Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hi there, just had a doe deliver early today - 2 tiny kids that she just abandoned, didn't even lick them clean.  I found them and got them cleaned warmed up, one has since died - they are so tiny.  But one has survived, but it can't stand and the mother won't let it milk.  So I have been holding the kid to the teat and letting it suck, it's a bit of a wrestling match though!  Any tips on this situation gratefully accepted, also how often to let it suck?  I'm not sure why she delivered early - she also took a number of hours to expel the afterbirth so maybe there's something up there.   Do does like this every accept their baby?

I wonder, do does have an instinct that their baby is going to die?  We had a doe with twins before and one got sick and later died but she completely rejected it when it was weak and wouldn't let it suck at all.

Thanks for any advice.  


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Since you're asking if this doe will ever accept kids, I'm assuming this is a first freshener. If anything goes wrong in the birth with FFs, they are very likely to ignore or reject the kids. Also, premies are often rejected with FFs because the hormones are just not there. I even wonder how much milk she is producing. We had a doe deliver at day 135 once, and we couldn't even cover the bottom of the milk bucket when we tried to milk her. It's not that she has instincts telling her the kid is going to die. It's that she has no instincts telling her to do anything. Those instincts are triggered by hormones.

The easiest thing to do would be to milk the doe and give a bottle to the kid. It's unlikely that you're going to get the doe to let the kid start nursing, and I wonder about the doe's supply.

Premature births are often caused by copper deficiency. Have you signed up for my free copper course?

As for the other doe you mentioned ... when we view goats through human eyes, it's easy to think that they are rejecting a baby when in reality, they are simply not "babying" them. Once kids are a few hours old, sheep and goats are ready to move. If the kids can't keep up, too bad. Again, it's not an instinct that the kid is going to die. Moving around is just what they do, and if the kids can't keep up, the does don't realize that they're going to die without nursing enough. Normally kids nurse very frequently (as much as every 15 minutes sometimes) and for very short periods of time (like 15 to 30 seconds) before mama moves on. They are not going to stand there and let a kid nurse for 10 minutes, even if it's sick. Most won't let us milk them without putting grain in front of them -- and even then it takes training.

Hi Deborah,  it's her second delivery, last time she had a male with no such problems.  She is producing some liquid but it's quite thick and gross looking, almost like pus.  I'll give the milking a go, thanks for that tip.   I also have very few options for milk substitutes - cows milk powder, or baby milk powder, or honey and water, or molasses and water would be what I can think of.  The kid is small and weak and cannot stand.

I haven't signed up for your course as I have no idea where to get copper out here (Nigeria)!  So even if there was a deficiency, I'm not sure I could remedy it here.  Interesting thoughts re the hormones, thanks for that info.  

Sounds about right for colostrum. Lots of people have raised kids on cow milk, so you could use that, but get as much colostrum into the kid as possible first.

They sell copper in the U.K. Can you order from U.K. websites? Even in the US we have to buy it online.

I only have cows milk powder available, not fresh cows milk - would diluted milk powder be ok?  Or baby milk powder?

The cow milk is the best of the options you have.

Thanks Deborah.  

What I've learnt so far:

-a premie can still yell really loud!

-she weighs half a kilo/one pound

-she still can't walk, hold up her neck or open her eyes

-she's feeding well, strong despite her challenges

-I need sleep at night even if she doesn't!

-Your forum is a great encouragement - thank you!

Wow! One pound?! You've got your work cut out for you. The smallest premie we've ever had was 1 pound, 5.5 ounces. Here's a video that shows you what she and her sister looked like:

It took the little one several days to be able to hold up her head and stand. Here's the blog post that I wrote about her birth:

Good luck!

Thanks Deborah,  that was great to watch, especially to see how you held them for feeding.  I'm trying to work out a feeding schedule, any suggestions?

With her being so tiny, I'm sure she can't take much at one time. Basically, she needs 10% of her bodyweight in 24 hours, so if she's only a pound, that's 1.6 ounces, which is not much. So, you'll need to feed her as often as necessary to get that much into her in 24 hours. If she'll take more, that's great. Ultimately, I like to get them to 8 a.m., 1 p.m., 6 p.m., 11 p.m., then to 8, 12, 4, 8, but I can't see a kid that tiny going 12 hours without anything. Might be a few days before she can go more than 4-5 hours overnight.

Hi Deborah, this advice is so clear and helpful, thank you.  I've made note of it all for next time - sadly won't be needing it for now as she had a rough night and died this morning.....................

So sorry to hear that. It's really tough to save them when they're that small. You did everything you could. {hugs}

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