Farm Baby Birthing Notes

PUTTING TOGETHER A FARM BIRTHING KIT

Disclaimer: In accordance with FDA guidelines, the information and products offered on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. I am not a medical professional. Before administering any medications to your animals please contact a veterinarian first.

Bottle and nipple or syringe and nipple. Used in case you have to bottle-feed new baby.

Bulb syringe. Used to help clean out noses and airways so goat kids can breathe on their own more quickly. 

Chlorhexidine Solution. Mix with water as directed. Used to clean myself and tools while assisting mama and handling baby.

Colostrum Supplement. In an emergency, this is another essential item to have on hand. It is important to get colostrum into newborns, preferably within 20 minutes of delivery, but you do have up to 2 hours. Mama’s milk is best, if baby is not suckling then hand milk mama into a syringe and feed slowly to baby.

Flashlight or headlamp. Just in case delivery happens at night and in an area with poor lighting, 

Gloves. Sterile gloves can be worn in the event you need to assist with birthing internally. In my experience I can feel and grip baby better without so I clean my hands well and assist without gloves.

Heating Pad. Used to warm up cold babies. A blow dryer can also be used. Beware when using heat lamps as they are a fire hazard.

Hemostats. Used to clamp off umbilical cord prior to cutting.

Iodine. Used for dipping umbilical cords once they are clamped and cut. 

Jumpstart us. I give mama a big dose after birth and if baby is a little lethargic they will get a dose daily also.

Leg Snare/Kid Puller. This will help you to keep the legs in the proper position and pull baby during delivery. I have one but have always just used my hands.

Lube. Just in case you have to go in and adjust or turn a baby. 

Paper Towels. Birthing is messy business!

Selenium. Our area is very deficient in Selenium so we always give our newborn farm babies a Selenium injection of Bo-Se. Oral gel can also be used.

Storey’s Guide to Raising… books. These are my go-to books for problems that may arise with each species.

Scissors or Scalpel blade. Used to cut the umbilical cord once it is clamped off.

Thermometer. Knowing if you are dealing with fever or hypothermia is vital when deciding on treatment. A goat’s normal temperature is 101.5-103.5.

Towels. Drying off babies quickly in the winter months is crucial. If warm enough, let mama do the cleanup as part of the bonding process but if cold get that baby dry quick.

Your vet’s phone number. I cannot stress enough the importance of having help! If you do not have a farm vet then at least have an experienced farm friend you can rely on. Have either your vet’s or friend’s number readily available! Locally we use Grau Veterinary Services but you do need to be his client PRIOR to requesting assistance for an emergency. You are always welcome to call or text us personally in an emergency (850)894-1800 and we will try to point you in the right direction!

Being prepared for birthing season can go a long way to keeping you calm. It is only natural to be nervous but remember that only a small percentage of deliveries require intervention. Allow your mamas to deliver on their own and just be ready for assistance if needed. 

How to know if I need to assist? Easy. Has active labor with pushing been happening for 30 minutes with no progress? Yes, then it is time to assist!

After 30 minutes you risk an exhausted mama and deceased farm baby. Here are birthing presentation photos with assistance notes:

You notice labor has started! Watch, stay calm, set a timer. Give mama space and let her do her thing. She may stand up, strain, lay down, strain, cry out, spin looking at her back end, stomp, etc. Pain is part of birth. If labor presents with active pushing but no baby born by the 30 minutes mark then it is time to assist!

If you find yourself in a situation that you are not comfortable with, CALL YOUR VET. They are there for a reason, and having them come out for an emergency farm call is not going to be as expensive as losing your baby and possibly your mama as well. Be prepared, yes, but ask for help if you need it.

Thirty minutes have passed, mama needs help! Clean your hands and arms and have a clean towel ready as mama may be too tired to clean baby when done. I put a bit of lube on my hand and gently reach in to feel baby’s presentation. Often the simple re-positioning of a foot and the baby will slide right out. Sometimes you will need to push legs or head back in a bit to be able to re-position baby. If baby is large, especially for first time mamas you may need to gently assist with pulling. 

If you help to pull a baby, be sure to use steady pressure, working with the contraction and stopping when mama stops pushing. Keep the angle at 45 degrees and encourage your mama to remain standing as you pull with her push. My philosophy is: why allow mama to become strained and exhausted when I can assist with a few gentle tugs as she pushes getting the baby out quickly! While labor and delivery is natural so is death. We strive for 100% live births so we are willing to assist!

Baby is out, now what? COLOSTRUM!!! Enjoy watching the miracle of new life. Baby will begin to attempt to stand a fall multiple times. Mama will clean baby off and baby will figure out how to nurse. The sooner they drink that first milk from their mother, the better chance they will have at the healthiest of starts.

If I have a baby that just hasn’t figured out nursing after 30 minutes or I come out to find a newborn not standing and don’t know how long they have been born I will hand milk colostrum from mama directly into a syringe to give to baby orally. It makes me feel better and often gives baby an energy boost to keep trying to nurse. I have] videos below you can see me doing this.

Colostrum is full of vital nutrients that babies must have to thrive. If for some reason there is a medical emergency with the mama and she is unable to feed her baby you can give colostrum replacement in her place. Hopefully, you will never need this, but it is nice to have on hand just in case.

Giving the very best start for baby! After each baby is born on our farm I will clamp, cut and dip umbilical cord asap after birth. Many terrible illnesses troubling newborn babies are caused by bacteria that found itself into the baby’s naval via unclean umbilical cord. The sooner I can cut it off and disinfect it the better. I have videos below you can see me doing this.

The other thing that every baby born on our farm will get is a selenium (Bo-Se) injection. Selenium can mean life or death to a newborn. Dosage I give is 1ml per 40lbs. Giving too much Selenium is just as dangerous as a deficiency. Do not just give it, do your homework and ask your vet before you administer any medications even over the counter. There is a different gel for adult goats and goat kids, make sure you use the correct gel on your goats.

My baby is not thriving! What do I do? You can only do your best and remember some things are out of your control. It sucks. I have been there.

Death due to Failure to Thrive (FTT) can happen at any age in a baby’s life but most often was set in place by what happened in those first moments during and after birth. Colostrum and cleanliness is key! FTT is usually correlated directly to Failure of Passive Transfer (FPT) meaning baby did not receive quantity or quality of colostrum to provide the nutrients it needed to form a healthy immune system during it’s first moments after birth. With some of our farm babies, like our llama crias and donkey foals we have an Immunoglobulin (IgG) test or at least a Total Protein (TP) test done at 24 hours old. If results are low, indicative of FPT, we opt to give them plasma transfusion. This gives them an immune system so that they can thrive and grow into healthy adults! 

I cannot say this enough, It is incredibly helpful to have a good working relationship with your veterinarian BEFORE an emergency occurs! I have had my vet calmly stay with me on the phone during a difficult delivery and walk me thru step by step how to assist mama and re-position baby. Most of the time we come out for farm chores to a surprise, newborn, healthy baby already standing and nursing mama but when assistance is needed minutes count so it is good to be prepared. 

Llama birthing videos. Most our llama births we walked out to see a new baby on the ground. Two birth vidoes seen here I did choose to assist. One video show hows we helped a baby born too small and a little crooked. All are thriving!

Goat birthing videos. Most our goat births went perfectly and unassisted. One video shows a birth we did assist with and one shows how we clamp, cut and dip umbilical cord after birth.

Lamb birthing videos. Again, most all our lambing we find baby nearly dry and nursing when we come out in the morning. These videos show lambs that would have passed away had we left them with mama and not intervened.

Cow birthing video. Out of all our Jersey cow’s calves this is the only one I ever saw born and I did assist, after timing labor, as to not allow mama to become exhausted. 

Pig birthing video. Out of many pig births this is the only video I have and everything went just as it should. Our pigs have never had issues or needed assistance. We just dip cords after birth.

Duckling hatching video. Kind of a birthing video but I included it because it is so neat! I love spring baby season and the miracle of new life!