We are not veterinarians.  Our management practices have been developed over the years for what’s worked for our herd in terms of animal welfare as well as our time and sanity.  We recommend working closely with your herd veterinarian to develop proper care and management for your region.

Please understand, this is simply our opinion based on a combined 50 years of experience. There is definitely no one size fits all approach but there is definitely a wrong way to do things.  Our motto has always been: DO NO HARM.

Kidding – Close up Does, Pre Kidding, Labor & Delivery

Scrolling through social media in the spring, it quickly becomes apparent that kidding season is upon us. Pictures of bouncing babies, posed 2 day old buck kids for sale, udder photos with kidding goop and placentas hanging out is a sure sign of the season.  Along with the excitement of new kids, there are far too many tragic horror stories coupled with bad advice being given and put into action.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to establish a veterinary client patient relationship (VCPR) with a local veterinarian.  We cannot emphasize this enough.

Pre Kidding:

Paying close attention to your does condition and nutrition is paramount to producing healthy kids and does and that begins at conception. We try to ensure our does are in optimal condition at breeding time- i.e. not too fat and not too thin. There are more and more overweight animals around…not just over conditioned but downright fat!  We’ve made a conscious effort to try to keep excess weight off our does. Since we’ve started this practice, we’ve noticed increased fertility and a decrease in the number of dystocias.

Most of our does are milking during the first few months of their pregnancy and are fed based on their production and overall body condition. As production drops and we get closer to the dry period we adjust their diet by cutting their grain ration fed on the milkstand.

We put a heavy emphasis on forage quality.  All goats of every age and sex are fed a top quality dairy alfalfa. A small amount of homegrown grass hay is fed to the does but as a rule, it generally only makes up a very small portion of their diet.  We’ve found that does can be drawn to grass hay in times of a mild rumen upset or just for something different, especially if it’s freshly cut. 

The does have free choice access to Duraferm Goat Concept Aid mineral as well as sodium bicarb. We don’t feed any extra supplements and prefer to keep things simple. This has proven to work well for us.

In the last month of pregnancy, it’s a good idea to factor in some extra time during chores to observe the herd and their behavior. This is important as it allows you to notice if anyone is acting abnormally, showing signs of illness, etc.

Close-up does:

We do not lead feed every single doe.  Each doe is looked at as an individual to determine if she needs grain leading up to freshening.  We’ve found that most of our Nubians don’t need to be lead fed unless they are older and don’t keep condition as well or if they are carrying a high multiple litter.  Saanens are a bit different story and we’ve found that more of them need to be lead fed to keep condition and prepare their bodies for a heavy lactation.


One of the worst things you can do is to intervene too soon.  Does can start pre-labor 24 hours or more before they transition into active labor. During the pre-labor stage, it’s important to observe the doe, but it’s also equally important to allow her to do the work that her body is designed to do.  We have several barn cameras installed throughout the barns so we can watch the does from the comfort of our house if we aren't in the barn.

During pre-labor, the doe is restless, arching her back, yawning, and having mild contractions. She will do this on and off for a while and go back to eating and acting normal. During this period, the does cervix is effacing and dilating. This happens due to hormonal changes and the pressure put on the cervix while the uterus is contracting.

Once a doe transitions to active labor, meaning the doe is bearing down and pushing in an attempt to deliver a kid, we’re in the barn with the kidding kit set up and are watching the doe with towels ready.  We prefer to stay back and let her work to bring the kid in the water sack through the cervix and into the birth canal.  If a doe is actively pushing and nothing seems to be progressing after about 5-10 minutes, it’s a good idea to glove up using shoulder length OB gloves, add some OB lube to your hand and carefully reach in to see what you can feel.  If all feels normal, then allow the doe to continue to push the kid into the birth canal.  This can take much longer in first fresheners than in older does that have kidded before.

If the doe hasn’t progressed or if you can feel the kid is not in a proper position to be safely delivered, then she’s experiencing dystocia and it’s time to assist in her delivery. Wearing shoulder length OB gloves, add a lot of OB lube and reach in to start repositioning the kid or kids. Sorting out mispositioned kids is a challenge, even for the most experienced breeders. Try to stay calm during the process as getting yourself worked up won’t help your doe, her kids or you.  We like to close our eyes to help visualize what we're feeling. When attempting to sort out kids, be mindful that that the uterus is extremely thin walled in goats, so causing a tear can be easy to do. Be firm but gentle and cup the kids hooves in your hand if possible to avoid damage to your does uterus.

If after 20 minutes or so you are not successful in sorting and delivering her kids, then it’s time to either call an experienced nearby breeder who can come help you or call your veterinarian. DO NOT post on social media that your doe has stuck kids and expect a good outcome.

Once we have delivered kids that are the result of a dystocia, we do a uterine flush on the dam and start her on a round of antibiotics. This is done as a prevention in the event bacteria has entered the uterus so we can avoid a uterine infection. We also give these does something for pain management.  Watch for retained placentas in does you’ve assisted on as that can be common in dystocias.

If the delivery goes as hoped and planned, as most do, we set each kid born on a towel in front of the dam for her to clean, lick and stimulate it.  Once we think that all kids have been delivered, we always do a routine pelvic exam sweeping the uterus to ensure that all kids have been delivered and there isn’t one left behind.  “Bumping” a doe is not an accurate way to check for additional kids and a retained kid can easily be missed.

Kids are then removed from their dam and taken to the milkroom for their care.  The doe is given warm Bluelite water as well as plain water so she can choose which she prefers.  The kidding towels are left for her to lick on.  She gets a treat for a job well done and fresh alfalfa to nibble on. After the kids are cared for, we milk the doe and let her rest and pass her placenta if she hasn’t already.  We pay close attention to ensure she passes all afterbirth and promptly remove it from her pen.

A Note about Inducing:

After inducing all our does for 23 years, we no longer induce any unless an emergency situation warrants it.

Choosing to induce isn’t a decision that should be taken lightly.  You must know the exact breeding date and be certain that no breeding activity occurred after that date.  Learn the risks so you can make the most informed decision for your doe and herd.

If you choose to induce your does, you MUST be present as the induction window can vary greatly. 

Please work closely with your herd veterinarian and don’t crowd source induction information and drug doses on social media.  Too many breeders don’t have a proper understanding of what the drugs do, how they work, and they don’t understand the timing.  This results in disasters posted on social media year after year. The animals under your care deserve better.

Newborn Care to Weaning

Newborns are placed in plastic tubs with towels inside our heated milkroom after birth.  The first thing we do is check teats and testicles for any abnormalities as well as look for any bite issues.  We then wash each kid and be sure to spray off any kidding slime.  Once clean, the kids are transferred to the drying tub that’s layered with towels and has a heated dog air blower so they can dry off as we tend to the rest of the kids in the litter.

Once dry, each kid is given an injection of BoSe, a dose of oral vitamin E, umbilical cords are trimmed if needed and navels sprayed with chlorhexidine using an upwards sprayer.  We made the switch from iodine several years ago after having a few issues with umbilical cords drying too quickly and forming a “bubble” in the cord.  We’ve not had that problem since making the switch. If necessary, an umbilical cord clamp is applied. Umbilical clamps also work great to prevent a kid that wants to suck navels from being able to.

Kids are labeled using vinyl wristbands; pink for does and blue for bucks.  Using a paint marker, we write the dam’s name along with the kids’ tattoo.  The last tattoo used is then written on a whiteboard so we always have a running tally of where we are at for tattoo numbers in each breed.

Lastly, each kid is weighed so we know exactly how much colostrum they need.

Kids are then moved to the heated nursery and kept in large tubs while they are fed colostrum.

All birth information is transferred to the Newborn Kid Record binder (you can find a PDF copy of this form on the Helpful Resources page of our website).  We calculate the amount of colostrum needed for each kid by using 15% of their body weight as a guide.  Rather than going through the hassle and time to heat treat colostrum, we feed UltraStart 150 colostrum replacer.  We started this practice about 15 years ago and it has been a lifesaver for our sanity. Colostrum amounts for each kid and feeding is recorded. When they’ve received the necessary amount, it’s checked off on their record.  We use human baby bottles to measure colostrum intake with grey lambar nipples for feeding.

Once the kids are finished with colostrum, they’re moved to elevated boxes and immediately put on pasteurized milk fed from 1 gallon mini lambars and are free fed as much as they want to consume. Having the kids in boxes that are about waist high saves wear and tear on our backs while they’re being trained on the lambar.  After a day or two in the elevated boxes, the kids are lambar trained and moved to runs in the nursey.  We switch them over to 2 gallon square lambars hung on the gates. Calf Pro for the prevention of coccidiosis is added to the milk starting at 14 days of age.

After 2-3 weeks in the nursery, the babies are moved to the kid barn and upgraded to 5 gallon lambars. They are separated by age, sex, and/or breed depending on the circumstances. For the most part, each breed is raised separate as Nubian kids are free fed while Saanen kids are on set feedings.  For breed specific kid rearing information, please visit our Kid Management page.  Buck kids are separated from the doe kids by 4 weeks of age.  They are moved to the baby buck barn and stay there until they leave for their new homes or in the case of keeper buck kids, until after breeding season. Depending on the spring weather, we also have 3 outside hutches with runs that we can utilize.

Kids are fed soft, leafy alfalfa along with some grass hay.  We don’t start our babies on grain until just prior to weaning when we’ve began to cut back on milk feeding.  Concentrated grain is not a natural food for goats and can upset the metabolism of the rumen. We feel that milk plus a very good quality forage, loose minerals, and clean water provides all the nutrients a kid needs.

Weaning age is specific to each kids growth and varies from 10 weeks (Saanens) to 12-14 weeks (Nubian does).  Nubian bucks are allowed to self wean.

Pasteurizing Milk:

Having a considerable sized herd with a lot of kids to feed, we’ve tried several methods of pasteurizing a large amount of milk in a short amount of time.  The best method we’ve found for us has been to use induction ready cooktops with large, 5-gallon induction ready stockpots.  We run two cooktops at once and rotate pots once they reach the proper temp. Pasteurized milk in pots is moved to the opposite side of the room when rotating to uncooked pots to avoid any cross contamination with raw milk. 

We let the pots of pasteurized milk cool to room temperature and it’s fed to kids in the following chore period. Example: pasteurized milk from the morning milking is fed to kids that afternoon and evening, while pasteurized milk from the evening milking is fed to kids the following morning.

We do have air conditioning in our milk handling room, so we haven’t found refrigeration necessary even in the heat of the summer. 

The Assembly Line – how we “work” our kids

All kids are disbudded, given their first CD/T, have hair pulled for DNA typing, microchipped, and tattooed in the same session; hence the term “assembly line”.  We’ve found that this works best for us as all necessary care is done at once.

Before working any of the kids, teats and testicles are checked again.


Kids are disbudded once horn buds can be felt.  The timing depends on breed and sex. Saanen bucks are ready first generally within a week or so of birth, Nubian bucks and Saanen does are ready next, and lastly, Nubian does.

Using a Rhinehart X50 iron, we apply the iron for 5 seconds, then remove the horn bud cap, and make an “X” with the edge of the iron.  The iron is re-applied for 3-4 seconds depending on the size of the horn bud and until a copper ring forms. As soon as both sides are done, the horn buds are sprayed with Solarcaine to cool them down quickly.


Kids are given their first dose of CD/T


We’ve found the easiest place to pull hair for DNA on a kid is from their feet/toes.  We use a needle nose pliers and wrap it in painters tape.  The tape is removed and replaced for each kid.  This prevents any sort of DNA transfer.  We make sure to pull at least 30-40 hairs with the hair root bulbs intact. Hair samples are placed in a white business size envelope and sealed. We write the name of the kid, their tattoo, and affix one of their microchip stickers to the envelope and one sticker is applied to the Microchip List.  You can find a PDF copy of that sheet on our Helpful Resources page.  Envelopes are stored in a cardboard box with silica gel packets to preserve the integrity of the DNA sample.

We pull enough hair from each kid for two envelopes.  One envelope is sent in for DNA typing.  We DNA type all buck kids we sell for the new owners and our entire herd is DNA typed and Parent Qualified.  The second envelope is saved and stored for hopeful future genomic testing.


We use USDA 840-ID Official Microchips purchased from Microchip ID Systems.  When ordering microchips, you’ll need your Premise ID number as well as your Scrapie ID number. We have 3 chip readers; one that we keep with the microchips and use when chipping kids, one that we use in the barn, and one in our show kit. 

We prefer to insert microchips in the tail web. Before inserting the chip, we scan it to ensure it works, insert the chip and scan again to make sure it’s placed correctly and can be read.

One of the stickers is affixed to the DNA envelope and one is affixed to the Microchip List.  We also write the kids’ name and their tattoo on the microchip package.


Since each of our breeds have their own herd tattoo prefix, we have 3 tattoo pliers.  One for each breed tattoo and one for the year letter and birth order.  Having pliers that you don't have to switch out herd tattoos for every kid is a huge time saver.

Tattoo numbers are set up on a paper towel in numerical order so we can easily find the ones we need.

We keep a Kid Record in MS Excel format (you can find that file on the Helpful Resources page) for each breed that has their name, tattoo, DOB, dam, sire, owner, status, description (Nubians), and microchip number. That sheet is printed off each time we tattoo.  We compare the kids collar with it’s listed tattoo to the record sheet to verify they match. 

The year letter and number sequence is loaded into the pliers and tested on a piece of paper to make certain it’s correct and can be easily read.

Both ears are cleaned well with a paper towel and 91% isopropyl alcohol.  The right ear is punched with the herd tattoo while the left ear is punched with the year and number sequence.  We immediately apply green paste tattoo ink and rub in well.  If there happens to be a bleeder, pressure is applied with our fingers until the bleeding stops. Ears are then coated with cornstarch to set the tattoo and keep the green ink from spreading everywhere.

Vaccination & Supplementation Schedule


Kids - 4 doses total starting at disbudding and every 3-4 weeks thereafter

Mature does – every 6 months at pre-breeding and at freshening

Mature bucks – every 6 months, prior to breeding season and in the spring

Mannheimia Haemolytica-Pasteurella Multocida Bacterin (pneumonia):

Kids – 2 doses total, given 3 weeks apart, in late spring before show season and one additional dose in the fall

Mature animals – annually


Kids – at birth, in the summer, and in the fall 30 days post breeding

Mature does – at freshening, in the summer, and pre-breeding

Mature bucks – spring and late summer 6 weeks prior to breeding season

Copper bolus:

Kids – not given

Mature does – annually in May

Mature bucks – annually in late summer 6 weeks prior to breeding season


More to come...

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Blissberry Dairy Goats
P.O. Box 191
Alexandria, MN 56308

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