Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats

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I want to be prepared in case we end up having bottle babies when our does kid in late April.  I've read that the kids (should) get colostrum right away.  Both of our does are FF and this is our first time having kids.  Both of our does came to us as bottle babies, so that part isn't new to us.  My question is, what do I do if the does have complications or reject a kid?  Should I have some colostrum in the freezer waiting?  If so, where would I get that?

Thanks in advance!

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I should add too, that when we got our does that were bottle babies they were fed raw cows milk.  Is that the best option (other then mama goats milk)?

First I want to assure you that you probably won't have any bottle babies. Very few NDs reject their kids or die immediately after birth. Even if they have a c-section, which is < 1%, they can still nurse their kids. First fresheners rarely have more than two, which would be about the only reason I would wind up bottle-feeding a kid from a first freshener. Most FFs just don't make enough milk for more than two. Even most of my does that go on to have four or five only have two as a first freshener. But I have had a FF have quads, so it's not impossible. That does tend to be highly genetic, however, so if you know how many kids their mother had, that usually give you a good clue about how many they will have. If their moms and grandmothers have given birth 3-4 times and always had 1-3 kids, I would not expect more than twins the first time from these girls. Be sure to look at what the sire's mom did because that's how I got quints into my herd -- from a buck who had a mom that threw SIX one time and quite a few quads! 

Keep in mind that even if a doe rejects her kids, you can and should milk her to give the kid her colostrum in a bottle. I've even heard of people milking out a doe before putting her down in a situation where that was necessary, but again, that's incredibly rare. 

If a doe had quads, I'd try to get each of them to nurse somewhat equally within the first 12 to 24 hours before starting to supplement.

You can buy powdered colostrum online, which is what I did when we were new and didn't have any in the freezer. Just search for "goat colostrum," and you'll get lots of options. They are usually bovine in origin, which is fine. It's not as good as goat, but it's good enough. If you have access to raw cow colostrum or milk, just be absolutely sure that the cow is negative for Johnes. There is a big problem with Johnes in commercial dairy herds. It's a horrible disease that is basically a death sentence and contaminates your pasture for about five years because it is transmitted through feces.

You will see people argue all day long about whether whole cow milk or goat milk replacer is better for kids if you don't have goat milk available. Before we had enough goat milk, we used both with equal success. The only thing I do NOT recommend is an all-species milk replacer because I don't think it has enough nutrients in it in the right quantities for every species. We tried that once, and the kid died, as well as the piglets that we were feeding -- which was why we got the all-species replacer. We were new and didn't realize that it might be a bad option. 

By the way, we never used the powdered colostrum that we bought 18 years ago. 

If you wind up in a crazy situation, just post here with specific details, and we'll help! There are so many different scenarios that could happen, but it's generally a < 1% chance on most of them, so really not worth losing sleep over. 

Thank you for all of that great information!  Our two girls are sisters and were triplets, so hopefully they will only have one or two kids to start.  We have never milked before, so that is probably something we should be preparing for then, getting them used to being on a stand?  I did watch your milking video, which was great!  We're reading through your Just Kidding book now.  

Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:

First I want to assure you that you probably won't have any bottle babies. Very few NDs reject their kids or die immediately after birth. Even if they have a c-section, which is < 1%, they can still nurse their kids. First fresheners rarely have more than two, which would be about the only reason I would wind up bottle-feeding a kid from a first freshener. Most FFs just don't make enough milk for more than two. Even most of my does that go on to have four or five only have two as a first freshener. But I have had a FF have quads, so it's not impossible. That does tend to be highly genetic, however, so if you know how many kids their mother had, that usually give you a good clue about how many they will have. If their moms and grandmothers have given birth 3-4 times and always had 1-3 kids, I would not expect more than twins the first time from these girls. Be sure to look at what the sire's mom did because that's how I got quints into my herd -- from a buck who had a mom that threw SIX one time and quite a few quads! 

Keep in mind that even if a doe rejects her kids, you can and should milk her to give the kid her colostrum in a bottle. I've even heard of people milking out a doe before putting her down in a situation where that was necessary, but again, that's incredibly rare. 

If a doe had quads, I'd try to get each of them to nurse somewhat equally within the first 12 to 24 hours before starting to supplement.

You can buy powdered colostrum online, which is what I did when we were new and didn't have any in the freezer. Just search for "goat colostrum," and you'll get lots of options. They are usually bovine in origin, which is fine. It's not as good as goat, but it's good enough. If you have access to raw cow colostrum or milk, just be absolutely sure that the cow is negative for Johnes. There is a big problem with Johnes in commercial dairy herds. It's a horrible disease that is basically a death sentence and contaminates your pasture for about five years because it is transmitted through feces.

You will see people argue all day long about whether whole cow milk or goat milk replacer is better for kids if you don't have goat milk available. Before we had enough goat milk, we used both with equal success. The only thing I do NOT recommend is an all-species milk replacer because I don't think it has enough nutrients in it in the right quantities for every species. We tried that once, and the kid died, as well as the piglets that we were feeding -- which was why we got the all-species replacer. We were new and didn't realize that it might be a bad option. 

By the way, we never used the powdered colostrum that we bought 18 years ago. 

If you wind up in a crazy situation, just post here with specific details, and we'll help! There are so many different scenarios that could happen, but it's generally a < 1% chance on most of them, so really not worth losing sleep over. 


When we only had a few goats, we would get all of them accustomed to jumping up on the milk stand during pregnancy by giving them a handful of grain in the feed pan on there. That way they would happily jump up there after freshening. 


Melissa said:

Thank you for all of that great information!  Our two girls are sisters and were triplets, so hopefully they will only have one or two kids to start.  We have never milked before, so that is probably something we should be preparing for then, getting them used to being on a stand?  I did watch your milking video, which was great!  We're reading through your Just Kidding book now.  

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