Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

for people who love the littlest dairy goats

Posted this to the goat forum I'm in this morning, but thought it might be good in a couple of different places. :)   I need some tips for some babies not thriving (appear healthy, just not gaining). I had two does kid May 15/16. One mama had a twin still born and then a buckling. He was a healthy 4 pounds and, since his mother is an over-achiever, he is already a whopping 12 pounds! And a true showman! lol The other doe, a sister to the first, had triplets last year, and she had a hard time with the mama job (she was scared of her babies for awhile). I was hoping she would improve this year, and she has, just not really into the mom thing. She had triplets again this year, each weighing between 2 and 2 1/2 pounds, two doelings and a buckling. They are not gaining much at all and are not much bigger than their cousin was a week old. One doeling, the bigger, more assertive one, is doing better than the other two. She is a little over 6 pounds. However, her sister and brother are just a hair under 5 pounds (both weigh about 4#15 oz). And the faster she seems to gain, the less the other two do. Watching the doe, she just is not good about standing to let them nurse. It's like it annoys her. The little boy sometimes cries because he's hunger. I restrain her on the milk stand and let him nurse when he does. Had I been more on the ball, I would have supplemented a bottle from the beginning, but now I can't get them to take it, even when I know they are hungry. They are starting to eat out of the grain pain when mama gets hers, but not as excited about it when she not there eating it, too. Her kids last year had a smaller growth rate as well, but not as bad. I'm not sure she is producing as much milk this year, but if she's not letting them nurse, her body may be adjusting. I've been trying to boost it with fenugreek and such. I like to see them 20 pounds by 12 weeks (they are ND), but at they rate they the two smallest are going, they won't even hardly make 15 pounds. Continue trying the bottle? Work on the grain? Something I'm not thinking of?  (Note:  After originally posting this, I've started putting mom on the stand every 4 hour or so and restraining her so the to littlest can nurse)

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And, yes, these are babies from the same doe that I asked about last year regarding kid weights.

You are already doing what I would suggest, putting mom on the milkstand so the kids can nurse.  Since they are not gaining very well, you might make it every three hours when practical.  If I read that correctly, you have two that need extra.  I would alternate them on teats each time so that they are drinking from the same teat every other time.  That should  help equalize production especially so if the other kid is favoring one teat over the other.

For your own peace of mind, you can weigh them every day to reassure yourself that they are gaining.

For what it is worth, some kids are just slow starters.  I have two little boys from last May with the one two days younger (Moonlight) being much larger than the other (Buddy).  A couple months ago, I started to worry about Buddy because he was looking so thin though feeling him he is fine, not fat but not skinny.  Then a month ago, I realized he is *taller* than his cousin - he was looking skinny as compared to before because he is taller and longer than before.  My point is that some kids grow faster than others.  Buddy's grandmother grew a lot in her second year, making me very glad she had not been bred until the fall after her first birthday.

As with children, try to not to "set goals" for them to reach.  If they are eating well and healthy, they should be just fine.  You might see if they will eat milk from a dish - they usually won't but you never know, I had a kid drink whey I set out for the hens.
I wish your little ones the very best.

Sorry I didn't see this sooner! 

This year we -- or I should say, my husband -- have/has been weighing all of our kids regularly, so we have a ton of data on almost 40 kids! For the first two months, they averaged about 4 ounces gained per day +/- 1 ounce. We had some hit 25-27 by 8 to 10 weeks of age, with others only getting to about 17-18 by then. Most double their weight by 2 weeks of age.

Since everyone was getting weighed regularly, we supplemented anyone who wasn't keeping up. Unfortunately I've seen this over and over again through the years. Some kids that are dam raised simply will not take a bottle, regardless of how much they need to. So, it's basically opening their mouth, sticking the nipple in there, then holding it in there. It's a good idea to have a towel in your lap so that you're not covered with milk by the time you're done.

As I'm sure you know, they need the milk because of the antibodies, regardless of how much food they are eating. You can always let the kids continue to nurse as they get older, if they aren't big enough. Rather than weaning and selling kids based on age, I do it more based on weight. (Although 2 months is the absolute youngest I will let a kid go.) I don't let kids go if they're 15 pounds or less, so I won't hesitate to keep kids longer, so that they'll get up to 17 pounds or so before leaving. Buyers seem to appreciate it that I take this seriously and want kids to stay on mom longer if it means they'll be healthier in the long run.

Thank you, ladies!  I think we have a routine.  I brought him down to the house for a couple days and he took to the bottle once he was from mama.  But, since mama's milk is best and I'm a bit lazy ;), I put him back out with her and then I take a bottle to him morning and evening, which he slurps down.  I have a good digital scale at the barn I use and even just from yesterday he's packed on a 1/2 pound (he's now just shy of 6#)!  He's nibbling at his mama's evening grain, as well.  I might have to do the same for his littler sister.  She was putting on weight and was ahead of him, but was a couple ounces lighter this evening.  Don't know if he's hogging now that he's back or not.  I won't read too much into it until I can get another reading to see if it's a trend.  The biggest girl is now tracking well and, at the going rate, is forecasted to be 10 pounds by 6 weeks.

Deborah, that is a really great rule of thumb for sale weight!  Thank you for sharing that!

Glenna, I'm pretty laid back in my management, but get a little nervous when they start losing weight!  Wish all my does tended to their kids like the one.  She must feed them straight cream! lol  And thank you for weighing in (pun intended).  Encouragement and tips are always appreciated! :)

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