One of my least favorite tasks of goat production is weaning kids.
It’s true. I despise the weaning part. Not all parts of raising goats is enjoyable.
Weaning Kids is the stressful but necessary process of separating goat kids from their mothers. Honestly, my heart strings pull every single time. I get goosebumps when the young goats cry for their mothers during weaning.
But, weaning kids has to happen. All babies are weaned from their mothers at some point. In the wild, goats will wean their babies on their own. On the farm, the farmer helps with the process when the mothers and goat kids are ready.
Weaning boer goats and weaning dairy goats are a pretty similar process.
When are they ready? I’m going to cover that in this post as well as:
* My best simple tips for less stress in goat kids.
* Why weaning kids is an important part of raising meat goats.
Let’s dive right into the weaning tips.
Here are 2 main reasons why you should wean goat kids.
So, why is weaning kids such a necessary process? The first reason is to save Mother’s body confirmation score. I’ll talk about body confirmation in a moment.
The second reason I mention is that the Mother will try to wean them herself…eventually. We monitor the self weaning process and then simply help her with it. More time than not, goat moms are ready to wean their babies at a certain time but the babies do not cooperate.
So, it’s true that weaning kids is for the mother’s health. By a certain age, the kids don’t need their mother’s milk anymore. The kids become more wear on their mothers but demanding to nurse.
As the circle of life progresses on, the kids grow and continue to use up all the mother’s reserves. The more the kids take, the more the mother has to give.
So, we keep up their nutrition. And watch their body condition score closely.
What is Body Condition Score?
Body condition score is a range from 1-5 judging how fat or thin the animal is. The thinnest is 1 and the fattest is 5.The middle and healthiest point on the scale is 3.
The nursing doe should be in the 2-3 range by the time we schedule weaning. This is when the kids are 10-12 weeks old, which is perfect weaning age.
So, let me tell you the weaning process I’ve found that has worked the best for me for over a decade of raising goats.
Here are some tips to keep in mind for successful weaning.
First of all, it’s important to make sure the weaning pen is extremely secure. Look for any holes in the bottom of the fence where the babies could squeeze out because you know they will be looking for one.
Secondly, health and safety is of most importance. This includes identification. So, as we remove the kids from their mothers, we assign them ear tags (scrapie tags).
The scrapie tags help us to identify them. I write these numbers down in a notebook for record keeping. They also get a second booster shot of CD-T, which is a preventative for a disease called enterotoxemia or overeating disease.
A little more about CD-T: A first booster shot is given at 8 weeks old before they are weaned. They are still receiving the antibodies from their mother’s milk but maybe not as much, so this is a good age to give them their first round. It takes 2 weeks for the CD-T booster to be effective.
CD-T will protect the kids and keep them healthy as they transition to their new pen.
Finally, if the weather is nice, we band castrate the male bucklings. Banding bucklings at this age helps prevent a disease called Urinary Calculi. Since we band everything for prevention of early matings in the weaning pen, this is just the right time to do it. They may feel it the first few days, but recovery time is quick.
Nutrition is key for the weaning pen.
Before weaning time, kids are eating feed and hay with mom as well as drinking water and milk. Starting them on feed, hay, and water before weaning makes the transition much easier for them.
In the wean pen, we keep a complete medicated pelleted feed in front of them all the time. They get all the hay they could ever want. And, most importantly, all the water.
Since, they are eating and drinking already, this transition is fairly simple and quick. After a few days, the kids learn they don’t need mom anymore.
Mothers Need To Be Happy, Too
Weaning is a stressful time for mother does as well. Their udders engorge like a balloon as they dry up. But, it’s only for a few days.
Check the does to see if they need dewormed. Worm loads can accelerate under stress.
Also, be sure their nutrition is up to par. Keep water, minerals and roughage plentiful. Stay with the feeding schedule they are used to for the first day. After the first day, reduce the feed amount slowly.
This is the process we use as we transition the does off feed and onto full pasture in the spring.
And the cycle starts again.
Weaning is a natural and normal process. It’s part of the circle of life. It’s definitely hard to listen to babies and mothers cry. But, in a few days, the tears subside. Everything goes back to the way it was.
I hope this helps you to find weaning kids easier and less stressful! If you loved this post, check out the related posts. Don’t forget to share it with someone who needs to read it.
~ Much Love ~
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