Every goat producer dreams of a perfect kidding season. You know the one.
All babies are born correctly and easily. Does immediately act like the perfect mother, nuzzling and loving on their new bundles of joy. The kids respond to mom’s love by hopping right up and finding the teat to nurse.
I have news for you. There is no perfect world. Especially when it comes to raising goats.
Sometimes nursing is not an option. The only option is bottle baby goats.
Like human mommies, some animal mama’s just don’t have the means to nurse their babies. They may have no milk or a bad udder.
Whatever the reason, the occasion of having to jump start bottle babies has happened more than once since I’ve started raising livestock. Any good producer should have the proper equipment on hand to prepare for a time when baby goat kids can’t or won’t nurse.
A few reasons a baby can’t or won’t nurse include:
- The kid is too cold – A weak, cold kid just needs warmed up. A kid’s internal temperature needs to be around 101 degrees F. Totally fixable but needs to be done quickly and in a warm spot.Heat lamps won’t cut it. Use a hair dryer or a warm water bath indoors.
- The doe has no milk – Try drenching the doe with some dark beer to help the milk come in.
- The doe will not let the kid nurse – This is an easy option to fix. More often than not, the doe is just sore. Kicking at her kids could be a reflex.I help the doe and the kids work through this time.It could take up to 8-12 hours until the doe is comfortable nursing her babies. Using a horse neck tie, I tie the doe up to the fence. I make sure she is comfortable but secure.I move the kids to the udder region and hold the legs down to prevent her kicking. If the kids are ambitious enough, they can find the teats on their own.
But, sometimes the milk never comes in and the doe will never respond to the kids. The kid must be bottle fed at this point.
Here are 5 steps to follow to jump start bottle baby goat kids when nursing is not an option:
- Kid is warm and has a normal internal temperature – Usually a weak kid is a sign of a cold kid. A normal, active kid will have an internal temperature of around 101 degree F.I use a digital thermometer to take the kid’s rectal temperature. If the temperature is too low, I continue to warm the kid up.A hair dryer works great. If the temperature is really low, I will pack the kid in a ziplock bag and plunge it in a warm water bath. This helps tremendously.It usually takes around an hour to get the kid’s temperature up to where it needs to be. No colostrum until the temperature is 101!
- Give a good quality Colostrum the First Day – The best colostrum comes from the doe. I milk the doe and give about four ounces ever four hours. If the doe has no milk and I cannot milk her, I give a bagged colostrum. I found a great one I fully recommend. I also recommend a great milk replacer for goat kids.
- Only give recommended dosage – It is so important to give the right amount of colostrum and milk replacer to the kids at the proper time.Especially if you are using colostrum or milk replacer from a bag. Luckily, the back of both bags give you the exact measuring instructions along with the exact feeding instructions.
- Use a high quality milk replacer – There are many ways to replace the fresh milk a kid needs if it can’t nurse mama. I love and fully recommend the Manna Pro Kid Milk Replacer. I’ve never had any problems with using this milk replacer for bottle goat babies. It is a very high quality option.
- Keep Bottle Baby in a clean, warm place – Choose a small place in an enclosed building if the weather is wet and cold. This is vital for making sure the baby stays healthy. Provide plenty of clean bedding, such as straw or wood shavings.
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What If My Kid Won’t Latch Onto the Nipple?
Kid goats have to be taught to latch on and start sucking. I use a simple clean 20 oz pop bottle with a Pritchard Nipple.
Don’t give up on the kid if he or she refuses to latch onto the Pritchard Nipple. The kid is definitely hungry.
The good news is, the kid does not need much milk. Only four ounces or so.
The important thing is that the kid is getting the milk into it’s tummy. The more you teach it, the faster and better it will learn.
It won’t be long before the kid is nursing the bottle on it’s own.
Natural Vs. Bagged
Opinions run rampant in the goat community in regards to which milk replacer is best for baby goat kids.
I, too, believe natural milk from the mother is the best way to nourish any baby. But, often times, that is just not possible.
You can’t prevent every bad situation during kidding season. However, you can make it better by providing the kid with life and nutritious nourishment.
~ Much Love ~
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