Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Raising Bottle Babies ~ Thoughts and Ramblings

There is a lot of debate in the goat world. One of the hot topics when you get breeders talking is bottle babies vs. doe raised kids. There a lot of good points on both sides. I think there is a place for both with dairy does and meat does.

I certainly see a place for having does raise their kids. I’ve done it myself! However, I do not think better health or faster growth is necessarily a good argument in it’s favor.
Of course deciding to raise kids on the bottle does require commitment and research. Several factors can effect health and growth.

Although I’m going into my 10th kidding season, I’m still learning along the way. J Please, if you have your own ideas or advice for bottle raising or mom raising kids, comment!


To reduce stress on mom and baby make sure that they are separated as soon as possible. Be sure to get colostrom in your kid within hours. This can make a huge difference in his vigor later on and can be the difference between life and death if your kid is cold.

Iodine your kid’s cord and make sure he is dry.

We give a sub-q shot of Bova Sera (5 cc) or Goat Serum (12 cc) as soon as possible after birth along with A&D and Bo-Se.

Feed your kid in frequent, regular feedings. Be sure that they are warm and dry. Mama would know when to nudge them if they sit to long to eat and to warm up.


A huge factor for good growth and health is the control of parasites. Babies have sensitive stomachs and wormers can actually weaken them making it considerable easier for parasites to set up a new home.

Parasites, besides waste of food and slow growth, will compromise your kids and make them susceptible for sickness and disease.

The best way to conquer this dilemma is to have a clean, dry pen and be very careful to keep crunchables off the floor.

Another reason in favor of kidding in the winter is those cold days will kill off or at least keep those parasites in hiding. If you live in a damp area be very careful in during late spring or summer kiddings. Parasites and bugs will be rampant.


Some of knowing when and what to feed comes with experience. I do not like to set a exact amount because some kids will need more then others.
Because of the dangers of Enterotoxaemia I try to feed just until they are half hearted about eating, but will still eat more.

By 1 month of age my babies are normally drinking 3-5 cups twice a day. Because of schedule by two weeks I change to twice a day feedings. The more little feedings you can do, the better. By two months my babies are drinking 9 cups a day in two separate feedings.

I firmly believe that grain is a huge part of the problems with Enterotoxaemia and other related issues in kids. I do not feed grain to my babies. They normally do not learn about grain until they get close to breeding age, unless it is used as a little, occasional treat.

By babies get milk, free choice 2nd or 3rd (sometimes 4th…but that’s a little spendy!) cutting alfalfa, and water at all times. This has worked wonderfully for our kids.

I think the milk feeding stage of babies is very important. I feed my wethers 2-4 months on the bottle, bucks 4-6, and does 4-8. I normally taper off very gradually and add water to the milk so it ends up being the kid deciding he’s done instead of me. I find this much less stressful on them. I do not add any water to milk for the first two months and then do so gradually. Watered milk can have very bad effects on kids digestive tracks. Do not try to stretch that milk!

I do not really recommend milk replacer. Use real raw CAE free goat milk when ever you can. (If you have a heavy milking season, freeze some milk. Frozen milk is better then pasteurized or powdered.)

If you do have to use milk replacer try to find a brand that is really dried GOATS milk. Never use cow or all-purpose milk replacer.
Hoegger does have an excellent milk replacer, but the original cost is high and with shipping added can be fare beyond budget. Of the several milk replacers we’ve used, this has been the best. In a pinch I even was able to switch twin two month old does on it quickly with no digestive upset. I’ve kept some on hand the last several years just in case, since there are, of course those times when you find yourself with no milk!

We have used a sheep/goat milk replacer once, and although the babies didn’t get huge, they were healthy. Remember when feeding this type of replacer to have copper available to the kids. Because of a lambs intolerance of it, they won’t get it in the milk replacer and it can effect a kids growth considerably.

As fare as feeding cold milk to slow down consumption…I do not believe this is a good method at all. If your kid is eating to fast, put smaller holes in your nipples, do not feed cold milk. This can cause scours which can lead to dehydration which is one of the number one threats to kids. I just stay away from this practice, but I have seen perfectly healthy, happy kids who are on cold milk.
Keep in mind that this is one of the most important times for your babies. These kids want regain ground they lose during bottle feeding very well and will rarely get a second growth spurt!

~Other Notes~

We disbud with an iron between 7-14 days. Be sure you give your CD&T before! We spray Blue Coat after burning to keep out infection.

After first injection of CD&T we repeat every two weeks until two months of age. Then every month.

Four weeks before weaning, instead of CD&T we give Convexen 8 and repeat after weaning.
We repeat Bo-Se and A&D injections at two weeks and four months.

Be careful to keep Cossidioses at bay with bottle kids. There are several methods of doing this but is best to talk to a breeder in your area to get advice. I use a kid version of Di Mithox and sometimes Corid both of which have been highly effective. A preventative measure in kids will help fortify them for life and once Cossidioses is a real problem it is very hard to treat.

Happy Kid Raising!

Feeding and playing with your babies is rewarding and fun! Enjoy it!

~A Note on Lamb Raising~

I have successfully raised a wonderful ewe on goat milk. We did not feed extra copper (we only gave Mulmeg block) to the goat we used the milk off of. This ewe was are most successful bottle raised lamb. This seemed to work better then the milk replacers we’ve tried, but I have not researched sheep replacers very well. I’d welcome suggestions.

Thank you for reading! I hope this was helpful!

Drowsy Waters Farm

1 comment:

Fritzter said...

just wanted to let you know i found this very useful as i am new to goats and my first doe just kidded twin bucklings!