Article disclaimer, Nicole Zaagman is not a veterinary technician or veterinarian. Please always obtain expert advice and services regarding your specific needs in care of livestock and goat pregnancy from a licensed veterinary professional. Nicole encourages all farms to establish a VCPR (Veterinary Client Patient Relationship) prior to caring for or purchasing any pets or livestock.
Congratulations! You've found out your pygmy goat is expecting by confirmation of blood test or ultrasound. It's an exciting time full of anticipation awaiting the arrival of new pygmy goat kids. While my experience encompasses pygmy goats, one universal thing about goat pregnancy regardless of the breed is the gestation and length of pregnancy. Typically, pregnancy for goats is between 145 and 155 days. Depending on the number of kids in utero or the breed of the doe, this can impact the ultimate kidding date. Another thing to keep in mind as pregnancy progresses is that does like to keep their owners guessing when they'll finally release the hostages. I have been victim to this myself, MANY times. I am ALWAYS learning. Even after more than a decade of raising and breeding pygmy goats, it still surprises me how different each pygmy goat pregnancy and kidding is. Here are a few of my suggestions and proactive preparations to help support your pygmy goat momma to be.
Utilize a Goat Mentor
Like I mentioned above, I am ALWAYS learning. The day I claim to know everything about pygmy goats is the day I need to stop owning them. No one will ever know everything there is to know about them, especially when it comes to pregnancy and each unique kidding situation. Through trial and error and years of experience, you can learn things that work and things that don't. Some things will work for you that won't work for another pygmy goat breeder. Remain teachable and open. Seek out relationships with breeders that own the same breed of goat you own who have gone through hard experiences and are willing to share them. Ask them questions, be able to put in to practice their advice, feedback and constructive criticism. Don't be afraid to reach out to them if they give you the option and if your able, be willing to step in if they need a helping hand. I've been fortunate to meet some terrific pygmy goat breeders who have gone above and beyond to help me when in need and answer all my questions.
Have a VCPR Established
It is of UTMOST importance in my opinion for anyone contemplating goat ownership or breeding goats to establish a Veterinary Client Patient Relationship with a large animal veterinarian BEFORE purchasing goats or breeding them. I will also add, working with a veterinarian who has after hours and is willing to make emergency farm calls to your location is especially important for breeding and kidding. While everyone starts somewhere, I've seen many posts in online groups ending in tragedy of individuals who brought home goats they didn't know were pregnant or allowing bucklings or bucks and does to co-habitat which resulted in unexpected pregnancies. If you don't know your does due date, it is even more important to have a relationship with your large animal veterinarian in case there is a pregnancy or kidding emergency. Veterinarians can also advise you in how to best care for your goat momma to be in all stages of pregnancy from a nutritional and safety standpoint.
The day I claim to know everything about pygmy goats is the day I need to stop owning them. No one will ever know everything there is to know about them, especially when it comes to pregnancy and each unique kidding situation. - Nicole Zaagman
Research, Study & Learn
There is no shortage of books, online forums, blogs and videos to watch on the subject of goat pregnancy and kidding. You can find a lot of helpful information by reading blogs of established breeders and watching videos. I find YouTube videos incredibly valuable and helpful to be able to see and learn from other goat owners. The flip side to doing a lot of research is that it will never compare to the hands on experience of caring for your pregnant pygmy goats nor the stress and rush of adrenaline you get in the midst of kidding, especially if complications occur. Some of the things new goat breeders should learn and familiarize themselves with are early kidding signs, different ways kids can present during labor, how to go in and check for progress if needed and when to call for help. Having a kidding kit on hand with essential items like clean towels, kid pullers, sterile lube, gloves, iodine, goat colostrum, baby bottles, disposable pet pads, meloxicam, needles, syringes and antibiotics is also important.
Plan for Worst, Pray for the Best
All my years breeding pygmy goats, nothing prepared me to have three consecutive emergency C-sections in a span of ten months last year. Growing up, pygmy goat kidding complications were rare. In the many kiddings over the years we experienced, there was only one that required intervention. This particular kidding was twins that presented with two legs from each baby coming out at the same time. Thankfully, there was a goat breeder up the road that answered my 1am phone call and came to assist. She was able to push both babies back in and pull them successfully. Momma and the twins survived thanks to our quick thinking and assistance from someone more experienced. While I'd like to say the majority of kiddings are uneventful like my experience growing up, my recent experiences and the experiences of others I know prove that is not the norm. Taking steps to have a mentor and VCPR in place and learning as much as you can will help you plan for the worst and pray for the best.
Nicole Zaagman lives in Byron Center, Michigan with her high-school sweetheart and her four legged family members. Nicole is an accomplished, Christian entrepreneur and children's author, passionate about helping women succeed in life and business through coaching. She travels the state of Michigan visiting senior centers and special events with her pygmy goats through the Jump for JOY Program™ and operates Parkside Farm in Byron Center, Michigan. Nicole is an advocate and ally for agriculture and farm education and started the Farmilies Connect™ initiative to help connect farms and families in Michigan.