This article is going to assume that you are planning to have your doe raise her kids.
So your doe just kidded! Now what?
First Steps (Immediate)
The first thing we do is grab a clean towel and clear the nose and mouth of the kid. Your doe may be back on her feet and already licking her kid. If she is still laying down, we place the kid near the front of the doe so that she can lick itoff. We’ll help out by toweling the kids dry, especially if we are kidding in colder temperatures; but it is important for the doe to be able to bond with her kids in this way.
Next, we turn on a heat lamp. If our doe is having multiple kids, we like to have a heat lamp set up in the stall to place the newborn kids under while subsequent kids are being born. You can “bump” the doe by hugging upwards around her middle in from of her udder to feel if more kids are coming – you’ll feel hard lumps or bony protrusions. If she’s lying down, you can press gently with your hands to feel for kids.
A doe licks off her newborn kids.
Use a heat lamp to keep kids warm while their siblings are being born.
Processing Kids (within the first hour)
Once we know our doe is finished, we offer a bowl of molasses mixed in warm water (about 2 tbsp molasses in 1 litre of water) as an energy and rumen booster. Then, we’ll dip all of the kids’ umbilical cords in a shallow dish of 7% iodine, pressing upward into the belly to coat all of the cord completely. This is to prevent potential infection. Next, we’ll weigh each kid, noting the date and time born, sex, and birth weight. This will help us determine over the subsequent days that the kid is drinking well and gaining a healthy amount of weight.
Your kids should be up on their feet by this point and starting to search for milk. We usually see kids nursing within the first 15 to 30 minutes. It is best to let the kids find the teat on their own, as they will map out its location this way. We like kids to have nursed within the first hour, so if they haven’t found the teat by then we will make sure they are warm enough and then try to assist them. If a kid seems like it is searching; but just isn’t successful, it can help to syringe a little colostrum into the kid’s mouth. This will often jumpstart them into action and have them latched within seconds. We learned this tip from our friend Leona at Cedar Green Farm.
Dipping newborn kid’s umbilical cord in 7% iodine.
Recording birth weight of newborn kids to help track growth.
A newborn kid searches for her dam’s teat
Clean Up and Postpartum Doe Care (within the first 2 hours)
While we wait for kids to latch, we’ll offer the doe her grain lactation ration. Depending on the volume of our target ration for her, we might offer her only a partial ration at this time so as not to shock her digestive system.
If we had to assist with any births by repositioning kids inside the doe, we’ll give a round of anti-inflammatory and antibiotics provided by our vet. You might also like to give a painkiller – talk to your vet for their recommended follow-up care.
Kidding pen bedded with straw and pine shavings.
Next, we’ll clean up the kidding pen, removing all damp and dirty bedding, and replace it with a layer of straw for warmth over a layer of absorbent pine shavings. The base layer of our kidding pens are rubber stall mats over cement.
Finally, if the doe hasn’t dropped her placenta yet, we’ll wait for her to drop it. This usually occurs within 3 or 4 hours. We might head inside at this point and monitor her on our kidding cameras until we see that it is dropped. We’ll leave the heat lamp on until the kids are completely dry.
The next morning or evening, depending on when the kids were born, we’ll start our doe on her full lactation ration. If we’ve had to assist and she is very swollen, we’ll use a wipe or gentle skin cleansing spray to clean the area before applying a hemorrhoid cream with antiseptic. This last tip I must credit to my friend Becca at Yellow Point Farms.