For the most part, birth is a natural process for a goat. Most of the time she will take care of everything herself and us humans will only need to do a few things to give nature a boost and some extra reassurance. But, sometimes things don’t go according to plan, so it’s always good to have some back up items in place.
The following items are suggestions of things that we’ve found work for us and our herd. As you become more familiar with goat birthing, I’m sure that you will customize this list to fit your needs.
We put all of our items in a large plastic tote and set it on our covered porch, ready to go.
Birthing Kit Checklist
Tarp or Empty Feed Sacks- These are definitely handy to have on hand. They create an instant clean, dry surface. Sometimes, we put them under the doe to collect the placenta, or to place a kid on - that needs to be cleaned. Sometimes, we sit on them in the stall if we have to wait and watch a doe. They’re just nice to have around.
Surgical gloves- In case the doe is having problems, if a kid needs to be turned or pulled the use of surgical gloves keeps things sanitary for both you and the goat.
Personal Lubricant- this can be used with the surgical gloves to make internal inspection more comfortable for the goat.
Paper Towels- Believe me, you’ll be thankful you have them handy!
Bucket of Warm Soapy Water- It’s nice to be able to clean yourself up a bit if you have to assist in multiple births.
Old, Clean Bath Towels- Let mom do most of the cleaning. This is an important time for her to bond with her new kid. But, if she is in active labor with a second kid and the first one is still wet and cold, us humans can help mom by drying off the baby goat.
Hair dryer- Some of our goat kids have been rejected by their mothers, so to dry them properly, especially in colder Spring weather, a hair dryer set on low can help dry damp babies completely.
Digital Instant-Read Thermometer- It’s good to have, especially if the goat kid is born in cold weather. You can make sure the temperature is staying where it should be. A goat’s temperature should be between 102.5° - 103.5° degrees Farenheit.
Dental Floss- We use floss to tie umbilical cords. This limits the exposure to bacteria.
Scissors- To cut lengthy umbilical chords, dental floss etc. Handy to have.
Iodine- To dip umbilical cords after tying.
Dixie Cup- We tear the top off of a Dixie cup to make a shallow dish to dip the umbilical cord. It’s disposable, and we usually have them on hand for dipping our milk goat’s teats. You can also use a clean lid or any shallow dish.
Selenium Gel- Our area is very deficient in Selenium so we always give our newborn kids a Selenium supplement. Selenium can mean life or death to a newborn goat. Check with your County Extension and your Veterinarian to determine if your goats will need a Selenium supplement and for the correct dosage.
Probiotics- We also give our newborns a dose of probiotic gel designed for baby goats. This helps to pick up their appetite and get the rumen going.
Bottle Nipples- If you find that you have to bottle feed your goat kids, it’s nice to have the nipples ready to go. You can find these at local feed stores.
Several Clean Empty Soda Bottles- We use clean 20oz soda bottles to feed our goat babies. I take the labels off and mark on the side of the bottle, ounce increments.
Kid Colostrum- It’s always best if you can milk the dam and feed it to the babies, but sometimes this isn’t possible. Having Manna Pro Kid Colostrum, specifically formulated for baby goats, on hand is a must. Kid Colostrum is a rich source of essential amino acids for a fast start to life.
Bottle brush- to clean the bottles between uses.
Electrolytes- These are important for the mother. We recommend Manna Pro Goat Electrolyte, a supplement that helps keep goats healthy during times of stress.
Molasses- We make a bucket of warm molasses water for mom after labor.
Be prepared to go into milking mode at birth. Even if you aren’t planning to milk your goats for some time, nature has a way of changing our expectations. There are times when the doe won’t let the kids nurse, or the kids are too weak to nurse. In this instance, milking must take place.
There are many different ways to milk goats. Each farm seems to have their own routine and practice when it comes to sanitation, teat dipping, etc. It's important to research and decide the method you are comfortable with. We recommend having these supplies on hand:
Wash Cloth, Soap and Pail to Wash Udders- We use Castile soap to wash our goat’s udders. Don't worry about keeping things extremely sterile for the kid, but keep in mind, you also don’t want bacteria going into the mother’s teat. Kid saliva has some antibacterial properties that help keep bacteria out of the mother’s teat, in between feedings while the wax cap is forming. The soapy water takes the place.
Strip Cup- to check for mastitis or abnormalities
Milk Pail- to collect milk
Iodine- to dip teats after milking
If this is your first time preparing for the birth of a goat be calm and trust in yourself and in your does. Having useful items at a hands reach is not only convenient, but will help to take additional stress off the situation. Birth in the farmyard is always a joyful time.
Be sure to check back often for future posts on Birthing and Raising Kids.
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.