Young goats, called kids, are born without immunity. Therefore, the kid at birth is very susceptible to diseases and must receive colostrum (first milk) to protect it against diseases.
By the time the antibodies from colostrum disappears, the kid will have got exposed to diseases and organisms which stimulate its own production of antibodies. Colostrum must be given soon after birth and as often as possible within 24 hours. After 24 hours, the stomach of the kid cannot absorb colostrum molecules.
The stomach of the young kid at birth cannot handle solid feeds (both forages and concentrates) because the rumen is not yet developed and has no enzymes to digest the solid feed.
The kid does not have energy reserves (fat) and is weak at birth, and therefore, prone to colds and pneumonia.
What to do
- A month before your female goat delivers, provide good quality feeds avoiding too much concentrates to ensure proper kid growth and udder development.
- At around the time of kidding, watch your goat for signs of impending labour which include restlessness, vaginal discharge, vulval swellings, loss of appetite.
- Provide comfortable housing and bedding and assist in case of kidding difficulties.
- In case the kid is not able to suckle, milk some colostrum and feed it with a bottle. Give little but frequently.
- Avoid overfeeding.
- Keep the kid close to the mother to establish bonding.
- Do not let the kid outside as they can easily catch pneumonia and can be eaten by predators.
- Provide clean water all the time and introduce good quality forage or hay to stimulate the development of ruminant stomach rates.
- Progressively increase amount of solid feed as the kid grows. Wean the kids at about 2 months.
Source: National Agricultural Research Organisation