A Beginner Guide to Kidding
A BEGINNERS GUIDE TO KIDDING
BEFORE THE BIRTH;
Assuming that you are a
‘responsible’ goat owner, you will have waited patiently
until your female was at least 15-18 months before mating
her to a suitable male.
If you have your own
male he should ideally be housed separately from the
It is NOT good management
to allow a male to run with your females as this results in
kids being mated and possibly twice yearly kiddings - aside
from the fact that you will not have a clue when the females
are due to give birth.
Throughout the first 3 ½ months of the
pregnancy the female should be fed her usual quantity of
concentrate, in fact she can be treated exactly the same as
before. If your goats are fed ‘communally’ you should make
sure that all are receiving their fair share, it is very
common for a dominant wether or older female to poach food
from any lower down the pecking order. You will need to
prepare a separate pen for the expectant mother as her
kidding date approaches. After around 3½ months you should
gradually increase her concentrate ration to approx’ double
her usual amount (quantity depends on which feed and protein
level you use)
About a month prior to kidding you should
vaccinate her (Lambivac is the recommended vaccine) to
ensure that the kid/s receive adequate protection against
Tetanus and Entero-toxaemia for the first 8 weeks of life.
Thereafter the kids must be vaccinated themselves.
Your female should have been drenched with a
de-wormer (anthelminic) prior to mating and she will need to
be drenched again a few days after kidding when her
resistance will be low and therefore vulnerable to worms.
You should not try to trim her feet in the
later stages of pregnancy – keep stress levels to a
minimum. Personally I don’t agree with heavily pregnant
goats being transported either.
A few weeks before her due date, which you
should have calculated as 150 days from service, you should
give her pen a thorough clean. Do not leave her water bucket
on the floor of the pen – it has been known for newborn kids
to drop into it and drown ! For safeties sake, raise the
bucket so that she can just get her chin into it..
From about 10 days before her due date you
must keep a close watch on her, checking for physical signs
of impending labour. I say from 10 days because pygmy
females rarely go the full 150 days (within 143 to 157 days
is considered ‘’normal’) In the 24 hours prior to giving
birth the females’ udder will fill with colostrum (thick
creamy milk containing vital antibodies for the kid/s) and
you may notice that the teats look shiny and full. Another
sign to look for is the slackening of the muscles on the
rump – either side of the spine. Aside from the physical
changes you may also notice her pawing at the bedding (nestbuilding)
perhaps being more ‘talkative’ than usual, sometimes the
female may turn her head and appear to talk to her side. I
find that appetite is rarely lost during the kidding
As the cervix begins to dilate the female
will lose a thick, whitish mucus ‘plug’ and with each
contraction you may notice her body stiffen, some females
stretch out and dip their backs, certainly she will look
uncomfortable (watch her ears go back)
Once the kid begins to enter the birth canal,
the cervix being fully dilated, the female will begin to
‘strain’ with each contraction – the typical position is
lying down on one side with one hind leg outstretched, but
some females prefer to stand through the whole process !
The water bag, or amniotic sac to give it its
proper name, is usually preceded by a thick, clear
discharge. If all is going correctly, after a while you
will see the white tips of the two hooves inside the water
bag closely followed by the nose resting on top (usually
with tongue out !) At this point I should add that by this
stage the female is usually quite vocal, much as if she were
being murdered I always think! If you have close neighbours
it might be advisable to warn them.
I find that the older, more experienced
females tend to confine themselves to just a single yell
when the crown of the head emerges. As this happens the
water bag may burst (if not before)
Often the goat will think that once the head
is out the kid is born and will get up, turn around, and
look for the baby. She might want to lick up any amniotic
fluid before the next contraction comes. Another couple of
pushes and the kid should be born.
Your very first job is to ensure that the
nose and mouth are clear of mucus so that it can breath.
In preparation for the kidding, you should
have gathered together a few items and have them ‘at hand’.
Some old towels and something to either dip or spray the
freshly broken umbilical cord with (to prevent infection)
If your goat is a first kidder I would advise
you not to interfere too soon, let her talk to the kid and
get the hang of cleaning it up so that she bonds with it.
Don’t rush to take over the cleaning/drying process until
she has done her share.
If there is a second kid, it usually arrives
within 20-30 minutes of the first and while ‘mum’ is busy
with the second kid you can give the first one a good rub
dry with the towel and spray its cord then swap them over.
If the weather is very cold it helps to get the kid/s dried
off as quickly as possible. Some new ‘mums’ will refuse to
lick the baby (what IS this yukky stuff !) and so you will
need to do the job for her, if you don’t, the next morning
it will look like someone dropped it in a bucket of glue!
Once you are sure that all is well you can
then clean up the bedding and top up with fresh straw and
then get ‘mum’ a drink of warm water (to replace the body
temperature she has just lost through giving birth) Some
people put a bit of glucose (or molasses) in the water as an
energy boost but don’t overdo do it as it can cause diarrhea
if the goat isn’t used to it. Similarly, some people feed
a warm bran mash after kidding but if your goat isn’t used
to it she might turn her nose up at it (mine aren’t keen)
Before leaving the happy family in peace, you
must make sure that the kid/s have found the ‘milk bar’
This is especially important with a first kidder who may be
touchy around her udder and back away every time the baby
gets near it. It may be necessary to gently hold her while
the kid goes in search of its first meal. Don’t assume when
you hear the kid sucking that it has latched on – it might
be sucking on mums’ hair – so make sure that you SEE it
Finally, don’t be alarmed at the passing of
the placenta (afterbirth) which may take several hours to
come away (never pull it) If you are there when it drops,
you should remove it and dispose of it, otherwise the female
might try to eat it and could choke on it, as I know from
So that’s it ! Your much awaited
‘patter of tiny hooves’ has arrived safely - so now you’ll never get any
work done !