How To Set Up A DIY Goat Kid Pen so you can keep your baby goats safe and give your tired mama goats a much-needed break.
Setting up a goat kid pen is important especially if you have a herd of goats on your homestead. This will help you to keep all those little goat kids safe from a full-sized herd but it will also encourage socializing within your young goat kids which is really 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)
After a few babies arrived that first spring, I quickly learned that I needed a separate spot to keep my rambunctious kids. Having those active babies running around the herd non-stop was not going to work. Their constant activity was making my older goats rather nervous.
I needed to find a way to make it easier for me to give those baby goats the room they needed to jump and run and play. And also a safe place for me to do the routine care needed without anyone getting hurt in the process.
So, what exactly is a DIY goat kid pen?
A goat kid pen is a safe place for the baby goat kids to play and hang out while mom gets a chance to eat in peace and socialize with the rest of the herd. The pen is for the kids only and grown-up does and bucks are not able to access the pen.
A kid pen that is only for young goat kids is also a vital learning tool for the little ones because they learn socialization with others that are their own age and size. A kid pen is also a constant source of entertainment for us! It is important to have a separate area for your baby goat care whether it be for safe playtime or baby goat maintenance. Having 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. And this project was no exception. Each year I try a new design and I have yet to spend a single penny on our goat kid pen construction.
No, it may not be pretty but it works exactly as it is intended. And for me, that is all that matters.
To set up our goat kid pen, I first sectioned off one end of our goat areas inside of the barn. Using hog metal fencing panels (if you have moms that are good jumpers and determined to get in with the kids, you may want to instead use cattle panels since they are 2 feet higher). You can find steel livestock panels at your local feed supply store.
The trick is to make sure the momma goats cannot get in and the babies cannot get out.
Next, you will need to put a small (very small) opening so the baby goat kids can get in and out. You need to be sure this opening is just big enough for the kids.
You would be amazed at what a full-grown doe can squeeze through if she wants to. Last year after starting with a 3′ wide by 2′ tall opening my momma doe, Violet, quickly taught me to change that opening to 1′ by 1′.
Have you ever heard the saying, The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence? Yep, that right there 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.
You can see in the photo above there is a “gate” I made out of a cattle panel on the right of the photo. This is a super simple DIY gate. Using fencing nails you can hammer in a few along the fence line being sure to only go halfway in. This will help the fence nails to act as hinges allowing the metal fencing to be swung open and closed like 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.
Another reason why you want to separate the kids from the moms is if you raise dairy goats. 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 her milk with the kids. The easiest way to do this is to separate the goat kids from their moms overnight. When morning comes you can milk your goats then reunited them with their kids. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of milk for both of you. 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.
SLCG PRO TIP: Do not reunite your kids with their moms until you are done milking everyone. Once you are finished you can open up the gate and watch the fun! The kids will come bolting out running g for their mom and dive in for a morning drink.
What to put inside of a goat kid pen.
Kids love to climb so it is important to supply safe items for them to rough and tumble on.
In our case, a bag of wood shavings works perfectly especially if the kids are really young. If they happen to break the bag open we simply spread that fresh layer of bedding where ever we need it!
It is also a good idea to have something for them to sleep in. I have an old dog kennel that I fill with hay and a layer of sawdust. If money is tight you can usually find a kennel at a yard sale for a fraction of the price.
I really like the dog “igloos” like this one. The smaller opening keeps it much warmer inside which is great in the winter.
At night, they all climb inside to sleep, especially on those frigid nights.
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 just keep coming and coming out. 🙂
You also need to have fresh water available along with kid feed and hay at all times. 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. The grain does take a bit more time. By offering it early on their curiosity will have them testing it out and you will see them eating it on their own when they are ready.
I used to use a medicated kid feed to help prevent Coccidiosis. Coccidiosis is a parasite carried by most, if not all, adult goats. The problem with coccidiosis is when a goat has an overload of that parasite. This is found more often in goat kids rather than adults. Eggs are found in an adult goat’s droppings and curious little kids just like human babies tend to put everything in their mouths. If infected droppings are on the ground where hay is that goat kids are munching on, those kids have a higher risk of getting this worm. To help, it is important to keep pens where kids are extremely clean.
Having a separate goat kid pen is a great way to keep Coccidiosis from breaking out. Since the adult goats do not have access, their droppings stay out as well.
Coccidiosis can his can happen quickly in young goat kids and once you have it, it spreads rather quickly 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.
As I said above, I used to feed a special medicated grain that was meant for the babies only. I have since switched over to a herbal worming system that has kept our herd free from coccidiosis for the last 4 years.
How to keep a goat kid pen warm.
If it is cold, a heat lamp is an option you can turn to and will help keep the kids warm, but please use extreme caution if you choose to use one. Heat lamps are a large cause of many barn fires and for this reason, I urge you to use caution. Double and triple-check that you have things secured so you do not run the risk of anything catching aflame.
If you do decide to purchase a heat lamp, choose one with a sturdy 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.
How and When to Use Your DIY Goat Kid Pen
Once my does have kidded, I like to keep them in the birthing stall for 2 weeks. This allows for the new family to bond and for me, to be sure 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.
When the new moms and kids are put back into the herd I have their kid pen all set up and opened right away. This is good for the kids to explore things and get used 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. The moms are fine since they can 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.
I just love her!
I do not lock my kids in at night until they are 2 weeks of age. This is usually the time when I start milking my does. Separating the kids from mom at this time 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 mom so they can nurse.
SLCG PRO TIP: Do not worry that your doe will not have enough milk for you and her kids. The moms are able to hold back milk for their kids while giving you enough at milking time as well.
I hope this helps you out a bit, 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 weening was just horrible because the kids were not used to being without their moms at all. Now, with the kid pen introduced early on, the idea of separating moms and kids is much less stressful and just another part of our daily routine.
Today, I understand how important socialization is to goats for both the moms and the babies. It also teaches the kids to fend for themselves early on so they grow into a more confident herd member rather than a timid one.
As with anything, slow and steady is the best way. 🙂
Since I wrote this post quite a few years ago, I have learned a few 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 also my goal to keep the larger goats out as well. Now I am using cattle panels to build our kid pen. These panels are 5 foot 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 of the barn.
This pen was made quite easily and by myself actually, so that says quite a bit of the simplicity of it. I drove in heavy-duty gardening stakes into our barn floor which is dirt. I find that about 1-2 feet deep is enough to really stabilize the fence. I then curved the cattle panels around and attached the fence to the stakes with heavy-duty zip ties.
Since the opening of the panels was still large enough to allow some of my smaller kids to get through, I put up a second fence panel at the bottom staggering the openings minimizing the holes.
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!