How to Have Happy and Healthy Goat Babies


| 1/8/2014 9:26:00 AM


Tags: goats, Florida Julia Shewchuk,

two healthy 2014 doelings

This is an exciting time, every year. We are waiting for our newest members of our goat family, the itty bitty goat babies. Our first dairy doe’s official due date was on December 31st, closely followed by five more. Every due date generally varies by five days plus or minus, so we ARE NOW in ready mode for the impending births. We have the kidding box stocked up and ready, ten kidding towels freshly washed and stacked on top of the kidding box, the scale and the bucket for hot water with molasses nearby, the mommy-pen cameras turned on, and the text group for: “BABIES!!!!!!” is set up in the phone to sound the “alarm” to the interns when the time comes. We have prepped and prepared for the last 150 days according to our “Mom’s-To-Be-Health Schedule” and now all we can do is wait. Each dairy doe typically weighs about 190 – 220 pounds around birth and on average gives birth to two five pound goat babies (kids).

The Signs

We check on the “Almost Moms” every time we walk by the birthing pen and look for the signs of an impending birth, which may, or may not, all or some, be present: the softening of the ligaments around the tail and relaxing of the muscles in the hind legs (the mushy feeling), the filling of the udder, the nesting behavior, and last but most important, the “goop”. Goop is our scientific term for the white mucus plug with string which, when present, usually signals a birth within two hours. But of course, a goat being a goat, all of these symptoms can be present and it will take another 48 hours, or none of these symptoms are present and in the time it takes to bring a tool from the barn to the house (15 minutes), two goat babies are on the ground.

The Birth

The average birth goes like this: it is cold and rainy out and night. We are fast asleep or we are having company for dinner. The mommy cam comes to life with a no-to-be-mistaken sound of a goat in labor. We check the camera and for sure: the goat is laying down, head outstretched and labor has started. We drop our forks or put on our clothes and race to the birthing pen while attempting to text the interns. One person runs to the goat, the second one grabs the birthing box, several towels and the bucket. We hover near the goat ready to assist if needed, but not disturbing, and as each new goat baby arrives, we help with cleaning, drying and presenting it to Mom. We make sure the kids are standing and nursing on their own within an hour to drink the so important colostrum, we dip the navels in iodine and we give the exhausted doe fresh hay and a bucket of hot water with molasses to restore much needed energy. Once we are certain that the doe (or dam) and the goat babies (or kids) are healthy, dry and clean with full tummies, we turn on the heat lamp, clean the pen, provide fresh, deep bedding, record the dam’s name, number of kids, sex, weight, date and time of birth and future tattoo number in at least three locations, and then go back to what we did when the birthing started, about 2 hours later.




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