If your doe/ewe is pregnant:
30 days prior to the due date:
- Booster CDT vaccine
- Fecal and Deworm
- Decide if you are going to bottle feed or allow baby to nurse from mom. If bottle-feeding get all necessary bottle feeding supplies.
- Gather supplies: betadine, nutria-drench/Karo syrup, vet wrap, colostrum supplement (recommend goat/sheep specific product), b-complex (oral or injectable), electrolytes, probiotic (Probios).
- Arrange barn: enclosed area that is safe from predators and weather elements. Line pens with straw or other bedding material (shavings tend to stick to newborns).
- Touch the doe’s/ewe’s udder- practicing this will allow her to acclimate to having babies attempt to nurse.
- Signs of labor include isolation from the herd, labored breathing, pawing, standing up/laying down, squatting/urinating frequently and enlarged udder/dripping milk.
- Once you see a baby’s legs, the ewe/doe should have the baby within an hour. If not, this is a sign of a dystocia (difficult birth). Dystocias can be caused by several factors. We recommend contacting your veterinarian if the ewe/doe does not make significant progress at the 30-minute mark.
- After having a baby, the doe/ewe will naturally break the umbilical cord- do not cut the umbilical cord.
- It is normal for the placenta (afterbirth) to hang from the doe/ewe for a couple of hours after birth. If the placenta is not passing- DO NOT PULL IT. If the doe/ewe has not passed the placenta within 3 hours contact your veterinarian.
- Check for multiple babies!
Right After Birth:
- Dip navel cord in dilute betadine solution. We mix betadine with water so that it is a weak-tea color. Place in a small container- we recommend using paper Dixie cups, and dip navel for several seconds to the belly.
- Watch for the baby to nurse. Babies should nurse within an hour of being born. New moms are sometimes unsure about having babies nurse, so sometimes you have to halter/hold mom still to allow the babies to latch on.
- Watch the babies closely to ensure they are getting a good dose of colostrum (first milk). If the babies are having difficulty latching or are not strong, it may be necessary to supplement colostrum either by milking out mom and giving a bottle or giving a colostrum supplement.
- Dip navel with dilute betadine mixture 2x a day for 3 days, then 1x a day until the navel dries (usually 3-4 more treatments.)
- Provide hay and feed material to mom. Producing milk requires lots of calories and most does/ewes require additional groceries during this time.
When to call your vet:
- Doe/ewe or babies are not eating or drinking
- Doe/ewe or babies are not getting up
- Doe/ewe no longer wants to care for babies
- Doe/ewe’s udder is hot or swollen
- Isolation from herd
- Grinding teeth
- Changes in poop character- feces are no long pellet or have a foul odor
- Unusual crying
- Pale eyelids/gums
What is colostrum and why is it important? : https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/nutrition-of-newborn-kids
Small Ruminant Pregnancy Care: https://extension.tennessee.edu/Rhea/Documents/Ag%20Documents/Dr.HousleySmallRuminant.pdf
Lambing/Kidding Dystocias: http://www.infovets.com/books/smrm/C/C460.htm