How to Make No-Sew Kid Coats for Your Goats

Baby goat with a coat.

How to make coats for your goat kids

Updated February 2022

Goat kids are born without much body fat and it can be hard for them to regulate their body temperature as newborns. They can become chilled easily. As they grow they are able to regulate their internal temperature more easily but at first they are rather fragile.

In the first days of a goat's life, a deep layer of clean straw bedding on the floor and being able to snuggle with mom and siblings are the best ways to keep a kid warm. 

Depending on your location and weather you might want to hang a heat lamp, but please secure it well and hang it high enough that a goat can't reach it. 

You might even want to read my post on barn fire prevention. You'll probably be surprised at some of the common causes of fires. There are ten tips to help prevent fires in the post, but my biggest tip is this: be extra careful with heat lamps

Another thing to consider is that a new goat mom finds her own baby with her sense of smell. If her kid doesn't smell "right" she might reject it. A fabric coat right out of the clothes dryer, smelling like detergent and fabric softener, could be a potential problem. 

As cold as it might be, you might not want to put a coat on a young kid before its mom has bonded with it. We don't want to confuse her! 

So when do goat kids need a coat?

If you have a very cold spell of weather come through, you might feel that your babies need a coat. And they might, but just temporarily. When the weather warms up during the day, you should remove the coat. 

If the babies are used to living in the barn with a heat lamp, but there's a nice spring-like day and you'd like to let them outside to play in the goat pen for a bit, you might want to put these homemade coats on your kids. 

Just use common sense and don't leave goat coats on them all the time. 

Types of goat kid coats 

Over the years I've made kid coats in several different ways. 

I sewed several layers of fabric together like a quilt and used binding on the edges. I fastened it with diaper pins (safety pins) and had to sew leg straps on it. It was a lot of fussy work, it didn't stay on real well, and I was never happy about having to use a safety pin. 

Above: a quilted kid coat

I tried children's t-shirts, tying a knot in the bottom hem of the shirt on the goat kid's back to hold it closer to her body. 

Some people buy dog coats, which seem to work pretty well. 

Then I landed on this method and have used it ever since. 

Phoenix, the first goat I bought after our barn fire, was an "only kid" for over a month. She lived in our mudroom for awhile, and on days with nice weather I'd let her out in the dogs' yard to play. 

Since she was used to living in a heated space, I improvised the prototype of this coat for her from a pair of sweatpants that I bought at a local thrift store. After a few tweaks, this is how I make them.

What you'll need to make these kid coats 

You'll need a pair of sweatpants with elastic around the ankles. 

I prefer using a pair with actual elastic rather than the sewn-in ribbing that is the fashion nowadays, but if you shop for them at a thrift store like I do, you have to work with what you can find.

One pair of sweatpants will make two coats, so you'll have one to wash while the other is in use, or if you have a set of twins you'll have a coat for each of them. 

In fact, two years later when Phoenix and her "herd sisters" had their first kids, I bought a few more pairs of sweatpants and made more coats. 

Each of the three does had a set of twins, and all six of those kids were brown. Having pairs of kid coats in the same colors came in handy so I could tell at a glance which kids belonged to which doe. 

Goat kids in coats!

I use a girls' large size or a small women's or men's size sweatpants. 

For miniature breed kids, use smaller size sweatpants. I've tried using the arms of sweatshirts but I've found that the thicker ribbing on sweatshirts is too wide and too constricting around a goat kid's neck.

My local thrift store sells sweatpants for $2 a pair and one pair makes two coats, so these coats cost $1 each to make. 

Color and pattern don't matter to me, although I did get some comments about the violently hot pink color of those first coats I made for Phoenix when she was little. To me, the elastic around the ankle is the most important part. 

You'll also need a pair of sharp scissors, a felt-tip marker or other way to mark the fabric, and a dressmaker's tape measure. 

How to make no-sew kid coats 

This is sort of a wing-it method of creating, so I don't have exact measurements for you. 

I used a dressmaker's tape to measure the kid from neck to tail, but the exact size needed will depend on the breed of goat you have and how old and big the kids are. Here's what to do:

I decided where I wanted the "neckline" to be on the kid, about halfway up the neck from the chest so it resembled a turtleneck sweater. This helped keep the kid's neck warm. 

Then I measured the kid from the middle of the neck where the ankle elastic of the sweatpants leg would be, to where the tail meets the body. I added an inch for growth, and cut the leg of the pants that length. Just a straight cut, to separate it from the body of the sweatpants. 

A turtleneck sweater on a goat kid.

The next step is to put this piece on a table or other cutting surface, so that it's a long tube of fabric that forms a double layer. The elastic end will be at your right and the open, cut end will be on your left. 

This long tube of fabric now has a "top" which will be on the kid's back, and a "bottom" that will be on the kid's belly.

Round off the "bottom corner" of the pants leg as shown in the photo above - the opposite end from the elastic ankle - then cut out a piece of the bottom to accommodate the hind legs and belly of the kid. 

For buck kids and newborns, you may need to make this cut deeper into the belly of the coat than pictured above. When I made this pink one and took photos, Phoenix was a month old and had lost her umbilical cord by then.

This next part is the hardest: hold up the coat to a kid's side to "eyeball" the best spot for the front leg holes. Mark it approximately with the marker. Just cut one leg hole for now. 

The easiest way to make the second leg hole is to lay the tube of fabric on the table again and draw an oval with the marker that roughly matches the first hole, then cut it out. 

You may have to adjust the holes when you try the coat on the kid, and that's ok too. (Umm, take it off the kid before using scissors on it, of course!) 

Sometimes I have to make the holes a little bigger, wider, longer, or more towards the center or the other direction. It just takes some fiddling and patience to get it right. If the holes are a bit large it really doesn't matter; an active kid needs non-restrictive clothes anyway. 

And they're just simple coats for baby goats so don't stress too much about how they look. That pair of sweatpants only cost a couple dollars and if you totally mess it up, you still have the other pants leg to work with! 

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When you get your coat cut just right, use it as a pattern to make the next coat. Just draw on the next tube (sweatpants leg) with the marker and cut it out. 

How to put a coat on a kid 

There is an art to this. Yes, really. 

Start by putting a newborn kid's head through the neck hole, then one foreleg into one of the leg holes, the other foreleg through the other hole, and then pull the fabric back towards the tail.

Newborn kids are easier to "fold up" so putting the head through the neck hole first is easiest. 

For an older kid, put the forelegs into the leg holes first and then pull the coat up over the head and back towards the tail. 

To remove the coat, pull the back end of the coat forwards and over the head towards the nose, then down and off the legs. 

Goat kids in coats

This design stays on my kids well and doesn't require straps or safety pins, two things that I try to avoid around my goats. Goat babies could get tangled up in a strap, or get stuck by an open safety pin.

The cut edge of the knit fabric doesn't fray so it doesn't need to be hemmed. These coats are pretty durable, but if they only last one kidding season they are still a bargain compared to the work involved in other patterns and the cost of pre-made coats. 

Why not give this a try? 

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

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Newborn goat kids are fragile and are easily chilled, but heat lamps aren't safe. Make these quick-and-easy kid coats to keep your goat babies warm and cozy. No sewing required! #goat #homesteading

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