Lambing and kidding, like calving, are natural processes which normally take place without help. Observation is required in case there are any difficulties. Sheep and goats, unlike cattle and buffalo, may frequently have twins (2 young) or triplets (3 young).
Signs of Parturition
You will know when the goat or sheep is about to give birth as:
The animal keeps away from others.
The vulva is swollen and the skin is loose.
The animal becomes restless and does not eat well.
A discharge from the vulva will start a few days before parturition.
The sheep will lie down and stretch the neck back to look at the sky (star gazing) and lick its lips.
The sheep will strain to push out the lamb.
Animals may give birth while standing or lying down.
The head and both front legs appear while sometimes both the hind legs will appear.
The young mother may have some problems in giving birth.
When and how to help in Parturition
As with calving the young may be in an abnormal position and the birth is difficult.
If you want to help you will need a bar of soap and clean water.
Scrub your hands and fingernails then wash the area around the vagina.
Soap your hands well and insert one hand into the vagina.
When you have found what, the problem is, correct the position of the young so it can be born.
Carefully feeling for the leg joints will tell you which way round the young is.
You can hold the head but do not pull the young by the jawbone as the bone will break.
You can use a clean rope tied around a leg above the fetlock joint to pull.
Pull in a downwards direction as the mother strains.
If there are twins or triplets in the uterus you will have difficulty sorting out which legs belong to which one.
Try to pull out the one nearest the vagina first.
A newborn animal should try to breathe immediately after it is born, if it does not breathe you can put a straw into a nostril (nose) to stimulate breathing.
If you hold it by the back legs and swing it gently back and forth, any mucous blocking the mouth and lungs will be forced out.
When and How To Help In Parturition
Care of the mother and newborn
Immediately after giving birth the mother should be given fresh clean water.
Check that she is producing milk from both teats and allow the newborn to suckle colostrum.
If the teats of a goat are fat with milk the young may have difficulty in suckling.
Squeeze a little milk out so the kids can suckle easily.
If she has produced triplets try to foster one on another mother.
If the mother had difficulty giving birth check that there are no dead young still in the uterus.
If there are, remove them as they will cause an infection which will kill her.
The afterbirth should come out within 3 hours.
If it has not appeared after 14 hours you will need to get veterinary help.
There will be afterbirth for each of the young the mother gave birth to.