Kidding Season: A Guide to Goat Birthing and Care

Kidding season is an exciting time for goat owners and breeders alike. It’s the period when baby goats, or kids, are born and take their first steps in the world. This comprehensive guide will provide you with essential information on goat birthing and care, ensuring a successful and healthy kidding season for your goats.

Understanding Goat Reproduction

Goats are seasonal breeders, with most breeds coming into heat during the fall months. The heat cycle, also known as estrus, occurs every 18 to 24 days and lasts for about 12 to 48 hours. It’s crucial to recognize the signs of heat and properly time breeding to ensure successful conception.

A goat’s gestation period typically lasts for 145 to 155 days, with an average of 150 days. Goat owners should keep a detailed record of breeding dates to anticipate the expected due date for their goats accurately.

Preparing for Kidding Season

a. Nutrition

Proper nutrition is critical for pregnant goats. During the last six weeks of pregnancy, the doe’s nutritional needs increase significantly as the fetus grows rapidly. Provide quality forage, supplemental hay, and a well-balanced goat feed to ensure the doe receives enough nutrients.

b. Housing and Shelter

Clean and sanitize the kidding area at least two weeks before the expected due date. A well-ventilated and draft-free barn or shed is ideal, with separate kidding pens for each doe. This helps prevent the spread of disease and ensures a calm environment for the doe during labor.

c. Supplies

Gather all necessary supplies in advance to ensure you are prepared for the birthing process. Some essential items include:

  • Towels or rags for drying the newborn
  • Disinfectant for cleaning the umbilical cord
  • Iodine for dipping the umbilical cord
  • Gloves for assisting in the birthing process
  • Lubricant for assisting in difficult births
  • A digital thermometer to monitor the newborn’s temperature
  • Colostrum or colostrum replacer

Signs of Labor

Recognizing the signs of labor is crucial for goat owners. Common indicators include:

  • Behavioral changes, such as restlessness, pawing at the ground, or isolating themselves
  • Swollen udder
  • Hollowed-out appearance around the hip and tail area
  • A noticeable drop in the tailbone
  • Mucus discharge
  • Vocalizations

Stages of Labor

There are three stages of labor in goats:

a. Stage One: Contractions begin, and the cervix starts to dilate. This stage may last for several hours.

b. Stage Two: The water breaks, and the doe begins to push. This stage is when the kid is born, typically within 30 minutes to an hour.

c. Stage Three: The afterbirth, or placenta, is expelled. This usually occurs within one to three hours of the kid’s birth.

Post-birth Care

Once the kid is born, ensure it is breathing and clear any mucus from its nostrils. Dry the kid with a clean towel or rag and disinfect and dip the umbilical cord in iodine.

Monitor the doe for any signs of retained placenta or other complications. Encourage her to pass the placenta by allowing her to lick and clean the

kid, which releases oxytocin and helps with contractions. If the placenta has not been expelled within 12 hours, contact a veterinarian for assistance.

Neonatal Care and Early Development

a. Colostrum: Ensure the kid consumes colostrum within the first few hours of life. Colostrum is the doe’s first milk and contains essential nutrients, antibodies, and immune-boosting properties. A healthy kid will naturally seek the teat and nurse; however, if the kid is weak or unable to nurse, bottle-feed colostrum or use a colostrum replacer.

b. Bonding: Allow the doe and kid to bond without unnecessary disturbances. Bonding is essential for imprinting and helps establish a strong mother-kid relationship.

c. Temperature: Keep the newborn warm and dry, especially during cold weather. A heat lamp or warming box can provide additional warmth if needed. Monitor the kid’s temperature regularly, ensuring it stays between 101.5°F and 103.5°F.

d. Umbilical Care: Keep an eye on the umbilical cord area for signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. A healthy umbilical cord should dry up and fall off within a week.

e. Feeding: After the colostrum stage, ensure the kid receives adequate milk or milk replacer. Bottle-feed if necessary, but encourage natural nursing whenever possible. Gradually introduce solid food, such as hay and grain, after two to three weeks.

f. Vaccinations and Deworming: Consult your veterinarian for a recommended vaccination and deworming schedule. Proper preventative care is crucial for the kid’s overall health and development.

Common Complications and Solutions

a. Dystocia: Dystocia, or difficult birth, is common in goats. If a doe is struggling to deliver, provide assistance by gently manipulating the kid or applying lubricant. In severe cases, consult a veterinarian immediately.

b. Weak Kids: Kids born weak or unresponsive may require additional care, such as tube feeding or warming. Consult your veterinarian for appropriate interventions.

c. Mastitis: Mastitis, or inflammation of the mammary gland, can occur post-birth. Monitor the doe’s udder for swelling, redness, or heat, and consult a veterinarian if symptoms persist.

d. Retained Placenta: If the placenta is not expelled within 12 hours, contact a veterinarian for assistance.

Kidding Season Checklist

  • Keep accurate breeding records
  • Provide proper nutrition for pregnant does
  • Prepare a clean, sanitized kidding area
  • Gather essential birthing supplies
  • Monitor for signs of labor and assist as necessary
  • Ensure newborns receive colostrum and proper neonatal care
  • Monitor for complications and consult a veterinarian when needed
  • Adhere to recommended vaccination and deworming schedules


Kidding season is an exciting and rewarding time for goat owners. By understanding goat reproduction, preparing for the birthing process, and providing proper post-birth care, you can ensure a successful and healthy kidding season for your goats. Remember, a knowledgeable and prepared owner is key to successful goat birthing and care.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *