Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

I'm not sure what to do. I'm going to call my vet first thing Monday, but wanted to post here to see if I could get any thoughts or advice in the meantime.

My 4 year old doe is due to kid 1/18/22. I noticed this past Wednesday that her breath had a sweet/acetone smell to it, like scented nail polish remover. So I used the Ketostix to test her urine and it showed she had a small amount of ketones. I had NutriDrench on hand so I've been giving her that. I also got Purina Goat Chow and started giving it to her yesterday, a little bit, like  1 1/2 Tbsp, then today I gave her 1 1/2 Tbsp am & pm along with Nutridrench through out the day. I'm not able to get 30-60cc of the drench in her at a time so I've been doing between 12cc-20cc a few times a day. I'm really confused on how much and how often I should be giving her this. But she has been consistently hovering between negative & trace on the ketostix tests. She's eating really well and hasn't gone off her feed or water at all yet. But she is extremely huge. From behind she literally looks like a small dogloo, or like she swallowed an exercise ball. She's having a really hard time getting around and she's been breathing very heavily for a while now.

She's freshened twice before with her previous owners. Triplets both times. I was expecting she would probably have triplets again. I was concerned that she would have large babies (I guess her babies averaged between 3-4 lbs) so I didn't give her grain through out her pregnancy, but at the beginning she was on grass hay and pasture. We had really nice green grasses and weeds, a lot of variety. Then I got what I thought was a better hay (grass/clover mix) and she was also still eating Timothy hay pellets free choice (once the pasture died back). About the middle of Dec I began switching her from Timothy hay pellets to Alfalfa/Timothy hay pellets along with her grass clover hay. About 2 weeks from her due date I began switching from Alfalfa/Timothy hay pellets to Alfalfa hay pellets along with the grass/clover hay. She would get Diamond V xp am & pm along with a couple Tbsp of Bioworma am & pm before it started getting cold, and then I took her off of it for the winter. She also has access to free choice Sweetlix Meat Maker mineral and baking soda. I copper bolus because of our well water and the minerals just don't seem to be enough without it. In between boluses I give Replamin gel plus occassionally because even with the boluses sometimes she has a rough, fading coat, but I ran out of that at the end of December. But that was her diet all this time. The reason I give hay pellets is because the grass hay available at our local feed store is light green, not a deep green color, and I thought by giving hay pellets it could supplement any deficiency that might be in the hay. But was that wrong to do? Was it too much? Or not enough? 

A lot of what I've read says poor management and not enough nutrition is the culprit of pregnancy toxemia so I'm feeling pretty bad about this. I did not think she was over or underconditioned when I bred her. She weighed 68 lbs and I tried my best to follow the BCS and I felt she was right where she needed to be at the time, but maybe I was wrong? I am concerned this is going to spiral before she kids. Today I came out to check on her and she was laying in her straw, but her head and neck were stretched out on the straw too, and I've never seen her do that before. I had a hard time getting her up. Once she was up she seemed fine. Other than looking extremely uncomfortable she has been eating, drinking, & chewing her cud.  She grinds her teeth, but she has always done that from the day I brought her home.

Should I continue the drench and grain? Should I keep increasing the grain? I'm having a hard time balancing giving enough and not too much with out actually seeing what is going on inside of her. On top of me being new to all this (the 18th will be my one year anniversary with goats) and this being my first kidding (which I'm very nervous about) I am very concerned about the outcome and still having at least 9 days to go. 

I've posted a picture of various times throughout her pregnancy. She is even bigger today than she was on Tuesday though when I took the most recent pictures. I will try to take another picture of her tomorrow and post it here. 


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I HIGHLY recommend the kidding course!!! I am a retired Neonatal ICU nurse, and with an entire career centered around all the things that rarely go wrong in a normal birth scenario, I really had to regroup my brain when I started raising goats. The best way to stay calm and free of anxiety is to understand fully what “normal” is for a pregnant goat and a goat giving birth. Sometimes it really looks like a problem, even when things are perfectly fine.
For me, having the visual education made it so much easier to figure out when there is a problem and when intervening is necessary. Deborah’s course shows so many different births and situations. After taking it, I have been able to navigate even complicated situations with confidence. 
Oh, and by the way, her sides starting to cave in and her bag starting to fill are completely normal. Babies are dropping into place for birth and her body knows it is about time to feed them :)
Best of luck to you and your girl!


Thank you so much Tammy! I'm definitely signing up for the class. I should have done it when I planned to a long time ago.

Just wanted to give an update on Quail.

She was doing really well on the grain I was giving her, (a little more than 1/8 cup spread throughout the day). I was having her walk across the goat yard for it, to give her some extra exercise, because that girl would climb mountains for some grain. I also stopped giving her the drench. She was testing negative every day on the Ketostix. This morning she tested between a trace and small amount. I wanted to freak, but I went back and re-read the advice here on this post. So I gave her a little extra grain and just watched to see that she was still eating like normal. I did speak to the vet today, and she told me to bump up her grain, but also to start her on Nutridrench again (a quarter - half an oz a day), which I was hoping to avoid, but I guess we will see how it goes with that.  She repeated what Deborah had said about the most important thing being that she keeps eating and doesn't go off of feed. So far, she has never gone off her feed so I am thankful for that. The only "symptoms" I've seen with her is her acetone breath last week, and just a depressed kind of demeanor today).  Also, I have not noticed any more of a "prolapse" on her, so that is good. I have a game plan with the vet incase things should take a turn for the worse.

I'm trying really hard not to freak out too much. I've been getting a lot out of the Just Kidding course. What a treasure trove of information, and so many helpful videos. I definitely feel more prepared than I was a few days ago. 

I have a lot of questions about moving forward after this. Mostly about my management, particularly with Quail. But I will wait until after she kids and see how things turn out before I start into that. 

I cannot thank you all enough for your help. 

Hopefully this has a happy ending and I will be sharing cute baby pictures this time next week. 


Thanks for the update Dacia. Hang in there :)

Sounds like she is doing great! As long as she is eating, she's good. The way ketosis works is that if she stops eating, her body will start to deplete its own energy reserves and that's what causes the ketones to spill into the urine. People on a keto diet or who do fasting want to make this happen on purpose, and it's fine, but it is not a good thing if you're pregnant or diabetic.

So as long as she is eating, you won't see ketones in the urine. I wouldn't worry about what you think is around a trace. I've had people just do random checks on their goat's urine and "think" they see a trace, and my response has always been, if your goat is eating, it's not a problem. And it never has been a problem. No one needs to be routinely checking their goat's urine. Ketosis happens AFTER the goat stops eating. 

Thank you, Ann :)

Deborah - thank you for that explanation. I don't know why I've felt the need to constantly test... I guess I've been nervous about it getting to the point where she actually does go off feed, and I thought if she's testing with higher amounts I'd know she needs even more energy... but the vet said we would just induce her if she gets bad enough that she's not eating. So, it's finally clicking with me that her eating behavior is the "test" in this situation. The test strips just have me on a rollercoaster thinking it's all going downhill when the strip doesn't read a stark negative.

That's a great explanation! Her eating (or not) is the test! Her going off feed is going to cause her to test positive for ketones -- not the other way around. There is nothing you can do to make her eat, and the ketones are not going to give you a heads up anyway because they are caused by her not eating. 

Ok, I think what must have been confusing me is that I believed it was positive for ketones when it was reading "trace" or "small" amounts or somewhere in between. So I thought, "Oh no, her body is beginning to break down fat and she could go off feed any hour now." So I was treating the "trace amount of ketones" hoping to prevent her going off feed, even though she was always eating. *sigh* 

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