Feeding Baby Goats

When baby goats are first born, it is very important that they get their colostrum.  The colostrum is the first part of their mother’s milk that is rich in antibodies.  If they do not get enough (or any) colostrum, most baby goats will either die or never thrive.  

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We weigh each baby goat shortly after they’re born.  We take their weight (in pounds) and multiply it by two (math practice!) to get the number of ounces they need. So for example, when Greyden weighed Castro, he was 7.5 pounds.  Castro therefore got 15 ounces of colostrum put into a bottle.   Because we bottle feed, we are able to make sure each baby gets what they need to be healthy.

Each goat needs to drink their colostrum bottle within 24 hours.  We use an empty 16 or 20 oz soda bottle that has been washed out.  Then we take one of these nipples* and put it on the bottle:

baby-goat-lambar_13

Before we give it to them, we take a knife and make the holes a bit larger so they look more like this:

baby-goat-lambar_12

Most of our baby goats have no trouble and usually drink all their colostrum in the first 12 hours.  Occasionally somebody will have a rough birth and need the entire 24 hours to consume their colostrum.  If they don’t want to drink for a while, I usually let them sleep.  After about 6 to 8 hours is when I start to get insistent that they really do need to drink.  

If you have a baby goat that is having difficulty drinking, try switching out the nipples. Sometimes the way you cut the nipple makes a big difference in whether or not they’ll drink from it.

Once the babies are drinking well from their bottle (after 2-3 days), we switch them over to a lambar.  A lambar is just a communal milk jug with many nipples sticking out of it.

We’ve used many versions of a lambar over the years, including an empty washed out cat litter bucket.  Jim drilled holes in the bucket, inserted the nipples and then attached plastic tubing to the nipples that reached to the bottom of the bucket so that they could suck up the milk. 

This worked well, but keeping the tubing clean so it didn’t grow bacteria was always a challenge and concern.

With our new barn, we decided to take another look at our lambar situation. We tried this variation in 2013:

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It worked very well when the babies were little, but we  weren’t super pleased with it once the babies started getting bigger and started pulling on the nipples more.  The file box* wasn’t quite thick enough so the holes around the nipples started leaking all over the place, which isn’t very sanitary.

So for 2014 we are going with this bright pink lambar that uses the same nipples* but is thicker and much more durable:

baby-goat-lambar_10

Hopefully Greyden (who is in charge of feeding the kids) and the baby goats will both love it!

PJ

 

 

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  • Evie Sellers

    Greyden looks so pleased! I love it! Thanks for sharing this info with us. Would you mind sharing with me where you purchased the pink lambar from, please? I would like to consider getting one for our own homestead. Thank you!
    I enjoyed your podcasts on Love Languages and loving our children. My husband and I have had the book for years, but after seeing me listen to this particular podcast of yours a few weeks ago, his interest in the love languages was renewed, and he ordered the Love Languages Devotional Bible for us. We’re working our way through it now!

    • goatmilkstuff

      That’s awesome!! I hope it blesses your marriage tremendously!! (the devotional, not the lambar LOL) PJ

  • Karla Traxel

    I love learning more about the goats and their care

    • goatmilkstuff

      I’m so glad. We’ve been doing it for so long, it sames so basic to us. It’s good to know that you do find it interesting! PJ

  • Lindsay Fouts

    So the baby goats never nurse from their mother? Not even for the colostrum?

    • goatmilkstuff

      Correct. We make sure that they get enough colostrum. If they nurse from their moms, often the stronger baby can get a disproportionate amount of the colostrum, so this way we know that every kid gets what they need. PJ Here is more info: https://pjjonas.com/2012/02/19/why-we-bottle-feed/

  • Kari_lynne

    Does hand feeding the kids help them bond with your human family better also? I’m assuming milking the moms continues during this important time.

    • goatmilkstuff

      Yes, bottle feeding makes for bigger, stronger, healthier, more loving goats in our experience. Yes, moms get milked twice a day.
      PJ

  • joy joy

    I love goats. I worked in a vet clinic and we would see a lot of babies with hurt legs. They were so sweet. Love the farm life, don’t think I could ever live in a big city…

    • goatmilkstuff

      We love to visit the city, but definitely couldn’t liver there. 🙂
      PJ