Kidding and Management of Young Kids

Published on Wed, 08/12/2020 - 5:06pm

Kidding and Management of Young Kids.

 By Heather Smith Thomas

 When dairy does are ready to kid, you want good lighting in the delivery area, a clean bucket for water in case you need to assist a birth, a good surgical scrub or bottle of mild detergent for cleaning your hands and the vulva of the doe, an obstetrical lubricant, and disposable obstetrical gloves for assisted births.  For attending newborn kids, you need towels for cleaning and drying them, iodine (7% tincture) for dipping navels, and a small jar for dipping them. Dip the navel stump immediately after birth, (after cutting the cord with clean scissors) and repeat in a few hours if the cord is still damp.  You want it to dry quickly so it will no longer be a wick for bacteria.

Have frozen colostrum on hand from a CAE-free source, or be prepared to heat-treat colostrum before feeding it [see sidebar].  Have a clean bottle and nipple for feeding colostrum.  For a weak kid that can’t suck a bottle, use a feeding tube or large syringe (35-60 cc, with catheter tip) to administer the colostrum.

Every newborn needs an adequate feeding of colostrum—not only because it is rich in energy, protein, vitamins, and minerals, but because it contains antibodies that help protect the kid from disease during the first weeks of life.

 At birth, the kid has no antibodies; the antibodies in the doe’s bloodstream do not cross the placenta.  Maternal antibodies are concentrated in colostrum and provide instant but temporary protection against many intestinal and respiratory diseases.  Vaccinating pregnant does for enterotoxemia, tetanus, etc. is important, since antibodies against these diseases will then be in her colostrum. Additionally, colostrum provides energy for the kid to generate body heat and stay warm and acts as a laxative to stimulate first bowel movements and pass the meconium.

Make sure kids nurse the dam, or feed colostrum as soon as possible.  Antibodies (immunoglobulins) in colostrum are large proteins that can only slip through openings in the small intestine lining (directly into the bloodstream and lymph system) for a few hours; these openings close shortly after birth.  Absorption of antibodies is most efficient in the first 2 or 3 hours.

A kid needs at least 10% of its body weight in colostrum during the first 24 hours (13 ounces for an 8 pound kid, 16 ounces for a 10-pound kid, etc.).  Ideally, kids should receive half their colostrum within the first four hours and the total amount within 24 hours.  After that, the intestine can no longer absorb antibodies, but some stay in the gut to combat intestinal pathogens.  Try to feed half the total colostrum needed as soon as possible and the other half in 2 to 3-ounces doses at 3-4 hour intervals.  Hand milking the doe and bottle feeding the kid is the best way to know how much the kid receives.  The easiest way to milk a doe is with an Udderly-EZ trigger-operated hand milker.

Colostrum should be body temperature (102-103 F) when fed.  Kids too weak to suckle can be fed via stomach tube.  A catheter (flexible tube from a veterinarian or farm supply, attached to a 60 cc syringe (2 ounces) will work.  Measure and mark how far the tube should go in, starting from the kid’s nose, to the ear, and on down to the last rib.

To insert the tube, hold the kid in upright position between your knees.  Gently put the tube towards the back of the mouth and make sure the kid swallows as the tube is advanced into the throat, or it may go down the windpipe instead.  You should be able to feel the tube on the left side of the neck.  If passing the tube makes the kid cough, it may be in the windpipe; pull it out and start over.

Fill the syringe with warm colostrum, attach it to the tube, and let the fluid trickle in via gravity, without the plunger in the syringe. When pulling the tube out, pinch your end of the tube so that any remaining liquid in it does not drip out (possibly into the windpipe) while removing the tube.

The sooner the colostrum is harvested from the doe after parturition, the better quality it will be.  Once collected, it should be fed within 1 to 2 hours or refrigerated immediately. If refrigerated, it should be fed within 24-48 hours to limit bacterial growth. If not fed within that time, freeze it.

Colostrum from does in your own herd (fresh or frozen) is the best source; it will have antibodies against pathogens in your environment.  Harvest extra colostrum from a healthy, older doe, to freeze.  Frozen colostrum can be stored for a year. Freeze it in ice-cube trays and store the cubes in zip-lock bags.  Colostrum must be thawed carefully (in a warm water bath no hotter than 120 degrees) so the antibodies are not destroyed.

Cow colostrum can serve as a substitute but it’s not as concentrated as goat’s milk in terms of antibodies so more volume (about 1/3 more) must be fed.  Colostrum from dairy cows may carry some risk for certain diseases.  Commercial colostrum products can be used when no other source is available, but the so-called supplements do not contain sufficient antibodies.

Colostrum replacer products should contain at least 100g of IgG per liter, plus fat, protein, vitamins and minerals needed by the newborn.  Milk replacer should not be used as a substitute for colostrum, and should not be fed until kids are more than 24 hours old.

When bottle feeding, keep kids on a schedule.  Never overfeed, since this can lead to diarrhea, bloat and death due to Clostridium perfringens—bacteria that thrive on excessive starches and sugars in the digestive tract (overeating disease/enterotoxemia).

Common Diseases
Coccidiosis is common in young kids.  Older goats are rarely affected but usually carry a few coccidian, shed in manure. As coccidia build up in pens and frequently-used pastures, kids may ingest contaminated feed or water.  Signs of disease include diarrhea or pasty feces, loss of weight and poor growth.  Acute cases sometimes result in sudden death of kids.

To help prevent coccidiosis, kids should be grouped by age in clean, well-ventilated inside pens or outdoor portable pens periodically moved to clean ground.  Kids with diarrhea shed millions of pathogens.  If facilities are contaminated, coccidiostat drugs must be added to the water or feed.  Control involves strict sanitation to minimize contamination with coccidia from manure of adults or infected kids. Keep their feed and water off the ground and free of manure.

Scours (diarrhea) is common in young kids.  In addition to coccidia, other causes include Escherichia coli, worms, salmonella, and certain viruses.  Symptoms vary but generally include anorexia, fever, weakness, and watery or pasty feces.  Good sanitation and management are the primary methods to prevent diarrhea.  Treatment includes antibiotics, intestinal astringents, fluid and electrolyte therapy.  Fluid can be given orally via stomach tube unless the kid is too dehydrated, acidotic or in shock. In that situation the gut is unable to absorb fluid; it must be given intravenously.

Enterotoxemia (overeating disease), is common in kids and adults. Clostridium perfringens type C or D can be fatal--often associated with change in quality and quantity of feed.  Vaccination every 3 to 6 months may be necessary in a problem herd, to prevent acute death losses.  In young kids, signs are watery diarrhea, depression, wobbly gait, and sometimes convulsions.  In acute cases, body temperature may reach 105°F, with death in four to 48 hours.  Treatment involves administration of antitoxin and antibiotics.

Respiratory diseases are common in kids but can affect all ages.  To prevent disease, decrease stress by providing dry, well-ventilated housing with adequate space, along with good nutrition, deworming, and avoiding changes in the environment. Vaccination for specific respiratory pathogens can help.

Prevent CAE
Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) is a contagious viral disease of goats, spread from mother to kid through ingestion of colostrum or milk.  CAE may also be spread among adult goats via contact with discharges, blood and feces of infected goats.  Individuals testing positive for CAE virus should be culled.

The 5 major forms of CAE in goats are arthritis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), pneumonia, mastitis, and chronic wasting.  Arthritis is most common in adults.  The encephalitic form is most common in kids.  Chronic wasting can occur separately or in addition to any other form.  CAE infection and spread may be prevented by purchasing only test-negative animals or maintaining a closed herd and removing kids from infected does immediately after birth.

To make sure the newborn doesn’t suckle, tape the doe’s teats a week before due date with teat tape.  Also segregate any CAE-positive does from the rest of the herd to prevent transmission from infected genital secretions.  Remove kids from the doe and feed colostrum from a safe source within the first 2 hours, and for the first 24 hours. Then feed pasteurized milk, CAE-free milk, or milk replacer.

To keep your herd free of CAE, make sure all colostrum used is free of the virus. Isolate all newborns at birth; don’t allow them to nurse their mother.  Colostrum can be harvested and heat-treated to eliminate the virus and other pathogens transmitted through colostrum (Mycoplasma, Caseous Lymphadenitis, Johnes).  Colostrum may be heated to 133 to 139 degrees and held at that temperature for an hour to inactivate the virus.  Use a water bath or double boiler to regulate temperature.  If heated higher than 140 degrees F, the antibody proteins will be destroyed and colostrum will become thick like pudding.

Early Kid Care
In the first 3 days of life, disbud kids with an electric dehorner, but use a disbudder for goats--not calves.  Castrate male kids in the first weeks of life unless they will be future herd sires.  Surgical castration with a knife or banding with an elastrator can be used.  Tetanus toxoid should be given.

Tetanus toxoid and clostridial vaccinations (Clostridium perfringens type C & D) should be given to all kids at 6, 9 and 12 weeks of age, then repeated every 6 months.  If 8-way clostridial vaccinations are used, be sure they include C, D and tetanus.  If there is any chance the kids might encounter coccidiosis, provide creep feed containing a coccidiostat drug.  Female kids that will be kept in the herd should be checked closely and culled for any genetic disorders such as hermaphroditism and abnormal teat structure.