What should you feed a newborn baby goat?
When your baby goat arrives, you’ll have to pick whether they’ll be dam-raised or bottle-fed. You may choose to bottle feed for a variety of reasons, including encouraging sociability and regulating the dam’s udder. Or you may be compelled to bottle-feed because the dam can’t or won’t let the kid nurse for one reason or another, or a child is too weak or compromised to nurse. If you’re considering bottle-feeding for any reason, you’re likely to have a lot of questions, including:
What kind of milk should I give to my baby goats?
How do you get a baby goat to drink from a bottle?
How much milk should a baby goat be given?
How long should you bottle feed baby goats?
What Kind of Milk You Should Feed Baby Goats:
Colostrum is the first milk that should be given to baby goats when they are bottle-fed. Ideally, the dam will produce enough colostrum for you to collect it into a bottle and feed it to the babies right away. If colostrum is unavailable for some reason, you can feed fresh colostrum from another doe who kidded at the same time, feed frozen milk from a previous kidding, or provide a kid colostrum replacer.
It’s important to make sure it’s a kid colostrum replacer, not a calf or lamb replacer. because different species have different nutrient requirements. It’s also important to make sure you’re using colostrum replacer rather than milk replacer. Colostrum must be given to newborns within the first 24-48 hours of life or their prospects of survival are slim. At this point, don’t use any kind of homemade replacer, and don’t try to get by with conventional whole milk.
You can transition to milk after the newborn child has survived the first 24-48 hours. It’s ideal if you have access to fresh goat milk because it’s the best.
Many bottle-feeding goat owners will milk the dam and then transfer the milk to bottles and feed it to the infants right away. Other goat owners prefer to heat-treat milk before bottle-feeding newborn goats to avoid the possibility of CAE or other infections being passed down from the dam to the baby. I take my CAE tests while my dose is pregnant so that I know they are negative, and then I feed the infants the mother’s milk raw, which feels more natural to me and includes more helpful antibodies than heat-treated milk.
If you opt to heat-treat the colostrum, keep in mind that it cannot be pasteurized since it will curdle; instead, it must be gently heated to 135 degrees F and held there for one hour. Regular milk can be pasteurized for 30 seconds at 161 degrees F.
If you don’t have fresh goat milk, you can use a goat milk replacer or another species of milk to bottle-feed your baby goats. I’ve seen goat milk replacer recipes, but my veterinarian and goat mentors tell me that full cow milk from the grocery store is more adequate and suitable if I don’t have powdered replacers or don’t want to use them.
Getting Baby Goat to Drink Milk from a Bottle:
It will be quite easy to get your newborn baby goat to take a bottle if he or she is healthy enough to have a strong sucking reflex. For baby goats, I like the little red “Pritchard” nipples because they are smaller and simpler to suck. Remember to clip the nipple’s tip because it doesn’t come with a hole! Hold the bottle at an angle so that the milk flows downhill, then use your fingers to open the baby goat’s mouth and insert the nipple. To help the infant hold the bottle in its mouth initially, I use mild pressure on the top and bottom of the snout. A hungry strong baby goat will begin sucking enthusiastically.
If the baby goat is unable to suckle, you may need to feed a few drops at a time using a medicine dropper (be careful not to put too much in its mouth or in the side of its cheek at once or it could go down the wrong tube and into the lungs). It’s also possible that the infant will have to be tube-fed. I’ve also had kids who just needed a little wake-up call to get their sucking reflex going. I’ve found that rubbing a supplement like “Nutri-Drench,” Caro syrup, or even coffee on their gums is often enough to give them a jolt of energy and get their sucking reflex going.
How Much Should a Baby Goat Be Fed?
The amount of food your baby goat will require depends on whether they are full-sized or tiny breeds, as well as their age. Feed three to four ounces per five pounds of weight per feeding in general. You may feed every three to four hours at first, then spread it out to four feedings a day after a few days. At around three weeks of age, you can reduce it to two or three feedings every day, and by six to eight weeks, you can reduce it to twice a day.
At around three weeks of age, you can reduce it to two or three feedings every day, and by six to eight weeks, you can reduce it to twice a day. You can feed them once a day for the last month because they should be eating hay and grain by then, if not sooner.
How Long Should a Baby Goat Be Bottle-fed?
I aim to bottle-feed doelings for at least three months and bucklings or wethers for at least two months when I’ve decided to bottle-feed young goats. If I have extra milk, I’ll go a little longer, but this tends to get them off to a good start, and by two to three months, they’re eating grass, hay, and even some grain, so their need for milk is much decreased.
Bottle-feeding baby goats takes time, but it’s also a wonderful way to bond with your kids and make them sociable!
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