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Kidding season is my favorite time of year. Watching new life come into the world that I helped to create is just exhilarating each and every time. It sounds cliché, but it’s truly magical. I place bets with my husband on who will have what and when. I talk to the does and tell them exactly how many babies they should have, and put in my gender requests, hoping that they’ll listen. I have kidding dreams. In short, I’m obsessed with kidding.
Nigerian Dwarfs typically have easy kiddings, but we like to be present for each one just in case. Sometimes, things just go wrong, and the more does you have to kid, the higher the odds that something funky will happen.
The best way to be prepared for what kidding season may throw your way, is to have a well stocked kidding kit. We keep our kidding supplies in plastics totes so they all stay clean and dry.
Baby Monitor – I am embarrassed to admit, I initially forgot this item on my list until I was reminded by watching a video from The Thrifty Homesteader. My only excuse is that I assumed this one was a no brainer. No matter how dedicated you are, no one can be in their barn 24/7 anxiously awaiting kids. A simple baby monitor is a cheap and easy way to always keep an ear on your does. Those tell tale shouts of labor will be sure to wake you from a good sleep, and get you running to the barn no matter where you are. We use a video monitor that we love, and we can watch right from our smart phones. While most does kid with no problem, we always like to be present just in case. With the cold temps here in Maine, being there to help dry and warm up babies can sometimes make all the difference.
Towels – You can never have enough of these! We solicit old towels from family and friends and regularly hunt down deals on towels at Goodwill or other thrift stores. Sometimes a soaking wet kid can take at least two towels to get them thoroughly dry. Always have a clean stack ready to go so your not scrambling to find them when you need them.
Puppy pads, grain bags, etc. – Grain bags or disposable puppy pads can be great to place beneath a laboring doe to help absorb birthing fluids. They are also great for getting the initial “slime” off of kids that can be hard to wash out of towels. Grain bags are free and this is a great was to utilize them.
Hair dryer – We keep an old hair dryer in our kidding kit for kiddings that happen in especially cold weather when we want to get kids warm and dry as quickly as possible. Usually after we have them thoroughly dried with towels, we’ll hit the kids that still seem a bit damp with the hair dryer on a low setting just for a minute or two. The noise tends to stress our babies and moms, so we only use this when necessary.
Water based lubricant – If you have to go inside a doe in order to check the progress of a kid or to pull a kid, you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of lubricant on hand to help avoid tearing, and for the comfort of the doe.
Betadine – We use this on our hands when we have to go into a doe to help reduce risk of bacterial infection. We also use it to dip kids navels and hooves once they’ve been delivered to prevent joint ill.
Gloves – We always have these on hand to try to reduce introducing infection to any exposed tissue, but sometimes they can interfere with getting a good grip on a stuck kid. Use as often as you can.
Nasal bulb – We do our best to clear out kid’s noses before they take too many breaths to ensure they’re not inhaling mucus into their lungs. For the Nigerian Dwarf kids, we like to use the smaller, softer bulb that comes in ear cleaning kits.
Scissors – A good pair of surgical scissors is very sharp and super affordable, perfect for cutting umbilical cords if needed or anything else that may come up.
Mosquito clamps – These were suggested to me just last kidding season from a vet tech and goat breeder that I’m friends with. These replace dental floss for tying off umbilical cords. Just clamp down the cord where you would like it to end, and it immediately cuts off any blood flow and allows you to trim back the umbilical cord as needed. Much cleaner and easier than trying to tie tiny knots in wet dental floss.
1ml syringe – Recent veterinary studies have shown that receiving colostrum within the first 20 minutes after birth significantly increases immune system support and general overall health. When does are kidding out multiples, often this window can be missed as the does works on birthing successive kids. Once a kid is born, we steal a few squirts of colostrum from mom, then give them a small drench with the tiny syringe in order to meet that limited window.
It’s also good to have these on hand in case a small kid needs any medications administered, as any medication would need to me in minute doses.
Lamb & Kid Paste – We’ve only ever had to use this once or twice, but it can be a real life saver when you have a weak kid that isn’t sucking or very responsive. A little bit of this can really perk them right up and give them what they need to get going.
BoSe/Selenium supplement – BoSe is an injectable selenium supplement that can only be obtained with a vet prescription, so plan ahead to have it on hand. If a kid is having leg troubles or general weakness, a tiny dose of selenium can usually right the issue very quickly. Those that aren’t comfortable giving shots or who can’t obtain the prescription can keep a selenium paste on hand as well.
Fight Bac – We use this disinfectant spray for the teats on our milking does, but it also works incredibly well on treating does who have torn vulvas due to a tough labor. Once you’ve cleaned and dried the area, spraying it with Fight Bac twice a day will keep the area free from bacteria, and the spray contains a cooling agent which helps sooth an irritated area.
Molasses – When a doe has finished kidding and needs a boot to replenish her strength and fluids, a bucket of warm water laced with unsulphered molasses is just the thing to keep her on her feet while she nurses and cares for her new kids.
Calcium Drench – A good calcium and glucose drench is good to have on hand to support mom if she appears to be struggling pre or post kidding, as she could easily develop milk fever or ketosis. When milk comes in quickly at a high rate, a doe can require a good amount of calcium for supportive care to keep her healthy and productive.
Pritchard Teat – Even if you plan to damn raise, always be prepared with a few Pritchard teats just in case a kid needs to be bottle fed in an emergency. These nipples have always worked great for our kids, and fit on the end of nearly any soda or water bottle
Frozen Colostrum/Colostrum Replacer – If you have access to real goat colostrum, always keep a supply on hand in the freezer. You never know when something could happen to mom’s milk supply, and it’s essential that kid’s get colostrum within the first 24 hours of life. If you don’t have access to real colostrum, keep a good replacer on hand.
Tube Feeder – When a kid is born too weak to eat, sometimes they need to be fed via a tube to their stomach so they can get the nutrients they need to get strong and healthy for the first day or so. This is really an essential to have on hand.
Ketone Strips – Around kidding time, a doe can develop Toxemia or Ketosis, which can be detected with a simple test strip sipped in urine. You can buy these over the counter at any drug store, and are really great to have on hand for testing an “off” doe.
Phone Numbers – Be sure you know the number to a good livestock vet and at least one experienced goat mentor. Having an experienced voice at the other end of the phone can make all the difference in a tough situation.