Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.
Kidding time is coming up fast, are you prepared? What do you need to have on hand for a good, stress free, successful, kidding, that will result in strong, healthy kids?
In this blog I'll tell you all of the things that inhabit our kit and we never have to go searching for anything that we need. Our very first kidding was awful and we were totally unprepared and disorganized. A well thought out, and properly stocked kidding kit is a great place to start the season!
My passion for educating in the field of goat husbandry started at that very first kidding. With no cell phones or internet, there was no one around to ask, and at that time, not even many books to refer to. Most people in our area didn't even realize we were raising goats! Folks would stop by our house and remark about our pretty sheep...they were Angora goats.
(In case it wasn't obvious in this photo, meet Winnie, our very pregnant French Alpine. She still has 2 months to go! By the time she kids we are usually calling her "Winnie-bago" or "Wide Winnie")
The kidding kit we use has two parts. First, a large canvas bag (this is the bag, kept next to the door, that I grab as I head full tilt to the barn) with at least 6 bath sized old towels stuffed in it. (Hey, ladies what a great opportunity to clean out all those raggedy towels that are too embarrassing to use, but too good to throw away!) These towels will get bleached and washed over and over again, so please don't use good ones, AND, little hand towels, dish towels, or rags are totally inadequate. My bag also contains, a tube of K-Y Jelly, an inexpensive blow dryer, a zip lock bag of surgical gloves, and finally a hair clip (I have long hair that I like to keep out of the way). As soon as a doe has kidded, the towels go straight into the washer with laundry soap and some added bleach to be ready for the next go-round. We often have more than one doe due at the same time, so these items always have to be ready.
Here is a bit of “funny” and extremely useful advice. If the baby monitor wakes you up in the middle of the night and it's cold out, use the bathroom before you go out! You will be much more comfortable!
Having delivered literally thousands of kids over the years, I have found that it takes 3 big towels to get one kid dry. So, the six towels work nicely for a set of twins. We keep extra towels on hand during kidding season just in case we need them. We also save a few empty grain bags to dispose of afterbirth that some moms happily eat and others just want it out of there.
The surgical gloves are great to keep the goop and slime off of your hands, they give you a better grip, and if you are like me and allergic to iodine, they keep that off your skin also! The K-Y Jelly is in there just in case the dam needs a little help with the delivery. More about the delivery in my next blog.
My husband, Ken, takes a little longer to wake up and get dressed, so he takes the second part of the kit with him. It is a small tote type container.
An ear tagger with ear tags (if you are raising meat or fiber goats), a pad of paper, pencil (if you live in a cold climate, remember ink can freeze and pens won't write in the cold!), paper collars for dairy kids, a Sharpie for writing on the paper collars, agricultural iodine (7% works best), small plastic cups to hold the iodine, syringes, and finally a prescription selenium called Bo-Se.
Let's go over each item and why it's in there. An ear tagger for meat and fiber goat babies. Their ears are so thin just after birth that the ear tags go in quickly and easily and hardly bothers them! Plus it's great knowing who they are at a glance once they are all out playing together. They are also invaluable for record keeping.
We use the paper collars on our dairy kids, writing their dam's name and their date of birth on them. Last year we had a run on little white Alpine babies with black trim, without their collars we would have had quite a time remembering who belonged to who. They change so fast and you may ultimately need this information for registration papers!
The Northeast and many other parts of the country are very deficient in selenium. About seven years ago, our vet recommended that we give our new born kids ½ cc of Bo-Se (selenium). It has made a remarkable difference! So this step has become a “must do” in our birthing procedure.
We dip the kids umbilical cords in the iodine, which has been poured into little cups. If you know someone who works in a nursing home or hospital, they use these as pill cups, distributing meds to patients and then throw them away, they would probably be happy to re-purpose them.
Once the baby is cleaned up, tagged, naval dipped, and given Bo-Se, we weigh them. Remember the canvas bag with the towels in it? Well, we hang the empty bag on our hanging dairy scale, zero it out, and put the babies in the bag to weigh them. The bag then goes into the wash along with the towels. The pencil and paper comes into use to note the weight of the kid wearing that particular ear tag number or paper collar.
We have an excellent set of birthing progression photos on our web site that you might want to take a look at! www.mainegoats.com
Feeling a little overwhelmed about all that's involved with having goats? Come to “Goat School” on June 2nd and 3rd . It's a fun, hands-on, learning experience. For more information click here!
We also offer our “Goat School” Manual and my new book: “Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking”.