Making a Goat Kid Warmer

Living in the frigid north, I find myself making a goat kid warmer to prepare for Grace’s new kids.

I’ll start by saying I had no intention of ever kidding in the middle of winter. I know a lot of people do it, but for me it just didn’t make sense to be battling frigid temperatures on top of all the other risks that come with kidding.

Unfortunately, a very determined buck got friendly with our doe back in August so here we are, early January, expecting kids in the next 1-2 weeks.

Why make a goat kid warmer?

After a few days old, goat kids can withstand the same temperatures as their moms.

Those first few days however, they could benefit from a little extra support. This is only if we have temperatures that are below freezing or lower. If temps are above freezing and the kids are dry and out of the wind, they’ll be fine.

With our daytime highs in the 20s (balmy for this time of year!) this little goat warming hut will provide a little extra support for the skinny little goats and peace of mind for me.

Grace and her girls last spring.

Why to Kid in Winter

As I’ve said, kidding in winter is not my cup of tea and I don’t ever plan to do it again. Still, there are legitimate reasons for kidding in winter. If you have a more plush set up for your goats than we do or milder temperatures, kidding in winter might be just fine. Here are a few other reasons why folks might kid in winter.

  • Parasites- Worms and other parasites are not very active in the winter as the cold temperatures prevent them from surviving in feces. This makes it less likely your kids will have worm issues and your does will also not need to be dewormed after giving birth, as is customary on a lot of farms.
  • Showing – If you are active in the show circuit, you may have more shows that your kids are eligible for because they were born earlier in the year.
  • Heat Cycles– Some goats simply don’t go into heat except for the late summer or early fall, which leaves you with winter kids.

What are the risks with heat lamps and barns?

We try to avoid heat lamps as much as possible. I don’t know the statistic, but almost everyone knows somebody who lost a building and animals to a fallen heat lamp.

The bulbs on those suckers get HOT. Pair that with dry shavings or straw, dusty hanging cob webs, and curious animals who might knock the light down, and you have a recipe for a fire.

That’s just on reason why making a warmer like this is a good idea. It stabilizes the bulb and puts a huge plastic trash can guard around it to keep it from falling in shavings or straw.

How to Make a Goat Kid Warmer

Most people use large blue or white barrels for this project. I didn’t have one available but we did have a few spare garbage cans that I thought would work just fine.


  • Plastic barrel or large plastic garbage can
  • Heat Lamp
  • Heat Lamp Bulb
  • Exacto knife, sharp pocket knife, or a Sawzall
  • Thin board or solid piece of metal
  • Straps
  • Duct or electrical tape
  • Thermometer(optional)

Making a Goat Kid Warmer from a Garbage Can

Get your Barrel/Can

First you’ll need to source your garbage can or barrel. Barrels are often on craigslist or Facebook marketplace for anywhere from $20-50. A 32 gallon trash can is $10 at Wal-Mart.

garbage can kid warmer rough and tumble farmhouse

Cut Some Holes

Using an exacto knife, sharp pocket knife, or even a or sawzall, cut a small hole in the bottom of the can. I went with about 9 inches by 9 inches.

making a warmer for goat kids rough and tumble farmhouse

If you are able, it is a good idea to leave the bottom (what was the top) ring intact. This makes for more stability. I did cut through mine and it still seems pretty solid.

Next, I used a sharp pocket knife to bore holes in the top of the trash can. I connected those holes to slice out a larger circular-ish hole. The size of this will depend on your heat lamp. You want it just big enough to fit the butt end of the lamp.

diy goat warmer rough and tumble farmhouse

Install the Lamp

Push the lamp cord through the hole, then push the lamp up and in to the hole. The style heat lamp that I am using has a metal bracket attached to the butt end. I really recommend this style as it provides a solid way to lock it in to place. If yours doesn’t have that kind of bracket, you will need to get creative in finding a way to affix it to the barrel top.

diy animal warmer rough and tumble farmhouse

Next, take a solid piece of material, like a board or metal rod, and loop it through the bracket that is now on the outside of the barrel top. To make it extra secure tape it to the top. Or if you have the materials, bolting it down with some simple brackets would be even better.

Place the Warmer

Position the barrel/can in the kidding pen. Use the strap to tie/staple/stabilize the barrel to a wall or panel. This is an important step. If the kids or doe knock in to the warmer it is important that it stays in place.

how to make a kid barrel rough and tumble farmhouse
Sorry the photos are so dark!

Plug the light into an outlet as is or use an outdoor extension cord.

If you have a thermometer, stick it in the warmer for five minutes and see what the temperature is at.

The warmer should be just that, warm but not hot.

Testing the Warmer

We kept our warmer in the house for the better part of a day where I could keep tabs on it and make sure it was functioning properly.

After installing it in the kidding pen, I left it on while I went about morning chores. I checked it after chores were finished. Still solid, not too hot on the straw.

I also roughed it up a bit to experiment with how sturdy the lamp placement was. Do the same with your goat kid warmer. If it seems like something isn’t quite stable, make improvements before putting it out in the barn.

Is there a better way to do this?

Yes, absolutely.

An actual barrel vs a trashcan would be more heavy duty and solid.

Additionally, wiring in a permanent bulb fixture is ideal. I didn’t have those supplies on hand but it seems pretty straightforward. Over at they have great plans for making a more professional warmer out of a barrel and a permanent light fixture.

The kids are due in about a week so I’ll let you know how our warmer works out!

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DIY Goat Kid Warmer - Rough and Tumble Farmhouse

For more goat related content check out my goat area of the blog.

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