When milking a dairy goat, you may want to remove the kids completely from the doe
and milk her twice daily. This is normal for does in commercial dairies
It then becomes necessary to hand raise the kids. Hand raising kids may also become
necessary if a doe dies or becomes ill at, or shortly after birth, or
for some reason a doe rejects one or more kids.
Removing kids at birth.
If removing kids from a dairy doe the best time to do so is at birth.
The kids then accept you as “mum”, and the mum is convinced you are her baby.
If at all possible make sure the kid gets the first milk or “colostrum”.
This provides valuable antibodies which protect the kid from
disease for the first several weeks of life. After this, the
kid's own body starts producing it's own antibodies.
The only time colostrum should not be fed is if the doe has the disease
CAE. or is
suspected of having this disease. It is then vital that the kid drinks absolutely no milk
from its mother, as CAE is passed on through the milk.
What if you have no
It is possible to raise kids
without colostrum , but extra care with hygiene and keeping the kids warm and dry is
necessary. We use the following colostrum substitute.
300 mls fresh or
pasteurised cows milk.
1 dessertspoon fresh, pasteurised or long life cream to make
the milk richer.
2 drops of cod liver oil to provide Vitamin A and D.
Some people add an egg yolk, but we have found this gives
some kids diarrhoea.
Make the mix nice and
warm. I feed it at the temperature I would like to
have my bath. Feed as much as the kid wants 3 or 4
times a day for the first 3 days.
What can you feed kids with if you have no goats milk?
The next best thing to feeding goats milk, is cows milk, preferably straight from the cow.
Pasteurised cows milk will also do a good job. The feeding of powdered milk formulas
to goat kids is fraught with danger. Some kids on powdered
milk replacers can bloat within hours, sometimes leading to
through their stomach bursting internally. This is the
most common problem we get asked about. Symptoms of
powdered formula problems are:
The kid looses interest
in its milk on and off. 2 to 6 weeks of age seems a
particularly common age for this to happen.
The kid is off colour on
and off for no obvious reason.
The kid is bloated
looking and reluctant to move several hours after its last
feed. By the next day it may have recovered, only to
go through this again every day or two.
The kid may have colic or
appear to be in pain with grinding of it's teeth not
The kid may have diarrhoea
or constipation intermittently.
If this sounds like your
kid, totally stop feeding powdered milk immediately.
If you have access to probiotics, such as Protexin or Peck's
Farmers Yeast, give the kid a dose. Feed no milk for
24 hours. Put the kid onto fresh or pasteurised cows
milk, starting with only 100mls the first feed, then
gradually increasing the amount of milk each feed.
Some kids may be better weaned.
If absolutely necessary to feed powdered milk, use human grade
full cream milk powder and introduce it slowly. The use of probiotics in powdered milks
looks promising in the control of bloat.
How much milk and how often.
Feed kids 3 to 4 times daily for the first 2 weeks of life.
We feed kids 3 feeds a day for the first month, 2 feeds a
day for the second month, and 1 feed a day for the third
month. A dairy goat or boer kid can get by
well on 1.5 litres per day, a cashmere or angora kid on about 1 litre a day.
Feeding larger quantities of milk tends to discourage the kids from learning to eat solids
at an early age. If you have a need to push the kids
growth at an early age - maybe you want to show it -
increase this amount of milk by 50%. This will not
make them any bigger as adults - just get to their weight
How will you feed the
milk? There are two main
choices in how to feed the kid. - a teat on a bottle,
or straight out of a bucket.
New born kids drink
readily from a bucket, provided the milk is warm
enough. The milk must feel quite warm to the kid, as
it is warmth that attracts the newborn to the mothers
udder. Dip the kids nose in the milk, and it will
normally have a think about it and say "milk -
yum", and go for it. Dairy goat kids are very
good bucket drinkers.
Weak or premature babies
find a bucket easier than a teat.
If you only have one kid
you may enjoy the pleasure of feeding it with a
bottle. Most brands of teats are suitable, but we find
the thin latex ones do not last well, and collapse too
easily. Choose a sturdy teat. Baby's bottles and
teats do the job well, but the hole in the teat will need to
be enlarged for a goat kid.
What else to feed besides milk.
Offer water and hay for the kid to pick at from the first week of life.
The sooner the kids begin eating concentrates,
the sooner they can be weaned off milk. Concentrates
can include high protein calf pellets, oats, barley, dairy
meal or high protein horse feeds. It is illegal in
Australia to feed any product to goats that contains animal by-products
such as meat meal or tallow. This includes most
poultry and pig feeds, plus dog biscuits. Unfortunately
goat kids seem to have a liking for the dog biscuits
whenever they can get at them!
Aim at weaning the kids by 12 weeks of
age unless you have plentiful supplies of milk, or need to
push it's growth quickly.
What else does the kid
need? All goat kids need warmth and shelter. No goat
likes to be out in the rain. Never underestimate how
warm a baby goat kid needs to be. Extra warmth in the
first 3 weeks of life can be provided by heat lamps, or
straw in the bottom of a small deep box. Two or three
kids in one box keep each other warm. For extra
warmth, a quilt or blanket over the box will help keep the
warmth in, but don't forget to leave a small ventilation
gap. Little goat coats can be made out of the sleeve
of a jumper or long sleeve sweater.
Kids need to be vaccinated
for pulpy kidney.
From the age of 6 weeks
you may need to start worming the kid, and about this time
treat for coccidiosis. It is advisable not to raise
goat kids on ground poultry, geese or ducks have access
Remember all goats need clean fresh water at all times.