If you are raising goats, sometime in your career, you will end up helping newborn animals come into the world. While you may already be an expert on the care of adult goats, you’ll have to learn the basics about caring for newborn goats. Mortality involving goat kids occurs primarily in the wild where only the mother goat’s instincts come into play. As a human, you will aid your animals with what they cannot do on their own.
Remember, you are there to help, not take charge. The doe can manage birthing the kid. As an animal owner, you are present, with your hands in disinfected, to extend help if the doe gets into trouble.
When the kid is first born, it is enclosed in a wet membrane and may look completely lifeless. There is no need to panic. In most cases, the mother will lick off the mucus from the kid. This action helps stimulate the newborn kid’s breathing. You can help this action by using a clean towel to help the doe clean the kid.
There is no need to cut the umbilical cord as it will eventually fall off on its own. If you find excessive bleeding, tie the cord with dental floss and then dip it into 7% iodine solution to protect against infection.
Within 30 minutes, the kid will attempt to stand up and nurse. Before this occurs, attempt a few forceful milking actions on both the doe’s teats to remove possible blockages and then guide the kid toward the teats. As you do all of these tasks, start your cleanup as your job is done.
Worst Case Scenario
Sometimes goat births don’t happen easily. If the kid’s breathing does not start at all or is labored with noisy liquid sounds, help the mother clean the kid as fast as possible. Reach into the mouth carefully, by whatever means possible, and remove any fluids you find.
If this doesn’t improve matters, use a syringe to aspirate mucus and other fluids from the mouth and nose. If needed, grab the kid by its hind legs and let it hang for several minutes to aid in the draining of bodily fluids that will ultimately help the animal breathe. Legend has it that old-time farmers tied the newborn’s hind to a fence to drain the fluids. In movies, you’ll see them twirling the kid in the air while holding the hind legs.
Take the doe and the kids to a clean, dry place removed from the remainder of the herd, after birth occurs. The doe and the newborns need to rest and bond with one another. However, you should be alert for sudden maternal aggression that sometimes occurs at this time. After two to three days the doe and newborns can join the herd as the newborns are strong enough not to be injured or trampled.
All newborn kids should have tetanus shots just prior to dehorning, which should happen before the kids are ten days old. Dehorning is also when males are neutered to become wethers.
Newborn baby goat care does not have to be traumatic. Being present, having patience and love are all that is needed.