So, you have does ready to kid. Are your kidding kit essentials ready to go?
Kidding kit essentials are items that are “must-haves” when you’re putting together a goat birthing kit. The term kidding or “to kid” is used for a mother goat (doe) giving birth.
No matter when we have does due, I always make sure I have my boer goat kidding kit up to date. Let’s be real, though. Sometimes it really is THE DAY BEFORE! As much as you can prepare, those babies will come when they are ready to come. Still, preparing for baby goats is far simpler than going in blind. Now is the time to stock up on kidding kid essentials.
My kidding kit essentials list is not extravagant by any means. It’s super simple. I guess you could say it is quite frugal because I try to keep my costs low and reuse as much as possible. After kidding out goats for 9+ years, I have narrowed the list to the MUST-HAVES! The supplies I just can’t go without when preparing for goat kidding.
Also, I have my vet on call during my kidding season just in case I have any sort of problem. Because, a good responsible goat producer should always be prepared for the worst that can happen.
In this episode, I’m going to share:
- My top 10 kidding kit essentials.
- Tips for putting together a goat birthing kit you can count on.
- More hacks for preparing for goat kidding successfully.
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Here is my Top 10 Kidding Kit Essentials that I will always have stocked in time for kidding season.
1. Digital Thermometer
This is my number 1 goat birthing kit list item. I’ve saved so many kids just by knowing what their internal temperature is. Knowing the animal’s temperature is highly important. Many decisions can be made and animals saved just by taking the temperature.
Digital thermometers are cheap and typically a one time cost. You can reuse the digital thermometer if you sanitize properly. I just use some sanitizing wipes that kill bacteria and germs to wipe down the end of my digital thermometers.
The best place to take a goat’s temperature is rectal. The temperature of the goat needs to be 100 – 103 degrees Fahrenheit BEFORE ANY MILK IS GIVEN. This is very important to remember.
While you’re warming up the kid, start giving the brain some mojo with nutridrench or powerpunch for energy.
2. Nutridrench or Powerpunch
I use Nutridrench but I know many goat producers use Powerpunch. They are very similar products with the common goal of giving weak kids that extra boost. This really comes in handy during extreme weather conditions or if there are multiples, such as triplets.
Nutridrench has all the nutrients goat kids need to stand on their feet. It does have selenium and Vitamin E, so no need for extra selenium gel in your kidding kit for goats. It does take some time, but follow the clear instructions and help the kid along.
You could also use some dark Karo Syrup or black coffee for similar effects.
3. A Good Heat Source
I used to try to tube feed kids that wouldn’t get up right away. NOT ANYMORE!!
Many times, kids are just cold and need to be warmed up. In fact, I never ever use a feeding tube anymore. I simply warm them up. For this, you need an external heat source.
Again, to determine the temperature of the kids, use a digital thermometer. A goat kid’s temperature should be 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit.
Good sources of heat include:
- A good hair dryer
- A hot bath
- Heating pad
- A vent blowing constant warm air. I use this when I use my pick up truck to warm up kids.
The heat from the hair dryer works wonders. It helps to warm the kid up nice and slow to where the kid can regulate it’s temperature. Once the kid is warm, many breeders will also make a diy goat sweater for their goat kids to help keep them warm.
Once the temperature is at least 100 degrees, the kid should have developed the sucking reflex and is ready to nurse or drink from a bottle.
4. Goat Kid Colostrum & Milk Replacer
While mama’s milk is the best option, sometimes mama is not up for it or she doesn’t make it through kidding to be able to nurse the kid. This is where the bagged colostrum is good to have on hand.
The rule of thumb when choosing milk powder is to choose a MILK Based colostrum and milk replacer. Not soy or plant based. The very first food a brand new goat kid should consume is colostrum for the first 24 hours of life.
I have used several brands of colostrum over the years and have found Manna Pro Goat Colostrum to be my bagged colostrum of choice.
Follow the mixing instructions on the back of the bag and feed this in a bottle with the pritchard nipple for a couple of days.
Then, start the kid on the Manna Pro Goat Milk Replacer. Or any other milk based replacer. I’ve used Dumor (Tractor Supply Brand) and Country Lane (Orscheln’s Brand) kid milk replacers and they have worked just fine. The kid may not like the taste at first, but it is important to be persistent with them to keep them drinking.
Simply follow the mixing instruction on the back of the milk replacer bag. This is important because you don’t want to overfeed the kid. Overfeeding or mis-feeding is the #1 reason why powdered milk replacers get a bad rap and often are blamed for “killing the kid.” If you feed it correctly, your kids will thrive just fine.
5. Empty 20 oz Mountain Dew or Dr. Pepper Bottles.
Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper bottles work very well with the Pritchard Nipples.
You should drink all the pop out of them and thoroughly wash and sanitize the bottles before filling with milk for the baby.
Not a pop drinker? No problem! Plan ahead and ask your friends and family to save them for you!
6. Pritchard Nipples
There are many different types of nipples for young goat kids, but the pritchard nipples are the most popular and the easiest to use.
It’s always important to transition anything or anyone easily and these nipples are the most similar to a mama goat’s teat. Therefore, I only recommend the pritchard nipple for starting young goat kids.
Pritchard nipples are very important kidding kit essentials. They are the best I’ve found when starting young goat kids onto the bottle.
7. Gloves & Sanitation Cleanser.
More kidding kit essentials are cleaning supplies. Protect your hands and health by wearing gloves and sanitizing tools.
Gloves are so cheap and easy to obtain. Plus, it keeps your hands clean and safe from transmittal diseases.
Sanitize EVERYTHING. We work closely with our veterinarian and buy our sanitation liquid from him. It’s blue and we just mix it with water and throw all syringes, bottles, nipples, and anything else that can be reused in the liquid for an hour or so.
While it’s hard to keep kidding areas clean, good goat producers prevent infection by briefly dipping the navels directly into an iodine solution.
Talk to any goat producer who has been breeding and kidding goats for a long time. You will find out that this is one of the things they all mention.
Because, it is vitally important. Using iodine once after kidding with a wet umbilical cord is a simple preventative procedure. It can prevent problems down the road, such as joint ill and other navel problems.
9. Horse Lead or Goat Halter
If you have ever had a baby (a human one, of course), you may have had tender breasts especially when your milk came in. Well, it’s the same way for new mama goats. And sometimes even old mama goats.
Before I had my own child, I actually thought the mama goats should automatically start nursing their kids right away and if they didn’t, they were bad moms. In fact, there were many does I thought were bad moms.
After I had my own, I started to relate more to the mama goats and how they really felt. I found that on average, it takes about 8-12 hours for the milk to come in and for the maternal instincts to hit to where they felt comfortable nursing their kids.
So, I suggest keeping a horse lead rope on hand to just place around their neck. I like this option because it’s soft and doesn’t hurt them, but I can still tie them up close so they can’t move around as much. Also, I prefer the horse lead rope because their head is free and they can reach down and sniff their kid, which helps them.
Also, sometimes the kids may have trouble finding the teat, so I like to just help them latch on for the first time and after that, they usually have it down pat.
10. Clean Bedding
Be sure to have a clean area for baby goats to be dried and prevent infection.
Ahhh…More cleaning supplies. Birth is a very messy process and clean bedding and supplies are important kidding kit essentials. I always have some clean old bath towels or blankets on hand. I shop garage sales where I can get them either dirt cheap or free because I will more than likely be throwing them away after I use them during a birth. You can rewash them if you so desire. But why would you?
Paper towels is also essential for small messes and especially for baby colostrum poop. Yes, I said poop. My dog’s favorite treat.
Colostrum (or the first milk) is extremely thick and sticky. It usually appears a day or two after the kids are born and after they have consumed a good amount of mother’s colostrum.
It is so sticky that sometimes it packs under the tail. Good moms will clean it off, but sometimes it doesn’t get done. Paper towels come in handy to just simply pull it off and throw it away.
Care for Mama
After the kids are born, they get the majority of attention. But mama goats need attention as well. Goat kidding kits should include important nutrients and love for mom as well.
Lactating does need an increase of nutrients in their diets to produce plenty of milk for their new kids. Good protein, minerals and roughage are all important for the doe to raise her healthy kids. Molasses water for goats is also a tasty treat for mom to help her keep up her water intake while her milk is coming in.
So, after the mom doe kids, she will need great nutrition and a little more of it. Plenty of good protein and calcium sources to keep her body healthy so she can take care of her babies. If she’s not taking care of her babies, there’s something wrong with her nutritionally. As a responsible goat producer, you need to be aware of these caution signs and take action if necessary.
Kidding is also easier with better and easier accessibility to good facilities. Here are some things to keep in mind when planning for kidding facilities.
Kidding Facilities or Goat Birthing Pens
Preparing for goat kidding includes making sure you have the right warm facilities for the new family. Does and kids need plenty of room in their maternity shelter. A good kidding facility needs to include these functions:
- Room for does and kids to exercise and socialize together.
- A small pen for kids to escape to and start eating a little creep feed.
- Access to goat kidding pens outside of the main maternity pen for bonding after kidding.
- Feeding and watering equipment off the ground.
- An outside pen or ventilation in an inside barn to prevent respiratory illness. Goats do just find in cold weather.
I would also add electricity to that list. Because I’ve been without it before and it’s really not fun when there’s a doe kidding in the dark. No electricity makes things really hard to see.
And I must emphasize plenty of room for exercising and socializing. From my own personal experience: Goats should NOT be penned before kidding UNLESS the doe is showing clear signs like these or you induce her. Goats must be able to socialize with other does and exercise before going into labor.
Leave mom and baby in the pen for a couple of days if needed. I have plenty of does in my herd who will kid without any problems but I also have some who need to have that bonding time. The best mama does never need any assistance at all. And good goat producers should always encourage assistance.
Assist Only If Needed When Your Doe is Kidding
And there are some times during kidding season when I will intervene or assist:
- When the temperature is less than 40 Degrees.
- Kid position is apparently backwards or kids are tangled together.
- If mom doesn’t immediately bond with baby.
- Baby does not get up right away.
- Graft baby onto a new mom.
- Mom’s udder isn’t milking.
- Mom is acting in poor health.
Other than these times, mom is on her own. I do watch from around the corner and 8 times out of 10, everything goes perfectly fine and dandy.
And it all comes back to being prepared. Knowing when the kids will be coming, having a pen prepared for them and keep kidding kit essentials on hand for this amazing time.
Create a Kidding Kit with Goat Supplies
Our ultimate goals for raising goats is to produce a quality meat goat kid that can jump up after birth and start nursing. Along with that, we strive to keep does that will allow their kids to nurse without assistance from us.
My disclaimer, though, is to pay attention as not every doe is perfect. Always have these kidding kit essentials on hand to assist if needed. I’ve listed the situations in which I assist my does. Other than that, they are on their own.
Also, understand there may still be critical problems during labor that would qualify for further medication and supplies. Keep your mentors and veterinarians on speed dial for quick reference.
Understand that these kidding kit essentials are relevant to what I have found to work for me over time. Plus, it certainly does not have everything you may need for kidding season. That’s where you need to access your main goat supplies box or your veterinarian.
It’s true, kidding out goats can be a stressful time for any producer. But, kidding is also a very rewarding time. Putting together a goat birthing kit to prepare yourself can make all the difference. Kidding kit essentials help the producer preparing for goat kidding relax a little bit more.
New baby goats certainly the most rewarding part of raising goats. The are so cute and truly a bright light shining on your day.