Angora Kid Mortality
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Tuesday, 14th September 2021

The average mortality rate from birth to weaning of kids in 12 Angora goat studs over a three-year period (2000-2002 Gretha Snyman) was 10.7 % (varying from 5.7 % to 17.8 % among the different studs).

On some farms, this is below 5%.


Data was recorded from 2000 to 2002 on 12 Angora studs by Gretha Snyman (± 4100 ewes, 3900 kids per year)


Factors affecting kid survival

  1. Birth weight of the kid
  • kids below 2.0 kg only had a survival rate of 50%
  • Kids above 3.5kg had a survival rate of 90%.
  1. Genetic influences

A rather large variation in the mortality rate of kids born to different sires within a specific stud was also observed. Overall, the mortality rate ranged from zero to 50% losses among kids of different sires.

More than 50% of kid mortalities, where ewes lost kids in more than one year, were due to:

  • Small, unthrifty kids who needed help suckling,
  • Ewes having thick teats and udder problems,
  • Ewes having little or no milk
  • Ewes discarding their kids.
  1. Mothering ability
  2. Poor milk production of the dam
  • 7% cause of deaths
  1. Udder and teat problems of the ewe
  • 2% cause of deaths
  1. Adverse environmental conditions
  2. Feeding conditions,
  3. Diseases
  4. Predators
  • 8% cause of deaths

A number of these problems will repeatedly occur in the same does. Ewes experiencing these kinds of problems should preferably be eliminated, especially does with teat or udder problems.


Determine the cause on the farm

3 simple Post Mortem steps can be done on the farm to help determine the cause of death.

  1. Weigh the kid

Research has shown that:

  • >90% of kids weighing 3.5kg at birth will survive.
  • 50% of kids weighing 2.0 kg or less will die.
  • 20-30% of kids weighing 2.5kg will die.

This straight away may explain why you are losing more kids than you expect?

The importance of high levels of nutritional supplementation in late-pregnant ewes is difficult to over-emphasize.

 Inadequate nutrition during late gestation, which will, unfortunately, occur in drought conditions even with supplementary feeding:

  • Is the most common cause of abortion after day 90 of pregnancy
  • leads to poor udder formation, low colostrum and low milk production,
  • Results in low birth weight and ewes’ discarding kids.


  1. Determine if the kid was aborted or was alive and then died?

Cut a piece of lung and place it in some water. If it sinks, it was a late abortion; if it floats, the kid died after birth.

Late abortions often follow 1-5 days after the ewe was under stress or energy stress. An example may be cold weather, when it is important to remember cold stress increases glucose consumption by up to 66%. This is aggravated by restricted grazing at times when goats are placed in a shed during cold, raining weather. Abortion usually then occurs 1-5 days later.


Photo of lung tissue in water -floating (was alive) and another that sinks (abortion/still birth)


3. Check the abomasum (melkpens) to see if the kid suckled; colostrum intake is critical to survival.

Open the abomasum to see what it contains. All kids should have clotted milk/colostrum in the abomasum (melkpens) when opened. If there is no clotted milk, it is very likely that the kid was discarded by the ewe or too weak to suckle. Sometimes you may even find some gravel or plant material in the abomasum, which the kid consumed due to hunger.


Photo of ‘melkpens’ empty with a bit of gravel


Management to reduce these kid mortalities see the SAMGA website for:

  • Managing the pregnant ewe

  • The weak and cold kid

  • Feeding ‘hansies’ 


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