his front legs and beard with urine. He will do anything in his power to get to the does in heat,including breaking down fences. He can be dangerous during this period, so don’t ever turn your back on him, especially if you are trying to remove does from his pen. It is best to put does on a long leash before putting them in his pen. That way you can pull them back out of the pen without having to go into the pen to get them.
(Summarized from Mangelsdorf, p.23)
(Complied from information from Bowen, also Mangelsdorf, p. 21,22,23)
Anatomy of the buck reproductive organs http://kinne.net/fertbuck.htm
Choosing the Right Buck. Dairy Goat Journal , Vol. 84 No.6, November/December 2006, p. 21.
Fertility and Sterility in the Buck http://kinne.net/fertbuck.htm
24 hrs. for doelings, 2-3 days for mature does (Smith, 412)
-To make a buck rag, simply take a rag and rub it over the bucks genitals, beard and other areas where he has soaked himself with urine. Put this rag in an air-tight jar. It is ready for use whenever you need to detect heat. If you want to breed does singly, you can expose them to a buck rag when they come into the barn for milking. Put the rag under their nose. Does in heat will have an immediate reaction to the rag.
You can put a whether in with the does for a couple weeks before you want to breed them. This will start the heat process so they are ready when the buck comes in to breed.. (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction)Using a teaser buck is the best method of detecting heat. (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction)
Keep the buck out of sight of the does for three weeks, then let the buck in. Lutenizing hormones will surge in 48-72 hours. (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction)
Ovulation is the release of the egg that, if fertilized by the buck, will form a fetus or fetuses. It occurs 24-48 hours after start of heat. Therefore, the best chance of conception is near the end of the heat cycle (Smith, 412)
Breed on day two of standing heat for best results. (Harris and Springer)
You will see a cheesy white to yellow colored mucous in the vagina
-The buck pasture should be far enough from the breeding doe herd so that scent emitted by glands located behind the base
of the buck's horns will not induce heat in does.
- days before you want to breed the goats, bring the buck into the area. In about a week, the does will come into
- Before running the buck with a group of breeding does, it is a good idea to let it breed some cull does to flush its system because the sperm that has accumulated during the off-season is of low quality. (Luginbuhl)
-Heat periods come every 21 days. (Smith) (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction)
-Don't assume the doe is pregnant just because she was bred. Check the doe 18-24 days after breeding. If she is showing
signs of heat, the breeding didn’t take. Do it again.
-You have six chances, once every three weeks, to get a doe bred in the natural breeding season, September – December.
(Gives a list of each illness, with causative agent, symptoms, mode of spread of disease, diagnosis , prevention/control,
treatment, human effects/prevention.)
Some goats will “milk through.” That is, they will continue to milk for long periods, even years, without being bred back.
If your herd is well established, and you have all the does
you can handle so you don’t need new babies, consider not breeding the ones that milk the longest. Let them milk through and keep the milk
production up while the others are dry. (Considine)
Average length of pregnancy is 150 days or about 5 months (145-156 normal range)
Goats bearing triplets often kid slightly earlier, at about 149 days.
Goats with single kids kid at approximately 151 days.
Doe kids tend to be carried one day longer than buck kids.
Birth weights of twins are approximately 0.91 of the weight of a single dairy goat kid.
Birth weights of triplets are approximately 0.82 of the weight of a single dairy goat kid. (Smith, 431)
-Goats should be allowed to rest 2 months before birthing. Since there is a 5 month gestation, the goat can milk 3 months after being bred, and then rests month 4 and 5. The rest period allows the goat’s mammary system to repair. (Haskell, Mastitis)
- Many producers put an antibiotic treatment such as “Tomorrow” into the udder at dry off to prevent mastitis. Others merely seal off the udder to prevent bacteria from entering the canal. (Example product: SureSeal.) Both are very effective at preventing mastitis. (Haskell, Mastitis).
- Very high producing does need a longer dry period. If you do not allow your does to rest, they will produce only 65-75% as much milk in the next lactation. (Harris and Springer, 1996). (Haskell, Mastitis)
Chart: Development of the fetus http://goat-link.com/content/view/141/144/
Hydrometra definition: The goat is bred, appears to be pregnant (does not cycle again, abdomen enlarges), yet at birthing the goat will discharge a large volume of fluid, but no placenta or fetus. (Smith 416)
Chance of hydrometra increases in:
Diagnosis of Hydrometra:
When scanned from either flank, late in pregnancy, you will see large fluid-filled compartments, which undulate when the goat moves. You will not see a fetus. White flecks may be seen in the fluid when the abdomen is moved, and the flecks settle like snow after movement stops. .See a real-time ultrasound image of hydrometra in (Smith, 417)
Correction of the condition is achieved by treatment with prostaglandins. Directions for veterinarians are found at (Smith ,418).
-Estrogen sulfate is used after the 50th day. This is a very specific test. Positive is a live fetus. Negative is less exact, as it will show either an open animal or one that has aborted.
-Progesterone 21-24 days post breeding. Levels greater than 1.0 mg/ml are pregnant, less than 1.0 are not pregnant. Elevated progesterone will also be seen in false pregnancies (hydrometra), a collection of pus in the uterus (Pyometra), mummified fetuses and still births.
-Farm-side Elisa tests for cows also work well for goats.
-PSPB (pregnancy-specific protein B) can be used after day 24 post breeding. Greater than 1.0 mg. indicates pregnancy, less than 1.0 not pregnant. Hydrometria will show no level. Can be elevated for a substantial time, so it should be used in conjunction with an ultrasound if you suspect an abortion. (Haskell, Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction) See also Smith at page 414 for a table summarizing pregnancy diagnosis techniques for goats.
-BioPryn pregnancy testing www.biotracking.com
Amplitude depth ultrasound is unsatisfactory for goats (Haskell, Reproduction...)
Doppler ultrasound can be used for goats.You can detect fetal heart beat on rectal exam 35 days post breeding. Fetal heartbeat can be detected through the abdomen after 45 days. (Haskell, Reproduction...)
Real time ultrasound: If you use an equine linear array unit with 5 mHz transducer, embryo can be detected rectally 25 days post breeding, or abdominally later in the pregnancy. (Haskell, Reproduction...)
Also see “ultrasounds” in this section of the website for more detailed instructions.)
X-rays can be used after day 65 of the pregnancy, but the best picture can be seen at days 90 post breeding.
This method is not recommended as it is very expensive, and
field x-ray units are not able to penetrate the abdomen sufficiently to get a
good picture, so false negative results are common. (Haskell,
Caprine and Cervidae Reproduction)
-Absence of heat: After you have bred a doe, check her again after 18-24 days. If she is showing signs of heat then she is not pregnant and needs to be bred again. If she shows no signs of heat, then you can assume she may be bred. (Belanger, 92)
-Increased elasticity of the skin around the vulva and pin bones is an indication of pregnancy.
-An enlarging abdomen can be a sign of pregnancy. (Smith, 414-415, 432)
-A slight enlargement and smoothing of the wrinkles that normally are around the vulva is a sign of pregnancy
(Smith, 414-415, 432)
-Development of an udder is not proof of pregnancy, even in young yearlings. (Smith, 414-415, 432)
Reproduction and The Bottom Line (April 2011) http://www.luresext.edu/goats/library/field/sparks2011.pdf
Reproduction in the Goat (videos) http://www.goatbiology.com/animations/reproduction.html
Female Reproductive Anatomy
Male Reproductive Anatomy
The production of sperm and eggs (meiosis)
Development of the embryo
Goat Gestation Calendar free download to use on your desktop. http://www.goatbiology.com/animations/gestcalculator.html
Video of a goat giving birth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYr7EgyQnOk
Video of a goat giving birth http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WnIzxfUl5rQ
Video: Billy Goat behavior in breeding season http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QtTzb_VAu-k&feature=related
Video: Goat behavior, mating, feeding http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVI2vQ3LEYw&feature=related
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