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Posts Tagged ‘newborn goat care’

Chameaqua – Snubian Dairy Goat

I fed the last bottle of the season today.  This is always a bittersweet day on our farm.  And it also reminds me that I promised a bottle feeding article!

There are several cautions that I want to give regarding bottle feeding.  First, never over feed a kid goat.  In the case of newborn and young goats,  love (through heavy feedings) can kill.  Secondly, if you are not feeding goat milk to the kid, select a well-balanced milk replacer.  The milk replacer label must state that it can be fed to kid goats, and the replacer must contain copper (a very necessary mineral to a goat) .   When mixing the milk replacer carefully follow the package instructions, it is much better to add slightly less replacer to the warm water than it is too much (too rich formula).  Be consistent with your measurements each and every feeding.

In the past we fed our newborn and young goats until their bellies felt full, and until they began “playing with the nipple” (showing a lack of interest, indicating fullness).  We fed up to 20 ounces per bottle, 3 times a day, to the kids that were at least several weeks old.  The bottle fed goats became sick more often than the dam fed goats.  We now feel that the problems we were experiencing were due to overfeeding, leading to bloat, and leading to the kids not having an interest in hay or grain.

To get an idea of how much to feed a kid goat, watch one nursing on their mother.  The dam allows the kid to nurse but not for long periods of time.  She basically allows the kid to drink a little (almost a “slurp” as we lovingly call it), then she makes the kid stop.  Kids nurse often, but not for an extended period of time.  Hence, when we bottle feed very large quantities of milk, we are allowing the kid to drink more than he would if he were “on” his mother.  Overfeeding leads to deadly bloat, scours, and other over-eating issues.

This is the bottle feeding schedule we follow:

  • Day One – Always feed colostrum! Up to 6 ounces per feeding, every 4 hours.
  • Day Two – Colostrum.  Up to 8 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Day Three – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day (gradually lower the amount of colostrum in the mix).
  • Day Four – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Next Two Weeks – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Up to 2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 3 times a day.
  • Up to 2 1/2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 2 times a day.
  • At 2 1/2 months old begin weaning.  Lower the amount of milk per feeding by about an ounce per day (or two ounces if the kid eats hay very readily).  This encourages the kid to eat more hay and grain, depending upon the bottle less each day.

We wean our kids between 2 1/2 and 3 months old.

From the beginning of a kid’s life, always provide access to good quality hay.  A kid will eat hay better if he is near other kids that eat hay.  Goats learn to eat hay by example (normally from their dam on the day they are born)! We provide a creep feeder.  It is a feeder that allows the kid(s) to enter a feeding area, where they have access to hay, without competition from larger goats.

We offer a very small amount of grain to our kid goats.  Normally, the dairy grain that we feed to the goats that are being milked is also offered to the kid goats.  Again, do NOT overfeed, a small handful (1/4 cup per kid) is plenty.  Encourage hay eating, especially a good quality alfalfa mix.  In colder temperatures, hay is what keeps a goat warm, through digestion (their rumen).

We prefer Pritchard brand nipples.  There are other brands of “lambing” nipples on the market.  The nipple hole in a Pritchard can be cut very small (for a newborn) or larger for a goat several weeks old.  Also, Pritchard’s have a valve ball that helps to control the milk flow and air.

Always feed a goat kid in a fashion that makes them hold their head up, similar to how they reach up to the udder when nursing from their dam.  Following this practice helps ensure milk does not enter their lungs, and helps to prevent bloat as well.

Never force feed a goat kid.  We published an article here:  Colostrum – The Most Important Nutrition In A Kid’s Life, and here, Reviving Chilled Kid Goats (that discusses kid goats unable to nurse).

You may also enjoy reading, Dam Vs. Bottle Raised Kids.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – where you can Smell and Feed the Goodness!

Note: Adjust the feeding amount for smaller breed goats. The feeding schedule remains the same, but you will need to adjust. On average, our kids ranged from 6-9 pounds at birth.

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Colostrum, the thick, sticky, yellowish “milk” that a dam produces during the first several days after birthing has a huge significance in a newborn goat kid’s life. 

Newborn kids are born with little or no immunity to disease.  Unlike some mammals,  a dam’s immunities are not passed on to their offspring through the placenta.  Once a kid is born it has no protection from the environment, be it susceptibility to the ambient temperature or microbes, until a sufficient amount of colostrum is ingested. 

A newborn kid should receive approximately 10% of its body weight in colostrum the first day of life, ideally in the first 6 to 12 hours of birth. The rule of thumb on our farm is within the first 2-3 hours.  The absorption rate factors of the protective qualities of colostrum drop considerably after the first 6 to 12 hours.

If a doe gives birth and cannot nurse her newborn kid, or if the newborn cannot nurse for any reason, getting colostrum into their system via a bottle is a must.  The best solution is to milk the dam and feed it back to the kid, heat-treating the colostrum if (CAE or other disease prevention) is preferred. 

If the dam cannot be milked, colostrum from another goat from the same farm is optimal.  This  the proper anti-bodies, unique to the farm, are contained in the colostrum.

The next best first-feeding solution is colostrum from a goat from another farm, preferably a nearby area. 

Colostrum is available in powdered form.  I personally do not agree with using it, unless absolutely nothing else is available.  Ready-made colostrum does not provide any life-saving protection from disease, however, it does provide initial nutrition.  I recommend to a goat owner that breeds to keep a frozen bottle of colostrum, or two, in their freezer. 

Please note:  if a newborn kid is chilled, unable to nurse, never attempt a forced feeding.  To ensure the organs in the body are warm enough to function properly, the kid’s internal temperature must fall within the correct range.  I outlined the steps that we take on our farm to assist chilled newborn kids in a blog post here.

Colostrum deprivation is a known condition that results from a lack of colostrum in a newborn kid’s first 6-12 hours of life.  The condition results in a sick newborn, one that does not fight infection well, and one that may not mature properly throughout their life.

Happy kidding and goat-raising!

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