Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Hello: Looking for some of you to share your bottle baby routines/processes... like:

1. what do you use as milk replacer

2. how often, and how much should the baby be fed

2. can the bottle baby be kept with the others, or must it be kept separate and what does your experience look like

3. how long does a bottle baby need to be fed and looked after

Thanks a bunch!

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Goat milk is best. Beyond that, you'll hear people argue all day long about what to feed. We've used milk replacer, and we've used whole milk from the store, and we had equally OK results with both. Without mom's antibodies in fresh goat milk, the kids will be more likely to have problems with worms and coccidia, which is why some people use medicated milk replacer, which helps prevent coccidiosis.

All kids should get 5% of their body weight in the first six hours and 10% of their body weight in the first 24 hours in COLOSTRUM. Without colostrum, kids will die. When calculating, remember to convert pounds to ounces. If you have a 3 pounds kid, that's 3 X 16 = 48 ounces, which would be 4.8 ounces of milk in the first 24 hours. If the kid wants more, that's fine. This is just the minimum.

Most people feed 4-5 times in 24 hours, and you can usually go 7-8 hours overnight between bottles, so it's about every 3-4 hours during the day.

Having a kid in the house creates so many problems! Sure, it's cute and fun until the kid is running around and eating your mail and chewing up your extension cords and dancing on top of your CD player. (Yep, really happened.) The worst part, though, is that they don't know they're a goat, and eventually you will have to put them outside, and it will be a very sad day as you listen to that kid screaming for hours. So, if they are a normal, healthy kid, they stay with the other goats here.

Kids need milk for a minimum of two months, but since we've learned that mama's milk makes them healthier, and they grow faster, we now bottle feed for about six months.

We have now bottle raised eleven kids. This was necessary because the kids were the result of embryo transfers and we didn't want the "wild" surrogates to raise the kids.

What we did required us to be VERY observant so as to be able to be present at birth. We "caught" the kids as soon as they were born, sometimes even before they made it to the ground. The kids never nursed and were taken home and were fed two days with pasteurised colostrum and then went straight on to whole UHT (permeate free) cow milk from the supermarket (in the cardboard type boxes). From the first day, the kids had fine hay and alfalfa to nibble. After a few more days, they were offered pellets in addition to the hay.
They were in large pet cages in one room in the house for a long time, till the weather warmed. They went on to paddock which had not had any ruminants grazing (including goats and sheep) for at least 50 years, so there was almost a zero chance of parasites.We weaned them gradually at around 5 - 5 1/2 months, first by cutting back some on the amount of milk and then finally by watering down the milk. Those kids have been a HUGE success, but we think that a major factor is that they are really free of intestinal parasites (multiple stool tests show zero eggs). We had one set back and that was a doe kid which died from a bleeding ulcer. The vet was not able to attribute a cause other than to say that he had seen that most commonly (though rarely, if that makes sense) if the kids or lambs were given pellets too freely. 
The first year, we gave the kids 10-12% body weight in milk per day, divided over 2 hourly feed initially, moving on to maximum of 900 grams per day, moved up a bit to around a kilo of milk before weaning. The amount was somewhat determined later by how well the kids were doing. A big full belly sometimes meant the kid got a bit less than the formula and the excess was given to another kid. The second and third year, we moved up to closer to 15% and the kids did seem to grow bigger-stronger-faster earlier.
The kids always had free choice alfalfa and clover-rye hay as well as minerals, etc.

The message we would like to pass on is that whole cow milk works, and that if one can keep the kids parasite free, the growth and development is just wonderful. The kids were healthy, sleek coated, alert, perky, and seemed almost never ill. We never had any issues of coccidiosis and the vet bills certainly were mostly about microchipping and vaccinations. (We found it less costly to have the vet do the vaccines than to purchase the whole bottle of vaccine, which would then have to be destroyed after only doing our few goats.) In fact, the goats did so well that we had real concerns that they were getting obese. The vet said that he had never seen such healthy goats and gave condition scores of 4 - 4.5 (out of 5 - see the video on you tube about evaluating condition scores).

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