Goat kidding kit. Goat kidding supplies.
Learn everything that you need to have in a goat kidding kit to be prepared in case your expecting doe or her new kids need a little (or a lot) of help from you.
Expecting a goat birth soon?
Do you have a pregnant doe, or multiple expecting mamas? That’s so exciting! New goat kids are some of the cutest animals that you’ll see on a farm.
Luckily goats are pretty hardy and self-sufficient. In most cases, expecting does won’t need help from you to give birth and have healthy kids. But, things do happen. Goat kids can present incorrectly and have trouble passing through the birth canal. Sometimes goat kids get chilled and can’t warm back up.
You never know when something like this is going to happen to your pregnant doe or her kids, so it’s best to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best!
In case this is your first time with a pregnant doe, I’ll go ahead and warn you. There is a ‘goat code’ among pregnant goat does. They won’t give birth at a convenient time. It actually seems that they prefer to give birth at the most inconvenient times.
Many goat breeds are seasonal breeders and end up giving birth when it’s cold outside. Does also really seem to prefer giving birth in the wee hours of the night. This means that if you run into problems, you may not be able to run to your local farm supply and get what you need to help your pregnant doe. That’s why it’s best to have everything stocked and ready, just in case. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, right?
Supplies needed in a goat kidding kit
Pack all of these supplies in your kidding kit to be prepared for a successful birth, no matter what happens!
There are a bunch of supplies that you’ll want in your goat kidding kit, and many of them need to be sterile. You don’t want your sterile supplies sitting on your barn shelf or in a drawer hoping that they will stay clean. You also don’t want a mouse finding the clean towels or puppy pads in your kid and making a home in them. While you’re investing in the supplies for your kidding supply kit, do yourself a favor and invest in a container or large tote bag to put everything in.
Goat kidding is messy business. There will be lots of fluid, blood and slimy body fluids. You’ll want to wear some gloves to keep your hands clean. You also need to wear gloves to keep your hands sterile in case you need to help the birthing doe or the new kids. You don’t want to be the reason that infection gets into open wounds or orifices, so gloves are essential. Nitrile gloves are your best option. You’ll be able to feel better with nitrile gloves than with latex gloves. Plus, if you’re like me and are allergic to latex, you don’t want to have on latex gloves anyways!
It’s also a good idea to have some OB gloves also. Nitrile gloves only cover your hand up to your wrist. If you need to help turn a kid in the birth canal or pull a kid, you will thank me for getting longer OB gloves that cover more of your arm. Again, its more sanitary for you to have your hand and arms covered if you find yourself with a doe that needs help.
There are two instances when you’ll need iodine and dip cups.
- Teat Dips and
- Navel/Umbilical Cord Dips
Dipping the doe’s teats is an excellent way to help prevent mastitis. Mastitis is an infection that occurs in the udder. It can cause swelling, redness and severe pain. Does with mastitis are more likely to stop nursing their kids since nursing is painful.
During pregnancy, the doe’s teat is sealed shut with a waxy plug. When labor starts, her body releases hormones that cause the waxy plugs to come out to prepare for nursing. This opens up the teat, allowing bacteria to enter the teat.
When does are in labor, they will bed down and move around in the bedding. Their teats are exposed to dirt and potential bacteria that could be lurking on the floor.
Once the goat kids are born, they may have attached umbilical cords. Don’t cut them (more on that later).
They will generally break or the mother will chew them to break them loose. The umbilical cord is another potential gateway for bacteria and other pathogens to enter the body. Dipping the end of the umbilical cord will help to prevent the cord from wicking in any bacteria from the environment. This is especially true for umbilical cords that are long and drag the ground.
Iodine can also be used to dip the hooves of newborn goat kids to help prevent joint-ill.
Occasionally, a mother will tire out and cannot perform all of the duties that she needs to. In this case, you might need a pair of clean, sterile scissors.
You may need to cut umbilical cords and tie them off. Although I said that the umbilical cord might break or the doe will chew them to break them, umbilical cords are pretty tough. If you need to sever one, you’ll need some sterile scissors.
If the mother isn’t nursing her kids, you will also need scissors to get into bags of colostrum for the kids.
Either way, have a clean pair of scissors that can be sterilized handy.
During a normal birth, the umbilical cord stays attached between the kid and mother for a minute or two before breaking. This gives blood time to retreat from the cord before it’s severed.
If it’s broken too early, the cord can bleed. In this case, you can tie off the cord with dental floss. You can also tie off broken umbilical cords after dipping them in iodine to help reduce the chance of infection.
Hopefully, your goat’s birth will go smoothly and you won’t have to intervene. If she seems to be struggling, she may have a kid that isn’t presenting correctly in the birth canal. The kid’s head may be turned or the feet may be tucked in rather than pointed out.
If you need to check your doe or the kid’s position, don’t attempt to just glove up and check the situation out. You may hurt your doe if you try to put your hand in her with a dry glove on. Lubricate your glove with some OB lubricant before checking her and the kid’s position.
A bulb syringe is perfect for cleaning out the nose and mouth of a new kid. When kids are in the womb, they are surrounded by fluid. This fluid and mucus are present in the birth canal and can get pushed into the nose. Cleaning out the nostrils after birth will help ensure that mucus doesn’t get into their lungs.
In old movies, there were two things that women always grabbed when someone was giving birth: hot water and towels. They grabbed hot water because they didn’t have all of the disinfectants that we have now. It was the best thing they had to use. But towels are very much still needed when anyone, including goats, give birth.
Giving birth is messy and creates a lot of fluid, blood and mucus. Have some designated towels in your goat kidding kit that can be used to clean up messes. You can also use the towels to help dry up the kids faster, leaving less work for mom.
This is especially helpful if she gives birth when it’s cold out. It’s easy for goat kids to get chilled and then they have a hard time warming back up. Drying them off helps.
Remember the goat code? Your doe is very likely to give birth in the middle of the night. You know, when you can’t see anything at all. That’s why you need lights. There are two main kinds that I recommend that you have.
Both of these lights are lights that can free up your hands. You don’t want to be trying to help while you hold a flashlight in your mouth! Get the brightest lights that you can, LED lights are the brightest. Even if you have lights in your barn, it may not be bright enough for you to see good.
Occasionally, a doe is too weak to nurse her kids, or she may not be able to nurse them all. For a healthy start, goat kids should have colostrum within the first hour. Colostrum is a MUST within the first 24 hours, but should ideally be within the first hour after birth.
Sometimes a doe may reject her kids or not show interest in feeding them. Or, she may have multiples and cannot nurse them all. If this is the case, you’ll want to be able to feed the kids that need it. Have a lamb and kid bottle in your kit with a lamb and kid nipple. Don’t try to use bottles and nipples made for calves; those nipples will be way too big for the kid’s mouth.
Kids that are weak may not be able to nurse on their own. In this case, they won’t be able to nurse from the doe or a bottle. They’ll have to be tube fed. you can purchase a tube feeding syringe. This sounds intimidating, but it can be the difference in a living kid and a dead goat kid. The tube is inserted into the mouth and down into the stomach. You can then give them colostrum and milk replacer until they are strong enough to nurse.
Don’t try to feed a kid with a syringe. A weak goat kid may not be able to swallow properly and the milk can get into their lungs, causing pneumonia.
Colostrum is a MUST have in your goat kidding kit. I mentioned earlier that goat kids need colostrum within the first 24 hours, but ideally within the first hour of life. Normally, a goat kid gets colostrum from the mother. Colostrum is the ‘first milk’ that a goat produces. It’s full of proteins, vitamins and antibodies that provide a jumpstart for the kid’s body.
Without colostrum, kids will become weak and are more likely to get sick. If your doe isn’t nursing, you have a weak kid or too many kids, you’ll want colostrum to give your kids.
Colostrum is species-specific, so only give your goat kids colostrum made specifically for goat kids. You’ll find lamb and kid colostrum, but it’s not as good as goat kid colostrum since it’s made for two species.
Also, if you have a doe that rejects her kids, is a milk goat or gives birth to still born kids, you can collect her colostrum and freeze it. This frozen colostrum can be given to goat kids in the future.
Hopefully you won’t need a leg snare, but if you have a kit that is presented funny in the birth canal, you’ll definitely need one.
If you notice that your doe is struggling and you check her, you may find that the front legs are tucked under the goat rather than facing out. It can be a struggle to get them aimed the right direction. Once you get them aimed the right way, they may go right back in to being tucked under the goat! This can be easily fixed by looping a leg snare around the stubborn leg and holding it to prevent it from going back under the kid.
Goat milk has a large amount of energy and calcium in it. Sometimes a goat’s milk comes in really fast. When this happens, it pulls a ton of energy and calcium from her body. This can cause her to develop ketosis or milk fever. Both of these can be life-threatening.
A good calcium drench can help provide her body with extra glucose and calcium to prevent either from occurring. A doe that appears to be weak or struggling before or after kidding may be developing ketosis or milk fever. A quick dose of calcium drench can help to get her back on her feet.
Every once in a while a kid seems weak and doesn’t show interest in nursing. This isn’t common, but it can happen. Lamb and kid paste can help bring them back and get them interested in nursing again. This can be a life-saver for a weak kid.
Kidding is messy business. You’ll have towels on hand, but some of the mucus that is involved with kidding is hard to clean off. Puppy pads are soft and absorbent. They are the perfect material initially wipe off newborn kids. You can also lay kids on the pads to help absorb some of the moisture off of them. If you can, sliding a puppy pad or two under your doe before birth can help make post-birth clean up much easier.
This is a cheap tool that can help you save your doe or kids. A doe or kid that appears weak or struggling should have their temperature taken. Take the temperature rectally. It should be between 102-103 F.
A goat kid with a temperature below that may have gotten chilled. In this case, they need to be warmed up.
A doe that has a temperature over 103 may have milk fever or an infection.
Depending on where you live in the country, you may have to supplement your goats with selenium. For adults, this can be done with a goat mineral blend. For goat kids, you’ll need to be able to provide them with a selenium gel or paste. You can also get selenium that can be injected from a veterinarian.
Goat kids that need selenium often appear weak or have leg issues.
Giving birth to kids is hard work for a goat doe. After birthing is over, you can pour some molasses over some feed or mix it with warm water as a treat. Black strap molasses is full of vitamins and minerals and can provide some extra needed energy after giving birth. If it’s cold out, molasses with warm water can also help to keep a doe warm.
You don’t have to have a brand new hair dryer in your goat kidding kit; an old one will work just fine. It should have a low setting and be fairly quiet. Use a hair dryer to help dry and warm up chilled kids. This can be stressful for both kids and does, so only use it when necessary. Towel dry them first and then if it’s cold and they’re still damp, run the dryer over them for a minute or two.
Large garbage bags should be in your kidding kit. You can toss all of the dirty garbage into them and tie it off. You can also toss dirty towels into one to get them to the washer without making a huge mess.
This is a splurge item, but one that’s well worth it. Your goat isn’t likely to have babies when you’d like her to (i.e. in the middle of a warm, sunny day). No, more than likely it will happen in the middle of the night. A baby monitor or barn camera can help you to monitor her from a distance without making mad dashes out to the barn at 2 a.m.
Ketone strips can be used to test your doe for toxemia or ketosis. These are cheap and can be purchased at a local pharmacy. Look for them in the diabetic care section. To use them, dip the ketone strip in your doe’s urine.
Emergency Contact Information
In the case of an emergency, you may need someone to come help you or walk you through what to do over the phone. Have phone numbers handy for an experienced goat person that has experience kidding. It’s also a good idea to have the number for a veterinarian that works with goats.
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Did I miss any items on my goat kidding kit list? Let me know what you have in your kidding kit below!