Pregnant Goat with Forked Teats

Frickinfarm(9)April 26, 2011

Does anyone have experience with a goat with forked teats? Our doe is pregnant and we just realized she has forked teats. (not to be confused with extra teats) We are worried that she will not be able to nurse her kid(s). We would love to hear from someone who has had success with a doe with this affliction. Thanks for any advice.

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littledog(z7 OK)

Those are called "fishtail" teats, and they're common in Boers and other meat breeds, and many lines of dairy goat throw them as well. If the split isn't too big, the baby won't have any trouble nursing. Look at the ends and see if both sides have an orifice. If they do, the kid will just take the whole thing into it's mouth to nurse. When the doe kids, check the babies for fishtail and extra teats, because it does run in families. If it turns up in the kids, just don't repeat the breeding. You'll also know the buck is carrier, as both parents must have the gene.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2011 at 9:49PM
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Thank you for that explanation, I was following this thread. If both parents must have the gene for it to express itself in a kid, then it must be recessive. That would mean even if a doe looked normal, she may be heterozygous and carry one gene for it and were she bred against a billy who is also heterozygous for it (both carrying one normal gene) there is a chance that one in four of the offspring would have that gene from both parents and express it. Culling out the normally appearing ones could go a long way from removing it from the gene pool in successive lines, but it is still going to pop up with some regularity.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 11:21AM
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Thank you for your advice. We have already decided not to breed this doe again. Interesting information about it being a recessive gene and how to ascertain if our buck would be a carrier. We had not thought of that. She should kid any day now and we will hope that she is able to nurse. I'm going out to the pasture now to see if both sides of her teats have orifices. My children picked this goat when she was a kid because she had been rejected by her mother and has an unusual gait. I guess mother knew best! But we do love her.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2011 at 6:50PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

So, has she kidded yet?

If she only has a single, it will probably nurse off the side that doesn't have the fishtail, so you might have to milk that side out. If that happens, you'll find out pretty quickly why dairy goat breeders don't like them; especially if there are two orifices streaming milk in two directions at once.

And yes, that's correct, an apparently normal looking doe can suddenly throw a kid with fishtail or even multilpe teats. If the extra teat is small, it's called a spur, and they often don't have an orifice. It's not uncommon to snip those off when the doe kid is only a couple of days old; it can be done with regular nail clippers. OTOH, most meat goat breeders don't bother about it, and multiple teats are common, especially in Boers. (they're the white goats with droopy ears and usually a red head) I saw a doe at the local county fair a couple of years ago that had five teats, not just dinky wart like spurs or fishtails, but real 1 to 2 inch teats; it looked like someone had taped a rubber glove under her. :^)

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 6:45PM
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Hi Littledog,

No kid yet but it's got to be by this weekend. Both sides have fishtails so it doesn't matter the number of kids though we're hoping for at least twins because she's a first time mom and she's huge. Worried about that, too! Haven't gotten a good look at the orifices as she skittery so we're prepared for the worst and hoping for the best. I'll be sure to let you know the outcome and thanks for the advice.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:06PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

I'll be checking in to see how it goes. If you have any questions, feel free to email and I'll get back with you ASAP.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 9:38PM
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Well, littledog, it's been a rough couple of days. We came home from work last night to find the doe in labor and the kid breach. After pulling the doeling out, we tried every type of resuscitation, including rescue breathing but she was still born. Our doe continued to cry for hours after the birth and after ascertaining she did not have another kid and she had passed her placenta, decided she was calling for her kid. This morning we went to another nearby farm and borrowed a kid to see if she would bond with it. She was able to successfully nurse the kid (each fishtail has one orifice). That's the only good news to this story. She wasn't interested in bonding with this kid (we even tried putting the scent of the placenta on the kid) so, for the sake of the kid, we returned him to his farm. Tonight she seems to have settled down but we are sad for her and our beautiful little doeling. I don't know how common this is and we tried to watch like hawks to know when she went in labor but we have to work and cannot be here 24/7. Any advice so we don't have this happen again is welcome and thanks for caring.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2011 at 11:25PM
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littledog(z7 OK)

Aw Fricken, I'm so sorry to hear that. Are you going to be milking the doe? If you haven't done that before, you'll want to milk her at least once a day for a few days so her udder doesn't get congested. If she's not a dairy goat, she should be able to MOL dry off within three weeks; just wait two days, milk once, then three days, milk once, etc. If you want to dry her off, once she's giving milk rather than colostrum, just don't strip her out completely. (OTOH, if you do want to milk her, even for a couple of months or so, she will really bond with you.)

As for preventing it from happening, I'm afraid there's not alot you could have done. Breech is the second most common position after the nose first "swan dive". It's just that sometimes the sac tears and they try to breathe before their head is out, or the umbilical cord gets pinched, killing them before they even make it down the birth canal. When that happens with one of ours, we say "It wasn't meant to be". What is believed to help is to make sure the doe gets plenty of exercise during the last month of her pregnancy. Put her food in one corner of her pen, her shelter in another and her water and salt in a third. When the doe exercises it helps get the kid into position before birth. the other thing that might be good to know is that when you're pulling a kid, remember to pull down toward the ground rather than straight out, as that's how the doe is formed inside. If she's lying down, just imagine she's standing and pull down toward her back feet. There's a dry obstetrical powder called "J-Lube" that you can get from Jeffers that you can get. Just dip your hands in clean water, and sprinkle a little powder on them. It creates a slick slime that makes it easier to reach in and untangle or reposition or guide a kid out.

Again, I'm sorry to hear about the kid. there is one other thing; if the doe is in good to great condition, there is a chance she will have a quick heat about ten days after kidding if you wanted to try breeding her again. That would have her with Thanksgiving kids. You can just wait a week and put her with the buck for a week. If you did breed her back right away, she will need to "take off" next year of course, but the year after that, a doe will often come back with big, healthy twins (or triplets0), so you come out even. That's all I can think of tonight, if something else comes to mind I'll post it.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 2:16AM
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Thanks for the advice, littledog...we're learning. We are milking her once a day and when her teats are full, the fishtails almost completely disappear so that problem seems to be solved. The Thanksgiving kid is an intriguing thought as we live in CA and it's never too cold and our goats can pasture year round. She's her happy self again and we will work on a better outcome next time. Again, thanks for caring. We love our goats but have much to learn!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 10:58PM
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