Operation Kidding Pens

I have put off making up a kidding pen for entirely too long! I have said I was going to get at least one up for the past few weekends and in the end, in true style, we waited until practically the last minute. Our first doe of the year is due Friday. I have to wonder if she’ll hold out until then. She still has her ligaments but her back side’s looking pretty swollen and she’s stretching an awful lot. Taking it all in stride though. We’re in for some nasty weather Tuesday and Wednesday but this weekend looks pretty nice. I hope, for her sake and for the kid’s sake, she just waits.

I have probably never mentioned how much I love pipe corral gates. Our first goat shelter was sectioned with gates that hung off the walls for new mamas and eventually they convert over to kid penning areas for overnight separation. I love that they can be swung up against a wall, out of sight out of mind. They make making pens really easy!

kidding pen 2011

I have a lot more room in this barn than I have before and I’ve asked Jeremiah to weld up some panels for me to be installed at the back of the barn. I need a total of 4 kidding pens. I have 4 does due within days of each other and once the panel is welded up, I’ll have 4 separate areas and the front of the barn will then be for the does who are not bred or those who have kids old enough to be separated. In reality I need 5 areas but one of the pens will be big enough for two does and their kids and a kidding pen will then convert to a separation pen. 

kidding pen 2011- gate open

This particular pen is in the “open” area  that the does are not allowed into. The wooden wall is the milk room and behind the pen is where the other kidding pens will go. Right now it’s their favorite sleeping area but they’ll be pushed forward a bit to make room for the new pens. From the t-post to the opposite wall (left hand side of the photo) there will be a welded panel section with gates and the back of the barn will be split in two with another panel section. The back pens will be about 7 foot deep and just shy of 6 foot wide. The pen made with gates is 6’x6′. It’s a bit smaller than I would like but they won’t be in them for weeks on end. If the weather is nice enough, they will all be let out for outside time within 24 hours. And for now, that whole back area of the barn can be closed off to the main herd by another swinging gate as shown in the photos below.

The small piece of panel going from the t post to the wooden wall is on a hinge and just closes with a clip (see photo below). The opening is large enough for a non-pregnant doe to move through and she could easily have more room to get out into until the other pens are made up.

panel gate

The 4th pen will be substantially larger and will sit in the middle of the barn between the long separation gate (seen below and in front of the back kidding pens.) This area would be plenty large enough for 2 or even 3 does and their kids. 

separation

view of front of barn

We store our hay in the same barn as the one I am taking photos in (see photo below and I apologize, with the storm that went through, things got a little rough in there). The set up makes feeding easy and there are pros and cons to having the feed storage and main living quarters/sleeping quarters separate. We’ve talked about storing hay elsewhere and I think this may be something we’ll do next year so that I can have more “goat” areas. The barn is cut in half front to back-hay storage on the east side, goat area on the west. We did that earlier in the year (the photos for that can be seen on this post). For now, with the number we’ve got, it will work just fine this year.

future kidding pen

So, I hope that was all easy to understand. I really like having my kidding pens in with the herd. My does get stressed out when separated and putting them in confinement away from their mates would cause problems. I can appreciate keeping all together (but separate) too because of the ease of getting everyone fed and watered. Eventually, if I feel they need more “alone time”, they could be moved to any of the 3 open pens as each has has its own 3 sided shelter. But I wouldn’t move dams with kids in the weather we’ve been having so I’m happy to have the pens in the main barn. It’s just to cold to trust they’d be okay in a 3 sided shelter. More on 3 sided shelters in another post though. I’m off for tonight…completely exhausted after a full 12 hours spent working to get things ready for kidding.

I will add that my adoring husband installed 3 new electrical receptacles in my milk room, one on the outside of the milk room and a new double utility light up in the rafters giving me excellent light into the new kidding pen(s). There were 5 regular household lights in the barn rafters, and they’re still there, but now there’s enough light that I don’t have to worry about working in the dim shadows. What a guy!

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