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The Pregnant Doe by Anne Noah

Assuming that we are all raising dairy goats, we expect our does to milk about ten months. After being bred we expect them to milk three months before being dried off. Every doe should have a drying off period of eight weeks. This gives her time to prepare herself for kidding and the following lactation.

Two thirds of the total growth of the kids takes place in the last two months of gestation. This means good quality protein, minerals and vitamins are required, both for the kids and for the doe's system. Your doe is still in production, not making milk but producint good kids. The kids need calcium and phosphorus for good bone and muscle development.

Vitamins can be given in the feed on a daily basis. Trace mineral mix should be available free choice until the last four weeks. At that time it is better to offer it twice daily but limit the amount. In some does it can cause swelling of the legs and congested udders at freshining. Loose salt is better than a block.

The doe can have 1/2 to a pound of grain daily. If she is thin or carrying multiple kids, the grain ration can be adjusted. One recommendation was that grain feeding be cut in half a few days before freshening and replaced with wheat bran which is a good source of phosphorus. Some folks said their does wouldn't eat wheat bran. Most long time goat owners advise continuing the doe's dry ration for several days after freshening and then slowly building up to the milking ration.

Keep an eye on your does for ketosis or pregnancy disease. Symptons include listlessness and lack of appetite. This usually occurs in the last month of pregnancy or the month after kidding. this often occurs in does carrying multiple kids. Does should not be too fat or too thin.

Good grass hay should be fed free choice at all times. Poor pasture and hay may produce weak or dead kids. Alfalfa is not recommended the last four weeks. If alfalfa is fed, protein content of the grain should be reduced to 12%. Good roughage at this time will put the rumen back in good shape.

During the middle of gestation take a fecal sample to be checked and treat the doe accordingly. Be sure to use a preganance safe wormer.