This article will walk you through How To Set Up A DIY Goat Kid Pen so you can keep your baby goats safe. Use what you have a create a temporary place for your new kids to play. Give your does and herd a break and help your kids socialize.
How to Raise Dairy Goats that are healthy and happy.
Setting up a goat kid pen is important, especially if you have a herd of goats on your homestead. Having a dedicated space will help to keep all those little goat kids safe from a full-sized herd, but it will also encourage 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)
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 would not work. Their constant activity was making my older goats rather nervous.
I realized 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.
This goat fence idea is a great one to add to your setup.
what is a goat kid pen?
A goat kid pen 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 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. It 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 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. 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 intended. And for me, that is all that matters.
To set up a goat kid pen, you will first want to section off an area inside of your goat shelter or barn.
Next, you can make temporary walls by using 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 that 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.
The trick is to make sure the does cannot get in, and the babies cannot get out.
Next, build 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. One 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? 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.
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 with the nail. This will help the fence nails to 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.
Another reason you want to separate the kids from the moms is for better milk production.
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 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 need to start separating them when the kids are around 2 weeks old.
How to separate goat kids.
- Build a temporary pen for just the goat kids before they are born.
- Allow them free access to the new pen throughout the day and night. This will help them to become comfortable with that area.
- When the kids are around 2 weeks old, lock them into the pen overnight.
- In the morning, milk your goats as you normally would.
- After you are done milking, you can let the goat kids in with the moms.
- 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.
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. 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!
You can also use a bale of straw. Be sure not to use hay as they will try to eat the bale. Why is that important? Goats are prone to getting worms and if they poop on the hay and then eat it, they run the risk of getting worms.
Hay is not for eating and that means their chance of eating it is lower.
#2. Having something for them to sleep in that is warm and protected is important, especially if the evening temperatures are cold. I like to use a plastic dog kennel that is filled with hay and a layer of sawdust. The solid sides keep the inside warm. A large kennel will easily hold 6-7 goats, and they love to pile up on each other to keep warm.
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.
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. 🙂
#3. You also need to have fresh water, feed that is specifically for got kids, and fresh 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, 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?
Coccidiosis is a parasite carried by most, if not all, adult goats. The eggs are shed in their feces, where it 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 his can happen quickly in young goat kids and once you have it, it spreads fast and can even turn deadly. Do your best to keep conditions clean, including any 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.
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 natural 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 like a dog kennel will work just fine. If you the cold is extreme, you can incorporate other measures such as an electric heat lamp.
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.
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.
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.
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 hope this helps; 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.
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.
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. 🙂
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 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.
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
- Using a sledgehammer, drive heavy-duty gardening stakes into the ground.
- Aim for about 1-2 feet deep to ensure they will withstand the herd.
- Use steel fence panels for the walls being sure to attach them to the stakes.
- 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.
- 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!