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Build A Kid Holding Box
by
Keith Smith

I love kidding season! All those new little critters running and jumping around, learning about their big, wide world... being just what they are - wild goats. It's Great!

Then comes the work - blaah! The new little critters aren't there for your amusement only. There are things you have to do to convert them from "wild" goats to domestic livestock. They have to be "city-fied". That means they have to be identified and disarmed. Said goats have to be properly restrained during identification and disarmament to prevent injury to them or to you.

Goats are disarmed by removing their horns and removing the ability of those horns to grow back. We produced over 550 kids at our place and never had the need or desire to disbud or dehorn one of them. One thing that I know for sure... If we had needed to disbud kids we sure would have used the kid box - can you imagine trying to disbud a kid with a hot iron while you or someone you like/love restrains the squirming goat's head, their hands an inch or less from the hot iron?

To most breeders identification is provided by means of ear tags and/or tattoos. Applying ear tags is an easy chore (once you get past procedure 3, below)

1. Load the tag pliers with the correct tag
2. Dip the tag and end of pliers in alcohol (or other disinfectant)
3. Catch the goat (the hard part)
4. Attach the tag to the goat's ear
5. Let go of the goat

Applying tattoos, however is a bit more difficult... After you load the tattoo pliers and catch the goat you have to hold the goat still while you clean the ear with alcohol, let it dry, apply the tattoo ink, apply the tattoo, apply more ink, sprinkle on baking powder and scrub the tattoo ink and baking powder into the tattoo holes - you also get to stop any bleeding that occurs from the tattoo holes and reapply ink as necessary. And tattoos are usually applied to both ears. All this is done, preferably, without you and the goat becoming completely covered with tattoo ink.

One method of restraining a young goat during this procedure is to have a helper sit on an up-side-down bucket or raggedy old lawn chair and lay the kid across their knees on it's stomach. The helper holds the kid down on their lap using one hand and restrains the kid's head with the other while you apply the tattoos. This usually results in perfectly acceptable tattoos but you now have two humans covered with tattoo ink and your helper will assuredly have many tiny hoof-shaped bruises on their legs.

An improved form of restraint is the use of a "fitting/milking" stand. This frees up both of your helper's hands to restrain the goat from the neck down. Inventive breeders should be able to come up with a method of restraining a goat's head once it's captured in the head piece of a fitting stand. Rope, straps and a custom made wooden tray come to mind immediately. Now we have to come up with a way to keep the goat from simply refusing to stand and collapsing while they have their ears pierced.

Using this easy to build kid box relieves much of the difficulty associated with tattooing and disbudding of young kids. How you first catch the goat is up to you.

Graphic of Assembled Kid Box
THE ANGLE OF THE HEAD SUPPORT (CHIN BRACE) CAN BE ALTERED TO MEET YOUR AND YOUR GOATS' COMFORT - JUST CHANGE THE SHAPE OF THE TRIANGLE BRACE UNDER IT.

The dimensions given work well for meat kids up to about 20 pounds. If you tattoo at one month old you'll probably need to increase the dimensions to accommodate kids that large.

Materials:

1 sheet of 1/4 inch plywood
12 feet - 1x2 inch furring strip
8 1/2 inch long 2x4
2 hinges
1 hasp
nails or screws
sandpaper
paint (if you're inclined that way)
old towel - wrap it around the 2x4 to provide more comfort for the kid's belly.

Tools

hand saw
keyhole or scroll saw
hammer or screwdriver

The victim, er... kid, is lowered into the box feet first with his head toward the rounded cut out so that his belly is supported on the 2x4 block. Grab the kid's head and hold it against the chin rest (made from the material left when you cut out the neck hole. Slam the lid shut and secure it with the hasp. Thinking ahead here helps later - Use an old bath towel as a sling to lower the kid in with (with his feet hanging down at either end of the sling, of course)... this sling makes a good handle to use for removing the kid when you're finished putting holes in his ears.

Go about your business of applying the tattoos while holding the kid's head against the chin rest with your other hand - it is within the spirit of the rules to have a helper do this if you wish.
When it comes time to scrub the ink into the tattoo holes just flip the ear upside down and support it on the flat surface of the lid while you work.

If you are particularily unhandy with tools or don't have the time or inclination to build the box and still find you need one there's good news...
A complete Kid Holding Box is available from Caprine Supply, http://www.caprinesupply.com , for $44.50 (2002 catalog price). They also sell a cast aluminum headpiece (replaces the wooden "chin rest" of my design) separately for $12.50. The dimensions of the Caprine box are 16" high, 5" wide x 24" long, but should be adequate for smaller crossbred or dairy kids under two weeks old.

Y'all be good, now, y'hear?

 

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