Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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Quintuplets - Yikes! How long do I have until they need supplemental milk?

Hello! Today my 4 year old doe kidded quintuplets - all 5 seem healthy. I read the article that Deborah wrote about a mother not being able to produce enough milk for all 5, which makes sense.  I am wondering, how long do I have, before I will need to provide supplemental milk? Are they small enough now where they will be fine on what she can produce, or do I need to start ASAP? I have four more goats due to kid in the next few weeks, so will soon have additional goats milk but for now she is the only one in milk. Thanks in advice for any advice/suggestions!

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For the first 24 hours they need colostrum. If you have some frozen, I would start now. If not, I would be weighing all five of them to be sure they are each getting as much as possible. Some will be more aggressive than others, and it is not always the smallest that winds up not getting enough. It has to do with their personality. When we had our third set of quints, I was offering a bottle to all of them three times a day, and the first one to give up on nursing was actually the one whose weight was right in the middle. I went in there for a feeding, and she was standing in the corner with her head and ears down looking like Eeyore. :( She was one of the few kids that ever took to a bottle immediately. She had a sister that was not gaining weight and continuously refused to take a bottle. For two weeks I held the nipple in her mouth while the milk dripped in, and she screamed. She was barely gaining weight and I almost waited too long to take her away from her mom. Some kids -- most kids -- can't get it straight in their head how to nurse on mom and take a bottle. That was the last time I ever tried to do that. And I really feel like I was a slow learner.

Now when a doe has quints, I automatically take two to bottlefeed from birth, but I have plenty of frozen colostrum from previous year(s). They need 10% of their body weight in colostrum within the first 24 hours, but personally I'm happier if I can get twice that mount in them. It's supposed to be 5% in the first six hours, and some will take 10% by then. Since your doe is in her prime, hopefully she has lots of colostrum. 

Thank you for that advice! I was able to bottle feed two of them and everyone is doing great now.  

Now on to my next crazy story.  Last night, my last two does kidded...mother (Pepper) and daughter (Cypress).  Daughter (Cypress) came first, somewhere in the middle of labor she hurt one of her front legs, and couldn't get up or down without screaming, I was there, she didnt fall, or do anything out of the ordinary, I didnt hear a pop or snap like a break.  She had two healthy boys, mom pepper helped her clean them off, they were able to latch/drink - even though Cypress was in pain. I felt all up and down her leg, couldn't find a break, she's fine when I move her leg around but just not when there is pressure on it. I was hoping that this morning she would be better, but she still cant put weight on the leg (although she's figured out how to stand up and down without yelling). She nurses the boys, but hasn't moved far from her spot.  My concern is (1) what can I do for her leg?  Second, she seems to have vulva swelling quite a bit. She expelled the placenta fine, but Im afraid that since she hardly stands, she isn't draining like she should be.  She has been nibbling grain and oak leaves that I bring close to her, and doesn't seem out of sorts in any other way.  

THEN once the leg situation was over and they were sleeping, mom (pepper) went into a long labor and had SIX kids. Exhausted from already helping Cypress with her boys, it was a long, hard labor with lots of work. All of the kids are fine, she's eating this morning - but the placenta isn't all the way expelled.  Its been 6 hours now, and usually its out by 1 hour.

The good thing is that the babies seem to be nursing off of both moms, whoever is standing.  Anyways, if you have a any moments or suggestions, especially about Cypress and her leg/vulva situation I would appreciate it. What would you do in this scenario?  

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

For the first 24 hours they need colostrum. If you have some frozen, I would start now. If not, I would be weighing all five of them to be sure they are each getting as much as possible. Some will be more aggressive than others, and it is not always the smallest that winds up not getting enough. It has to do with their personality. When we had our third set of quints, I was offering a bottle to all of them three times a day, and the first one to give up on nursing was actually the one whose weight was right in the middle. I went in there for a feeding, and she was standing in the corner with her head and ears down looking like Eeyore. :( She was one of the few kids that ever took to a bottle immediately. She had a sister that was not gaining weight and continuously refused to take a bottle. For two weeks I held the nipple in her mouth while the milk dripped in, and she screamed. She was barely gaining weight and I almost waited too long to take her away from her mom. Some kids -- most kids -- can't get it straight in their head how to nurse on mom and take a bottle. That was the last time I ever tried to do that. And I really feel like I was a slow learner.

Now when a doe has quints, I automatically take two to bottlefeed from birth, but I have plenty of frozen colostrum from previous year(s). They need 10% of their body weight in colostrum within the first 24 hours, but personally I'm happier if I can get twice that mount in them. It's supposed to be 5% in the first six hours, and some will take 10% by then. Since your doe is in her prime, hopefully she has lots of colostrum. 

Oh, my goodness! You had quite a night!

If you have palpated (squeezed) Cypress's leg from foot to shoulder -- and I mean squeeze hard -- and she does not show any indication of it hurting in one particular spot, it's probably not a break in the bone. They can get some wicked soft tissue injuries in the shoulder. I had one doe who did that -- twice -- a year apart. She could only stand on three legs. We went through x-rays and everything, and the only thing they could do was give her anti-inflammatories, which are tricky with goats because of the risk of gastro bleeding, but she seemed to be fine. You can only do that very short term like three days or so, so in the end, I'm not sure if I would do it again because ... The big thing was that she needed to be on stall rest for weeks. We kept her in our smallest stall for four weeks until she seemed semi-normal, but I saw her favoring that leg for months. When she did it again a year later, I was really worried that this was going to be a regular thing with her, but that was when she was 2, and thankfully that was it. She lived to be 12 or 13, and it never happened again.

If she is a first freshener, and the kids were big, that's why her vulva is swollen. It's not a big deal in any case.

Six kids is quite a handful! I wouldn't be worried about the placenta. Most of them take about two hours, but several hours is not a big deal. If she is yanking on it, tie it into a knot or several knots so that she can't reach it. If you're in a place where there are flies already, a vet told me that you can put a plastic bag around it before you start tying it into knots. I've only had to do that once, and I was a little worried about the doe eating the bag when the whole thing finally released, which took three days, but she showed zero interest in it. I guess after three days the hormones are no longer in that high-oxytocin state, and maybe they don't find the idea of eating the placenta palatable any longer? 

Forgot to mention this -- When a placenta takes more than a day to expel, the only concern is infection. Some people advocate starting the doe on penicillin. Others just check her temp regularly and watch for symptoms of infection before treating. I've only had two retained placentas between my sheep and goats in 18 years. I had a ewe take 7 days our second year out here, and I was freak out and gave her injections daily. When it happened with a goat a few years ago I waited and watched, and she was fine and expelled the placenta after 3 days. 



Madeline Novak said:

Thank you for that advice! I was able to bottle feed two of them and everyone is doing great now.  

Now on to my next crazy story.  Last night, my last two does kidded...mother (Pepper) and daughter (Cypress).  Daughter (Cypress) came first, somewhere in the middle of labor she hurt one of her front legs, and couldn't get up or down without screaming, I was there, she didnt fall, or do anything out of the ordinary, I didnt hear a pop or snap like a break.  She had two healthy boys, mom pepper helped her clean them off, they were able to latch/drink - even though Cypress was in pain. I felt all up and down her leg, couldn't find a break, she's fine when I move her leg around but just not when there is pressure on it. I was hoping that this morning she would be better, but she still cant put weight on the leg (although she's figured out how to stand up and down without yelling). She nurses the boys, but hasn't moved far from her spot.  My concern is (1) what can I do for her leg?  Second, she seems to have vulva swelling quite a bit. She expelled the placenta fine, but Im afraid that since she hardly stands, she isn't draining like she should be.  She has been nibbling grain and oak leaves that I bring close to her, and doesn't seem out of sorts in any other way.  

THEN once the leg situation was over and they were sleeping, mom (pepper) went into a long labor and had SIX kids. Exhausted from already helping Cypress with her boys, it was a long, hard labor with lots of work. All of the kids are fine, she's eating this morning - but the placenta isn't all the way expelled.  Its been 6 hours now, and usually its out by 1 hour.

The good thing is that the babies seem to be nursing off of both moms, whoever is standing.  Anyways, if you have a any moments or suggestions, especially about Cypress and her leg/vulva situation I would appreciate it. What would you do in this scenario?  

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