• July 6th, 2020

Opinion - Difficulty giving birth (Dystocia) in goats

Dr Simon Nambinga

As it is known to many that dystocia is very uncommon in goats, it was surprising to attend to a considerable number of dystocias in goats in 2019. Nobody really knows what the exact cause is, as there was no scientific analysis done to determine the causes even if many will attribute it to the devastating drought in 2019, this has stimulated me to share with our farmers general information regarding dystocia in goats and I hope this will be helpful. 

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, Dystocia is defined as a difficult or abnormal labour or delivery. This term is not as commonly used amongst goat keepers, as it would be among medical personnel such as veterinarians. 

The “normal” birth process in goats is that the amnion (sac) is the first thing you should see during parturition, then two legs next which will be followed by the nose/head and ideally the kid’s backbone touching that of the mother. Having the back feet coming first is also okay.
Parturition in goats tends to be uneventful, with the incidence of dystocia <5%. If the doe has been in active labour for 30 minutes with no progress, assistance is likely required. Most kids present cranially, with limbs extended. If kids present caudally, which is more common in twins, triplets, and quadruplets than singletons, assistance for delivery is more likely to be required. 

The most common cause of dystocia is when two or more kids present at the same time; other causes include malposition, feto-maternal mismatch, failure of cervical dilation (ring womb), vaginal prolapse, uterine torsion, and uterine inertia. 
Most dystocias can be corrected by repositioning kids and providing lubrication and gentle traction. However, in more severe cases, fetotomy or cesarean section may be indicated. 

In the hours leading up to calving, there is often little anyone can do to prevent dystocia from occurring. However, looking back on your management decisions from the past, the breeding season and fall, may give one insight into how calving will go. Here are some example areas to evaluate before calving starts:

Avoid breeding or mating a large 
framed buck with a small-framed doe.

Goats that give birth for the first time are still growing with this knowledge, we need to influence our nutrition programme to supply enough energy for both the kid and the pregnant doe. For the doe, growing programme set a target of 66% mature weight at the time of breeding and 90% mature weight at the time of kidding.

Mineral supplementation
A high-quality mineral supplementation programme should never be over looked in a livestock production system. Goats require proper balances of calcium, phosphorous, selenium, zinc, copper, and many more minerals for correct reproductive cycles.
There are so many more contributing factors for dystocia during calving season and numerous methods to prevent these problems with proper management and surely not only revolving around pastures and animal petting.  

When to call the veterinarian?
The female has strained for longer than 30 minutes with nothing exiting the vulva.
The female is anorexic, lethargic, neurologic and heavily pregnant.
A malodorous (bad smell) discharge is present before or after birth.
The female is recumbent, non responsive and has already given birth.
Whenever necessary, the veterinarian is your best friend.

*Dr Simon Nambinga is a veterinary medicine graduate from the University of Namibia.
Information given in this column is solely his own and not that of the university.
He can be contacted on nsnambinga@gmail.com

Staff Reporter
2020-06-30 10:48:50 | 6 days ago

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