Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

My 4 year old Nigerian doe kidded for the first time in June. She was bred to a Nigerian buck that stays in the pen with my does at all times so I am unsure how far along in pregnancy she was. Her kids were stillborn. The first kid appeared to be well developed with hair and the second was very small and appeared less developed but still with hair. We heard her “screaming” and went out to check on her. The first kid was back legs first and after watching her for a while saw she having trouble delivering so I did help gently pull the kid. Two hours later she started to deliver the second kid. I am not sure how long she had been in active labor when we went out to check on her. I had wormed her about 2 weeks before she kidded with Valbazen, safeguard, cydectin, and copper oxide wire particles. Her eyes were very pale. I feed her purina goat feed with Stanlee Timothy and alfalfa pellets. She also had grass hay available and she was able to graze. I also have purina goat mineral free choice available at all times. My other doe kidded a few weeks prior and had no issues with very healthy kids. I spoke to my vet because if I have done something wrong I want to make sure I don’t do this again but he told me he knew nothing about goats and I should talk to another Nigerian breeder. This is the first time my goats have kidded and I was at a loss as to what I was doing. I want to do better next time. Can anyone help me?

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Hi Jodie

I am so sorry that this happened. I know it must have been devastating. Without knowing the approximate gestation of the kids (and a big ole' list of other questions,) it is a little harder answer, but I am going to explore a few possibilities here, which will give you a start toward some research =)

I think the 3 main reasons to consider are 1) the dewormer, 2) a nutritional deficiency, 3) a disease that the goat may be carrying

1) That was a pretty large arsenal of dewormers that you gave, so I am curious why you administered all of that? That type of dosing is typically done when you know that you have a resistance on your farm and the goat is in pretty bad shape. The Valbazen and Safeguard are actually the same class, with Valbazen being the much stronger of the 2. Valbazen is also a dewormer that most do not give pregnant goats because it can cause abortion, especially if given in the earlier part of a pregnancy. For this reason, most completely avoid using it in pregnant goats.

2)Nutritional deficiency- Selenium being the big culprit here, but copper, manganese, and iodine deficiency may also play a role in premature/still births. It sounds like you have a pretty well balanced diet and also like your other doe has done just fine, so perhaps not top of the list. I would check the age of your minerals to be sure that the bag has not gotten too old. Also- sometimes free choice minerals are not enough and additional copper and or selenium supplements may be needed. If you have well water that is high in sulfur, for instance, that competes with copper absorption. A best way to get a look at mineral balance within your herd, is to submit a liver from a deceased/processed goat for testing, so keep this in mind for future reference.

3)A disease that the goat is carrying- there are a variety of infectious causes of abortion. Chlamydia, Q Fever, Brucellosis to name a few. Unfortunately, the best way to diagnose the majority of infectious causes is by submitting the aborted fetus and the afterbirth for testing. You said that this doe is 4- have you had her since a kid, or did you recently get her? If you recently got her, did she come from the same place as the doe with healthy kids?

I am going to post a few articles/podcasts below for you to do some further research.

I would also like to suggest that you may want to consider housing your buck in a separate area from your does. He will need another buck or a wether as a buddy. The problems with keeping ND bucks and does together are many, but one of the top, along with getting very young doelings pregnant when they are much too small, is that you do not know when the due dates are. This can lead to frustrating situations like you have here, because you are left with so many questions surrounding this early birth. In addition, you can avoid kids being born out in the pasture during a very cold winter day or one drowning in a sack that needs to be popped and removed after birth, because mama is so busy with baby #1 that she didn't even notice baby#2 came out.

I sure hope this gives you a start in trying to answer your question here


Ditto on everything Tammy said.

I also am curious about how long you've had this doe and how long she has been with the buck. If she's been with him for very long, I would definitely be thinking about a nutritional deficiency because typically they get pregnant within three weeks of being put in with a buck. Since five months ago was May, that's off-season, and not all NDs breed off-season. But if she's been with him since last fall or even January, then I would definitely be looking at some kind of nutritional deficiency because she should have kidded in spring or early summer. 

If you only recently got her, then she could have come to you mineral deficient. Did the other doe come from a different herd? Being a 4-year-old first freshener is never easy, and it could indicate some type of problem. 

It is possible to have a goat give birth to healthy kids when you have some issues with mineral deficiencies. Back when we had copper deficiency so bad that 1/3 of our does were not even getting pregnant, some did get pregnant and had what appeared to our untrained eyes as healthy. But we were totally new, so we could have been overlooking things that would be obviously problematic to me now after 19 years. How old are the kids, and what do they weigh? 

I thank both of you for your help! I have had this doe since she was 8 weeks. I got the buckling with her October 2020 and he was 8 weeks old when I got him. Which may explain the unusual breeding times. I think I panicked about the parasites. I had recently taken a FAMACHA class online and her eyelids were very pale. In hind sight, it was too much and also at the wrong time. The other kids(twins) were very healthy and have already gone to their new homes. I still talk to the people who bought them and they are doing great. The doe who had still born kids has good physical condition, healthy coat and skin. The other that had healthy twin bucklings has always seemed to have a rough coat, brittle skin, and flaky skin. But otherwise she is in good physical condition. I got both does from the same farm.
Thanks for responding back :) So, the first time the doe was exposed to a buck was the 8 week old buckling in Nov 2020. It sounds like he bred her once fully mature around 7-8 months old, which is quite typical.
Since your other goat has dry brittle coat and dry skin, you may want to explore a micronutrient whole blood panel just to give you an idea of ballpark mineral values for your herd. Even though your vet is not a ‘goat vet’ it is a simple lab draw in a special tube that he can order and then send in for analysis. I recently had one done on my llama after a major health crisis, and learned a lot from it!
At the end of the day, with this added info, my bank would be on the deworming. But it most certainly could have also been the other things that I mentioned. If it happens again, I would save the kid AND the afterbirth and send them in for necropsy. Your vet can help with that or if you are near a vet school, they should be able to do it. Be sure to also request a micronutrient analysis from the liver ;)
Stupid question: what months do Nigerians typically come into heat? We live in North Alabama. Also, if another kid is still born, do you refrigerate the kid and placenta or just keep at room temperature?
No question is stupid ;) That is how we learn!
Nigerians ARE NOT seasonal breeders like most other goats. They can come into heat year round, approx every 3 weeks. Of course, nutrition, health, and where they are located may play a part in how regularly it occurs, but if you have Nigerians, this is the general rule.
Yes- put them in the fridge to keep cool as quickly as possible.
Thank you so much for your help!!

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