Kidding Season: What to Have on Hand
It’s that time of year again and if you’re like most, these last 150 days have gone by way too fast and now your does are ready to pop! And whether this is your first or 50th kidding season, it is easy to let time slip by without getting all the supplies and things you need together in one spot! Even the old timers need a refresher now and then, so here are some tips and reminders of what to have on hand for your birthing season.
…And lots of them! You can never have too many old towels and rags lying around during kidding season. These come in handy for everything. It’s important to clean off kids’ noses and mouths to ensure they can breathe properly and a towel is perfect for this important step. Towels also come in handy when you need a quick, clean spot to put the babies before you move them to their new stall with clean, fresh bedding. The best place to buy old towels and rags if you don’t have any around your home or barn? Check out your local thrift store and pick up some old tee shirts and towels. Get enough for a few kiddings so you’re prepared for the next round!
This is an important step in kidding that will prevent infection in new kids. After the umbilical cord has been broken, the remaining piece should be thoroughly dipped in iodine. This is a messy step, so those towels will come in handy here. One method that makes this a little easier is to have a small jar (baby food jar works perfectly) and fill it with iodine and keep in the barn. This way, you can easily dip the cord into the jar and give the baby a quick flip to make sure the iodine gets all the way up to its belly. The baby jar helps avoid getting iodine all over the place and if you have an extra set of hands helping you, it should make things even easier. Iodine stains, so be sure to wear gloves or some sort of covering so your hands aren’t brown for days!
This may seem like an obvious one, but sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the mess that kidding can produce. Be sure to have extra straw or shavings around so you can throw it under your kids and doe as she’s birthing. Keep a rake nearby so you can pull away soiled bedding as the kids are born. Not only does this make things easier for clean up after the birthing is over, but it’s a nicer environment for your does and kids to be in as things progress.
Penicillin, Antibacterial Cleanser and Lubricant
It’s always good to have these items on hand in the event that you need to assist a doe who is in distressed labor. If you suspect a doe is struggling because the kid is in a breach or some other difficult birthing position, it may be necessary to go inside the doe and re-position the kid. It is worthy to note that you should only do this if you feel comfortable and experienced; otherwise, it may be wise to call your vet or a friend who can help. If you decide that you will need to assist, it is very important to thoroughly wash your hands and arms. Having a nail brush on hand is good to clean under nails and if they are long, cut them down as best you can. Failing to completely wash your hands and arms can lead to infection in the doe. When your arms and hands are clean, use the lubricant to ensure that you can enter the birth canal easily and safely. Over-the-counter lubricant such as Vaseline works well. After you’ve assisted in re-positioning the kid, give your doe the appropriate penicillin injection, based on her age and weight. This is a preventative measure that will protect your doe in case any infection may occur.
Supplement for Mom
It’s more of a treat than a supplement, but giving the doe a little extra sugar after she has finished birthing is never a bad idea. Some molasses in water or some hot tea with sugar is a great treat your doe will surely appreciate after her hard work. Allow her to have access to all the hay, water and grain that she wants, as it is important to keep her strength up as she is now producing milk for her kids.
A Few More Things…
The list above is just a few of the most essential items you should have readily available during kidding season. It’s also a good idea to have the names and numbers of your veterinary contacts and other ‘goat people’ you trust with advice in case something doesn’t go as planned. If you plan to bottle-feed the kids, having a stall ready to place them in away from the mother is a time-saver. Be sure to create a pen that the mother can still see her kids, or else you may have a very noisy barn! Cattle panels work great, but be sure to attach some kind of mesh or chicken wire to the bottom of the panels to prevent kids from getting stuck if they try to escape. Another item to have on hand if you are planning to bottle-feed is empty, clean soda bottles and nipples. Also, be sure to have your milking station clean and ready to go, because your doe will need to be milked fairly quickly in order to get the colostrum for the kids.
Being prepared is always the first step towards a successful kidding season. Having these items handy will help your season go smoothly and get off on the right foot. Happy kidding!
Is your barn prepped and ready for kidding season? What are some supplies that you always keep on hand when you’re ‘expecting’?