Kidding is a special time at the Farm. We prepare for interventions or assistance but typically are just observers making sure delivery and kid arrival goes well. Kiko goats are great mothers! The worst feeling though, is having a problem and not knowing or not having something to help your goats! Be prepared… and speaking of being prepared, did you give your pregnant does a CD&T vaccination shot 2-6 weeks prior to their expected delivery date? Are they getting high quality free minerals? Do you feed your grain later in the day?… it will encourage daytime kidding if you do. If not… get hopping on your Goat Nutrition and Herd Management!
Our Goat Kidding Kit
- Antibacterial liquid soap, latex gloves, & Natural Lubricant. The soap is to clean your hands before putting on gloves, then put lubricant on the gloves if you need to assist in repositioning the fetus. Normal delivery is front hooves and nose first. Goats can occasionally deliver breach, hind legs first. When the rear hips of the kid are out, gently pull the kid completely out by their rear legs then break the sack covering their nose so they can breath. Let mom take over. If the head is turned back, with front hooves first, you may need to reposition.
Ear/nose ball syringe
- If the kid is having difficulty breathing then you may need to suction the mucous out of their nose, just like a baby. The kids will often start breathing and making small noises before the delivery is complete. Again, most often you do not need to assist. The mother typically starts licking and cleaning the kid shortly after birth. I have found the first kid gets more attention during the delivery than subsequent kids… do not panic, she will “catch up” cleaning her kids.
Fight Bac Teat disinfectant
- I keep a can of this around to clean mom’s teats in case the place of delivery is unusually unsanitary. Again, not typical but available.
Clamps, Surgical Scissors, and Povidone-Iodine solution
- These are used to clamp and cut the umbilical cord, then use solution to disinfect the area. Note: if the cord is 4″ or shorter we do NOT do anything. It is best to let nature take its course. The umbilical cord with dry up and fall off on its own the majority of times.
Kid Colostrum replacement/supplement
- Includes the supplement powder, a 60ml syringe with a 12″ rubber tube, a nursing bottle with appropriate size nipple. If the mother has not started nursing within two hours of delivery you may want to provide a colostrum mix until they are able to nurse from mom. Use the syringe with the attached tube inserted down their throat if the kids will not take to the nipple. Be cautious anytime feeding with a syringe… you can drown them!
Selenium and Vitamin E Gel for Goats
- Selenium deficiency can sometimes result in kids losing strength in their hind quarters. This gel will help them recover but can take a day or so depending on the level of deficiency. The best defense to this and many other problems is to provide your goats with high quality free choice minerals to head off problems and have healthy kids.
Clean dry towels
- Many uses but also helpful to dry off kids AFTER mom is done cleaning them, especially if it is cold outside. However, please let mom do her job! She is bonding with her kids.
When is the mom ready to deliver?
This is not always easy to tell. Every goat is different. If you know the date the doe was exposed to the billy, write it down and add 5 months so you know the approximate delivery date. There are some online calculators that make it easy to project the due date. We have found that udder fullness to be the least reliable observation. Some does are ready to burst prior to delivery and some fill immediately after birth.
Some things we observe
- Goats have two tendons that run along their rear tail and down the hind quarters. They feel like hard pencils normally (check them well in advance so you know what they feel like). When close to beginning labor they will soften and flatten. Her tail will also get squishy and you can almost wrap your fingers around her tail near her hip bones.
- Her stomach appears to drop lower. Rather than the usual roundness of her shape her hip bones may be clearly visible with a hollowed area just below before her large tummy begins.
- Look for fluids escaping from her vulva area. The vulva may also become soft and saggy looking.
- They can’t get comfortable. Are they laying down then standing up, pawing at the ground, or just seem like they can’t get settled? They may be making small noises on a cadence… they may be starting labor.
- If her tail raises vertical then droops in a regular cadence? … labor may have started.
- She may wander off and separate from the herd.
- In general, look for changes in her behavior. She may become usually friendly or standoffish.
The kids are born, what’s next?
Time to Help Mom
Ok, the kids are born, mom has cleaned up her kids and they have started nursing. Now is the time to help mom. Get a bucket of water and add a couple tablespoons of molasses. Stir it up to make a muddy water and give it mom to replenish her fluids. Give her a couple cups of grain, protein helps doe produce quality milk. Refill the bucket with fresh water for the first few days until mom starts wandering to the water trough on her own. I keep a pocket full of animal cracker treats and reward her often for her efforts. A little pile of fresh hay close to mom is often appreciated by her as well. My new moms get two cups of grain after kidding to replenish her energy supply. Also, in addition to normal feed time for the herd, I will give my new moms a little extra grain (about a cup) in the morning and again in the evening for a few days. Yes, we pamper our girls, lol!
What’s Next for the Kids
Mom is now attended to… time to weigh the kids. Check to see if you have everything you need to tag tag their ears. I usually tag them when they are a week old, sooner if you have a bunch of new white ones at the same time… sometimes the does can switch up kids on you, lol. I always take a pic of the mom and newborns to help me identify who belongs to who… they are all so darn cute, lol. Now record all their data. Keeping good records is important!
The moms are pretty good about keeping their little ones close by but occasionally one will wonder off in the barn or snuggle with some other kids. I will gently return the wanderer back to her mom to ensure they bond. It is a good idea to put new moms and their kids together for the first 24-48 hours in their own stall so they can focus on their kids and bond. Now just observe for general behavior, in a few days they will be bouncing around and normalcy will set back in. Enjoy them… its a special time!
Doe is rejecting her kid… now what?
What if the mother is rejecting their kid? Foremost in the first 24 hours the kid must have colostrum from the mother or a substitute. This is critical for long term health and survival! Our first preference is milking the mom. We use the Udderly Ez Milker but there are other options as well. The second choice is a Colostrum Supplement. We keep the milker and the colostrum supplement on hand.
Now what? Some people prefer bottle babies but we do everything possible to reconnect the mom and kid. Sense of smell is the primary way mom identifies her kids. If the kid strayed to another doe and fed that kid’s poop will not smell right to mom and she may reject them.
Reconnect doe and kid
Try rubbing the mom’s after birth all over the kid and pen them together. No after-birth, try moms urine. If mom is feeding one kid and not the other, take the yellow colostrum poop from the one she is feeding and smearing on the butt of the kid mom is rejecting. Also put the colostrum poop on mom’s nose. Put mom and babies in a small pen together. Get a goat halter, put on mom, then hold her if necessary to allow kid to feed… every few hours… yes this is time consuming. You can also try blind folding mom until the rejected kid is pooping from her milk.
Bottle baby, now what
If needed you may supplement the mom’s milk with a milk replacer after the first 48 hours… or give in and you now have a bottle baby who you will feed at least three times a day for 3 months. Do follow the directions on the milk replacer for mixture ratio and the frequency. DO NOT OVER FEED milk replacer as you will cause more harm than good! Some people also recommend feeding the kid 12% of their body weight in ounces of replacer. We follow the milk replacer suggestions with success… DO NOT OVER FEED or you risk Bloat and possible death.
We do Kid Milk replacer for the ease. Hot water from tap (about 105 degrees), so not just luke warm. A goats natural body temperature is 102-103 degrees, much higher than humans. Measure according to instructions, whisk in the replacer powder, then pour into the bottle and go. We prefer the Pritchard style nipples on bottles. The first time or two you may need to open the kids mouth with your fingers to get them to take the nipple but they learn quickly!
Homemade Milk Replacer
Some people have great success using this homemade milk replacement. Take one gallon milk mixed with one 12oz can of evaporated milk (not condensed milk) and one cup buttermilk. Remove enough milk from the gallon of whole milk to add the evaporated milk and buttermilk. Mix well, then add back as much of the remaining whole milk as you can to make a full gallon. Then warm bottle up in a pan of water on top of the stove, DO NOT microwave as that kills the good stuff in the milk.
The kids are growing… what to watch for?
Watch for changes in the kids behavior. A lethargic kid is a problem and can go down hill quickly. Young healthy kids bounce around, feed from mom, nibble a little hay, sleep, and repeat. Knowing your poop can be very helpful, lol! Here is a great illustration of the progression of a kids poop by the Adirondak Goat Club’s “A (Poorly) Illustrated Guide to Baby Goat Poop” that explains what is normal and what is not.