How To Care for and Feed Baby Goats

Baby goat drinking milk

Baby goats, or kids, require extra care and keeping just like any baby, and their owner should provide it if they wish to have a healthy, productive herd. These young goats will need colostrum, milk, water, hay, grain, health care, shelter, vaccinations, hoof trimming and tattooing. Following a schedule is important when owners are providing these needs. Prospective, new and even experienced owners may find the following schedule helpful when raising baby goats:

  1. From birth to day 2, the baby goats must nurse from their mother, or doe, in order to receive the vitally important colostrum. Colostrum is available from the nursing doe when the baby is born and remains available for the following 24 hours, after which milk will be produced by the doe. Colostrum is low in fat and high in carbohydrates, protein, nutrients and antibodies. During this time, the owner should dip the newborn's umbilical cord in 7% iodine to prevent infection. The newborn goats and their mother should also be provided with a shelter that protects them from weather and predators. They will remain in the shelter until week 2.
  2. From day 2 through week 1, the kids will be dehorned, vaccinated, and will usually begin eating grain with their mother. Dehorning can occur as soon as the owner feels the beginning of the horns, called nubs, when rubbing the top of the baby's head. The kid will receive a vaccination with Probios during this time also, to jumpstart its digestive system. Probios adds beneficial bacteria to the young goat's rumen, or stomach. During this time, the kid will probably begin eating grains, so the owner will need to increase the amount of grain being fed to the nursing doe.
  3. During week 2, the owner will furnish the baby goat and its mother with free choice of hay and water, and will allow them to move from the shelter to the pasture during the daytime, with the rest of the herd. At night, the kid and its mother are returned to shelter, which consists of a fenced area with a portion of it containing walls and a roof. Fencing this shelter protects the goats from bad weather as well as predators. Bedding, which is usually hay or shavings, should be included in the area of the shelter where the wall and roof are, and will need to be kept clean and dry.
  4. During week 3, the owner gives the baby its first dose of 12.5% Albon Concentrated Solution orally to prevent coccidiosis. This preventative medication is given over the course of 5 days. On day one, the baby is given 1 ml per 5 pounds body weight, followed by a dose of 1 ml per 10 pounds body weight on days 2 through 5. Also during this week, any bucks not being kept for breeding purposes can be castrated. The owner should continue feeding grain and providing fresh, clean hay and water. They should also still be allowed to go outside in the daytime and be brought back to the shelter at night.
  5. Week 4 is one of the busier weeks for an owner because the baby goats will get a CD&T vaccination, get their hooves trimmed, and get wormed. The kid will be receiving its first dose of CD&T, which is Clostridium Perfringens type C&D plus Tetanus, given for the prevention of overeating and tetanus. This vaccination -- a 2 ml injection under the skin -- is given during week four to baby goats whose mothers were not vaccinated a month prior to giving birth. The goats will continue being fed, watered, and moved out to pasture during the day and shelter at night.
  6. During week 6, the owner gives the kids their second dose of CD&T vaccination, another 2 ml injection under the skin. Examine any bucks previously castrated for signs of the castration failing, such as testicles showing. Re-castrate if needed. The owner should continue feeding, watering, and providing shelter as in the previous week.
  7. Week 8 is the time to separate doe kids from uncastrated buck kids, as well as change their feeding routine. Feed should increase to 3 cups per day, per goat. Hay should be fed twice a day during the winter and once per day during the summer. Deworming the baby goats takes place during this time along with trimming their hooves if they are getting long. Tattooing should occur now also, if the owner so desires. As in the previous weeks, the owner will continue providing pasture and water free choice and shelter at night during this week.
  8. During week 9, give the baby goat another dose of 12.5% Albon Concentration Solution and every 6 weeks thereafter. The kids should now be on the same schedule as the entire goat herd, with the exception of moving them to shelter at night if the entire herd is not moved.

Owners who follow this schedule should have healthy baby goats that will grow up to be healthy adults.


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