Goat Kidding Kit -20 Things You Might Need
I am not a vet, this is a post about what we do with our animals. Please consult a vet before attempting any of the following with your goats.
Last year, we did something right for a change! We somehow out-smarted our goat buck and successfully kept him away from our girls until we WANTED them to breed. Every year we think we’ve secured every gate, every fence panel, every pen...and somehow he figures out a way to bust through, climb over, or squeeze behind, to get to our girls.
The problem with him getting to our girls too early is that we have some really harsh winters here in Michigan. If he mates with our girls in Late August/early September (when rut begins) that means our girls will be kidding in late January/February. Our weather forecast last week was -4 degrees. Wet, newborn kids and below zero temperatures are not a good recipe for success. We have to keep a constant eye on the barn round the clock, and often have to bring baby goats into the house until they’re able to regulate their own body temperature. There’s always heat lamps, baby goat coats, warming mats etc. involved. In other words...it’s really tough!
But last year, we let our buck in with our girls on Thanksgiving weekend, so they should be kidding around the end of April! Which is perfect!
The gestational period for a goat is around 150 days. Or about 5 months.
We like to let our dams do most of the natural birth processes on her own and only step in when necessary. But often times, bottle raised dams won’t have that same mothering instinct that dam raised dams will have. Our girls often don’t know what to do with their kids. So we have to help.
Some of you, depending on what area you live, might be preparing for kidding season now. I’ve been breeding goats for 10 years and these are 20 things I always try to have on hand BEFORE our does go into labor.
I like to get a set of the following items and keep them only for the goats. For example, we use dental floss for tying umbilical cords...this is NOT the same dental floss that we use on our teeth. Most of these items are inexpensive and can be found at your local feed store. (I've provided Amazon links below in the underlined portion). You can also store most of these supplies year to year. I have a box with a lid that I keep all these supplies in.
1. a vet’s phone number- Don’t be alarmed! Chances are you won’t even need a vet. In fact, if your goats are anything like our’s, chances are you’ll miss the birth completely and go out to the barn to do a check and find wet kids. I swear our girls can sense when we’re asleep, or when we run up to the store and seem to always give birth then.
We’ve never needed a vet during kidding season. But it’s good to know of a local vet, or even better, a 24 hour vet that works with goats. Your goats will most likely be just fine. I’ve only had to assist our girls twice in 10 years and it was very minimal...no vet needed.
But just in case, you want to know where a goat vet is in your area. You don’t want to be doing local Google searches for goat vets in the middle of the night while you’re doe is in labor.
2. dental floss- Dental floss works great for tying umbilical cords.
3. iodine- for dipping umbilical cords - once trimmed and tied we dip in iodine for the first three days to stop infection.
4. Dixie cups- or a small disposable vessel for dipping.
5. clean scissors- for trimming umbilical cords
6. selenium supplement- like the Durvet Selenium and Vitamin E gel. Our soil is really deficient in selenium and even though we give a supplement to our does, the kids usually need a dose after they’re born. Signs of selenium deficiency in kids are an arched back and attempting to walk on their pastern. (hooves turned under) If a selenium deficiency is left untreated it can lead to death in kids.
7. probiotics- we also give a probiotic gel to our kids. This helps the immune system and jump starts their digestive system so they will search out milk more eagerly.
8. molasses- we always give mom a bucket of warm water with molasses after she delivers. Your goats will gulp this delicious, nutritious treat after all that hard work. The sugar gives her much needed energy and the iron will help with the blood loss.
9. rubber gloves- in case you have to turn a kid, or if anything else seems unpleasant to touch. Touching bodily bits doesn’t bother me, but wearing a clean set of gloves can also make things sanitary for your goat.
10. ky jelly- again, if you need to help a doe
11. antibiotics- a lot of goat owners give an antibiotic if they have to go inside the doe as a precaution against infection. We don’t, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea. We try to keep things really clean in the delivery room. This would be a good thing to ask your vet before your goat shows signs of labor.
12. blankets- it’s really convenient to have old blankets out in the barn. Weather it’s for you to sit on, or to just lay down an instant, clean, dry surface.
13. towels- to help dry off babies
14. hair dryer- Our goats, even if they are confused by the prospect of nursing, will almost always clean their kids after giving birth. But in case they don’t, or in case it’s too cold and the dam isn’t drying them fast enough. A hair dryer can speed up the process and give a good dose of warmth.
15. powdered colostrum- Again this is a just in case type product. Goat kids should have colostrum within the first hour of being born. And mom’s milk is best, but just in case there is a problem milking your damn, or getting the kids to nurse. It’s good to have a backup product.
16. bottles nipples- Even if you don’t plan to bottle feed your kids, you should have nipples on hand. Our goats can be terrible mothers and often give birth and then have no further interest in their kids. Many times bottle fed dams won’t have the same mothering instinct that dam raised does do. Make sure you get nipples meant for kids, calving nipples are too large.
17. thermometer- A fast reading, digital rectal thermometer can help check for hypothermia if your goats give birth in cold weather. Goat temperature should be 102-103 degrees.
18. disbudding plan or tool- Also time to think about disbudding. Decide if you want to disbud your goats. If you do, then you need a plan relatively quickly after they’re born. If you’re uncomfortable disbudding your own goats, then this is a good time to make an appointment with a vet or an experienced goat owner. The best time to disbud is 5 day to 2 weeks after birth. Bucklings should be done sooner. You want to get it before the horn breaks through the skin.
19. a clean tote- to carry everything with a lid. Preferably with a lid to keep things sanitary.
20. A hot bath- Not for the goat...for you!.. I still get an adrenaline rush after our goats give birth. It’s an exciting, miraculous time. And often, after I know everyone is safe and healthy, I crash! A hot bath with Epsom salts is always in order after a long day in the barn.