How To Set Up A DIY Goat Kid Pen

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This article will walk you through How To Set Up A DIY Goat Kid Pen that you can use for a safe area where your new goat kids can explore and play. Give your does and herd a break and help your kids learn to socialize.

How to Raise Dairy Goats that are Healthy and Happy all begin with kids that are resilient and people-friendly.

DIY goat kid pen

Setting up a goat kid pen is important, especially if you have a larger herd of goats on your homestead. Having a dedicated space will help keep all those little goat kids safe from a full-sized herd, giving them room to jump and play without disrupting older members of the herd. A goat pen is also a helpful tool that encourages socializing with your young goat kids, which is important for friendlier goats.

My first year of raising dairy goats was a HUGE learning experience. I had no idea how little I knew, and my herd quickly got to work, teaching me a thing or two. (or three)

The importance of having a DIY goat kid pen

After our first few babies arrived that first spring, I quickly learned that I needed a separate spot for my rambunctious kids to play and jump. Having active babies running around the herd nonstop would not work, and their constant activity made my older goats unsettled and nervous.

I realized I needed to find a way to make it easier for me to give our baby goats the room they needed to jump, run, and play, as well as a safe place for me to do the routine care they needed without anyone getting hurt. 

a young goat kid peaking through a wood fence

what is a goat kid pen?

A goat kid pen is a gated area that is a safe place for the baby goat kids to play and hang out while the mom gets a chance to eat in peace and socialize with the rest of the herd. The pen is for kids only, and grown-up does and bucks are not able to access the pen. 

A kid pen is also a vital learning tool for the little ones because they can sniff and smell the other kids which is safer to do than sniffing an adult buck. Being around goats their size allows them to be more curious in a safer environment.

A kid pen is also a constant source of entertainment for us owners. Some of my favorite times are spent sitting on a bale of straw inside with our spring kids.

goat kids playing in a goat kid pen

It is important to have a separate area for your baby goat care, whether it be for safe playtime or goat maintenance. A private area is a great way to watch over your baby goats without the adults getting in the way. 

How to Make a DIY Goat Kid Pen

My goal with most of our homestead DIY projects is to do as much as I can with the tools and supplies we already have on hand. This goat pen project was no exception. Each year, I try a new design, and I have yet to spend a penny on our goat kid pen construction. No, it may not be pretty, but it works exactly as intended. And for me, that is all that matters. 

Cute baby goat looking into the camera.

Step #1. Choose an area

The best spot for a kid’s pen is somewhere near the herd. We like to section off an area inside the main pen of our barn. This will allow the kids to be near the herd, keeping everyone calm and relaxed.

Step #2. Enclose the Area

You will want to set up temporary walls using a material you have lying around. For us, we have a supply of extra metal fencing panels. These panels are great for fencing because they can be manipulated to fit the space you have to work with.

SLCG Pro Tip: If you have moms who are good jumpers and determined to get in with the kids, you may want to extend that fence to the ceiling. You can do this by stacking the panels and securing them to each other with heavy-duty zip ties.

You can find steel livestock panels at your local feed supply store. 

Read More on Goat Fencing here:

Step #3. Kid Only Door

Build a small (very small) opening so only the baby goat kids can get in and out. Remember, this opening needs to be just big enough for the kids.  

You would be amazed at what a full-grown doe can squeeze through if she wants to. One year after starting with a 3′ wide by 2′ tall opening, my momma doe, Violet, was able to squeeze through, making a mess of the kid’s area. That quickly taught me to change that opening to 1′ by 1′.

A wooden opening made of boards with a hole small enough for goat kids to get into their pen area.

Have you ever heard the saying, The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Yes, I can totally bet that was first said by a goat owner. Goats believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something GREAT on the other side of any fence and will try to get to it if they can.

arrow pointing to a metal gate up against the wall of a barn

You can see in the photo above there is a “gate” I made out of a cattle panel on the right of the photo.

How to Make a DIY Pen Gate

This is a super simple DIY gate that can be used in all sorts of areas. Your barn, the coop, even a garden. Here’s how you can make a gate.

Using fencing nails, you can hammer in a few along the fence line, being sure to only go halfway in with the nail. This will help the fence nails act as hinges, allowing the metal fencing to be swung open and closed as a gate would. 

Do not hammer the fence nails all the way in, or the gate will not swing. Also, be sure your gate is up off the ground a few inches. This DIY gate allows me to close off the kids whenever I need to. 

Why do you need a kid pen for dairy goats?

Kid only pens are a valuable tool if you raise dairy goats. This pen allows you to separate the kids so udders can fill up with milk. Goat kids need milk from their mothers for at least 6-8 weeks. That means until they are fully weaned, you will need to share the doe’s milk with her kids. If you leave the kids in the goats 24/7, they will consume all her milk leaving you with little to none.

To ensure you keep her production up for both the kids and your family, you will want to start separating them when the kids are around 2 weeks old.

How to separate goat kids

This step-by-step will walk you through how to do the separating of the kids from their moms. This is the least stressful way to acclimate the kids and moms to sleep separately.

  1. Build a temporary pen for just the goat kids before they are born. This will help the herd get used to it being in their area.
  2. Once the kids are born, allow them free access to the new pen throughout the day and night. Do not lock them in at this point. Having an open door 24/7 will help them to become comfortable with that area.
  3. When the kids are around 2 weeks old, begin locking them in the pen overnight.
  4. In the morning, milk your dairy goats as you normally would.
  5. After you are done milking, you can let the goat kids into the main area with the moms.
  6. Allow them to stay together throughout the day, nursing as they need to.

Don’t worry that your kids will not get enough milk if you do this process. A doe will make more milk if she finds there is not enough for the kids during the day.

Another point to remember is, does in milk are quite intelligent, and if they still have kids on them, they will hold back some of their milk at milking time, saving the rest for their kids. 

a goat kid nursing on a black doe

What to put inside of a DIY goat kid pen.

There are a few things to have inside of your pen to ensure your kids flourish and do not get bored.

#1. Things to Climb on

Kids love to climb, so it is important to supply safe items to withstand their rough and tumble play. In our case, a bag of wood shavings works perfectly, especially if the kids are young. If they happen to break the bag open, we spread that fresh layer of bedding where ever we need it!

Baby goat kids playing on a bag of wood shavings. The importance of having a goat kid pen.

You can also use a cinder block, a bag of bedding, or a bale of hay or straw. Having things to climb on will help your kids to explore, play, and get rid of some of that energy they seem to have so much of!

#2. Sleep Area

Having a place for your kids to snuggle and sleep in will help them feel safe and keep warm at night. This is helpful if you kid during the early spring when evenings are still pretty cold. I like using a plastic dog kennel filled with hay and a layer of sawdust. The solid sides keep the inside warm and our kids love it.

A large kennel will easily hold 6-7 goats, and they love to pile up on each other to keep warm.

young goat kids in a pen in a barn copy 2

If money is tight, you can usually find a kennel at a yard sale for a fraction of the price. I like the dog kennels that are shaped like an igloo like this one. The smaller opening keeps it much warmer inside, which is great in the winter.  

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The natural heat in that kennel with all the babies is amazing. I always laugh in the morning when they start coming out for breakfast; it is like watching a clown car at a circus…they keep coming and coming out. πŸ™‚

goat kids sleeping in a dog kennel

#3. Food and Water

You also need to have fresh water, feed specifically for kids, and fresh hay at all times. Keep containers lower to the ground so the kids can easily reach them.

Don’t worry if they ignore the food and water at first, they will eventually learn where it is and what it is. The hay, on the other hand, kids will begin munching on that at just a few days old.

a young kid eating from a grain bucket in a goat kid pen

The grain does take a bit more time, however, and by offering it early on, their curiosity will encourage them to test it out. Soon you will see them eating it on their own.

What is Coccidiosis in goats?

Coccidia is a parasite carried by most, if not all, adult goats. The eggs are shed in their feces, where they can be “picked” up by goat kids. Healthy adult goats can stave off an outbreak naturally. Weaker goats or goat kids can get an overload quite easily.

To prevent this from happening, it is important to keep pens and other areas clean. However, if you have a large herd this can be a tall order to fill.

A huge benefit of a separate goat kid pen is a cleaner area for your young kids to play and eat. Since the goal is to keep the adult herd out of this area, there is a lighter chance of a coccidiosis outbreak.

Coccidiosis can happen quickly in young goats, and once you have it, it spreads fast and can even turn deadly. Do your best to keep conditions clean, including feed and water bowls. Prevention is key here. Regular pen cleanings and washing out of feed and water bowls will do a lot to keep your herd healthy and safe. 

SLCG PRO TIP: Every day when you do chores, you will want to dump and clean out any bowls that look soiled. I clean out water dishes in our entire barn every morning as a part of our routine chores. I have learned over the years that the more preventative measures I can take, the healthier my herd is in the long run.

Goat kids eating. The importance of having a diy goat kid pen that is neat and clean for healthy goats.

To help prevent an outbreak, you can use a medicated grain that was meant for the babies only. Even though this worked well, it didn’t work great. I have since switched to a herbal worming system that has kept our herd free from coccidiosis for the last 4 years. Sometimes, a natural approach to prevention is better than medicated.

How to keep a DIY goat kid pen warm.

Just like with any young animal, it is important to keep them warm. Most often, a good layer of straw and an enclosed small shelter for sleeping in at night, like a dog kennel, will work just fine. If the cold is extreme, you can incorporate other measures such as an electric heat lamp.

Use Caution: If you choose to use a heat lamp, please use extreme caution. Heat lamps are a large cause of many barn fires, and for this reason, I do my best not to rely on them as a heating source. Heat lamps give off a surprising amount of heat, and if one should fall onto the bedding below, a fire can quickly happen.

If you do decide to purchase a heat lamp, choose one with a sturdy protective guard and take every precaution to ensure the lamp will not fall.

Nothing starts fires quicker than heat lamps. And, In most cases, just a simple pile of hay will do the trick. For that reason, I rely on heat lamps only in extremely cold weather conditions.

READ: HOW TO KEEP ANIMALS WARM IN FRIGID TEMPERATURES

How to Use a DIY Goat Kid Pen

You will want to set up your kid pen before your goats begin to kid. Once born, keep your kids and doe together in a birthing stall if you have one available, for 1-2 weeks. This allows for the new family to bond and ensures all the kids are getting enough to eat. It also allows me to monitor the mother to be sure she is not developing any udder issues such as Mastitis.

After that time, you can return the new family to the herd. If you have a kid pen set up inside, leave the gate open and allow the kids to come and go. This will give them time to check out the area and get sued to being in there without mom. More often than not, the kids will begin using it on their own. 

At two weeks I let the kids sleep in the pen if they choose to do so. If you set up your pen in the main area, this will allow the moms to see their babies at all times through the fencing.

I had a wonderful first freshener a few years ago, that insisted on being in the pen with her doeling.  She would sleep the first few hours with her head inside the kid pen keeping an eye on her little one.

doe looking in on a couple of goat kids in a pen

I do not lock my kids in at night until they are at least 2 weeks of age. This is usually the time when I also begin hand milking my does. Separating the kids from mom during the evening hours helps begin the weaning process. It also ensures a full udder for me to milk in the morning.

Once I am done milking, the babies are reunited with their mom so they can nurse on demand throughout the day.  

More Goat Milk Resources:

SLCG PRO TIP: Do not worry that your doe will not have enough milk for you and her kids. The moms can hold back milk for their kids while giving you enough at milking time as well.

I had no idea what a kid pen was when I first started with goats. I kept my babies in with their moms for weeks thinking this was the right thing to do. Unfortunately, I was doing more harm than good. That first year’s weening was just horrible because the kids were not used to being without their moms even for a minute.

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Now, with a goat kid pen introduced early on, the idea of separating moms and kids is much less stressful and just another part of our daily routine. 

How to set up a good and safe DIY goat kid pen for your goat babies.

Today, I understand how important socialization is in a goat herd for both the moms and the babies. Having a separate pen also teaches the kids to fend for themselves early on sothey grow into more confident herd members rather than timid ones.  As with anything, slow and steady is the best way.  πŸ™‚

Kids in a DIY goat kid pen playing

DIY Goat Kid Pen Update:

Since I wrote this post quite a few years ago, I have learned additional lessons when setting up a goat kid pen. Not only is my goal to keep the baby goats inside where it is safe but it is also my goal to keep the larger goats out as well.

Today, I routinely use the taller cattle panels to build our kid pen. These panels are 5 feet high, and that seems to be enough to keep my adult goats outside and away from the baby goats. Even my high “jumpers” are not able to clear 5′ when inside the barn. 

baby goats playing in a goat kid pen

The kid pen in the photo above was completed constructed by myself, so that says quite a bit about its simplicity.

How to DIY a Goat Kid Pen

  1. Using a sledgehammer, drive heavy-duty gardening stakes into the ground.
  2. Aim for about 1-2 feet deep to ensure they will withstand the herd.
  3. Use steel fence panels for the walls being sure to attach them to the stakes.
  4. For a rounded fence, bend the steel fence panels around until they are in the shape you need for your setup. Be sure to attach them securely to the fence to the stakes before moving on to the next section.
  5. Use thick zip ties to secure the fence to the stakes. Place a tie at the top, middle, and bottom.

If you use cattle panels, the square openings will be enough room for even a large Nubain kid to slip through. To prevent them from getting out, use a pig panel and stagger the openings lessening the size of the hole.

Always try to see ahead to what your animals will try to do. For goats, it’s climbing or escaping. That means the more secure I can make things, the safer everyone will be in the long run. Not sure what goat is the best fit for your family? READ: GOAT BREEDS and pick the best one for you. 

Have you built a DIY goat kid pen and would like to share a tip, please do so below. I would love to learn from you! 

More Goat Raising Resources:

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13 Comments

  1. Why do you desperate the kids from the mom so young. We left ours together for over 2 months and had plenty of milk for the family. My doe and feeling screen for each other when young. Too traumatic to separate so young just for humans to have milk. Never ever heard of this before and would never do it. When they when they were weaned we had no problem selling them. No crying. Can only imagine how they must feel. This is the most important time for the kids to be with their mom.

    1. Hello Sallee,
      Please do not worry, my goats are never upset in any way, Sallee. They are my babies all of them and I do not do anything to bring them unnecessary harm. Now, as I wrote, since I have the kid pen accessible from day one, it is not traumatic at all. The kids are able to go in and out whenever they want to. The young kids enjoy going in to play with each other and yes even to sleep voluntarily on their own. I do not close them in until I am sure all are comfortable and please keep in mind they are only separated by a fence. So the moms are close by at all times. I appreciate your concern, however! And I hope you will continue to stop by πŸ™‚ Tracy Lynn

      1. Hi there! I am preparing to get my first mama and baby or babies soon! The family farm I’m getting them from usually separates them at birth to instill bonding with the people rather than mama and baby. Then they bottle feed 3x a day and milk the mama the same. I’m trying to nail down my decision what I want to do for them. I’m mostly worried about a) that they will be lonely and hollering for each other but I also want to have a good relationship with my new mama and baby! This seems like a possible consideration just to separate at night with a fence rather than a stall so they can see each other? Would it be worth bottle feeding the babe in the am for the cuddle time for me and then or just let her nurse with mom?

        1. Yes, you can bottle feed them in the morning if you want! This will really establish a great relationship with you as well as keeping a bond with the mom.

  2. Where are the kids and moms for the first two weeks? Last spring was my first kidding season and I was NOT prepared! I am trying to do better this year! My biggest concern is the first few weeks and how to keep babies safe and warm and mama happy.

  3. Thanks Tracy for the education,I really appreciate,I will do the same,to separate the kids during evening when they reach 2wks of age!so as I can have more milk!

  4. Can you share the medicated grain you use that has helped prevent coccidiosis?
    Thanks πŸ™‚

    1. Hi, Nikki!
      I use a lamb mix that is approved in our area for goat kids only. It is not approved for grown goats. My best advice for you is to go to your local feed mill and ask them for suggestions. You can also contact your county extension office for contact info for any other goat farmers in your area. That was where I got most of my knowledge starting out.
      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  5. What herbal are you giving your goats to prevent cocci diseases.

  6. Do you mind sharing the name of the herbal wormer you found?

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