Kid creeps are a great way to provide kid-specific care while keeping larger goats away. This brief article details how and when to use one and includes photos of various iterations we’ve implemented on our farm.
What is a Kid Creep?
A kid creep is simply a space–a shelter, fenced area or any other area you create–that is inaccessible to adult goats. It allows kids to eat, shelter, play and rest safely. The primary, conventional use is borrowed from the cattle world where grain is free fed in a cow-proof area to encourage a fast growth of calves. We can adapt this concept for any number of uses in the goat world. I use mine as an area for kids when I separate them overnight during milking season. In the holistic framework, giving them an enjoyable, roomy space with all their creature comforts helps ease any stress of separation and indeed, kids come to relish their sacred spot in a way that brings to mind a child’s exclusive “Kids Only” treehouse.
Setting Up a Kid Creep
A kid creep can be as large or as small as you want. It should be large enough that when the doe reaches in from the entrance, she can’t reach the feed. You can accomplish this using a cattle panel across the corner of your existing space, or create a more elaborate option that is more like a mini barn. Your goals will determine what you need to put in it. Since I’m separating overnight, mine needs to have all of the things they would need to go 12 hours without their moms. While they’re sleeping for most of that time, they’re usually up several hours before I go out to milk, so I include:
- sleeping areas
- toys, such as Little Tykes toddler toys
- feed bowls for Chaffhaye or grain
I want them to have every comfort when they’re in there and I want it to be an enjoyable experience for them. They come to like it so much that they will often be found in there during the day as well, when the swinging kid-sized gate is latched open for free movement.
Even if you don’t separate for milking, giving the kids a safe space can help with other considerations:
- no competing with the big goats for the best hay parts
- no risk of crushing if sleeping with adults in a crowded space
- easier way to collect all the kids at once when needed
- safe place to feed supplements you may not want to feed the adults
- place to safely confine kids during milk test days
Getting Kids to Use a Kid Creep
The easiest way to get kids to use the kid creep is to put tasty food in there. I like to use Chaffhaye and will put a generous amount in bowls when I want to get them in for the night. They can snack on it at bedtime and have some left when they wake up. Small bits of grain can be useful here too. Once they’re all in, the door is closed and latched and they’re safely stowed away for the night. If you have no need to separate, you don’t need to ever close the door, but having one can be very helpful if ever you do need to separate for any reason.
Here are some photos of variations we’ve used over the years.
This is the main creep we now use and have used for several years. It is large enough to accommodate my largest kid crops and give everyone plenty of space to play with the toys, which aren’t in here yet in the photos. I usually keep as many crates and dog houses in there as I need to give every kid room to snuggle in – on the coldest nights those enclosed areas go a long way toward retaining heat.
In the back left of the photo above, you can see a plywood platform. They love to sleep on that during the day and under it at night. This is where we deep bed to encourage them to all cozy up together in there for the most heat retention. I find that shorter spaces make all the difference in keeping temperatures up in cold winter.
Another year in this creep using shavings and dog houses for warmth. The mineral feeder in the back is where I add herbs + kelp if I need to dose the kids with any medicinal herbs.
In this image, you can see the on the right preparing to walk through the gate. This gate swings up to latch out of the way during the day and the same small carabiner latches it to the bottom to close it at night. Kids will constantly flow in and out of here all day long to eat, nap or play.
I don’t routinely use heat lamps, but when we kidded in winter, I’d use this greenhouse and a single caged heat lamp from Premier 1 Supplies. You can see how crowded this area became – they were moved up to the big barn shortly after. It’s another example of an easy creep though – kids can climb right through the cattle panels. This one is wired but has an opening toward the bottom.
And one year in a 20’x20′ stall in the barn where there was enough room for all the kids to play together. 😁
This one is out in summer pasture and never gets used now, but it was great while we used it. The low shelter on the right is the does’ main winter shelter, 8′ wide, 4′ high and 16′ long. We put up a wired cattle panel in the last 4′ to create a 4’x8’x4′ area for the kids to shelter in. They walked through a tiny hole in the side and could see and be with their mothers without being able to nurse. Hay, minerals and water were outside in a 16’x16′ fenced area that you can see here. The fence had a similar latching gate like in the creep we use now – it latched open during the day and closed at night.
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