How to Bottle Feed Baby Goats
This kidding season has brought so much joy! We have experienced births, bottle feeding, bonding, milking, and playfulness. At packgoats.com we get asked lots of questions on how to bottle feed baby goats and why it is critical when owning pack goats. That being said, we would like to share this information with you, the goat community!
Why Bottle Fed Babies Make Great Pack Goats
Wondering why bottle-fed babies make great pack goats? For bonding purposes, we bottle feed beginning the day of birth. The debate of bottle-fed vs dam-raised babies, risk vs reward with raising pack goats. A bottle-fed baby is creating a bond as if you are a goat too, they will die to be next to you. It is critical to have your goats follow behind and be part of the herd in the backcountry. Being miles in on a hard climb, you will definitely want that bond with your goats following right along. Please consider the risks.
Do Not Overfeed Baby Goats
Do not overfeed baby goats it can be deadly. At no time should you overfeed or force kids to finish a bottle. Kids will self-regulate and suckle for as long as is needed, some consuming more than others. Overfeeding is one of the largest risks of bottle-feeding goats. If you feed them to where they are full and lack interest in their bottle, then you’ve fed them too much. Be alert to any changes in your bottle-fed baby. Don’t make assumptions. We are not veterinarians. We have experience on our farm. Please contact your vet if needed. To learn more about overfeeding baby goats read this article on what is floppy kid syndrome.
Feeding Baby Goats Newborn to 1 Week
Feeding baby goats newborn to 1-week old are fed 4 times per day. And yes, that does mean setting the alarm clock during the dark hours. Using only the mother’s milk for the first 3 feedings (or 20 oz). It is important for the kids to receive colostrum in the first days of feeding for optimal health. If you have multiple birthing does, combining the milk after the first 3 feedings is acceptable. As baby goats’ stomachs are small, 4-6 oz is plenty.
*Always warm milk to a moderate temperature prior to feeding*
Feeding Baby Goats 2 to 4 Weeks
Feeding baby goats during 2 to 4 weeks are fed 3 times per day and the amount can be increased. This amount may vary between 8-12 oz per feeding. Some goats will eat more than others, or faster than others. Checking their bellies as they eat is a good practice. If a few have tight bellies, it is alright to pull them off the bucket. Overeating can lead to bloat, and bloat can have adverse effects. As well as floppy kid syndrome.
*A mix of ½ Goat & ½ Whole Cow’s Milk is acceptable if goat milk is not accessible during the full 3 months*
During week 2, offer free-choice grain, alfalfa, mineral & water. Giving the kids the opportunity to explore these options. Diversity of food increases the health of the rumen. During week 3, we recommend a coccidia treatment.
*The use of Calf Pro diluted in milk decreases Coccidia*
Feeding Baby Goats 5 to 8 Weeks
Feeding baby goats at 5 to 8 weeks to 2 times per day morning and evening. Goats will likely be drinking 16-20 oz. At this point, Free Choice Grain, Alfalfa, Mineral & Water will supplement their diet outside of the milk.
Feeding Baby Goats 9 to 12 Weeks
Feeding baby goats at 9 to 12 weeks reduced to 1-morning milk feeding at 20 oz.
Weaning Baby Goats at 12 Weeks
Weaning baby goats at 12 weeks old, it is your option to continue feeding milk into the fourth month, some choose this for their goats. There are differing opinions on weaning from decreasing amounts over time; skipping days or a hard stop. We chose to decrease feeding over 8 days. Starting from approximately 20 oz, move goats to 16 oz. for 2 days, 12 oz. for 2 days, 8 oz. for 2 days, 4 oz. for 2 days. At this point, kids will be fine to forage freely on grain and alfalfa. You may also add grass hay or take them outside of the yard, as I do, and let them forage on streamside plants and pine needles (which they love!!).
Preventative/Vaccination Along with Feeding Baby Goats
Albendazole is a treatment for a variety of parasitic worms. Test your goats at 6 months & 1 year of age and administer if needed. Annual testing is recommended for all goats to maintain herd health.
Calf Pro, a Coccidia preventative, may be diluted in milk starting week 2 (mentioned above) as the kids will be exploring their area and are bound to come across feces, mud, and muck. Calf Pro is used to reduce Coccidia. Dilute the Calf Pro in the milk prior to feeding (only one dose is needed per day). Label dosage is 10 mL per 100 lbs. If you have multiple goats, the use of a Lambar bucket will be helpful. Using a measuring cup, add 8-12 oz per goat into the bucket, stir Calf Pro into the bucket of warm milk (if using).
CD & T (USDA approved) prevents Enterotoxemia caused by Clostridial bacteria & Tetanus. The preventative should be administered at 30, 60 & 90 days. Follow with a treatment at 1 year, then annually. Giving your baby goats their CDT vaccination prevents common diseases and sicknesses. Check out this article CDT Vaccination For Baby Goats to keep your baby goats healthy.
Toltrazuril is also a Coccidia treatment that has been found to be successful in goats. However, Toltrazuril is approved for treatment in horses and has not yet been approved in goats by the FDA. We recommend a conversation with your veterinarian. Should you choose to use it as a preventative, it should be administered at 3 weeks of age, then 30, 60 & 90 days after the initial dose. You will then test the feces at 6 months of age and treat your goats if needed.
Helpful Resources and Tips
Hope you find this helpful. For more information on bottle-feeding and parasite prevention, visit our website at packgoats.com. The How to Raise a Baby Goat Course contains all of this information plus resources and tips to grow healthy, happy goats. Learn the necessary skills to care for a baby goat in its first year. A variety of articles and YouTube videos are offered for additional information. Enjoy your goat family and always reach out with questions via email, Facebook, or Instagram! At packgoats.com our mission is to become a leading resource on all things for owning your goats. In addition, help you feel confident about the information and be successful in raising your goats.