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Homesteading and Livestock

Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Goats: Just Kidding! Part 5

 Our weather is getting better and better here in the Northeast, we've actually had temperatures into the 50's, and we're eager to start kidding! I know that it will happen soon enough, but, we are getting impatient! It's so much fun delivering babies and enjoying the antics of the little ones.Carinababies 

As I explained in my last blog, the kids come down the birth canal in all sorts of positions, and it is possible to deliver them as they appear. Most of the fun, though, is finding out how many, what colors, what sex, and what do they look like!


All of my talk to this point has been about the kids, but, what about mom? What should we do about her? She did all that work, pushing out one, two, three, or more babies, doesn't she deserve a little TLC too? Here is what we do: we use one of our smaller water buckets (the gallon and a half size) and fill it with nice warm water, then we add about ¼ to ½ cup of molasses, stir it up and offer it to the dam; she will love this! It's sort of an “after birthing tea”. It gives the mom a much needed boost of sugar, which provides a quick shot of energy, some added iron, and something warm to drink jettakidsafter all that hard work. Some of our girls will drink the whole bucket in one fell swoop, and others just a few swallows.  

(A quick note about afterbirth, please let your doe deliver it all by herself with no help from you! Tugging, pulling, tying heavy objects to it, does nothing but potentially cause injury. And, please don't cut it because it's dragging! 

After reading lots of available information, I called my vet because after 24 hours the doe still hadn't delivered her afterbirth, and the only thing he asked was “does it smell?” When I said no, he said if she didn't deliver it in another 24 to 48 hours come to the office and get some oxytocin to start her contractions again. She delivered it about 10 hours after the call.) 

And, now, back to the babies. As I explained before, we take our dairy kids away at birth, any others would just stay with their moms. There are several reasons for that. First of all, the babies are taken away only from our dairy goats. We bottle feed these babies their mom's colostrum and milk. It seems so much easier on the girls; they don't have the separation anxiety in the way that a doe has when a 2 or 3 week baby is taken from her. threesome 


Another reason for pulling dairy kids at birth is milk production. If you have ever watched a kid nurse, they only drink for a few seconds and then they're off to play. Milk volume is formed by supply and demand. The more you demand, the more that's supplied. A few occasional sips doesn't build up the milk supply that you want for selling milk or cheese making.

Bottle feeding is great fun, and I say that with all seriousness. It's wonderful holding those little ones in your arms and watching them suck an 8 ounce bottle in under 2 minutes! We set up a schedule for bottle feeding and we stick to it. So, the following is what works for us. 

We offer the newborns colostrum at about an hour or two after their born. We milk the mother for the first time after she has shed the afterbirth. This is offered to her kids, and only her babies. That initial milking doesn't normally produce a whole lot, but our Chami gave us a gallon of rich, thick, colostrum from her first milking last spring! The colostrum consistency varies from goat to goat. Some is thin, yellow, and milk like, and on the opposite side of the gamut is a very thick, almost butterscotch pudding texture which you need to stir with a spoon in order to strain it!  

feeding Now, babies and bottles. We use regular human infant baby bottles. I take a small pair of scissors and nip open the little hole in it to make it just a bit larger.  

We heat the colostrum in the bottles by placing them in a pan of boiling water because putting it in the microwave to heat them will turn it into one solid chunk! Once the colostrum has cleared out of the milk, then we heat the bottles in the microwave. (For some girls the colostrum clears out in just a few days, others may take a few weeks! One of my husbands jobs is to taste the milk! Colostrum has a very distinct flavor!) 

Here is my tried and true heating chart, at least for my Hotpoint microwave. The times noted are TOTAL times, not a per bottle time. 

1 bottle - 1 minute and 15 seconds 

2 bottles - 1 minute and 35 seconds 

3 bottles - 2 minutes 30 seconds 

4 bottles - 3 minutes 

6 bottles - 4 minutes 

8 bottles - 6 minutes 

12 bottles - 9 minutes (that's all I can fit at once) 

This is what I use for a feeding schedule: The newborns eat about every four hours except during the night. They will drink around two to four ounces at a time. Babies sleep all night, so the last feeding of the day is around 10:00 p m and the kids are usually ready to eat again around 6 in the morning. Once they are a day or two old we put them on a four times a day schedule, morning, lunch, supper time, and bedtime. When they reach two or three weeks old, we are adding a second 8 ounce bottle per feeding. 

At one month old, we eliminate the supper time feeding. At two months old, we eliminate the lunch time feeding, then at three months we start by doing away with the morning, then finally theDuskboy evening feeding. Most of the kids are completely weaned at four months old. They have gotten the optimum amount of calcium for strong bones, and healthy immune systems. Please note: we never, ever put water in a baby bottle. They learn to drink their water from a bucket. 

This is what has worked for us and we have turned out some gorgeous, healthy, strong kids from this schedule! If you would like to see some live birth photos, please click here 

Want to learn more about raising and caring for your goats? Come to Goat School! It's a two day, jam packed, hands-on class on goat husbandry! 

A Goat Cheese Making and Goat Milk Soap Making Class is also being offered on Saturday, April 28th!  Click here for more details. 

We also have our Goat School Manual available, and a great book packed not only with goat care information, but it's also full of recipes designed to use goat meat, goat milk, and goat cheeses! Goat School: A Master Class in Caprine Care and Cooking.