Why Not Kid Out In Summer?

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Kidding season is rapidly approaching so kidding season tips will be the subject of my column this month.

The first tip I have for commercial producers is to ignore tradition and move your kidding season to late summer if conditions in your area will permit you to do so. In some areas it is too hot in late August and early September to do this without running the risk of losing many newborn kids to the heat, and the summers are very dry so there is little for the goats to eat by that time. However, if you live in an area where temperatures are under 100 degrees at that time of year and food is abundant, there are several advantages to having kids born at that time.

One problem that many producers in the Southeast have is vegetation that is so lush that their goats cannot eat enough to get adequate nutrition. This problem is at its worst in the spring when your goats would normally be lactating and kids would be growing the fastest. By moving kidding season later in the year you can avoid having goats that have high nutrition requirements (lactating does and growing kids) on your pasture at a time when pasture conditions are less than optimal because of the high water content in the vegetation at that time. Instead you will have dry and/or lightly bred does on the pasture at that time, and they will be able to handle the adverse conditions better since their nutritional needs are reduced.

Spring weather conditions can be very harsh and stressful on the goats. Spring storms tend to be more severe and violent with hail, strong winds and heavy rain. The storms are usually followed by much cooler temperatures. These conditions can lead to increased mortality for kids and does alike. Conditions in late summer tend to be more stable, and the storms at that time of year less violent. The fronts are also weaker then, so temperature fluctuations are less pronounced. In most areas of the country late summer weather is much kinder to newborn kids and new mothers than spring weather.

The biggest advantage to moving your kidding season though is economic. Spring born kids are ready for market in late summer. Large numbers of kids flood the market at that time of year which just happens to be the time when demand for goat meat is at its lowest. Those of you who remember what you learned in Economics 101 know what happens when supply is far greater than demand. Prices fall to discourage suppliers from selling and to encourage customers to buy, thus bringing supply and demand back into equilibrium. Prices for kid goats in the summer can be $.35/lb or more lower than the price for that same size goat in the winter or early spring.

If you intend to sell your young does as breeding stock, they will be larger and more marketable compared to spring born does, and should sell more quickly for a higher price.

It will cost you nothing to move your kidding season, and the benefits of doing so are many. For those of you who will have a kid crop in the next few months, there are a few things you need to do to improve the success of your crop.

Vaccinations are important to prevent problems with your kid crop. In areas east of the Mississippi River, Leptospirosis can be a problem and hopefully you vaccinated your does for this prior to breeding. As kidding approaches it is a good idea to give your does a CD/T booster shot about 3 weeks before kidding (if this is the first time you are vaccinating the doe for CD/T she will need a dose 6 weeks before kidding also). Giving the booster 3 weeks before kidding will pass immunity to the new kids through the colostrum so you won't have to worry about vaccinating them individually until weaning. If the kids are being sold for slaughter soon after weaning, you may not have to vaccinate them at all.

While you are working the does you might as well go ahead and worm them as well. Make sure you use a broad-spectrum wormer that is effective on all stages of worm development. As the doe approaches her due date her immune system weakens, and worms take advantage of this to begin producing large numbers of eggs so that your new kid crop will be infested with internal parasites as soon as they begin nibbling on vegetation.

The does weakened immune system also makes her more susceptible to infections, so you need to closely monitor your herd's health at this time, and aggressively treat any illnesses since the doe may not be able to fight the infection off on her own.

A few weeks before kidding you also need to monitor for abortions. There are several diseases that will cause your does to abort in the last month of pregnancy. If this is a problem in your herd you should have the aborted fetuses examined, and you may want to consider tetracycline therapy for your herd. Tetracycline therapy involves administering two shots of a long-acting oxytetracycline preparation two weeks apart at midgestation. You should consult with your vet about this if you think it would be beneficial to your herd.

Be very careful handling aborted fetuses and placentas. Goats can carry several diseases that are transmissible to humans, and the disease causing agents can be found in high concentrations in aborted fetuses and placentas. In many cases the infected goat appears perfectly healthy and is unaffected by the disease, but if you get it you may become very ill. Make sure you dispose of any aborted fetuses or placentas in an area where the rest of your herd will not come into contact with them since any diseases could be spread to other herd members.

Commercial producers should give serious consideration to moving their kidding season to late summer, and need to pay extra attention to their herd's health at kidding time.

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This page updated 01/20/02

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