Gaining confidence in your goats and yourself
Have you ever spent hours -- or days and nights -- in a cold barn because you thought your doe was in labor? How many times have you wondered, "Is that normal?" How much sleep have you lost when goats were due to kid because you kept running out to the barn to check on them?
My answers to these questions have changed dramatically since 2002 when we bought our first goats. The most frustrating part of "the early years" was spending a couple of days with a doe and then having her kid 15 minutes after I went into the house eat lunch! But it doesn't have to be that way. And you don't have to wait 10 or 15 years to get the experience to know when your doe is close to giving birth or that things are progressing normally.
New and aspiring goat owners often tell me that they wish they could spend a couple of weeks with an experienced goat breeder during kidding season. They are worried that they won't know what's normal or when a doe needs help.
Although we've been offering internships during kidding season for many years, I realize most people don't have the time to come to our farm for a couple of weeks. That's why I created this online course. It includes all of the information that I give students in our on-farm classes about goat birthing and getting started with kids. Plus, it includes extended videos of 20+ kids that were born on our farm -- from labor and birth through nursing, bottle-feeding, disbudding, castrating, tattooing and more.
The birthing videos are minimally edited and heavily narrated. You'll see the good, the bad, the boring, and the ugly.
- We'll start with checking on does who are due. You'll follow me as I check udders and tail ligaments and look at bellies and debate when to move a doe to a kidding pen.
- You'll be there during early labor and hear how I decide whether to head back into the house or stay in the barn longer.
- You'll see normal labors and abnormal labors, as well as normal labors that are different -- and would make most newbies really worried!
- You'll see does pushing out kids. I'll talk about what's normal and why I'm just sitting and waiting.
- I'll also let you know when I'm starting to get worried.
- If I do something, I'll explain the pros and cons, along with what I'm doing and why.
- You'll see normal and abnormal placentas and learn what they mean.
Once the kids are born, you'll see how quickly (or slowly) they get to their feet and start nursing.
- If they don't start nursing in a timely manner, you'll learn what to do.
- When a kid gets hypothermia, you'll see how I get them warmed up and how I get colostrum into them with syringe-feeding or bottle-feeding.
- If a doe has too many kids to feed or if a kid has problems at birth that make it harder to get started nursing, you'll see how to start bottle feeding, as well as the way that bottle-feeding changes in the early weeks.
- You'll learn about normal newborn poop, newborn hooves, and umbilical cords.
- You'll see us weighing kids to determine if they're gaining weight at an acceptable rate.
- You'll see a dehydrated kid that had hypoglycemia and how it was tube-fed.
- You can watch us disbud five kids so you get several perspectives.
- You'll also see several castrations with a Burdizzo and a Side Crusher.
- Another video shows us tattooing several kids.
- One video is devoted to figuring out which kids are polled and which are horned over the course of several days. We even let the horns grow on four of the kids so you can see how fast the horns grow.
Basically you'll get to see just about everything that happens from the end of pregnancy throughout the first two months of a kid's life.
In 2002, Deborah and her family moved to 32 acres on a creek in the middle of nowhere to grow their own food organically. With the help of goats, sheep, pigs, and poultry, they produce 100% of their meat, eggs, and dairy products, as well as a large percentage of their vegetables, fruit, and herbs. Deborah is the author of six books, including Homegrown and Handmade, Ecothrifty, and Raising Goats Naturally, as well as her latest book, Goats Giving Birth. She also teaches sustainable agriculture courses online for the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. She has been teaching Raising Dairy Goats Sustainably since 2013 and Pastured Poultry since 2015.
Deborah's kidding course is well worth taking to increase your comfort level and confidence in providing the best care while your goats are giving birth. Knowing when you can sit back and watch the natural process take place or when to call for back-up is very helpful and appreciated. Took the course last winter and when kidding afterwards in March, had to call the vet. C-section was done and still lost momma, but kid survived. The course helped me to determine that I wouldn't have been able to handle that case on my own and the vet was called much sooner.
Karen Desjardins -- Field & Forest Acres, Ontario
I’ve been raising goats for about 10 years and kidding season is always an anxious time of year for me. I have dealt with many difficult deliveries and learned by experience what to do and not to do. It is very encouraging to me to see by your videos where I’ve done some things right and some things wrong. So thank you Deborah for making this course available. It was truly helpful because just when I think I’ve seen it all, one of my pregnant does will prove me wrong 😊
Mary Johnston -- Texas
The main thing I can describe--which isn't quantifiable--is a general sense of calm while I'm waiting for a presenting kid to emerge. The course helped develop a trust in the process and patience during the active pushing phase. I also started timing, which might seem counterintuitive, but I did this because I knew my mind was speeding up time spent pushing. By allowing myself to look at a clock, I could be objective and understand that things weren't actually taking as long as they felt.
Naomi D'Andrea -- Indiana
I love your goat courses and I think it is awesome that you add to them occasionally. I also think it is really awesome that you reply to all the messages and emails we all send with our questions and pictures. You have helped raise my confidence level tremendously and I greatly appreciate all you do for all of us.
Denice -- Missouri
The course was so helpful. I love the balance of written material charts, articles etc. with lots of videos. By the end of the course I felt really confident and well prepared and I know my goats have benefited from this already. Thank you
Clare Clovis -- Ontario, Canada
Just watching the actual process really gave me more confidence I could handle it!
Chris Edson -- Missouri
When current and former students were asked ...
How would you rate the course in its effectiveness to clearly explain the processes of goat birthing and raising kids?
How would you rate the effectiveness of the course on helping you to feel more confident about your goats giving birth?
Would you recommend this course to a friend who wants to learn more about goat birthing and raising kids?
The curriculum below lists all of the modules and videos in the course.
Be sure to click on the down arrow to see the complete list of lessons.
Each module also includes a discussion board so you can ask questions, which will be answered by Deborah.
I have absolutely loved the Thrifty Homesteader Academy's "Just Kidding
and Raising Kids" online course. After purchasing the series of video
lectures, they are always available for viewing at your convenience day
or night. I am able to go back and view them again and again. I felt
like I was standing in Deborah's barn right next to her as she was
demonstrating and explaining every step of the birthing process and the
raising of newborn kids. The videos answered just about every question
and concern I had and really helped a new goat owner like me feel
confident when the time came for my goats to give birth. Deborah also
continues to add new content which is made available to everyone who has
purchased her course. And she personally contacts each customer via
email and is so willing to answer any more questions you may have as
they arise. I highly recommend ALL of her courses...they are well worth
Laura Severt, Barneveld, WI
I strongly recommend Deborah's course for anyone who wants to learn more about the birthing experience. The variety of topics was excellent and comprehensive. I will be able to implement what I learned immediately. This course was just in time for me as I am about to have my does begin kidding. I'm sure the knowledge I picked up will save some babies lives and help me be able to raise stronger, healthier kids.
Lynn Brown -- Ohio
Deborah’s videos are extremely informative
and well worth the money! I have learned so much from Deborah, and
being able to go back and watch the videos over and over, I pick up on
something each time that I missed the time before. Keep the videos
Teresa Cole - Tomball, Texas
Thanks to this course, I knew exactly when my ladies were approaching labor. I felt confident in knowing where they were at in the process, what to expect next, and I had everything I needed to handle the situation, regardless of the course they took. Thankfully, we now have 3 healthy and happy kids who are being raised by their healthy and happy moms! I will continue to reference this material for years to come!
Trudy Cape - Georgia
Deborah Eddelmen - Illinois
The kidding course was extremely useful and helpful. First, the videos and their progression (from easy to more complicated births) were really useful. Second, your calmness and reassuring and matter-of-fact attitude and the emphasis on not over helping was something I remembered during our own kidding (kids coming out with one hoof and one bent back: it was perfectly fine). Another super helpful thing: Thanks to you I finally was able to ‘get’ the ligaments disappearing! Thanks again!
Angelica and Aurora - Upstate New York