6 Lessons I Learned from Kidding This Year

Kidding is over for the year. Over the course of 5 days, I kidded four does who had a total of 7 baby goats! We had 3 sets of twins and one single.

It was a stressful, exhilarating, breathtaking, exhausting, and rewarding week, all rolled into one. Of course, all but one of them went into labor while hubby was gone, so I did everything myself. While packing around an 11 month old baby.

Anyway, I’ve got to say that I’m feeling more confident and capable than last year. I even had to reach inside our only first freshening doe and rearrange her baby’s front leg before pulling it. It was bent back and she was having trouble. It felt so good to see that little guy slide out and take his first breath.

Last year was our first time kidding, and we were the typical stressed-out, first time goat parents. I had done a lot of reading (probably too much…) and was a little paranoid about doing everything exactly by the book.

But this year, I tried to take a more laid-back approach, and we had good results! None of these things are set in stone, and they may not always work; but I found success with them, so maybe you will too.

6 New Lessons Learned from Kidding This Year:

1. Be close, but not TOO close. Last year I had it in my head that we literally needed to be right on top of the doe during the entire kidding process. Now, it’s definitely a good idea to be close at hand during kidding season, in case you need to assist. But, I think we overdid it last year which resulted in some bonding issues. This year I knew when each doe was in labor, but I stayed back and watched her from a distance or piddled around in the barn until she was done. I’m glad I was close when I needed to help our first-freshener, but all the other mamas did just fine without me. Less stress for all involved parties, I think.

2. Engorgement doesn’t work for anyone.  Last year I ended up with a doe whose baby only nursed on one side. I didn’t think much of it, until I noticed 2 of the does starting down the same path this year. I realized that it was because one side of the udder was becoming engorged. The bloated teat made it harder for the babies to suck and also caused the mama to discourage the babies from nursing there because of the tenderness. It can end up being a vicious cycle. This year I tried to catch it early and milked out the engorged side several times per day. It made the doe more comfortable, prevented mastitis, and now the kids are nursing evenly.

3. Give mama some time.  Last year I was so paranoid about the kids getting the colostrum, that I think I was trying to force them on their feet too soon. Yes, colostrum is very, very important in the first few hours of life. But, if they aren’t up and sucking in the first 10 minutes of being on the ground, it’s o.k. Give mama a little bit of time- she’s probably still having light contractions and passing the afterbirth. Let her clean off her kid and bond with it before forcing it up to the udder. If you are going much past a hour, you’ll probably need to intervene and make sure the baby gets some milk, but otherwise, be patient.

4. Prevent weak babies at all costsKeep a close eye on the babies. If they don’t get enough milk or if mama isn’t wanting to let them suck, they will become more and more weak and loose their desire to even look for the udder. I had one buck kid this year that started out well, but got discouraged and quit looking for milk. I milked a little bit into a bottle and fed him to get his strength back up, and now he is back to nursing and playing. Prevention is the key here.
5. A bonding stall isn’t a bad idea.  Obviously, if you don’t have the facilities for this, it’s not a total necessity. That being said, I’m glad we decided to have one this year. I cleaned out a small draft-free room in our empty chicken coop and filled it with fresh shavings, a water bucket, and feed.  I allowed my expecting does to stay with the herd, so not to stress them out by keeping them in isolation. Once the mama had delivered her kids and they were on their feet, I moved her and her kids into the bonding room. I had a heat lamp available for the babies and a pan of grain for the doe. It seemed to be relaxing for everyone and gave the new little families a chance to bond before being thrust back out into the herd.

6. There is nothing more fulfilling than having an active role in new life.  There is something about being able to watch a new life enter the world and take it’s first breath that is just special, whether it be an animal or human! And even when I found myself out in the barn late at night checking on everyone, I almost had to pinch myself because I just love this lifestyle so much. It’s hard work and a little stressful at times, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

So, I can relax for another week or two and then I will start up my milking routine once again. One more kidding season complete, many more to come, I hope!

Are you having babies at your homestead this spring? Calving? Kidding? Lambing? Foaling?

Check out some other posts in the Goat 101 series:


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Jill Winger

Owner/Blogger at The Prairie Homestead
Hey! I'm Jill. I'm all about cooking from scratch, getting dirt under my fingernails, hoarding mason jars, and trying not to kill stuff in my garden. I firmly believe that anyone can be a homesteader. Stick around, and I'll show ya the ropes!

Comments

  1. Oh I just love those baby goats and what is even more precious is your baby with the babies. I am slowly working my way towards getting 2 goats. I know I should just jump in but I tend to over think things. :)
    xo
    Caroline

    • Well, it’s good to be prepared, but we never seem to do that… Nothing like impulse-buying farm animals! hehe

  2. Oh my! I can’t even stand it!! Your baby, just having a seat with the new babies!! Its adorable!

  3. Thank you so much for this post, what an education!

    Our doe isn’t due until May but this information gave me confidence about handling it. I, too, have probably read too much and need to calm down. This will be our first time kidding.
    Daisy (doe) is kidding for the second time, I’m hoping she can handle most of it by herself. :)

  4. Oh, those little kids are so darling! What a specials season!

  5. My daughter has 6 does..5 who were bred…kidded 6..and one still due in a week.We had bought them from 3 different herds.Next year it will be better..all bred about the same time..I hope!!
    We have Nigerians this time. Last time she had 24 Nubians..and 40 Boers.She does love goats!!

    Cindy from Rick-Rack and Gingham

  6. Our Scottish Highlander is due to freshen anytime. She has slowly started to bag up and has milk so it is just a waiting game now. I am really excited. We just received all of our baby chicks, ducks, and gosling this week so we have lots of babies right now. So much fun! I am going to print you post and save it for next year when we will have goats that are kidding. Thank you!

  7. How adorable. And great advice. I can’t wait until I get to spend time with goats again.

    Kate

  8. Hi Jill!
    Wow, how wonderful to have those little babes on your farm. We are lightweight homesteaders so no goats for us, but we do have new chickens on the way! Great post for those who are learning the ropes…
    thanks for linking up today!
    Deb

  9. Oh I love the goats. I’m still dreaming about owning my own. I’ll surely be back to read more about how you raise goats, trying to learn all I can. Thanks for sharing. God Bless.

  10. I bet it was alot of hard work, but so rewarding! That last picture is too cute!

  11. How precious they are! Great info to have. I would be a nervous wreck myself the first time. We plan to have goats in the near future.

    happy day!

  12. great post, thanks!

    there’s so much to learn! we just got our first goat the day after she kidded three kids! so technically, we have our first four goats! everyone is doing very well.

    there are SO much to watch!

    thanks again for this informative post!

  13. Great post & love that pic at the end of your baby & the new kids! Had to laugh at your reply to a commenter on impulse buying farm animals…did that myself today! Well, impulse deal at least because after originally thinking we’d wait until next year for goats, I just made a deal to get some next month!

    • Yes, that is exactly how it starts… You think you *might* get some “in the future” and then somehow you find yourself driving to pick them up the very next day! haha! :)

  14. We just went through a ten day kidding spree over spring break. Ten does and twenty-one kids. Three sets of triplets, two singles and five sets of twins. Definitely a whirlwind. I would certainly agree with your six lessons! Excellent post.

  15. I LOVE the very first photo in this post – how absolutely ADORABLE!

    My husband and I have tinkered with the idea of getting some kind of farm animals for our front field (but not anytime real soon). I’ve thought about horses, cows, sheep, and goats. Lately the idea of goats has been tipping the scale. This is great information (and photos).

    Thanks.

  16. Hello! I am helping a terribly underfunded horse rescue/shelter, Begin Again Farms, in Ellerslie, Ga, raise money. Would you help us out by sharing our link with your readers?
    The horses and I thank you! :)
    -Melissa
    http://fundraisersonline.net

    BTW- Contact me to put together a free online fundraiser for your favorite shelter!!

  17. I know this is an older blog, but could you recommend some books for 1st time kidders? We are expecting in April/May, and need to do some studying up. BTW I love your blog, so much useful information. Thank you!

    • Hi Holly,
      I’m trying to remember what books were most helpful to me… I think Storey’s Guide to Dairy Goats was a good one- also I used The Goat Spot forum a lot our first year. (http://thegoatspot.net/phpbb/index.php) It was helpful to read other people’s questions, I asked several *frantic* questions of my own during the kidding process. Good luck! :)

  18. Do you recommend any books or online videos on kidding? Thanks!

  19. THATS THE BREED I HAVE !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! are they nubian!!!!! :D

  20. Hi Jill. We have a home on 40 acres of shared land with my in-laws and have an assortment of animals too. Though we have had goats for about 4 years this is our first year we are expecting “kids”. I found your site and am so thankful for all of your wonderful information. In reading different information about getting does ready to kid several sources suggest shaving the does udder and around their tale. I attempted this but my doe was not having it! I noticed in your pictures your does look unshaven. I was wondering if this posed a problem for you with the kids getting milk, milking and keeping the mamas comfortable. Thanks for taking the time to document your lifestyle for the benefit of others!

    • Hi Jessica– the first year I shaved everything, but haven’t since. I haven’t had a problem with it– so my girls seem to appreciate the unshaven approach. :) However, if I’m milking them and their udder gets particularly hairy, I will still shave it a bit.

  21. Thanks for this post and the one about signs of labor (and the pictures) we are first time ‘goat parents’ this year and my doe has a bunch of mucus and looks like she’s dropped so I’m trying to keep an eye on her. Love your site, I can’t wait to cruise around a bit on it – my husband and I are just getting started with our little homestead life but we’re military so we get to start over every 3 years :D If you’re interested in whole foods recipes I blog at http://foodsofourlives.com

    Thanks again!!!

  22. We are expecting our first baby(s) any time now, from our Nubian/LaMancha cross. I got her last year in a barter and then later in the year, had a Nubian buck given to me. She is swelled and her bag is getting bigger. I’m on pins and needles right now ,as I’m not sure exactly when she is due ! Thank you so much for all your advice ! It has helped to calm me, a little, lol….

  23. our goat is due this week and she is very restless cant wait

  24. Valerie Smith says:

    I just love all your postings, your website and the subscription emails I receive (often, but not often enough)! I am so sad to see that you have downsized, you obviously loved the goat – mama thing. Hope you can get the fencing sorted out soon ! I have decided that goats and chickens WILL be the order of the day when I can finally leave “urban” and go “rural”!
    Your posts are so informing and interesting and inspiring and I just cannot get enough…with you in spirit..Val

  25. Valerie Smith says:

    PS…just a thought…while you might not have a tool to extract the cream and get butter…perhaps when you are up to speed with the goats again…:-))…why not consider the cheese / soap route for all that extra goodness!. I hear that artisinal cheese from goats is rapidly gaining gourmet credibility!? credentials!? same goes for the creamy artisinal soaps/lotions made with all sorts of extras for great soft skin. :-)

  26. Mr Edwin Thaxton Calif.. says:

    We goat a goat at the livestock sale an it is about 4 monts old we think.
    We but it togather with a male goat an now we think she is pragent.
    We dont know or not. Thank you Mr. Thaxtpon

  27. Bert Kline says:

    We have one dairy doe that we had bred here on our property. We also purchased two bred Boar Does (nothing like jumping right in) and our first one gave birth today. She gave birth to her kids this morning. TRIPLETS!! As we were first timers, my wife and I were nervously losing sleep the past couple nights in our minus 4 temperatures. We kept feeling her udder but that didn’t really begin to firm up till this morning as she was going into serious labor. She had the colostrum plugs on her nipples for at least a week though. We had seen white, mucous discharge at her vulva for the past week or so, which put us on edge. The vulva had also been puffy for a couple weeks already. So those signs are not a need of immediate concern.

    The obvious signs of immediacy? Beginning last night around 8pm, a sign our Sweetpea gave us was obvious changes in behavior, going back and forth between affection and “don’t touch me”. Second, she was restless and constantly changing between standing, pacing, or laying down. Before this, she spent the last week or so eating and simply resting in a “nest” so it was easy to tell. The other sign… obvious because we did not need to be near her to get it, was blatting every few seconds… a couple here and there like she was in distress (no surprise).

    This morning at around 6am, we went down and she had a slightly bloody discharge with no letup in her other obvious signs. We built a heat lamp box and went to the house for only a couple minutes. When I went back down, number one was being licked clean in her mother’s bonding!! While we were drying this one off, the second one came. LOL!! We began cleanup and my wife headed to the house while I stayed behind to make sure they nursed… when I noticed another sack being expelled by momma…..

    A note of information; the afterbirth came out cleanly right behind kid number three and birthing was done by 12:30pm… over 6 hours from the time we first noticed the bloody discharge.

    So here we are, first time goat parents! Our herd of 8 goats overall just jumped to 11 thanks to one wonderful Boar doe. Two expecting mothers left to go! Thank you so much for the information you shared on what to look for in a goat’s labor signs.

    Now I’m back off to the barn to complete the heat boxes in the other pens we have set aside for our other two expecting mommas.