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How to Graft Goat Kids Using Fresh Skin and Baling Twine

Have you ever wished there was an easier way to graft goat kids onto new moms?

Graft goat kids by using the skin from the dead goat kid. This essentially makes a “costume” for the new goat kid you’re wanting to graft on.

Grafting can be very difficult and time consuming. There’s numerous ways to graft goat kids. The goal is that the mother will accept this new kid as her own.

Easier said than done. 

I’ve known about several ways to graft babies on to mothers within species. There are numerous products to use that are sometimes successful.  But sometimes they are not.

I learned about the skinning method from my cousin, who ranches in Western Kansas. She talked about skinning dead calves and how successful it was for the cows to accept new calves with the skin. I was intrigued.

Now, to wait for the opportunity to try skin grafting to graft goat kids.

graft goat kids

The Perfect Opportune Time

The situation needs to be just right for this grafting style to work. Here’s 3 things that make this style work:

  1. Kid that has just passed away
  2. Orphan kid or bottle baby
  3. Mama goat with plenty of milk 

When I walked into the maternity pen for morning rounds, I saw one of my 2-day old goat kids laying with his mom. But he didn’t look right.

After taking his temperature, I determined it was very low. But, as I was warming him up with a hair dryer, he passed away. I’m not sure what caused his ailments. But, as I looked over at my week  old bottle baby, I knew the opportunity had come to try the skin grafting to graft goat kids.

Skinning the Dead Goat Kid

I skinned the dead goat kid right after I found a brand new sharp knife in my harvest drawer. Being prepared for times like these is always important. After taking the dead kid outside, I found a hard surface to lay him on one side.

Remember, I had never skinned a goat before. This would be a first-hand learning experience with this method. I turned my artist brain on and went to work.

  1. Start around the front and back knee caps and cut completely around. You might even want to start at the ankles. The key is to get enough skin to be able to tie it on.
  2. Next, gently trace up the leg, under the belly and down the other leg. You’ll be cutting just through the skin.
  3. Gently pull back the skin and use the knive to shave the skin away from the muscles. When you get to the spine, turn the goat over and do the other side the same way.
  4. Now both sides and legs are skinned.
  5. The head and ears  are next. Cut the forehead and down in front of the ears. The ears need to be part of this costume, so cut backwards to cut them off. Continue cutting down the neck until it meets at the leg. The front of the skin should be free now.
  6. Remove the skin at the spine if you haven’t already. Gently pull back on the skin and shave the skin away from the spine with the knife. Stop when you get just in front of the tail.
  7. The final step is to cut off the tail and rectum. These are important to include with the costume because mom will smell it after you tie it on.

Tying on the Skin

Immediately after the skinning process is complete, it’s time to tie the skin on to the kid. I use baling twine because it is readily available and gentle. You’ll also need scissors or a knife to cut the baling twine.

I found tying the skin onto the kid the most difficult part of this process. I didn’t know where to tie the twine on and tried several ways. The thing that worked was to punch holes into the skin, wrap the skin around and then tie the twine through the holes securely.

Cut extra long pieces of baling twine to tie the skin on to the wiggly kid. The kid not going to stand still for this process. And keep in mind that the skin will come off several times and you’ll have to be ready to tie it back on all over again.

The skin needs to stay on while the mother is uncertain. This ensures the safety of the kid during the grafting process.

graft goat kids

The Grafting Process

Once the skin is tied onto the kid securely, it’s time to start the grafting process. Here it is:

  1. Put the baby in a small pen. I like to use a large kennel. It’s a 4X6 enclosed kennel that Matt made. The enclosed part is so mom won’t jump out.
  2. Bring mom in. I like to use soft horse lead ropes to tie around my goats’ necks to lead them. I keep that on her and close the door.
  3. Watch the two closely. If mom doesn’t like the kid or respond to the skin, she could hurt or even kill the baby. I try to hide where I can see them but they can’t see me.
  4. After a while of sniffing and bonding, I tie mom up to a sturdy fence so baby can nurse. This may take a lot of physical strength because mom may not like it. I hold the mom’s back legs down while the baby searches for the teat. She eventually finds it and nurses all she wants.
  5. The pair will stay in their bonding kennel until they are fully bonded and mom allows baby to nurse. This could take a couple of days to achieve.

Please be patient with the grafting process. Don’t give up. Some pairs can take just a few days and others can take longer than one week.

Understand what makes mothers and babies bond. Know the personalities of the animals in the scenario. Knowing and understanding the situation can greatly improve success rates for grafting goat kids.

Graft Goat Kids

The Outcome

The skin grafting process has proven to be successful for me. Within six hours, the mom was humming and licking on the baby. This showed me she had accepted the baby.

But, nursing was still an issue at this point. I continued to tie mom up until I was certain baby was nursing on her own.

Compared to other methods of grafting goat kids I have used, I was very impressed with using the skin. It worked relatively quicker than most methods and was primarily stress-free for mom, baby and me.


Please keep a careful eye on the pair when they first meet. Mom has already been through a lot after I took her other baby away to treat him. And now, I bring in this new baby that’s “not her’s”? She knows.

The goal is to trick her mind into believing that adoption at this point is ok. If the kid smells like the kid she loves, the grafting process will be easier.

Success is watching her nuzzle the kid and hearing her hum to it. Victory is seeing the kid nurse on her own and knowing that everything will be ok.

After trying the skin grafting procedure to graft goat kids, it will be my primary method to graft goat kids from now on.

What methods do you use to graft babies onto moms? 

~ Much Love ~

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Tuesday 22nd of November 2016

I have never heard of this method before now. Thank you so much for sharing. I hope I don't have to use it, but at least I have the knowledge and will be able to if the need arises.

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