One of the best and easiest ways to be prepared for kids is to put together a goat birthing kit.
We have all seen them, those adorable kidding videos on Facebook and YouTube. Baby goat kids running around and jumping is something the new goat owner dreams of and understandably looks forward too.
My very first year with my goats I was more excited than prepared. I never in my wildest dreams thought there would be a problem. Sure, I read up on issues and even watched a few deliveries online but I had absolutely nothing prepared to help other than a few towels. I felt helpless and lost and the outcome was not a good one I am heartbroken to say.
Now that I have a few kidding seasons under my belt I know it is better to be ready for anything and everything just in case it does come up.
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When you are preparing for kidding season it is important to be ready before it begins. By having things set up and ready to go you will be better able to handle whatever your goat throws your way.
One of the best and easiest ways to be prepared for kids is to put together a birthing kit.
A goat birthing kit is simply a tote or bucket that is filled with all the supplies needed to help a doe during kidding. By having this kit close by you will ensure you have most if not all you need to deliver healthy and happy kids.
This list I am going to share with you is pretty thorough and some of the items you may never use, but I have found that if you prepare for the worst you will save precious time just in case the worst happens.
Putting together a goat birthing kit
Paper Towels. These can be quite handy for cleaning your hands and kids’ faces.
Gloves. Sterile gloves need to be worn in the event you need to assist with kidding.
Betadine surgical scrub. This is used to wash your hands if you need to assist with delivery.
Dental floss. Used to tie off the umbilical cord.
Scissors. Used to cut the umbilical cord once it is tied off.
7 percent iodine. Used for dipping umbilical cords once they are tied off and cut. I would also have an old pill bottle. Iodine is staining and by having a small bottle to hold only what you need to dip a newborn kid’s cord you will keep some of the mess to a minimum.
Old towels. I like to have a few in my tote to help dry off kids which are especially helpful if your goat kids in the winter months. Usually, I let momma do the clean up however if temperatures are really cold you may want to help a bit here. Frost-bite can happen quickly with newborn kids so get them dried off quickly if it’s cold out.
A flashlight or headlamp. Just in case delivery happens at night and in an area with poor lighting,
Bulb syringe. Used to help clean out noses and airways.
A clean empty pop bottle and Pritchard Nipple Used in case you have to bottle feed a kid. Most goat owners will introduce a nipple very early to ensure if a bottle is needed later they are at least familiar with the feel and texture.
Your vet’s phone number. I cannot stress enough the importance of having help. If you live in an area that does not have a goat vet then at the very least find an experienced goat friend you can rely on. Have either your vet’s or friend’s number pre-set into your phone and also written on your tote. I like to go one step further and make a call prior to kidding. Last season I had a pretty hard delivery and my vet patiently walked me through exactly what I needed to do over the phone. She kept me calm, told me exactly what to do and gave me tough love when necessary. Thanks to her help I was able to get a very large kid delivered without causing injury to him or his mother.
Storey’s Barn Guide to Sheep This is my go-to guide for goat kidding. I know this item may seem out of the norm but I have to tell you that it is by far the best book I have for kidding. There is a section on positions that really help you to “see” just how a kid may be presenting. In the rare instance, you have to go in and turn or adjust a kid by “seeing” how that kid may be inside the goat will really help to move the kid easier.
A few empty feed bags. These bags can be a lifesaver during kidding. Things can get pretty messy and these feed bags will keep the mess a bit contained for quick and easy clean up.
OB lube. Used just in case you need to go in and adjust or turn a kid. In a pinch, betadine can be used as well. Don’t forget to wear gloves!
Bucket of warm and soapy water. I had this for the first time last year and I was surprised how much I used it. Things get messy when your goat kids and having a place to clean up is nice to have
Baby monitor. Not in the kit but in the barn before kidding even starts. We can’t be in our barns 24/7 and having a baby monitor lets us hear if things start to happen. It is quite easy to tell if a goat is in labor. The sound of her “pushing” is easy to hear. My first year I went out to our barn every single hour and found myself exhausted and my goats skittish. Remember most goats deliver just fine on their own and some even prefer it. By keeping a little distance and only jumping in if needed you will keep the kidding process a relaxed one. The one I have linked to here is the exact one I own and will reach up to 1000 feet.
Selenium Gel. Used if you live in a deficient area. Our area is very deficient in Selenium so we always give our newborn kids a Selenium supplement gel. Selenium can mean life or death to a newborn goat. Check with your County Extension and your Veterinarian to determine if your goats will need a Selenium supplement and for the correct dosage. Giving too much Selenium is just as dangerous as a deficiency. Do not just give it, do your homework and ask your vet before you administer any medications even over the counter. There is different gel for adult goats and goat kids, make sure you use the correct gel on your goats.
Pure blackstrap molasses. Used for momma goat. My goats love water with molasses and it gives a nice boost that is definitely needed after the hard work of delivery. Molasses is filled with vitamins and minerals and combining it with water will help replenish her fluids as well. Molasses can also help treat ketosis in goats that can occur in late pregnancy or right after delivery.
Extra items that are not necessary, but good to have just in case a problem arises.
Leg snare. This will help you to keep the legs in the proper position during delivery. It will also help to pull a kid if the doe is having a difficult time delivering. Sometimes things get very wet and slippery and your hands just can’t get a grip. With a snare like this, you will ensure you have a good hold on the kid.
A kid puller. This will help in those cases where the kid is just too big to be delivered. It is basically a loop or snare on one end with a handle on the other. You place the loop over the kids head and feet and gently pull at a 45-degree angle.
A digital thermometer. This is a good idea in case you do have an issue with a sick goat. Knowing if you are dealing with a high temperature or a low temperature is vital when deciding treatment. A goat’s normal temperature is 101.5-103.5
Kid colostrum replacement. In an emergency, this is good to have on hand. It is important to get colostrum into newborn kids preferably within 20 minutes but you do have up to 2 hours. This will ensure your kids get the best and healthiest start. If there is a medical emergency with the doe you can give this replacement to the kids. Hopefully, you will never need this, but it is nice to have on hand just in case.
Feeding tube and syringe. Used for kids that are too weak to eat.
Warming hut with a heat lamp. If you kid in the winter months having a place to keep the newborn kids that is safe and warm can be a lifesaver. If you want to tray a warming hut, I found a simple and easy one over at Vicki Helser’s blog . She made her’s out of a tote and it works quite well!
I have never used one of these. Since I have birthing stalls in my barn I have found that when plenty of hay is down and momma is close her kids stay quite warm. If it is below freezing I would also add a heat lamp but please be sure to use every precaution when using one. More fires start with heat lamps so it is important to double and triple check your set up.
Being prepared can go a long way to keeping you calm as kidding season arrives. It is only natural to be nervous but please remember that only a small percentage of deliveries require intervention.
Goats have been having kids for many years on their own and alone. You are only there to support and in the rare instance assist. By having a goat birthing kit with you and ready to go you will be able to deal with any situation if it should arise.
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