I recently bought three young goat kids that had been rejected by their mothers. Two of them were twin boys that were about 3 days old, the other was a doe kid that was about a week old. The three of them were absolutely adorable and little did I know, required frequent care. Not that I minded, they're too cute to not spend time with!
Feeding Goat Kids
Goat kids that are on the bottle (or nursing from mom) will start trying to nibble on feed pretty early. It's ok for them to try some if they want to. Their new ruminant stomachs require time to build up the bacteria that they need to digest their food once they are older. This is probably why goat kids start experimenting with feed from an early age.
If you've got goat kids that you are bottle feeding, then you'll need a bottle and a lamb/kid nipple attachment. You can purchase these at feed stores (I found all of my goat kid needs easily at my local Tractor Supply Company store.) or order them online. If they aren't nursing from mom, then they will need goat kid milk replacer and possibly colostrum. If they didn't nurse from mom at all, they definitely need colostrum. Colostrum is the first milk that the mother produces. It's loaded with antibodies and probiotics that get the kid's immune system and digestive system up and going. Both replacer and colostrum can be found in feed stores.
Make sure that you're buying goat kid milk replacer and colostrum if you can. It's formulated for goats and has the nutrition that goat kids need. In a pinch, a multi-species replacer or colostrum could be used until goat kid supplies can be bought.
Goat Kid Supplements
Occasionally you'll experience a weak goat kid. Some veterinarians or farmers will lovingly refer to these as 'dummy' goat kids. These weak kids will act uninterested in nursing. If this continues, eventually they will starve to death. This weak condition is due to a lack of thiamine, AKA vitamin B12. You can purchase a thiamine injection from your local veterinarian. It's a prescription and can't be bought over the counter. If you have a weak kid that looks pretty rough, I'd recommend the injection.
You can purchase a vitamin B blend and probiotic paste over the counter. It's a good idea to give this to your goat kids as a precaution. It won't hurt them and it's hard to overdose goats with vitamin B, as they just urinate out the excess. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.
Make sure that you always have loose goat minerals available for all of your goats. Goats easily suffer from copper and selenium deficiencies. These deficiencies can be prevented easily with loose minerals. Make sure that you buy goat minerals, not goat and sheep minerals. Sheep don't need the same minerals that goats do, so the amounts of minerals needed by goats isn't met in the goat and sheep minerals.
If your goat kids are born with horns and you don't want them to have horns, you can quickly and easily prevent their horns from growing. Goat kids will have small buds where their horns will grow from. A dehorning/disbudding iron is used around these buds and cauterizes the tissue, preventing horn growth.
The disbudding process should take place early, before the kid is 2 weeks old. This makes the process easier on the goats and you. If you wait much longer, it's likely that you'll have to repeat the process to make sure the buds are truly cauterized. Not fun for you or the goat kids.
Place the goat kid in a disbudding box to hold him/her still so that you can cauterize without them moving around. If you don't have a disbuddig box, its easy to build one. Simply put, it's a wooden box that has a hinged top. The goat's body goes into the box. A platform is built up under their stomach to prevent them from squatting down in the box. There is a hole in the front of the box that their head sticks out of. Put them in the box and close the top.
Love on them!
Goat kids are super soft and sweet. They grow up fast, so love on them while they are little. Getting them acquainted to you while they are small will make it easier on you when they are bigger.
Have fun with those babies!
Shelby DeVore is an agricultural enthusiast that enjoys writing about gardening, raising livestock and simple living. You can read her most recent posts on Farminence.com or follow Farminence on Pinterest and Twitter.
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