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Most pygmy goats give birth without problems, but occasionally you may encounter one that experiences difficulty when trying to deliver kids. When your pygmy goat experiences a difficult birth, called dystocia, prompt action is essential in order to save the lives of both mother and kids. Know what to look for when identifying potential kidding complications in pygmy goats, so you can get help for your doe and its babies as soon as possible.
The key to being able to identify kidding complications in your pygmy goat is to know what happens in a normal labor and delivery. Prior to labor, for 12 to 36 hours, your pygmy doe may become restless, stand-offish, clingy or distracted as it experiences hormone fluctuations and mild uterine contractions. Active labor, characterized by intense, painful contractions, begins with the appearance of blood-streaked mucus or a small, fluid-filled sac and ends with the delivery of the newborn kids -- front feet first -- one at a time. This active labor typically lasts less than two hours in an uncomplicated delivery. Your pygmy doe passes the placenta within 12 to 24 hours of delivery.
One of the most common signs of kidding complications in pygmy goats is prolonged pushing without results. During an uncomplicated birth, your pygmy doe should generally be able to deliver the first kid within 60 minutes of starting to push. A doe experiencing birthing complications may push for hours without any results at all. At other times, the doe may push enough that you’re able to see the kid’s hooves, but then labor stalls. This prolonged pushing may develop from any number of complications, including tangled kids, excessively large kids, improper kid positioning in the uterus or birth canal, and blockage of the birth canal by a dead kid. As a rule of thumb, if your pygmy doe pushes for more than two hours without delivering a kid, then it is probably experiencing kidding complications.
Like full-sized goats, pygmy does typically delivery their kids head first, with the two front feet and the nose protruding from the birthing canal first. Sometimes kids are born hind feet first (called breech position), which also generally occurs without complications. Any other delivery position means kidding complications. Sometimes you might just see the kid’s nose, which means that its feet are held back; other times the kid’s head might be bent back and you’ll be able to see only the front feet. You also might see one, three or even four feet protruding at the same time, a sign that the head is bent back or two kids are in the birth canal at the same time.
Contact your veterinarian as soon as you notice signs of kidding complications or if your pygmy doe has been straining unproductively for more than 60 to 90 minutes. The vet will check the placement of the kids inside the uterus and maneuver them around into the proper birthing position. In the event that the kids won’t move, the veterinarian may have to perform an emergency Cesarean to prevent the deaths of the doe and kids by removing the kids surgically. Other potentially serious kidding complications include significant bleeding (which could indicate a uterine rupture), inadequate cervical dilation, uterine torsion, a prolapsed vagina and a retained placenta.
- “How to Raise Goats”; Carol Amundson; 2009
- “Living with Goats”; Margaret Hathaway; 2009
- “Raising Goats for Dummies”; 2010
- “Goat Medicine”; Dr. Mary Smith, et al; 2009
- Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images