When your does are getting close to kidding time, you will probably start to feel a bit like an expectant mother yourself! I know I do! Preparing a kidding kit and birthing stall helps me to feel more prepared and capable. I will admit, I rarely need to do much. Most of the time, Momma is just fine on her own. But, for those times when you need to intervene, you will be so grateful you are prepared.
Here’s What is in My Kidding Kit:
This list probably seems extensive, but you will probably already have most of these items on hand already.
- Paper Towels: Just like childbirth, kidding is a messy business. You will be glad to have paper towels around for a multitude of reasons.
- Puppy Housebreaking Pads: Hopefully, your kids will be born in a nice clean stall filled with straw. Even so, it will be nice to have them land on a puppy pad to keep the stall and the kids a little cleaner. If you don’t have any on hand, old towels will work just as well.
- Old Towels: If it’s cold, or momma isn’t up to it, you’ll want towels for drying off the kids.
- Betadine: Betadine is my go to antiseptic here on the farm. Use it to disinfect any tools you use during the birth, and to clean your hands in the event you need to help during the birth. I also use it for dipping the cord stump of the kids after birth.
- Small Paper or Plastic Cups: For putting the betadine in to dip the cords.
- Sterile Gloves and Lube: Just in case you need to assist.
- A Headlamp: Momma’s never go into labor when it’s convenient. It shouldn’t be any surprise that they usually do it in the middle of the night. If this happens to you, you will be glad to have a headlamp that will allow you to see and still leave your hands free.
- Hemostats: I don’t always need to clamp the cord, but when I do I use a hemostat to clamp it.
- Scissors: For cutting the cord, if I need to.
- A Bottle, Nipple, and Kid Colostrum Replacement: I have these on hand in case something goes wrong during the birth. Thankfully, I’ve never needed them, but it’s best to be prepared.
- Feeding Tube and Syringe: If you have a kid that’s too weak to eat, you can use a feeding tube with colostrum from mom or a replacement.
- Black Strap Molasses and Warm Water: This is for momma after the birth to give her a little pick-me-up after all her hard work. I also give her a ration of grain.
- Heat lamp and Baby Goat Sweaters: If it’s very cold outside, you’ll need to keep those babies warm. Please use extreme caution if you need a heat lamp. They can be a dangerous fire hazard. The only time I use one is if it’s below freezing. Otherwise, momma and baby goat sweater should be enough for the job.
- Garbage Bags: For obvious reasons.
- Warm Soapy Water: Nice to have on hand for washing up your hands or the kids’ faces.
- Your Veterinarian’s Phone Number: Don’t hesitate to call in your vet at the first sign of trouble. Have a back-up number on hand too, either a second vet or someone you call on the phone that has a lot of kidding experience and can talk you through an emergency.
- Selenium Gel: If you live in a selenium deficient area, you will want to give this to the kids. Talk to your vet about it ahead of time.
- A Digital Thermometer: One of the first things the vet is going to ask if you call with a problem is whether or not the goat has a fever. Normal temp for a goat is 101.5-103.5.
- A Leg Snare and A Kid Puller: Spend some time studying up on how to use these and have them on hand if you need them.
How to Prepare a Kidding Stall:
Having a private place for kidding helps to keep momma calm and keep everything cleaner during the process. It’s easy to set up a birthing area and it’s well worth doing. I usually have mine ready to go at least a week before kidding is expected. If you don’t have a separate stall in your barn you can use for kidding, you can make one with cattle panels and some zip ties. You’ll want I nice, thick layer of clean bedding on the floor. Momma will also want hay, fresh water, and grain, so be prepared to offer those. I also like to set up a baby monitor between the barn and the house, so I can hear what’s going on out there. Have your camera ready to go, too!
Signs of Early Labor
To be honest, my does will sometimes go into labor without me ever noticing any signs, so don’t feel bad if you don’t see it coming. Here’s what you should be watching for:
- A full, tight udder- When her udder is so tight that it almost looks shiny, it’s likely she will go into labor within 24 hours.
- Behavior changes- Does will usually want to stay in the barn when they are close. You might also notice “nesting” behavior. She might paw at her bedding or stand up and lay down a lot. I’ve even seen my does talk to their belly. Also, if she’s standing alone in the corner with her head against the wall, she’s very close, or already in active labor.
- Loss of the tail ligaments- There are two ligaments that run along where the tail and spine meet. Normally, they feel like two pencils. Before labor, they will get so soft that you almost won’t be able to feel them anymore.
- Discharge- You will notice an increase in vaginal discharge as she gets closer to the big day, but it will be especially heavy when she gets close to starting labor.
- Swollen vulva- When the kids start to drop into the birth canal, they put pressure on the doe’s rear end and you will notice that her vulva is swollen. When you see this, you’ll want to keep a close eye for other signs. This usually means labor is 1-3 days away.
With a little advanced preparation, you will be much calmer when kidding time rolls around. And, if anything goes wrong, you’ll be much better equipped to handle any emergency.