Kidding Season Essentials - For the Kids
I wrote this for a new series of monthly topics for the KGBA. My Kidding Kit that I take to the barn consists of a small tote with several old towels, a few puppy pads, and a bottle of iodine with a small medicine cup for dipping. I leave this on the back porch so the iodine doesn't freeze but where it is ready to go and easy to grab on my way out.
Kidding season is underway for some breeders and looming for others. It is helpful to have a kidding kit that is easy to carry to the barn or shed. A simple tote, basket, or bucket can be used to hold a few essential items such as:
Towels/puppy pads to dry kids – puppy pads work great for removing goop and towels work great for vigorous drying.
Iodine and a small container to dip umbilical cords
Scissors/dental floss for trimming and/or tying off long cords
OB sleeves and livestock-safe lubricant
A flashlight or headlamp in case of nighttime kidding in a facility without electricity
Head/leg snare in case of difficult delivery
Nasal aspirator in case the kid has inhaled birthing fluids.
Colostrum replacer or supplement is also necessary to have pre-kidding season. This might be
saved previously from your own herd or purchased. Colostrum from your doe can be frozen for about a year or can be stored in the refrigerator up to the three days. If purchasing colostrum, be sure to understand that colostrum replacer and colostrum supplements are not the same thing – replacers work if the kid received absolutely no maternal colostrum while supplements are meant to work in addition to maternal colostrum, such as in the event the doe had multiples and the breeder wanted to be sure each kid received an adequate amount. I freeze colostrum in a glass jar or make into small batches like below, using a silicone mold I found. These are a few ounces each and can be dropped into a wide mouth glass jar for reheating.
Additionally, breeders that are planning to pull kids and bottle-feed might take a towel or blanket-lined tote or basket out to put newborns into. This tote might also be helpful if your doe is prone to pawing or if she’s having multiples and the new kid(s) need somewhere safe to wait until their dam is done giving birth.
For those with electricity in their facilities, a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer can be useful for quickly drying and warming kids in cold weather – of course, these must be used with the utmost caution. Neither space heaters nor hair dryers should be left unattended and heat lamps need to be securely fastened.
If a kid is weak or premature, it might not be able to nurse and might need tubed using a weak kid syringe. When you need a weak kid syringe, you need it immediately and this item is not always easily found locally.
If a kid is found chilled, it is absolutely vital that you act quickly. Take its temperature, actively warm it up to at least 99 degrees, and after it is warmed, make sure it eats so it can maintain its internal body temperature. In this scenario, you need a few things – at least one thermometer (two is even better since one will be inevitably misplaced), a way to warm, and a way to get that kid some calories/sugar. A cold kid cannot digest milk and a warm kid without adequate blood sugar levels will not be able to maintain its body temperature for long.
As mentioned previously, ways to warm include space heaters, hair dryers, and heat lamps. Another effective method is placing the kid’s body in a plastic bag with its head out and submerging its body in warm water. Hot water bottles and emergency blankets are also options, making sure that the hot water bottles don’t burn the skin. It must be noted that newborn kids especially cannot regulate their body temperatures well yet – care must be taken not to overheat the kid, either. If the kid has a willing dam to nurse, that is the easiest way to feed. Make sure to have clean bottles and variety of nipples on hand before kidding season, even if if you don’t plan on bottle-feeding…sometimes, bottle babies just happen. If the kid has a suckling reflex feed it milk or colostrum once it is sufficiently warmed. If it can suckle but is reluctant, glucose powder or karo syrup rubbed on the gums can give it a boost of energy and encourage active suckling. Again, for weak kids or especially stubborn kids, the weak kid syringe is an essential tool. Frequent small meals maintain blood sugar best and are an especially good idea for kids that were chilled.
For those with many kids or kids that look quite similar, some forms of identification besides mentally recording physical appearance might be handy. A simple method is a veterinarian paper collar that can be color-coded or written on. Breeders might also keep a record book to jot down the birthing orders for tattoos, birth dates or times, and/or simple descriptions of which kids belong to which dams.
Lastly, a scale is a wonderful tool for recording birthweights and weighing milk replacer or milk in the event of bottle feeding. There are many options out there including hanging scales, livestock scales, or kitchen scales. The breeder can simply stand on a household scale and record the weight when holding the kid and subtract his or her weight when not holding the kid.
This list of supplies is not exhaustive but it covers the basics as well as items needed for some unfortunate scenarios. Next up, a list of kidding season items for does! Check out this link for a great explanation by a vet about finding down, chilled kids and how to care for them. https://youtu.be/6onCQpxz7uk