Why a Newborn Check?
Shortly after each kid is born you should do an initial newborn check to make sure that each kid has all its pieces in the right places. In addition to checking for obvious things, such as an anus, you also want to know if a kid has any disqualifying defects so that you don’t offer it for sale or get your hopes up about its future in your herd.
Peeing or pooping is generally a good sign that the newborn’s plumbing is in working order. Although it is rare, kids are occasionally born without an anus, and obviously, they will not survive. If a kid latches on and nurses well, the mouth is probably in good shape. However, if milk comes out the kid’s nose or if it has difficulty latching on, run your finger along the roof of the kid’s mouth to be sure it doesn’t have a cleft palate.
Check that each kid—buck or doe—has only two teats. Extra teats are a disqualification in show goats, and they are not something you want in milkers. In addition to possibly getting in the way when milking, extra teats can also get infected if they are functional. If they are not functional, kids can get confused and try to suck on them and then not grow properly because they are not getting enough to eat. A buck with extra teats should not be used for breeding, so you should plan to castrate it.
You also want to be sure that bucklings have two testicles, regardless of whether you plan to keep them intact. If testicles are not descended at birth, the odds are good that they will not descend. A buck with only one testicle should not be bred, and it is impossible to easily castrate a buck with an undescended testicle, making it a challenge to sell as a pet. With an undescended testicle, he will still get stinky and act bucky. Most people will use a cryptorchid as a meat animal.
This is Part 3 in our series on issues related to kidding season, which runs every Monday this month. It is an excerpt from Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat, and More by Deborah Niemann.
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