Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Feeding Newborn and Kid Goats

When a goat is born here on our property I take them away immediately from their moms.  This is a personal preference thing.  We do it first, because I am not usually keeping the kids and want them gone off the property as soon as possible, so I have less work and more milk!  A goat that nurses on its mom will not go easily onto a bottle later.  So in order to sell them quick, I take the time to get them started well on the bottle.  Making sure that they get the colstrum within a few hours of being born and that they are nursing well on moms milk before they go to a new home.  Secondly, if I am keeping a buck or doe, bottle feeding, in my experience makes for a better, easier to handle dairy animal.  I can put a leash on my sticky (in rutt) bucks collar and walk them to a doe pen for breeding.  I don't have to catch them, wrestle them to the does pen, and get all stinky.  I can catch any bottle fed goat easily for hoof trimming, giving wormers and such. So I bottle feed.

As I say in almost all my posts.  I am not a vet and don't know everything.  This is what we found works for our farm and so apply it at your own risk.  But this is what we soon as the kids are born and on their feet and the mom is through with her delivery.  I milk her out or almost out depending on how many kids she had.  If they have more than two babies I try not to fully milk them out for the first couple of milkings so as not to throw the mother into "milkfever".

It is often a messy job teaching the babies to nurse.  Tongues hanging out the side of their mouths or them not knowing quite what to do.  Some take to it like they have always been doing it.  Yeah!  Others you might need to pet on, especially down near their tail area on their backs.  As that is where the moms are licking them off and stimulating them to nurse if left with mom.  If you can not get them to latch and nurse.  It is just easier and safer(risk of aspiration of milk into the lungs if they can’t nurse) to tube feed them that first nursing.  Usually, if I bolus them (tube feed ) them that first time, their sucking reflex kicks in by the next nursing. 
I go out to feed the babies every few hours the first two days (during the day hours) letting them drink all they want each nursing. 

On full sized babies (Nubian, Lamancha, ect.) your goal is 40 ounces a day broken into three feedings.  Usually they are there by day two or three.  As soon as they can drink 20 ounces in one go, they can be fed just 20 ounces twice a day.  (We also disbud (dehorn) them at about 4 days old.)  By week three you can put out a small bucket of water, some hay and leave a small amount of grain out.  They will soon discover it.  I slowly work it up till they are getting 3/4 cup of grain twice a day. (morning and evening)  You can use something like goat feed or some people use Nobel Goat as it has a cocidiant in it to stave of coccidia. Still continue with the two bottles a day while introducing these foods as they are going to have to develop their rumen and can’t digest food yet, so they NEED their milk.  Some people wean at 8 weeks and some later.  The goats I am keeping, I wean at 12 weeks to get as much growth on them as possible.  As I want my does a good size for good birthing some day and my bucks big and strong. So at 8 weeks I cut them back to just one 20 ounce bottle in the evening and then done at 12 weeks.
On Nigerian Dwarfs it is about the same schedule as above but smaller amounts.  Your goal is 24 ounces a day when a few days old.  Once they can down 12 ounces at a go you can cut them back to two feedings a day.  By week three you can put out a small bucket of water and some hay and leave a small amount of grain out.  Once they start really eating the grain I work it up till they are eating a ¼ cup in the morning and ¼ cup at night.   And the weaning schedule is the same as above. 

If you decide to feed Noble Goat as a starter feed, you need to work any does kids off it and onto a regular goat grain before breeding and milking, as Noble Goat has that medicine in it and you don’t want a pregnant goat eating it or it coming thru a milking doe into your milk.  So it would be a good starter food but change over.  Some people leave their bucks on it their whole lives as Noble Goat has Ammonium Chloride in it to help stave off urinary calci. You can also purchase Ammonium Chloride separate and sprinkle it over your choice of feed to help prevent Urinary Calci in bucks.

Years ago, I did sometimes leave babies on their moms at times.  It worked very well for first fresheners that I could not get my hands on their teats well to milk. (short first fresheners teats) If I let them raise their kids the first time, the kids would stretch out the teats so I could milk, without harmming the udder, after just a few days to a weeks time.  I stopped doing this practice after having two udders ruined by buck kids.  They chewed holes in a teat and were so ruff on the udders it caused infections.  So I just don't leave the babies on the moms anymore.  If you don't have a good, healthy udder you don't have a milk goat.  I go thru to much to selectively breed a goat, raise a goat, breed that goat and wait for it to freshen to have a kid ruin it.  

When you do let the moms raise their kids just make sure that the babies latch on and nurse well with in the first few hours. I have once in the past thought a baby was nursing well because I saw it nurse.  But with in a day it was to weak to save.  So make sure you see them nurse well and often.  Make sure the mom has milk.  Once the baby starts to nurse well you really don't have to do to much till they are two weeks old.  (Other than disbud (dehorn) them at about 4 days old.)  When they turn 2 weeks old you can start to remove the babies in the evening.  Put them in a safe dry stall or large dog kennel for the night.  When you go out in the morning you can milk the mom and get the 12 hours worth of milk from her body making milk all night with out the kids nursing on her.  After you milk you can put the kids back with her for the day.  They will nurse all day long and get that 12 hours worth of milk.  Doing it this way, some people let the moms wean the kids and some take the babies away for good at 8 or 12 weeks and call them weaned. 

One very important thing to remember is that a baby buck kid can re-breed his own mom or any doe in the area as early as three months old.  I have even heard of them breeding their own mom as early as 8 weeks old.  So any buck kids born, might need to be weaned or castrated by 8 or 12 weeks at the very latest.

God is so good to us always.  I have really enjoyed raising and milking goats thru the years.  I don't think I can sit and watch baby goats skipping and jumping all over the place, like silly kids and not smile. :) 

God bless you this spring as you live and grow in Him,

Psalm 104:14  He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;

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