Baby swapping?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Chuck, Nov 15, 2004.

  1. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a doe who is pregnant - probably due in a week or so. The problem is, she has bad teats, and the last time she delivered we were out of town, and the poor little ones died for lack of milk before we found them.

    This time we're watching her much more closely, and I think the mastitis has gotten better, but I'm still worried that she won't be able to suckle the babies.

    I have another doe who gave birth about a month ago. I'm wondering if we could put the new babies in a pen with her, and whether or not she could play "wetnurse" to them. Does anyone have any experience with this?

    Thanks,

    Chuck
     
  2. nappy

    nappy Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Was your doe diagnosed with mastitis? If so, was she treated? She and her kids might do okay with a little help from you. Many times the doe may have a firm or hardened udder making it difficult for the little ones to catch hold. You can apply very warm wet towels around the udder, massage it, and milk some out to relieve her fullness. The new kids must get colostrum to begin with, and the other doe has passed that colostrum stage in her lactation cycle. Sometimes goat kids are born too weak to nurse, and we (the other parents!) need to get in there to assist them. The colostrum can be squirted into their mouths, and once they get the taste and some nourishment, they will get strength to latch on. On the other side of the coin, some remove the kids immediately upon birth, and then bottle feed heat treated colostrum and pasteurized milk. I guess the choice is yours but make sure those kids receive colostrum shortly after birth.

    I guess I didn't really answer the baby swapping part. Some does are very accepting of others young even other species but I wouldn't count on it. You could restrain the other doe mother so that the "foreign" kids can nurse but that might be difficult to do. The kids would be willing but the doe no. Can you blame her?

    Nappy
     

  3. dosthouhavemilk

    dosthouhavemilk Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Two Januaries ago our first doe to kid was Dandelion. She was Iris' daughter and Iris was gung-ho about helping out her daughter with the twin bucks. When Iris' triplet does came along she would have nothing to do with them. So we brought them into the barn to bottle raise. Danielle lost her twin bucklings and we brought her down to the barn to milk and supplement the triplet does and another little buckling. We forced Danielle to adopt Marble and Butter Pecan. She was not eager to do so, but it ended up working out well and Marble still considers Danielle her mother and vice versa.
    If you do go that route don't just leave them in there and expect her to take them. They don't smell like her's and they don't sound like her's. If you can milk her and bottle feed them for a little bit so their manure starts smelling like her offsprings that would be a great start and if she has kids put the group togetehr so they start smelling similar. Also, hold her for their first feedings. Make sure those new babies get colostrum..this other doe no longer has that colostrum, so you need to find some. If you can't find or don't have frozen goat's colostrum, a local dairy might have frozen cow colostrum (the triplets got some of our frozen cow colsotrum).

    Does this other doe have offspring?
    It will take some time and make sure these new babies have a way to get away from the doe in the pen. A creep of some sort if she gets violent. It may not take and you should be ready to remove them if ti doesn't work and bottle raise them. However, Danielle took Marble and BP and it worked out wonderfully. I think it would be worth a shot if it doesn't mean too many kids on this dam. You may still need to supplement if she will end up with more than two.
     
  4. stellie

    stellie Well-Known Member

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    If the doe you're worried about has sores on her udder and teats, its probably best if you got some gloves on, pulled milk from her and then bottle fed the young ones the colustrum -- if she's just hard on one side, but without sores, try to get them to nurse from the good side. I've known hard-bagged nannies that have managed to produce a good amount of milk from their scary side, too, so you might just want to let them do their own thing and keep a good eye on them for the first 8 hours.

    If there *are* sores, you really shouldn't touch her udder without gloves. The kids shouldn't nurse, either, unless you're absolutely positive that the sores are not, in fact, a strain of Orf -- http://www.dermnetnz.org/viral/orf.html -- its not fun and very very painful. Its also very contagious and spreads fairly quickly -- among a flock and through people. Usually kids and lambs contract the virus, develop lesions and spread it to the udder -- which can, ultimately, lead to mastitis and possibly a ruptured bag. Not saying that this is what you're dealing with, just that you should always be aware of it.

    Depending on the temperment of your 'wetnurse', she could kill the little ones or not care one way or the other. I've been in situations where they've done both. More often than not, a close-knit herd of does will nurse one another's kids, anyway, so there shouldn't be any harm in trying to graft the young ones to your 'wetnurse' -- just as long as you first make sure they've gotten plenty of colostrum and second, you don't leave them alone in a pen with a surrogate mum that you aren't comfortable keeping them alone with. They should always have a way to escape should she turn on them.

    Last, but not least, bottle feeding baby goats can often be a rewarding process.

    Good luck :)
     
  5. Chuck

    Chuck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    the mother-to-be doesn't have sores on her udder, but one side is REALLY elongated, and last time was misshapen such that the little ones couldn't get to it. The other side was just really hard - I'm not sure if it was mastitis or what. My vet friend seemed to think it was, and said something like "that goat will probably never be able to nurse right." I think maybe she's just old. (someone gave her to me so I really don't know how old she is.)
     
  6. farmmaid

    farmmaid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Answer is yes it can be done BUT...Goats identify with their kids through smell, so...tie the nursing doe up with her head through a "stantion" so she is tied foreward and can not get her head out or turn around to smell the kids, give her some grain. If she can not smell the kids ( a little Vicks in the nose too) she will think they are her own. You will NOT be able to just leave them with her, she will hurt them. Tie her 4-6 times a day for a couple of weeks then 3x a day, then 2x a day...good luck...Joan :)
     
  7. stellie

    stellie Well-Known Member

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    Ah, gotta love those throw-away does, eh? ;) Actually, yes, yes I love a throw-away. Smiley, an older, squatty doe of ours, has the exact same problem. Hard teat on the right (when viewed from the back) which is mishappen and elongated -- so much, in fact, that when she bags up close to the time she'll throw, it drags the ground. Which is bad. Because it gets cracked and blistered and needs attention all the time.

    The other one, though, is always dry right up till the time she delivers. She had triplets last year and she raised all of them on her own :)

    You can usually tell how old a goat (or sheep, et cetera) is by their teeth.

    http://fiascofarm.com/goats/age.htm

    ...if she's lost a lot of her teeth, then she's way up there in age and you're very lucky to have her as a breeding doe. Keep an extra special eye on her and make sure she has plenty to eat.

    Again, good luck!
     
  8. mary,tx

    mary,tx Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've only had one doe that would allow another's kid to nurse. The others will butt them away. If you don't want to bottle feed, though, putting the surrogate doe on the milkstand in a headlock and holding the little ones up to her might be an option.
     
  9. BamaSuzy

    BamaSuzy Well-Known Member

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    Those was an article in COUNTRYSIDE several months (years?) ago about a goat that nursed some baby pigs. At first the woman had to hold the pigs up to reach the teats but when the pigs grew, they could reach own their own. When they got hungry, they would search out their mama goat in the field to nurse and she'd let them! The owner had to put the pigs in a secure barn to finally wean them because they'd keep hunting their "mama!"

    Does anybody else remember that article? I think there was a photo on the front cover of that issue.