The signs of constipation:
If any kid is “off” and I’m not sure it’s pooping, I treat immediately. It hurts more in this case not to treat than to treat needlessly. The signs of constipation are similar to the signs of Urinary Calculi, so even if you choose to give an enema right away, make sure you also watch and make sure the bucklings are peeing well.
*Kid is not as active as its siblings. While the siblings bop around, this kid seems “off”.
*Kid may get up and down, wagging its tail. It seems uncomfortable, almost like a doe in labor.
*When kid lays down, it may stretch out its hind legs. It’s straining to poop.
*Kid will have decreased appetite. It cannot digest any more milk.
*Especially if it’s been awhile, the kid may be hunched up. Its belly will be tight. If you palpate under the little hip-bones, you may be able to feel a firm lump in the intestines.
As mentioned before, I treat immediately for this issue. If left untreated, the unpassed stool will build toxicity in the kid’s system and can make them very ill. In fact, if the kid has gone awhile without pooping I would give him a shot of CD Anti-toxin (not the toxoid) or a good dose of Milk of Magnesia. Thankfully, once you get over the fear of giving an enema, it is actually very simple.
I mix up a solution of warm water and mineral oil. The ratio isn't an exact science. I’ve also read of people using warm water and the original, plain dawn dish soap.
To give an enema, I use an oral medicine syringe (no needle!) with an opening small enough to slide into the anus. I put lube on the tip of the syringe. I insert the tip of the syringe - but just the very tip so I don't irritate the anal wall tissue more than necessary. Then, I syringe 5ccs of the solution into the kid. Remove the syringe and encourage the kid to run around. Massage the belly. Don’t get discouraged, it can take awhile for the kid to pass anything. Continue this cycle until the kid begins to pass stool. I don’t stop the process until the kid is done pooping and now squirts water with no stool. In most cases, kids will not need a repeat after this first session.
One year I had a very unusual case from a kid who was overall unthrifty and very selenium deficient. Not only did he end up needing two shots of BoSe before he started to strengthen and poop, but we had to give him enemas several times a day for a week until he could poop by himself, combined with an occasional dose of Milk of Magnesia and olive oil. He is a strong and happy 11 week old as I’m writing this. That process taught me not to be timid about giving enemas to struggling kids.
While it’s not always possible to avoid the unpleasant, prevention is always preferable to treatment. I would recommend checking the selenium levels in your area. Since my herd had a disproportionate amount of kids who needed enemas, I believe in my case this issue was caused by selenium deficiency. Our goats drink well water. Our well water has high levels of Iron. Iron can prevent the proper absorption of copper, and if a goat is not getting enough copper, it also has issues absorbing selenium. Our current project to skirt around this issue is to water our goats from a rain barrel, copper bolus as needed, and give all pregnant does a shot of BoSe four weeks from their due date. All babies born here will also get a tiny dose of BoSe after they’ve had their colostrum.
BoSe can be overdosed, so be careful if you choose to use it, and do your research. I wouldn't use it until you felt your herd had a deficiency issue. Selenium gel is also available, though I haven’t found that to be strong enough for my herd. Other signs of selenium deficiency are double-jointed or “noodle leg” baby goats, and non-Nubian kids born with floppy ears.
Another cause can be a kid, often times a bottle baby, getting too much milk or being fed milk replacer. If you are feeding milk replacer I would recommend slowly and carefully switching to cow or goat's milk, which is a lot safer for the baby goat.