Goats: Just Kidding! Part 5

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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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.

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
after
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.

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!

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 the
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.