Seven kidding seasons into the future, and I’d seen a lot of interesting labors, including several that had required vet intervention. As we planned our eighth kidding season, a guaranteed window of time for delivery grew more appealing. After a bit of research, I decided to give induction a shot (pun absolutely intended), and induce our doe, Gia, to give birth on day 145 of her gestation.
Lutalyse is a vet RX drug that begins the natural labor process by telling the doe’s body that her kids are ready. Everything I’d read said to give 2ccs of lute as an intramuscular injection, and to expect kids within 36 hours. It used to be common practice to pair Lutalyse with Dexamethasone, but this is only necessary if, due to an emergency, you have to induce a doe whose kids are too premature to thrive. In those cases, Dexamethasone will help the kids’ lungs mature and give premature kids a chance at survival. Since we planned to induce within a couple of days of Gia’s due date, we knew the kids would already be mature, and that a Dexamethasone injection would not be necessary.
The normal gestation length for a Nigerian Dwarf is 145 days, but we’ve had does deliver perfectly healthy babies as early as day 141 or 142. We decided we’d give Gia the lute on Thursday, day 144 of her gestation, and expect kids Friday evening.
When it comes to goats, IM injections are commonly given in the neck or the rear leg. I always stress the importance of knowing where the sciatic nerve is if you give an IM injection in the rear leg. The sciatic nerve is a major nerve that runs down a goat’s rear leg. If it’s damaged, it can actually cause rear leg paralysis. For that reason, we recommend giving IM injections in the neck, which sounds scarier, but is actually safer so long as you check for veins.
Our second doe due was Twinkles. Twinkles had a history of perfect kiddings, and our schedule over her due date was pretty open, so we decided not to lute her, and to let her handle things on her own time. She went into natural labor a couple days over 145, and for the first time ever, she needed vet assistance. The kids were too large, and tangled up. Thankfully our awesome vets saved momma and all three babies.
Manchi was the last expectant doe of the season, and after what happened with Twinkles, we made the call to lute her. We gave her the shot on day 144 of her gestation so that she’d deliver on 145. Like with Gia, Manchi’s udder started slowly filling throughout the day, and her ligaments began to soften. Unlike Gia, Manchi’s pre-labor seemed to stretch on for ages. To be fair, this was normal for Manchi. Her last kidding she had concerned me because she was having contractions for hours, with no pushing and no progress. To top it off, she had completely and adamantly refused my help. Turns out, when she finally let me help her, she hadn’t dilated. I was beginning to be concerned that the same thing was happening this year.
40 hours after her dose of lute, I tried to check Manchi to see if she had dilated, but true to form she let me nowhere near her lady bits. Instead of stressing her needlessly, we went ahead and gave her a second shot of lute, 3ccs, which is supposed to help with dilation. I figured we'd wait a couple more hours to see if she progressed to more consistent contractions and pushing. Turns out that whatever the issue was, that second dose of lute was exactly what she needed. About 5 hours after her second shot, she delivered healthy twins as I was power-napping between check-ups.
So, what’s the moral here? Should we all start inducing our goats? Not necessarily, but I will say that none of my concerns about lute were realized. It didn’t result in tangled kids or harder deliveries, in fact I believe in Manchi’s case it may have saved us from having to manually dilate her, or take her to the vet. The kids were small enough to be passed with ease by their mothers, but mature enough to be healthy and active. The mothers both produced plenty of colostrum, and passed their placentas with no issue. As much as I prefer doing things naturally, I was very happy with my first experience using lute, and will be using it regularly in the future to encourage predictable and easier kiddings.