It’s kidding season for us. This year we have 18 mama goats who are expecting and things can get a little hectic. We try to allow nature takes its course, allowing the mamas to kid on their own and only get involved or intervene when they need the help.
So the process tends to get a little hectic because we have to monitor and check on their progress. This includes checking them in the middle of the night.
Our first kidding we didn’t plan things too well. And at least this year, I am not 8 ½ months pregnant. I was miserable and had to waddle all the way to the goat barn in the middle of winter.
It was a good time.
But seriously, I’m not gonna lie, it was downright rough. Do I still sound a little bitter? Maybe a little bit, but the baby goats were just too adorable that I got over it.
I know a lot of people tend to create a kidding kit or suggest a lot of things for the process. This works well for many people, but we try to keep things simple and only keep what we feel are the essentials because goats don’t need a lot.
The Kidding Kit
We allow the mama goats to run the show and kid on her own. So most of these items are used for when we need to intervene.
- 7% Iodine
- Old towels or blankets
- Disposable gloves, extra-long gloves are helpful for when you need to help pull a kid.
- Nipples and bottles (these nipples screw easily to standard water bottles)
- Colostrum supplement or some that is frozen from previous goats who may have lost a baby is helpful. We milk the mother goat and bottle feed whenever a baby isn’t nursing or in other cases, such as having multiples born to one doe.
We also make this Electrolyte for a weak baby.
- ½ gallon of hot water
- 2-6 tbsp. molasses
- 1-2 tbsp. of either sea salt or baking soda
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
Mix well and drench or allow the goat to drink from bottle.
Basic Baby Goat Care
If the kids are staying with mama, there really isn’t too much that you need to do. We allow the mama time to bond with her newborn – this is extremely important.
Normally, a doe will clean off her baby on her own and there isn’t a need for us to get involved. But sometimes, there may be a need for us to help a mama out. This is where those old blankets and towels come into play.
Tip – I like to stock up on towels and fleece blankets that go on clearance for ultra-cheap, and then I’ll store in a tote until needed for kidding.
Umbilical Cord Care
Naturally the umbilical cord will tear during the birth process and can vary in length. Always allow the cord to tear between mother and baby naturally. After it’s torn, if you’d prefer you can trim it to about 2 inches by using scissors, but this isn’t necessary and we don’t typically do this. Once cut, dip it in 7% iodine solution. This helps to prevent infection as well as to dry the cord.
Another thing we like to do is periodically monitor the mama and new kids to check for how they’re interacting together and ensure there are no complications or birth defects.
Here are a few more recommendations for basic baby goat care:
Ensure they have clean, dry and warm bedding. During the winter, we provide our baby goats with a heat lamp. It is extremely important to ensure safety when using heat lamps.
Double and maybe even triple check that you’re using a proper bulb for your heat lamp and that you have the proper cords in place. Alternating them on occasion is also something that I like to do to ensure they aren’t running continuously. Always err on caution.
Sometime after the birth, the doe will pass her placenta and allow the mama time to eat it. You may dispose of any that she does not eat after giving her adequate time.
The kid should be able to nurse from the doe within an hour or so. It is extremely important for the baby to get that healthy colostrum and this needs to be done within the first 24 hours to receive those essential antibodies, but the sooner, the better.
We generally offer hay and some grain (but in very small amounts) for the baby goats when we are trying to encourage natural weaning, but also make it available early on to start rumen development (usually sometime after a week old).
A baby goat can be weaned when it’s doubled in weight since birth. Generally, we wean after 3 months.
If you need to bottle feed your goat, ensure that it is fed small amounts of milk frequently. Usually about four times a day within the first 30 days. This helps to prevent digestive issues and mimics the natural feeding of nursing goats. After the 30 days, you can reduce the number of daily feedings to 3 and can start transitioning to milk buckets as they grow and then on to weaning once ready.
Around a month old, Clostridium and Tetanus vaccinations should be administered. My husband is well skilled in administering vaccinations so he takes care of all of this. If in doubt or you’re not experienced in this area, check with your veterinarian.
Baby goat care is very simple and taking the necessary steps, helps to provide a great and healthy start to your kid. It’s totally worth it.
This is part one of my goat essentials series. Stay tuned for the next post in this series.
Update: Check out Pregnancy and Postpartum Goat Care