I've been reading a lot of conflicting information about what replacer is "best" when a doe can't or won't feed all the kids. I have one due in 2 weeks and expecting quads (probably). She was not a super mom last year with triplets (FF) so I want to be prepared in case I have to feed one.
The Goat Vet Corner on FB is vet answered and they are adamant about only using kid milk replacer but I know many breeders who use whole cow milk and some who make a formula with whole milk, evaporated milk, and buttermilk (the real stuff).
What do you use when necessary, and why?
Deborah Niemann-Boehle said:
Thank you makes me feel a little better!
Frozen milk will be a little chunky when you thaw it. There is nothing wrong with it, but it can clog your bottle nipple. If you shake it really well, you can usually break it up enough to go through the nipple. If kids are used to mom, it's often a challenge to get them to take a bottle, and if you don't use warm milk, it will be next to impossible. In other words, you need to heat up the milk to body temperature because that's what they're used to.
This will not necessarily keep the doe from losing weight, though. When there is demand, some does will produce milk at the expense of their own body condition. Other than feeding her a high protein hay and goat feed, there is not a lot you can do. Usually they look the worst at about six weeks, which is when their milk production peaks. After that they start to gain weight. In a conversation with a animal science professor who wrote a goat text book, she said that she hasn't ever been able to figure out how to keep weight on her boer does around six weeks fresh. That made me feel a little better.
Sally Knight said:
Would like to add an additional question to this if possible!
One of our does last year had triplets she did an amazing job of feeding all three but we found it hard to keep the weight on her. This year if she has triplets again a friend recommended just offering a bottle to the kids but leaving them with mum. I have frozen goats milk in my freezer from two years ago. Do you all heat it up to a certain temperature or do you allow it to just come to room temperature and then give it to the kids. I have looked in several books and on the internet but have not found any great information on using frozen goats milk. Additional advice on this would be great.
Right now I have 4 bottle babies. I had one that I bottle fed in 2013 pretty much on whole cows milk. I decided this year to use exclusively the milk replacer for goats because i felt that it had more of what my babies need. Also, i did a cost comparison and really for me the milk replacer is the best deal. The girls are eating 8 ounces, 3 times a day right now so that would be a lot of whole cow milk.
They are growing real well. Everyone finds their own way; what works best for them. I would rather have them on goats milk but that is not possible right now.
Most shepherds say that cow milk does not have enough fat in it for lambs, and I'd be inclined to agree with that. Store-bought cow milk is 3.5% butterfat, but sheep milk is 9%. I have successfully raised a couple of lambs on ND goat milk, but that's in the 6-7% range, so not nearly as bad as cow milk. I have used cow milk for kids at times, but I would not do it for lambs. Fat that is at 50% of optimal is not as bad as 33% of optimal. I think you would wind up with some health problems at some point.
Your lamb is beautiful, but for someone (me) who raises Shetlands, her coloring is not that unusual. The spots around the eyes are actually a very common Shetland marking. What breed are your sheep?
Michael - your Chloe looks wonderful. I would try the whole cows milk without worry after seeing yours.
Right now I am feeding a lamb but with replacer and because I have it here probably won't change. My ewe was afraid of the color of the baby and would not have anything to do with it. Also sheep milk is higher in fat - do you think cows milk would do for them also, maybe add some canned milk? My ewe was terrified of the one baby - I am enclosing a photo of her because her coloring is so unique. No little goats yet but 2 more lambs today. I think the circles around her eyes scared her mom. She is in with my goats so poor little girl won't know what she is.
Just chiming in to say I also use whole, pasteurized cow milk. I am currently feeding three kids on it, and used it for my last bottle babies, too. Never had any problems with it.
As I said above, we have used the UHT whole cow milk from the supermarket and it has worked very well. We had thought to use the powdered milk, but for various market reasons I don't understand here at present, the whole UHT cow milk in the 1 litre boxes (probably like a quart box of UHT cow milk in the U.S.) is not much more costly than the powdered milk needed to make the same volume. The UHT boxes are certainly less fuss & muss and we didn't have to mix the milk and have left over etc. We just poured from the box straight into each bottle (carefully! haha) which was on the scale. (We fed by weight so that the kids got 11% body weight in milk each day divided over the three - later two - feedings.) Only in the early days did we microwave the milk a bit to get it to body temperature. (Note: Do NOT microwave the milk in the box. It started smoking!) As the kids got a bit older, they got it at room temperature and gulped it down with the same frenzy and didn't seem to get the shivers. The UHT (which I assume you know means the milk has been heat treated and so is disease free) meant we never worried about the kids getting sick from some organism in the milk. We were/are so ignorant and inexperienced that we wanted to eliminate as many places where we might trip and fall. The kids are now over five months of age and have never had scours, have never been ill, are happy and healthy. I am almost hesitant to show a photo because if you are worried about low fat content, these kids will put your mind at rest! We are worried they have maybe gotten a little too fat. Again, inexperience and ignorance.... You be the judge. The photos are of our single doe, First Fleet Chloe, at nearly 5 1/2 months. She is 17 kg and 44.5 cm at withers (37 lbs and 17 1/2 inches) I would be really interested to hear opinions from anyone about that. Does that seem a bit heavy for the age and height??? Is she really too big to be a lap goat?
At any rate, when we do this again (bottle raise) I won't hesitate to use the UHT whole cow milk because it clearly has done pretty well for us.
IMG_1107 Chloe, 5 months cropped.jpeg
Over the years when I have had to take on a kid or lamb , I use Land of Lake goat milk replace or the lamb replacer depending on which species. I have raised very healthy babies and trust this product. I see people use store cows milk but would wonder if it has high enough butterfat for goats -or lambs. It is getting expensive though to buy the replacer.