Baby Goats and Winter

After a shaky start, this little guy is strong and healthy, never staying in one place for long.

Nigerian Dwarf goats go into heat every 21-28 days. We learned early on that the boys can successfully breed at an early age.

This winter has been a mild one for us in northern Michigan. When we found that we had not taken our little Nigerian Dwarf buck, a.k.a. Bucky, away from the girls early enough, he had already bred our two females (cross between Nigerian Dwarf and LaMancha), we weren’t overly worried. Sure, they would kid in January or February, but the temps would not be so bad this year. Or so we thought.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, I went out to the goat/sheep barn to do the morning chores. We are still learning about goats, so to my surprise, Dottie had already had her kid sometime in the early hours before daylight. He was standing in the stall all dried off and seemingly healthy. The temperature was somewhere in the 20’s and we thought he would be fine with the heat lamp that is set up out there along with a warm momma goat. However, by evening we found that the baby was not doing so well. He had no suckling reflex and seemed to be ill.

He needed to wear a sweater for warmth.

We found out that this baby goat had hypothermia and needed to be warmed up quickly. We brought him inside and warmed him with a blanket. We also gave him some vitamin supplements through a syringe. By the next morning, he was doing fine and he tried to nurse every time we brought him to his mother.

We kept the kid in the house for almost a week, bringing him out to nurse and then back inside to stay warm. His suckling ability was never the very best but his mother sure took the best care of him that she could, never rejecting him in spite of how often we took him away.

By the time Wednesday rolled around, the kid was 5 days old. I brought him to his mother, made sure she was nursing him, then brought him back inside to stay in my daughter’s room until she returned home from work (I had to leave for work myself). The kid was contained in an area where he could not hurt himself.

When my daughter arrived home, she found a floppy and barely responsive baby goat. Needless to say, we needed to have an emergency veterinarian visit.

Here’s what we learned:

Baby goats should have a CDT vaccination via the mother sometime in the final few weeks of pregnancy. Ours did not because we gauged the birth later than it actually was. It should be noted that none of this baby kid’s ailments are related to the CDT. Still, it should be done before birth. We have vaccinated the other doe while pregnant, so her baby (or babies) will be ahead in that area.

Baby goats need to have selenium given right after birth. Though we had given a supplement containing some selenium early on, it wasn’t enough. Two mL of selenium/vitamin E drench is standard for newborn goats. Our vet gave our little kid a shot of selenium along with an antibiotic for a gurgling in one lung. She was baffled about the lung, thinking that maybe the baby aspirated.

We have a new regimen for the next few days with this kid. We are keeping him in the barn with his mother for longer periods of time, but keep him inside the house at night right now. Nighttime temperatures are dipping below zero but daytime highs are getting into the 30’s. Too bad that by Saturday the thermometer will be showing daytime highs not even reaching the high teens for a while. The ultimate goal is to have kids who live like real goats and do not become “house goats”.

Little guy is growing like a weed now and has no desire to be quiet.

This little guy is doing great now. He jumps, climbs, and nurses like a pro. He is getting a fat little belly and is strong.

Raising animals is always a learning experience, no matter how many births you have had or how many animals you have on your homestead. We are learning still and likely will be until our days here on earth are done.

Now Priscilla is due to deliver soon and I have a ewe Dorper that will deliver sometime in the spring. Spring is also the time that the ducks, pheasants, and quail will be laying eggs. We had some losses last year due to a late spring freeze. This year we will be better prepared should that happen again.

Published by Jeff and Rita

Rita is a wife, mother, homesteader, library branch manager, and freelance writer. She enjoys spending time in the garden and later preserving the harvest. Gardening, knitting, tending to chickens and other critters, and taking long summer walks are among her favorite activities. Jeff has had a long time love of waterfowl and gamebirds. He spends his time working part-time as a courier when he is not enjoying his collection of wild ducks and pheasants from around the world.

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