With the recent passing of our doe Feta, we were left with three, one week old, goat kids. We quickly needed to figure out how to get them on a bottle and what they needed to thrive.
I already knew that powdered milk replacers weren’t a good idea. I’ve been around enough people that bottle feed to pick up some basic knowledge. The word I’ve always heard is that powdered replacers cause scours which for such a small body is a death sentence. After about $1000 in vet bills for Feta, I didn’t want to risk it.
I found a simple formula recipe that a few sites recommend and went with that. I made a gallon at a time so that it was on hand. Another better option would be to find raw goats milk, with everything that was going on the formula helped to simplify things. In this case, our kids were a week old and they had already received plenty of colostrum from Feta so that was not a concern. We tested out many nipple options and lamb nipples were the closest to Feta’s shape and flow.
- 1-gallon whole milk
- 1 can evaporated milk
- 1-cup cultured buttermilk
The formula should be heated to about 102 degrees, the temperature will feel too hot but it matches a goats body temperature. A goat kid can not digest cold milk so it must always be warmed. Several sites recommended adding Nutri-drench to one bottle a day, we decided to take that advice and have been happy with the outcome.
There were a lot of feeding instructions online but they didn’t quite line up with our experience. When we started trying to feed the kids they had already suckled off of their mom for a week. The bottle was foreign and strange to them so it was a challenge to get them to drink. Anything we could get into them we did, they started at about 1 oz every hour or so. We would attempt, give them time then re-attempt; if they woke up we would try to feed them again and slowly the amount they would eat at once increased and we spaced the feedings further apart. The chart I created starts at the point where the kids were confident on the bottle.
The first two weeks the kids had a 6 hour night after that we stretched it out to 8 hours. This chart is what worked for us, remember each goat will be a little different. You will need to adjust the amount of milk and spacing to match the needs of your kid. As you get to know your kid you will get a sense for what he or she needs. You want to make sure to avoid over feeding don’t let the kid continue to eat until its belly is distended and hard. Work towards the goal of weaning them by 12 weeks.
At the time we had to transfer the kids to the bottle we were in a heat wave, we made the decision to keep them in the house. If you have other goats and they are accepting of the kid it is best to leave him or her with them, they will help the kid learn how to browse forage, drink water and learn to be a goat. Feta was an only goat so we had no option of mentor goats. We put them in a large dog crate in the laundry room, lined with puppy pads and old blankets, we also set up an ex-pen outside so that they could slowly acclimate to being outside.
From the beginning, we provided water and Chaffhaye for them they didn’t really drink water until four weeks old. We slowly let them spend more and more time outside.
All of Feta’s kids were placed in wonderful homes with human-kids to play with. One of the kids, now named Daisy lives just across the street so if I’m missing Feta there is a little piece of her close by.
Have you ever had to bottle feed an orphan animal? If you have I would love to hear your story, you can share your experience by commenting on our Facebook page.
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