What’s in my Birthing Kit?

Here on the Tennessee / Kentucky state line we have had 2 weeks with the temps blow freezing so far. Our Nigerian Dwarf goats are doing OK albeit have their coats puffed up to take full advantage of their cashmere undercoats.  Thank goodness for immersion water heaters with thermostats and a handy husband who designed our farm systems not to have the pipes freeze!

Birthing KitI was contemplating January babies this year, but now am so glad we stuck with a kidding schedule starting in February!  My logic: even if I could keep the babies warm in their first couple weeks of life in their birthing shelter, I couldn’t wrap my head around how they would be able to jump around and play outside and be their immensely silly selves if the winter was freezing cold (they might like teeny weeny toboggans or a mini luge course  though)!    Of course, this could happen just as easily in February but the odds are it wouldn‘t be 2+ weeks of misery.

In my abject freezing misery my thoughts turn towards the absolute joys of kidding right around the corner.  Many folks who have bought goats from us are going to be having their first kids this winter and spring.  It is with much love and high hopes for a successful first kidding I dedicate this blog to you!

Birthing Kit scaleFor the birthing bag:

  • Tool kit bag. Has many side pockets for things like phones, as well as other side pockets I put things I want to grab quickly, and lots of internal organization.  I hang it up by its shoulder strap above where a curious momma can get to it! Lowe’s – around $16
  • Baby monitor.  We have the VTech DM221 after going through a few that weren’t that great.  Love this one and the “parent unit” has a long battery life! 1000 foot range; needs power source in your kidding area.
  • Phone and camera. Don’t forget to toss those in the bag as you spaz hearing labor screams over the monitor and then fly out the door!  Been there.
  • Nasal aspirators.  Used immediately after birth to remove slimy stuff from kids mouths if they aren’t breathing.  I have 2 now as sometimes the kids come out close together.
  • Dental floss. To tie off the umbilical cord (prior to soaking it in betadine).  A lot of breeders don’t do this but don’t be “that” person!  Super simple to do and prevents a kid-killer called “naval ill”.
  • Scissors. For cutting umbilical cords below the floss knot.
  • Betadine. For sterilizing cut umbilical cords.
  • Shot glass. For dipping umbilical cords with Betadine (after the cord is cut below the floss).
  • Surgical gloves. Used in case you have to go in and turn the baby so it comes out the correct way.  DON’T go in unless you know the baby and mom are in trouble. I cut my nails short a week before kidding begins “just in case”.
  • KY Jelly or Vaseline.  For lubing up your gloves before you go in.
  • Thermometer.  For taking temps after the kids are dried off and have nursed a bit. I tie off the umbilical cords at this time also.  Note from experience: buy the 10 second read ones…. I get mine from CVS.  The others take too long with a squirming newborn.
  • Hanging scale.  For taking birth weights.  Around $10 on Amazon
  • Birthing Kit pouchSling.  For holding babies while taking weight measurements. We used to put them in a bucket, but this totally relaxes them as it is womb-like.  Around $10 on Amazon for a small dog sling.
  • A Book.  Trust me on this.  Minutes can stretch out to hours with a doe in labor.  And no Kindle as only a “real” book can also be used to swat flies or crush huge hairy spiders!

Other items:

  • Beach towel or Blanket. For my use to lay on when helping the babies find the teats for the first time.
  • Bath Towels. For cleaning up kids as they are born. I put 1 for each kid I think is coming, plus a few extra in a large plastic garbage bag.  As each kid comes I towel them off, toss the yucky slimy towel as far as possible away, and then put the baby on a clean towel in front of momma.  I buy the heavy nice white towels in a multi-pack from Costco, and wash them on Sanitary for each birthing.  They hold up great and don’t fall apart.
  • Bagged Straw. Nice, clean, compressed bagged straw from Tractor Supply to put down over any straw momma may have soiled before giving birth.
  • Molasses. Right after mom has delivered all kids, I mix up some Molasses with 3 – 4 cups warm water for her.  Gives her some much needed energy and I’ve yet to see a doe that doesn’t slurp it up in seconds!
  • Old feed bag or garbage bag. For disposing of the placenta. We allow our moms to eat the placentas now as we feel it gives some important nutrients to the moms, but some people prefer to dispose of it.
  • Birthing Kit stoolTri-pod folding stool. For me, the safest delivery area is a small pen that gives just enough space for the doe, her human, and the babies to be delivered safely.  Cozy is best when trying to encourage a new mom to take care of her babies.  My stool is extremely lightweight and allows me to move around as needed to give the moms neck rubs before delivery, as well as deal with umbilical cords, etc after delivery.
  • Eye Ointment. We keep this on hand in case we need it during the days after delivery. The kids come from a sterile womb environment through a birth canal that is anything “but” sterile.  This may result in a goopy eye infection that is easily cleared up with the ointment if treated right away.  Speak with your vet if you would like to have this in your kit.
  • Wine. A human’s equivalent to a goat mom’s molasses drink!  I’m normally about ready to drop by the time the kids are born and everything is tidied up, so that is my treat!

There are other items you can get like an implement to go in and turn the baby around but we haven’t had to use something like over the births of 50+ kids.  Do your research and get whatever works for you and your budget.

Quick Notes from the front lines:

  • Sometimes if there is more than one birth, the 2nd, 3rd, etc. come out really quickly in succession.  Sometimes it takes 1/2 hour or so between babies.  Always be on the ready for another one to come out UNTIL you see the placenta coming out.
  • Don’t EVER pull on the placenta…. just let it come out naturally.  If you pull it could damage her uterus!
  • We have had babies come out still in the caul / amniotic sac.  You will need to get that sac open (I use my hands) IMMEDIATELY or they can die as the umbilical cord would have been severed.  Towel them off very quickly and work with them until they do their first cry.   Another reason to buy that baby monitor and be present for the births!
  • the above is not a comprehensive list by any means. For a list of what books I have that can help you with birthing, please see my blog https://ballylarafarms.com/2017/12/19/my-farm-book-library/#more-1674.  Please take anything you read on the internet with a big grain of salt.  And, finally, make sure your vet has a lot of experience working with goats “before” you run to him/her with a kidding emergency.  I’ve heard too many horror stories of does dying during an emergency C-Section to not mention this!

 Happy, healthy and safe Kidding!!!!!

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