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Kidnapped Goat Kids: Ways to Control Super Maternal Does

One thing that not every goat breeder might think about is the possibility of kidnapped goat kids by other does.

Human kids aren’t the only kids who can be kidnapped. Kidnapped goat kids is no laughing matter either. It’s a serious situation that can be prevented.

A kidnapper in your kidding group can be a serious problems. Serious problems can happen when kid goats are kidnapped by super maternal does. It’s important to protect goat kids and their moms, too.

Super maternal does can be very aggressive. They are very very motherly, which is good…but they like to steal kids. That’s bad, obviously. It’s important to know if you have some of these and make sure they don’t cause problems in your kidding group.

In this post, I’m going to help you:

– Learn to identify these super maternal does,
– Protect moms and new babies to prevent kidnapped goat kids,
– Understand why this is a potentially dangerous thing for baby goat kids and also their moms.

In my 10 years of raising meat goats, this is definitely one of the most disheartening things that can happen during kidding season. Let me tell you more about what it can look like.

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kidnapped goat kids

The Problem…

I pulled into the driveway coming home from work one evening and found a mess. There were 6 healthy goat kids but only one mom taking care of them all. Hmm…no way.

When assessing the situation, I found two more moms looking on while their kids were loving on this one mama goat. They were obviously not happy about it. But when they went over to sniff the babies to find theirs, the maternal mama would be very mean to them. Bite them or knock them with her horns.

As far as she was concerned, those babies were hers. All of them.

What to do? Why is she doing this? How can I get these babies back with mama safely?

Here’s what I did next:

The first thing I had to do with separate the maternal doe out of the kidding pen. I put her into a small bonding pen by herself…just for now.

Then, I put the other two does who had clearly kidded also into bonding pens as well. Next, the hard part. Figuring out which kid belonged to which doe.

This was tricky because the moms who were being bullied weren’t really keen on any of the babies. I gave them some time and finally I could get an idea of which babies belonged to which mom. I had to watch them closely to make sure the moms weren’t mean to the other babies that were not theirs.

Another way I could kind of figure out who belonged to whom was by the way they looked. This was a guess though. The verification came when the babies would go to nurse and the moms would let them.

Why couldn’t the Kidnapper Keep all the Kids?

As in my own story, serious problems arise such as:

  1. Not able to care for the kidnapped kids.
  2. The real mothers may not take the kids back.

The truth of the matter is that this situation isn’t good for anyone. It’s not good for the kidnapper because she might have enough love but she’s not going to have enough milk to feed extra babies. It’s not good for the real mom because she might lose the scent and then not accept the baby.

So, it’s really important to watch and know what’s going on so that you’ll know right away when there’s a problem.

It’s important to know which ones they are so you can control them before other does kid. Know who these does are BEFORE you start your kidding season so that you can manage them better.

How to spot super maternal does.

  1. Watch their behavior around other does close to kidding.
  2. Listen for the kidnapper humming at newborn baby kids.
  3. After does kid, stay aware of kidnappers pushing real mothers away.

Some behavioral signs that a doe is super maternal is humming or being a bully to other does in the group. The first time you have a doe like this, you might not even realize it – Like I didn’t.

How Do Goat Kids Become Kidnapped?

When baby goat kids are born, they need to have time to bond with their mom or get to know them. They don’t quite understand who their mom is right away.

Also, some kids might stand up faster than others and run around exploring. That can make them more vulnerable to becoming kidnapped if they run into the super maternal doe. A fresh kid smells wonderful to the super maternal doe and the doe will try to steal that baby even if she hasn’t kidded yet.

Therefore, that bonding time is really important for mama and baby – especially when there isn’t a place for the new mom and babies to go alone.

What if the Real Moms Reject their Babies.

If the kidnapped babies aren’t being accepted by their REAL mom and you KNOW it’s their real mom (this happens sometimes), don’t give up. Follow the bonding steps above. It could take a week or two for the family to be reunited fully.

But, if it’s been two weeks and the mom just isn’t responding to the reunion, then it’s time to consider bottle feeding. The post below is how to jump start bottle baby goats – I know the picture says lamb but the link is to the bottle goat post. Check it out:

Bonding Pens are So Important

We all know that goats are social animals who need other goats to thrive. But when there’s a new family…when a new goat is introduced or a new baby goat kid is born, bonding must take place.

Bonding pens are a must during kidding season. You might not need them BUT you probably will. It’s so important to be proactive when you’re raising goats.

Super Maternal kidnapping does need a bonding pen to bond with her own kids. And kidnapped babies need bonding pens to bond again with their real moms. They will be confused but I’ve had more success stories over the past decade with bonding pens.

How big should bonding pens be? We like pens that are 5X5 square feet for new goat families and at least 6 ft high. The fencing needs to be tight at the bottom and the top so that the does can’t escape. And put something solid around the sides so that kids can’t escape as well.

In time, you’ll see the moms and babies starting to synch together and love each other. And when the moms are taking care of babies successfully, they can go back out into the main pen.

kidnapped goat kids

How to Prevent Kidnapped Goat Kids

Let me sum it up for you. Not all goat does are maternal or even want to take care of their kids. The other side of that, there’s a SUPER MATERNAL doe in every herd that you’ll need to watch out for.

If you do have one, you’ll want to watch her closely and even separate her into a different pens from does who are ready to kid. Keep her away from new babies because she will seduce them into coming with her. She’ll bully the mom into staying away. Very sad.

Just like a potential kidnapping in the human world…it’s not that much different. New babies are so enticing to kidnappers. But you can protect them and keep families together by knowing the signs of super maternal does and kidnapped goat kids.