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Now is the ideal time to prepare female meat goats for kidding
Since kidding season for meat goat females is just around the corner, now is the perfect time for producers to begin getting does ready. University of Kentucky Extension Associate for Goat Production Terry Hutchens said producers should begin to refer to breeding records and closely estimate their herd's overall stage of gestation.
On average, the gestation period for goats is about 150 days, or trimesters of approximately 50 days each.
"Producers should construct an activity sheet at the onset of the second trimester to record the doe's weight and body condition score," Hutchens said. "Does that have a low body weight or a low body condition score of 1 or 2 need to begin gaining weight during this second 50-day period."
Hutchens said the weight gain can be as little as one-fourth of a pound per day, however, by the end of the second trimester, does should have a body condition score of 3 to 3.5 and no higher than a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. Daily, high-quality hay or grain supplements fed at a rate of 0.5 to 1 percent of body weight will give the doe the desired weight gain to get through the latter stage of gestation and also the onset of lactation.
"Producers also need to trim each doe's feet and check them for signs of foot scald and foot rot," Hutchens continued. "If only a few animals have problems, spot treat feet with antibiotics or, if a number of animals have problems, trim the hooves and run each animal through a foot bath of zinc sulfate or copper sulfate. You'll need to check the feet again before kidding."
Another important step is to check the does for internal parasites and treat for external parasites by applying a pour-on product to each animal's back. Hutchens said to check with a veterinarian for product information to treat parasites.
"Producers should check each doe for caseous lymphadenitis (CL) at the neck, front and back flank and udder area," Hutchens said.
CL is a chronic, contagious disease affecting mainly sheep and goats, mainly characterized by palpable enlargements of one or more of the superficial lymph nodes.
"If you find evidence of CL, you should lance cystic areas that are soft. Catch the contents in a paper towel and burn the contents," he added. "You should also wash the area with an antibiotic and isolate the doe for a few days to avoid spreading CL to the rest of the herd."
Finally, each doe should get CD-T vaccinations 14 to 21 days before kidding so they will pass temporary immunity to the new kid crop. Kids should be vaccinated at 30 and 60 days after birth.
CD-T is the only universally recommended vaccine for sheep and goats. It provides three-way protection against enterotoxemia (overeating disease) caused by Clostridium perfringens types C and D and tetanus (lockjaw) caused by Clostridium tetani.
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