Parturition or kidding occurs 145–155 days (average 150) after breeding. Generally, first-kidding does have 1–2 kids, and in subsequent kiddings, >2. Quadruplets are not uncommon, especially in large, well-fed, heavy milkers. Quintuplets and sextuplets are rare. The flock average for range Angora goats in the USA and South Africa is ~100% but is higher in Australasia; the weaning average varies with the harshness of the environment, including the existence of predators. Induction of parturition is a useful technique to increase survival in dairy goat kids and to catch and separate kids from dams before they suckle in herds with control programs for caprine arthritis encephalitis virus and mycoplasma. Cloprostenol (125 mg) or PGF2α (10 mg) injection usually results in delivery of kids ~30–35 hr after injection. Viability of multiple fetuses may be compromised if parturition is induced before day 144.
Retained placentas are uncommon in goats and usually are associated with the birth of a mummy or rotten fetus or a difficult delivery.
Pregnancy toxemia in goats is similar to that in sheep (see Hepatic Lipidosis: Pregnancy Toxemia in Ewes). Hypocalcemia or milk fever (see Disorders of Calcium Metabolism: Parturient Paresis in Sheep and Goats) is seen but not nearly so frequently, nor as severely, as in cattle. Often, there is only a tendency to fall off the milk stand. Lactational ketosis is seen.
In extremely cold weather, newborn kids should be dried (especially the ears) to prevent frostbite. Heat lamps are not necessary if the kids are dry, well fed, and out of a draft. Kids born in intensive systems should have their navels dipped in tincture of iodine to prevent infection. Angora, pygmy, and meat kids are raised on the dams. Dairy goat kids often are removed at birth and, after receiving colostrum, fed from a bottle or nipple-pail.
Last full review/revision July 2011 by Joan S. Bowen, DVM