6.0 Kid management

At the end of this session farmers should be able to:   Know the advantages and disadvantages of different kidding seasons. Know the recommended kid rearing strategies.  Understand the importance of weaning Acquire skills on different methods of  castration  

It is important to take good care of kids so as to reduce mortalities and improve kid growth rate. A reduction in kid mortality translates into an increase in flock size and consequently the increase in offtake.

6.1 Kidding seasons

  • Kidding should coincide with times of abundant feed availability so that the does will be producing enough milk for the survival of the kid. 
  • This is usually in the December –to February period. 
  • Sometimes goats may kid when the condition of the range is not good that is in winter. In such cases it is always important to make sure that the doe is adequately fed and is producing enough milk.

6.2 Kid-rearing 

1. Preparation

  • Kidding area should be clean with dry bedding (Stover or hay).   The doe may be kept in the kidding area for a few days before kidding
  • The signs of a goat that is about to kid are:

Restlessness, separating itself from the flock, discharges mucus,

  • The advantage of separating pregnant does from the rest of the flock is to ensure  undisturbed birth process and creates good bonding between the doe and kid.

2. At birth

To allow bonding the doe must clean and groom her kids and remain undisturbed for two to four hours

When to intervene in the birth process:

  • When there is mal-presentation or difficulties in kidding.
  • When the kid does not bleat or breathe because the doe failed to clean it, remove the membrane over the nostrils
  • Cutting the navel and application of iodine. Iodine application is not necessary if bedding is clean.
  • When there is no bonding between the doe and the kid

4. Kid Housing

Keep the kids at home for the first few weeks to about one month (especially if the does have to travel long distances to browse and water). The kids require warm and dry conditions during their first four weeks of life. Housing should protect kids from heat, cold or even spread of diseases among kids

An example of kid housing is the Kid boxes.  The kid box has the following: made of wood or bamboo measuring, 500-600mm long, 400-500mm wide and 300-400mm deep. Bedding in the box should be kept clean and fresh. This makes it easy to detect diarrhoea. The kid can be kept in the box for three days and moved thereafter.

5. Feeding kids

  • Kids should suckle the first milk (colostrum-umthubi) within the first six hours of birth which is rich in antibodies that increase the immunity of the kid. If the doe is not producing enough milk for her kid, fostering (ukumunyisela) or bottle feeding is recommended.
  • From about 3 weeks of age kids start nibbling grass and leaves. This is important for rumen development. 
  • They should be allowed to browse/graze from no later than one month. Effective grazing and browsing starts at 6-7 weeks. 

6. Identification

It is important to have identifications for individual animals as this makes record keeping easier. There are a number of methods that can be used. These include ear tagging, ear notching and attaching names to animals. It is also a government requirement that all the animals have standard identification for traceability when exporting livestock and livestock products.

(a). Ear tagging

  • If numbers are used with tags the system of numbering should be logical for example one can have the year of birth, sex, and order of birth. For example: If an animal is born in 2007, male and its kid number 23 in the flock it can have the number 07123, meaning that 07 is the year of birth, 1-for male and 23 being the order of birth. Females can be having a 0 on their tags to show the sex. 
  • Ear tagging is quick and easy. Tags can be made of plastic or metal. The disadvantage of this method is that the tag can get torn out of the ear and in a large flock the animal cannot be readily re-identified. To avoid this problem put tags on both ears.

Plastic tags (can come in various shapes, size and colors)

Metal tags

(b) Ear notching

  • This involves cutting V-shaped notches on the ear. The position of a V notch stands for a certain number. 
  • The disadvantage is that it cannot be unique to one farmer especially where there is communal grazing and the farmer may have to hold animal before reading the notch. 
  • The right ear represents tens and the left ear represents units.

7. Health care in kids

  • A clean environment will reduce the incidence of diseases. A farmer should always be on the look out for diarrhoea & for respiratory problems- coughing or nasal discharge

Prevention is better than cure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Make sure kids get colostrum within six hours of birth
  • Make sure bedding is clean and dry
  • Do not confine many kids in a small area
  • Avoid damp conditions and excessive heat or cold
  • Avoid overfeeding kids with milk as this result in scours.

To improve the general health of the kids ensure the following; to the whole flock:

  • Dry sleeping places
  • Clean drinking water (about 5litres per animal per day)
  • Adequate feeding (3-5% of their body weight per day)
  • Control of internal and external parasites

8. Predation 

  • Ensure that the kids are housed to protect them from being eaten by jackals, eagles and other dangerous animals. 
  • Do not allow kids to browse in dangerous places unattended

Healthy kids                                                                            Alternative kid houses


  • This should be done when the kids are hundred days old on average and weighing between  8-12 kilograms 
  • The most common weaning method in goats is complete separation of the kids and the does. 
  • It is however critical to vaccinate the kids and the does against pulpy kidney (PK) just before weaning as this stresses them, making them vulnerable to PK. 
  • Weaning enables the does to be in good body condition in preparation for the next mating season

9. Castration

This is the severing or cutting of the spermatic cords so that the animal cannot mate with the females. Castration improves the quality of meat by reducing the characteristic smell of the entire male. There are three main methods of castration used in goats i.e. the rubber ring, knife/razor and burdizzo.

(i). The Rubber ring method

The rubber rings are used within the first two weeks of life. An elastrator is used to stretch and apply the ring over the spermatic cords.

  • One person should hold the kid with both its right legs in his right hand and its left legs in his left hand and its rump on his knee. The scrotum then becomes easy to reach.  One should make sure that both testicles are drawn to the lower part of the scrotum
  • Using an elastrator put the rubber ring over the scrotum.

The scrotum will shrivel and drop off a few weeks later. This method is quick and easy to use. Its advantage is that no disinfection is required and the disadvantage is that there might be screw worm infection after rubber ring and testicles have dropped.

Opening the rubber ring using an elastrator  Rubber ring applied on spermatic cords

This can be done between three weeks and three months. A sharp knife/razor should be used and it has to be sterilized in boiling water or antiseptic solution.

  • Hold the animal in sitting position
  • Clean the scrotum with a disinfectant
  • Using a sharp knife or new razor blade cut open the lower end of the scrotum
  • Gently pull the testicles from the scrotum and rub the top part of the scrotum to prevent over bleeding, and then cut the spermatic cords.
  • Dip the whole scrotum in iodine solution or antiseptic solution and apply wound powder.
  • (iii). Burdizzo

The burdizzo is used to squeeze the spermatic cords so that after some days the testicles wither, but the outer surface of the scrotum is not damaged. This is most effective when the kid is more than three months old. 

  • Draw one testicle down the scrotum and clamp that side of the scrotum above the testicle to crush the spermatic cord. (see picture below)
  • Squeeze the spermatic cords one at a time                                       

These methods are not recommended as they inflict a lot of pain to the animals. They also increase the risk of spreading diseases from animals to humans.

  • Use of a hammer 
  • Biting with teeth