Preparing the Kidding Stall - Part 1

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At our farm, we try to do all that we can to ensure a calm and healthy environment for our does to kid. Certainly, goats can give birth in all sorts of conditions, but if we can do something to make it easier or more successful, we try.

While you want to provide an area that’s comfortable for your doe, you also have to provide a safe place for kids to reside with their mother.

Why and When to Separate Your Doe

If you only keep a couple of goats who hold a special bond, as many goat pairs often do, then you may not need to separate your doe from the herd. We keep ten goats, a mix of dairy and fiber breeds. They can get rambunctious and are very nosy, so to limit the chaos during a birth, we separate our does that are in labor.

It’s important for mothers to share a special, intimate bond with her new babies. She needs time to clean the newborn, encourage it to nurse, to consume the placenta (which is very healthy and normal) and rest her body.

We, as care takers also need to be able to do things like assist with abnormal deliveries, tie umbilical cords, and provide care to both dam and newborns without other goats trying to get through the gate, jumping up to see what we have, and stomping on newborns, etc.

We prepare the kidding stall well in advance of her due date, so it’s ready should she go into labor early. Usually about two weeks before the date. We don’t separate her until she is in active labor.

When our does are getting close to their time, we check them every six hours for signs of labor. Signs might be softening of the pin bones, contractions, or leaking from the vulva.    

If your doe seems stressed by being separated from the herd, then let her be with who she’s most comfortable. We have a pair of Nubian sisters that get very stressed when separated.

The Physical PenWM_2013-4-2_035_2

For our kidding pen, we use an extra empty stall in our barn. If you don’t have multiple stalls, a makeshift area can be constructed with heavy pallets or plywood.

Our birthing stall also doubles as our kid pen, which we use to separate the kids from their mother so we can milk her. We keep our kids with their mother for at least six weeks full time. Then after that, if the kids seem to be taking an interest in hay, we separate them at night, and milk the dam in the morning for our own use.

When you construct the pen, it should be baby goat proof. Make sure the fencing or walls are secure and that baby goat heads and legs can’t get caught. They are also masters at escaping through small areas, so be sure to button up cracks.

Even though our kids will be nursing, we give them access to hay, water and minerals at a very early age so all feed buckets, mineral blocks and mangers have to be accessible to tiny goat heights.

WM_2013-4-7_024If you use buckets that hook over a board, be sure to lower the boards so baby goats can reach feed and water. We use a shallower water bucket to prevent drowning or hypothermia in case the baby was to fall into the water.

If you’re still experiencing cold weather when the dams are due, secure the pen against drafts. Fold blankets over open wire fencing or place plywood boards up to block out drafts.

Don't forget to read Preparing the Kidding Stall - Part 2. We'll touch on Cleaning the Stall, Elements to Include in the Stall and the Importance of Stanchion.

Also, Kidding season is upon us! Prepare for your upcoming kids with our short young animal videos. Proper preparation can be the difference between life & death in your newborn kid. CLICK HERE TO WATCH!

Jennifer Sartell - Professional Homesteader & Blogger

Jennifer Sartell - Professional Homesteader & Blogger

Jennifer Sartell is the primary care taker of all animals on her and her husband’s farm in Fenton, MI. With a passion for living a simple life, Jennifer enjoys creating art, taking in nature, raising animals and has developed a deep appreciation for homesteading. Jennifer and her husband, Zach, currently raise goats and poultry. Her vast amount of experience on the farm includes, but is not limited to: milking, shearing, hoof trimming, vaccine administration, assisting in animal births, dehorning, egg collecting, chick and turkey hatching, feeding, watering, etc. She can also cook a mean farm-to-table meal and when the day is done has documented and photographed their day on the farm.

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