When most people think of goats, they immediately envision adorable goat kids jumping and running and, of course, yelling. Their cuteness is definitely the first thing that comes to mind and for good reason. Baby goat kids are simply one of the best things on a farm. Another great thing about baby dairy goats is a kitchen full of fresh and delicious goat milk— something you can only get after the kids arrive.
If you are brand new to having goats, you may be a bit apprehensive about your pregnant does and that is why prepping for kidding season is so important. Make sure you have everything you need before your goats begin to kid, and you will be better prepared for anything that can and may happen.
Now before I dive in, please know that 90% of all goat kiddings happen without our intervention. This means you should not step in and help unless you feel that you must. With that being said, having tools ready in case you are needed is a requirement of any responsible homesteader for any type of livestock.
Goat Birthing Checklist
Set Up a Goat Birthing Kit
A goat birthing kit is simply a collection of items you (may) need when your goat is kidding—a few essential items to have on hand that you can grab and go when you see that your help is needed. I like to keep our kit in a plastic tote with a secure lid that is clearly labeled. This way no matter who is retrieving it, they will be able to find it quickly and easily.
Medications, vitamins, towels, gloves, and a goat puller are just a few important items to have in your kit. You can find my full birthing kit here so you can prep your own tote for kidding season.
Set Up One or More Birthing Stalls
A birthing stall is a private area where your goats can kid in peace. This is essential to have, especially if you live in a cold climate, because newborn goat kids can become chilled rather quickly. By having them in a small and contained area, you will be better able to monitor them and add additional heat if needed.
A birthing stall is especially helpful for monitoring your goats for signs of trouble or distress. If you do need to intervene, it’s much easier inside of a smaller and closed in area away from the herd.
If you don’t have stalls, you can close off an area with pig fencing panels or leftover wood. All you need is a small area to take your goat when she begins to kid. This is for both her protection, and the protection of the newborn kids. I am not saying your herd will hurt the newborn kids, but I have seen an overprotective mother accidentally step on a kid. Keep her calm and keep her young kids safe.
Your Vet’s or Other Trusted Person’s Phone Number
This is essential and something I urge you to have very early on. Helping to deliver a breach kid is not impossible, but for the first time, it can be a bit intimidating. By having an experienced person you can talk to on the phone, you will really set yourself up for a more pleasant and successful kidding season. I like to give a “heads up” to my vet when things are getting close. Since we have a good working relationship, she will usually give me the okay to contact her by cell. Even though I have only needed to call a few times in the last 12 years, it’s nice to know I can if I need to.
An Accurate Goat Kidding Date
A goat’s gestation is from 145-152 days (5 months). This is a pretty accurate time frame and one that is really helpful to know from day one. When you are breeding your goats watch for “hook up” and use that as your first possible kidding date. If you are not quite sure when it happened, go by the first day of breeding and use that as your “early” date. This timeframe is key to you being ready for the actual kidding.
Know the Signs of Goat Kidding
If you are not sure when the breeding happened, knowing the signs of kidding is the next best thing. There are 13 goat kidding signs that will help you determine the date. The main things to watch for are a full udder, a string of clear, amber, or milky white discharge, and loose to gone ligaments (these are found at the base of the tail).
A Clear Calendar
There is just something about a goat and their uncanny ability to kid at the most inconvenient times. If you have just one doctor’s appointment scheduled for the entire week, you can probably guarantee that is when your goat will begin kidding. To be safe, keep close to home or at least have someone you trust to watch over things while you are away.
Use a Baby Monitor
If your barn is close enough to your house, you can use a baby monitor to better help you keep an eye on things. This can be a camera baby monitor or simply an audio one. We have used an audio monitor for years, and since we kid in the dead of winter, I cannot tell you how much this has saved us. The sound a goat makes when she is pushing can be clearly distinguished on a baby monitor and will alert you that something is happening.
For my first kidding season, the temperatures were below zero, and I went out to check on my goats every hour around the clock. With the monitor, I can now stay inside where it’s warm until the goats need me. This has been such a big help for both myself and my goats. Most of my girls prefer to kid in private, and my constant monitoring annoyed them more than it helped.
A Stress-free Environment
If you want healthy kids and a successful kidding season, a stress-free environment is a must. By being prepared, you will be more confident going in and your confidence will help keep your goats calm and relaxed.
Goat kidding season is such a wonderful time on a homestead, but it can also be a bit frightening. Having a checklist to turn to, a reliable timeline to go by, and a kit ready to grab will set you and your goats up for a successful birthing season. Before you know it, you will have a lively farm full of bouncing, healthy kids and a refrigerator full of delicious goat milk for your family.