Baby Care



The first part of this page follows naturally after the "deliveries" page. The newborn kid has just emerged on its own or you have successfully assisted in its delivery. That does not mean that the work is all done. Far from it! It will be soaking wet. Its head, including the parts that breath, may be completely enclosed in a membrane. It may not show any signs of life whatsoever.
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No, don't grab it right away and run outside and start twirling it over your head like you saw in some movie. First, remove your OB glove. Grab a towel and with it remove any membranes over the nose and head. Stick your towel-covered hand in the mouth and remove whatever mucous or fluids that are there. Rub the sides or ribs vigorously with your towel. Chances are breathing has started by now. Use the nose or ear syringe (from "getting started" page to get more of the mucous out. Squeeze it tight, insert in throat (gently) and release the pressure, quickly withdrawing. Alternately, repeat this in one nostril while you hold the other nostril closed. You can take a piece of hay or straw and stick it up a nostril and wiggle it, which will make the kid sneeze and expel lots of stuff. Keep drying the kid at the same time and vigorously rub the side. Go back to the nose syringe. You will keep busy all the time. You can grab it by the back legs with a towel-covered hand and just lift it up and let some of the fluids drain out. (Old timers used to tie their back legs over a nearby fence and just let them hang there a while.)

By now you will have a fairly good idea of where you stand. If it is breathing quietly with no noticeable sounds of liquids in the lungs or trachea, you can start to relax and get Mom interested in cleaning her new arrival. But if breathing has not started or is accompanied by a great deal of noisy liquid, more drastic measures may be in order. If there is no breathing at all, you can try slapping the sides or mouth-to-mouth respiration. A common problem is that they will breath weakly for a little while and then just stop until you give artificial respiration, which helps for a while. This is very frustrating. Just keep on trying, doing the best you can. Sometimes things will work out OK, and sometimes not.

If it is still having a great deal of trouble, twirling may now be in order. I like to wait a little bit because it is rather traumatic and they need to have a little going for them before you start. (That is just MY opinion, not expertise!) Be sure to grab ahold of both back legs with a towel. Otherwise, you will launch the slippery thing into orbit. You can either spin around real fast and get nice and dizzy and fall down or you can swing it in a circle over your head like a calf roper or in a circle perpendicluar to the ground. You have to go FAST to create enough force to draw the fluid out of the lungs. After you've gone around three or four times, place the kid on the ground and use your squeegie to finish up the job. While it is flying about, your partner will notice globs of mucous being flung out. Calmly rub the kid and continue any variety of the above techniques to keep the breathing going well. I really like tickling the nostrils with a piece of hay. You can squeeze the ribcage and try other forms of artificial respiration.

Insert the dangling umbilical cord into the jar of iodine, press the bottle against the stomach and invert the kid and bottle, giving the whole area a good soaking. [You will want to repeat this process in a couple of hours.] If it is a male, make sure that you only include the navel (and NOT the penis)  in the dipping process; iodine is pretty painful stuff!!! If the cord is real long, you will want to cut it back to about 6 inches a little later. If at the time of birth, the cord did not separate from Mom on its own, (which is really quite rare) leave them attached until you get breathing well under way. (You obviously cannot fling the kid over your head this way!) Then you can tie two knots with regular sewing thread about an inch apart and with scissors make a cut between the knots. In emergencies, I have manually separated the cord by just grabbing it in both hands and pulling it apart. Never just cut it with a knife or scissors, that may cause a lot of bleeding.

Now you have a living thing, breathing on its own and its navel is dipped. Remove the "plug" from each of the doe's teats by regular (forceful) milking action. You may have to manipulate the plug down the canal between thumb and forefinger. By now the kid may be interested in its first meal. This takes a little practice both on the part of you and the kid. You can roll around on the ground. You can lie on your back and look up. No amount of describing the process is really going to help. Squirting a little milk on the lips usually gives it the idea that maybe it tastes good, but you have to be careful about getting it down the throat and choking the kid. You can try squirting a little milk on your little finger and sticking that in its mouth so it gets a taste of milk. Sometime rubbing the roof of its mouth or the back of the tongue starts the sucking reflex. If things just don't work out very well you can get some of her milk into a bottle and feed the kid from the bottle. I prefer to do that. It gets things started much faster. Some people prefer to tube feed the kid its first colostrum. There's nothing wrong with that if you don't deposit the milk in the lungs. Some kids just don't seem to start off with a sucking reflex and in that can you have no choice but to tube feed.


If you do not have any colostrum in the freezer, milk a little of it into an 8 oz yogurt container to put away for a future emergency.  Someday you'll be glad you did. Probably shouldn't keep it longer than a year. 

There are various recommended techniques for thawing frozen colostrum: some sources state that it is alright to thaw colostrum in the microwave if you use 50% power. I would not recommend this. We thaw it slowly at room temperature or in a pan of warm water.

You can frequently avoid having to use stored colostrum by milking the doe into a bottle and feeding it to the kid right away before it has a chance to develop bad feelings about being forced to drink off Mom. I personally think that this is very helpful in getting the kid to quickly learn how to nurse. We try to get ours nursing off mom just as soon as the liquid has cleared out of their lungs and breathing passages. They seem better at learning then than if you wait a while.

The general rule in feeding colostrum is to give 5 percent of body weight (or 6 - 8 ounces) within the first 6 hours of birth (as much of this as possible within the first hour) and 24 - 30 ounces within the first 24 hours. If the baby is nursing directly off the mom, it is almost impossible for it too get too much colostrum this way.  The mother will continue to produce colostrum for about 18 hours after delivery, but beyond 12- 15 hours, the gut of the newborn has pretty well lost its ability to absorb the beneficial contents of colostrum. If you are unable to obtain any colostrum from the mother, the freezer, the neighbor's cow or any other source, you can buy powdered (or in bolus form) colostrum from better feed stores. While better than nothing, these will lack antibodies to organisms found in your local environment. If you plan to give one of the colostrum boluses, be sure to grind it up before giving it; newborns have a very difficult time swallowing pills, especially larger ones like this. If Mom has received a C&D booster prior to delivery, these antibodies will be passed in the colostrum (not via the placenta) and last for about five weeks. 

This subject will be covered in detail on our "Routines/Vaccinations" page when that is completed. For now, the pregnant doe should receive a CD/T shot about three weeks before delivery. This will provide some antibodies to the kid through the colostrum. At about two weeks of age, give the kid 1 ml of CD/T subcutaneously (under the skin of the shoulder or neck). Repeat this in three weeks. Some folks also give the mother a Vitamin A shot (about 1/2 ml IM) three weeks before delivery and about 1/8 to 1/4 ml to the kid during the first week.

(The term "CD/T" refers to Clostridium Perfringens Types C &D­Tetanus Toxoid. Alternatively, you can use a product which contains a greater number of the "Clostridials" such as Covexin®8, following the maker's instructions.)


There are several methods of castrating young animals and these are all discussed in detail in many of the books. The technique used is generally a matter of personal preference.

The best is probably the "cutting" of the scrotum and the actual removal of the testes. The bottom third of the sack is cut off and the testes are pulled down while sraping the cord with a knife until it separates. Do not simply cut through the cords.

Most goat raisers use "bands." These are applied with "elastrators" or "castrating and docking pliers". Obviously they go over the testicles. Be sure not to get the band too tight against the belly; rather, try to get it down closer to the testicles. Sliding the band off the pliers takes a little bit of dexterity and practice. Make sure it doesn't roll up into the belly when you do this.

Be sure to check for the development of infection once or wtice a week. At that time apply a little iodine. The scrotum will shrink and become dry and fairly hard. When this falls off, there will usually be some sort of wound. I like to use some type of powdered antibiotic on this to encourage drying.

Occasionally, there will be accidents where the skin of the scrotum will separate from the abdomen and the cords and tissues will herniate. You can tie this off with surgical gut or thread if there is a danger of bleeding. Vigorous treatment with local antibiotics is important at this phase. You may want to remove the sack if there is a danger of this causing further injury.

For a further discussion of castration, click here

A quick note on constipation:
It has been our experience that baby goats are quite susceptible to constipation, which can cause a wide variety of symptoms. I’d like to suggest that you go to the dropdown for Constipation right away and become familiar with that problem as soon as possible. A quick enema has saved many lives at our place.

Returning to the herd
Most people use a delivery stall or some favorite place for delivering babies. This is definitely a good idea, for reasons of health and sanitation. It is then a good idea to move the doe and babies into a new cleaned stall after the afterbirth has been passed. They should stay there, separated from the rest of the herd, for one to three days in order for Mom and the babies to "bond" and for the babies to gain sufficient strength to mix with the others without being trampled or in other ways injured. Then, if they are going to be raised by their mother and you don’t observe any problems with the kids, they can safely join the larger group.

More topics in depth

Cleft palate
Neonatal diarrhea
Inverted eyelids
Leg problems
Navel ill
Weak babies