Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

I have a doe due march 9 last year she had triplets and had no problem nursing them. This year she is huge and I am afraid she may have quads or quints. She is a smaller doe that is not a great milk producer and I do not feel she would be able to feed that many kids so if she has quads or quints we plan on bottle feeding a couple of them. So far I have not had to bottle feed newborn kids so this is new to me. I would prefer them to be dam raised.My plan is I would leave them with mom for the first 3 days to get a good start and in those three days also the two we bottle feed would be given a bottle once or twice a day. Does this sound right or how would anyone else bottle feed kids? Should I pull them and start them right away on the bottle and not leave them with mom? Last question how often should they be bottle feed and how much? 

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It is always a good idea to keep an eye on a doe feeding quads. However, there are a lot of does that can feed quads. Typically they produce in response to demand, so if she has four hungry kids nursing, she will produce more than if she only had three last time. If she does have quads, she might end up with one tiny one that won't be able to compete anyway. If you know she can feed three, and you bottlefeed two, then she will produce less than she did last year because now she is only feeding two. Personally I totally play it by ear, watching the kids to see how they're doing. Sometimes a little one can't even get latched on within a few hours of birth, so it's obvious you have to help out. Other times, they're doing great until a couple weeks of age, and then one starts to fall behind. Bottom line is to watch the kids. I want my goats to produce as much as possible, though, so if one of them has quads and can feed them, that's excellent news!

If you had to bottle feed kids because the dam was not producing enough for four kids would you take the smallest kid and bottle feed and leave the other three on mom? Or would you take the biggest kid and leave the rest on mom? I have heard it done both ways. Would you only take one and bottle feed? If you had to bottle feed a kid how much would you feed them?

It is totally up to you as far as which kid you bottlefeed -- although as I said, sometimes you have no real choice because one is so small and weak it can't nurse.

I don't like to take a single kid away from the mom, which is why I don't take one at birth to bottlefeed unless I feel that it is my only choice for the kid's survival. Single bottle-fed kids are terribly attached to humans. That may sound cute to a newby, but it's a huge pain! They don't respect fences, and they have no herd instinct, and when you try to put them with goats, they are very unhappy. This is why I leave the kids with mom and the herd now as long as the kid is physically capable of getting along with them.

A couple of years ago, I had a first freshener who was having trouble feeding triplets, so I took a bottle out there one day and offered it to all three kids, and the kid that latched on and started sucking was the de facto bottle baby. Because he had already spent the first couple weeks of his life with goats, I just switched him to another pen so he couldn't nurse, and he got a bottle from then on.

Oddly enough, I had a doe last year that had quads, and although they were all gaining weight well, one of them decided she wanted to be a bottle baby after we did our monthly milk test. During the test, all the kids get a bottle, and after the test, she would be jumping on me non-stop every time I took a bottle out there for a real bottle kid. I decided to see what she'd do, so I offered her the bottle, and she sucked it right down. Although her mom was making enough to feed four kids -- I knew because we'd just done a milk test -- I suspect that her three pushy brothers were just getting more than their fair share and she didn't want to fight them. She stayed with her mom and brothers, but she was forever bottlefed from then on because that's what she wanted.

If you have to bottlefeed from birth, you feed at least 10% of body weight within the first 24 hours. If it is less than two pounds, that's not much! If it weighs 30 ounces, that would only be 3 ounces in the first 24 hours. I usually start out with an ounce and offer another ounce every four or five hours the first few days. If it is really a very weak kid though, you may only be able to get a few drops into it, so you will need to spend a lot of time working with it. As they get hungrier, I let them eat more. Remember that you MUST start with colostrum, so if the kid can't nurse, you'll have to milk the doe if you don't have any colostrum in the freezer.

By about three days of age, provided the kid is taking 2-3 ounces at a feeding you can usually go to four bottles a day, increasing the milk as the kid wants more. I usually max out at around 24 ounces in 24 hours for Nigerians. I used to not know anyone who gave more than that in 24 hours, but I do know someone now who maxes out at 32 ounces. If a bottle baby gets diarrhea, however, it's probably because it's getting too much milk in too few feedings. In other words, you're more likely to see diarrhea if you give two feedings of 12 ounces each than if you give 3 feedings of 8 ounces each.

Thanks for all the info. Hopefully I wont have to bottle feed but I just want to be prepared if I do.

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