There are as many ways to raise
(goat) kids as there are people who own goats. The following is how
we raise our kids here at Fias Co Farm. It is often helpful to know how others do things,
and with this knowledge you can then develop your own way of raising
kids that works for you. I do not contend that the way we do things
is the only way, or the right way, or the way you should do it. (Footnote
note on raising friendly kids into friendly adult goats...
Some people believe that to insure friendly kids, and thus insure
friendly adult goats, you must bottle raise the kids. We have not
found this to be necessarily true. While most "bottle babies" are
very human oriented (because they see humans as a food source), it is not a guarantee of their true affection.
All our kids/goats are extremely friendly, and we do not bottle
raise them. We have bottle raised some kids, for various reasons,
and have actually found that our dam raised kids grow into
friendlier adult goats than the bottle raise ones. Why are they
friendly? Because we make it a point to spend time with them every
day, starting from the day they are born. We are present at every birth. We hold the kids and pet them and show them affection. We sit with them everyday
while they are very young and let them climb and play on us and
chew our fingers (but be careful no to let them get you with their
back teeth... they are sharp!). These loved kids/adult goats look
to us for affection, not food. Yes, this way of raising goats can
be a little time consuming, but then, so is bottle raising. Remember,
the bottle only lasts 'til the kids are weaned... love lasts a lifetime.
Here are some
hints on raising friendly kids:
First, understand how they like to be touched. Goats have a "G" spot that they like to be rubbed: this is the side of their neck where it meets their chin, their breastbone and armpits. Trying to pet the top of their head will make them nervous. They cannot see what you are doing. Due to the way goat eyes work, they can see almost all the way round them, but do not see that well above them. Don't "go at them" with you hand from above to pet their head like a dog, but come at them from in front towards their neck/chin. They can see exactly what you are doing and will not get as scared.
Starting the second day after birth, send the mom out to graze and sit in a closed stall... just you and the kids. Let them approach you, but at first do not try to pet them at first. You want to let their curiosity get the best of them. Sometimes, the kids will start to nibble and explore. Even let them climb on you, if they want to (they like that a lot). Sometimes trying to pet them will scare them, so let it be their idea.
If the kids
will not approach you at all, pick up one and hold him in your
lap. Pet and soothe him, but make sure to not let him go. Offer
your fingers to him to chew and sniff (don't let him get you with
his back teeth... they will hurt) The other kid may get curious
as to what his sibling is doing and begin to approach you on his
are not bottle raised;
they are being raised by their mothers.
You can see they like people and are certainly not "wild".
You are trying
to show the kids that you are OK. Two things that earn their trust
is letting them chew on you and letting them climb on you.
Now my secret
weapon... if necessary earn their trust with raisins.
After two weeks after birth, if the kid is
really standoffish try this: Hold the kid in your lap and offer him
a raisin. He will not know what to do with it. Squish it a little
to release the sweetness and stick it in his mouth. "What is
that" he will say and maybe let it fall out of his mouth. Try
giving it to him again. If he will not take it, stick it in his mouth.
Once he actually eats the raisin, offer him another. Only give him
a few, one at a time from your fingers. I have won over the hardest
kids with raisins. Always carry a handful in your pocket and be ready
to offer one or two whatever the kid approaches you. Once he realizes
you are safe and a source of raisins you can start rubbing him in
the "G" spots.
Once you can start
petting and touching the kid, you can cut down on the raisins, and
eventually do not offer them anymore. You know when you can stop because
the kids now climbs all over you.
We try to be present
at every birth. We know the exact date of every breeding and hence
know the probable date of kidding. This is 150 days from the breeding
date, give or take 5-7 days. We are familiar with our does and pay
attention to them. We know the "signs" and so usually know
when kidding is near. (See Prenatal Care
for more information on this subject).
Starting 7 days before the expected due date, we keep our eyes on
the mother to be. At night she is confined in a clean stall. This
stall has been thoroughly clean out and given a dusting of "ag lime" (not hydrated lime, see white wash) and
then this lime is swept up. Once the stall is cleaned, a new coating
of straw (not hay) is added to the floor for bedding. No other adult goat, except
the mother, will be allowed in this stall for the next two weeks.
We have audio monitors as well as video cameras installed in each birthing stall so we can
see and hear what is going on from inside our house (which is 450 feet from
our barn). You can use various types of monitors. For sound when the cameras are off, we have run a telephone
wire from the house to the barn and our monitor is "rigged"
from old telephones. FOr video, we use a home security system I picked up at Home Depot and added extra wire. Many people use baby monitors for this purpose.
Our audio monitor is installed right next to our bed, this is so we can
hear if labor has started. The video monitor is at teh foot of our bed. This has saved many a long, cold and pointless
walk to the barn to check on the does (at 2 hour intervals).
of the baby's hooves will "shed" their protective white
coating right after birth.
The kid's first
poop will be "black tar"
The kid will
poop "soft yellow mustard poops" for at least a week after
The kid may
poop and pee right after birth, even before he has his first meal.
takes a couple days for the babies legs to straighten out completely
and/or work properly (you may want to give them a Bo-Se shot).
There is usually
one afterbirth per kid, but sometimes there is only one per kidding.
If you don't find the afterbirth, the mother probably ate it (gross,
but not a problem)
will "leak" blood and goo for about 2-3 weeks after kidding,
this is normal.
first few days...
The mothers and
kids get to stay together in their personal stall for the first few
days, in this way, they can bond and neither mom nor kids are bothered
or bullied by other members of the herd. The babies pretty much have "24/7 full
access" to their mother's milk (see note below), and continue to have milk "full
access" for the next 2 weeks. The mother is not milked the first two weeks; the babies get all the milk.
Note: The kids don't literally have 24/7 access; they aren't going to be literally sucking constantly 24 hours a day; they sleep and play as well, and can bare to be away from mom for a few hours. I was trying to make a point that the kid gets all the milk they want and the mother is not milked during this time. The mother needs to get out and do some browsing. Starting on the second day, the mother is let out for a couple hours in the afternoon to browse, so at this time the mother is away from the kids, but the kids just usually just sleep during this time anyway. The mothers are not always happy to be away from their kids (especially first timers) but it's good for them to get out and away from the kids for a little while. Once the moms realize the kids are safe, they chill out a bit.
If it is sunny
out at lunch time, starting on day two of life, the new kids get to
spend an hour or so in the sun, where they can meet the herd under
our supervision. The length of time the babies get to stay out is
slowly increased as they show they are "ready". By two weeks
of age, they are spending the entire day with the herd.
does do not like other does babies, but once they tell the new kids
to stay away from them (with a swing off their head, or a light
butt) the new kids learn who they can get near and who they should
stay away from. This is natural behavior and it is important that
the new kids learn how to interact with other herd members at this
early age. We have never had a problem with other goats actually
hurting very young kids.
If a few different does kid around the same time, these kids of
relatively the same age are put together for a few hours each day
to "socialize" while the mothers are allowed to go out
with the herd and forage. We feel this socialization is very important.
We give the babies some cinderblocks to play on... what fun! At this time, with the mothers
off foraging, the kids are offered grain and minerals (usually to
walk and sleep in).
The kids are provided
a dog house or 1/2 a large "Pet Porter" in their stall.
The kids really like being able to crawl into this "cave"
(with as many other kids as possible) and take a safe (if cramped)
nap. This goat baby house, also helps the kids stay warm at night...
they can snuggle up inside and sleep.
the first few days after birth the kid will need to be disbudded (See
Disbudding). Even thought this is one
of the worst jobs of goat keeping. It is extremely important not to
procrastinate and do this job when it needs to be done.
the kid getting enough to eat from his mother?
"Hollow sides" is a dairy goat trait. The side to side, "barrel" width
of a goat is due to their rumen (a big fermentation vat), not whether
they are "fat" or "full". Because of this, their
width is not a good barometer of whether a kid is eating or not,
because his rumen is not working yet, it is not fermenting yet, so
it is not big/wide/full. You can feel the kid's belly, this is a
better barometer of wether he is eating or not. The kids will only start to get "wide" when
they begin eating solid food and start ruminating.
The mother will
begin to put everything she has into her milk. No mater how much you
feed her, she will begin to get thinner than you are used to seeing
(she has been pregnant, so you are used to seeing her "fat").
This is normal. You need to make sure she is being fed properly, see
In all the years
we have raised goats, even before we introduced better milking genes
into our herd, all our goats have always been able to produce enough
milk for their kids. Even first timers with twins. You just have to
make sure they are fed and cared for properly.
if the kid (or kids) is/are only nursing from one side of the udder?
Often when a doe
has only one kid (and sometime when she has two), it is very common
for the kid(s) to nurse only one side. This starts a "vicious
circle" because the more full the udder and teat becomes, the
harder it is for the kid(s) to get the teat in his mouth and nurse,
thus, the kid(s) will choose to suck only the "easier" teat.
It will become a favorite, the baby will not even think about going
to the other side, even if his "favorite" is empty.
In these cases,
you must milk out the full side so that the mother's udder isn't so
full she is in pain. Eventually, as the kid(s) grows and can drink
more milk, he will start to nurse the other side, but until them,
you need to be "the second kid".
weeks of age...
By two weeks of
age, the kids are spending the entire day with the herd. Now is the
time I start milking the mothers.
The kids are "locked
up" at night in the communal "goat baby stall". The
stall has plenty of bedding, "houses", water and grain available.
Try to make sure that the food and water are presented in such a way
that the kids cannot walk (and poop) in it.
In the morning,
I first milk the mothers (see Milking
Procedure). At first, I will not milk the mothers out completely...
I leave some milk for the kids. The mother quickly learns to hold
back milk for the kids, and in about two weeks of milking, I can milk
the mother out completely without worrying that the kids are not getting
enough. I always dip the mother's teats, even though her kids will
nurse and "strip out" the last milk as soon as they get
"let out". It is good sanitary practice. Luckily "goat
baby spit" is a pretty good antibacterial as well.
Once the mother
is milked, we let the babies out to be with their mother and herd
for the rest of the day. The kids can nurse their mothers all day,
and in this way, they "take care" of the evening milking
for me. I do not milk the does at night- I milk only once a day- in
the morning using this technique.
Kids being raised Holistically/Naturally should now begin their Coccidiosis & Worm Prevention Treatment, this will continue every week from now on. We take a holistic approach to
parasite control and use Herbal Worm
Formula from Molly's Herbals. Please definitely read the information provided here: Coccidiosis.
To administer the herbs:
You just mix them with enough water so that you can suck the herb slurry up into the drenching syringe.
If you vaccinate, it is now time for the kids to get their first
CD&T vaccinations (we do not vaccinate). This is a vaccination
against Enterotoxemia as well as Tetanus, see Vaccines.
The kids being raised "traditionally" (with medicines and chemicals) should also now begin their Coccidiosis prevention treatments. Please definitely read the information provided here: Coccidiosis.
weeks of age...
Four weeks of age is the time for the boys (if they are not
going to stay breeding bucks) to be wethered (neutered). We let the boys grow for three weeks before wethering, so that he can grow and his "pee hole" can
get larger, hence aiding in avoiding stones. To wether, we use a tool called a "burdizo". Some people use little rubber bands, called "banding".
We consider this way of neutering inhumane. How would you like to
have a rubber band placed on your finger, or whatever, until it fell
off? We also do not "cut" to wether. We try to avoid drawing blood whenever possible, since
this is always an invitation for infection. Many people are unaware
of the burdizo, or do not consider it because of it's price. The tool
costs about $60-$80, but we have found it well worth it. The procedure
is quick and sure and the kids are back out with the herd and playing
within an hour (though they do "mince" in their walking
a little) (who wouldn't). For
more info on neutering, click here.
Worm - The kids being raised "traditionally" (with medicines and chemicals) should be wormed.
weeks of age...
Time for a CD&T booster (if you choose to vaccinate)
The kids being raised "traditionally" (with medicines and chemicals) should be get another
treatment for Coccidiosis.
weeks of age....
Worm - The kids being raised "traditionally" (with medicines and chemicals) should be wormed.
the age of 8 weeks the kids are ready to leave the herd. This is the
earliest we will sell kids, we like them to get a "good start".
If we are selling the mother, but keeping the kid, the mother stays
here until her kid is at least 8 weeks old.
If you are letting the mother goat raise, and nurse, her own kids:
There is really no reason for you to have to wean the kids. It causes
undue stress on the kids as well as their mother. The mother will
naturally wean her kids when she feels the time is right (or she
is just plain sick of them). The mother will slowly wean her kids
over time, and usually totally wean her kids once she get rebred in the fall. This is the natural way of things. If
you want milk, try what we do: milking
once a day.
you are milking once a day:
There is no reason to wean the kids
(see above).Though, you should keep in mind that a doe should have at least 2 months off from milking before she kids again.
you are bottle raising the kids:
For convenience sake, you can
wean around two to three months, see bottle feeding. When we bottle feed, we do so for three months.
If you are selling the kids:
Kids are ready to leave for their new homes at two months of age. Weaning is simple in this case because the kids really have no choice in the matter, the day they leave for their new home, they do not get any more milk. The kid will be unhappy about this but will get over it fairly quickly.
me speak a moment on the practice of CAE prevention. If you do not know
what CAE is, you should look into it. With knowledge, you can decide how
you wish to handle it. CAE is a disease that may be passed from one goat
to another through bodily fluids. This includes milk. In an effort to
prevent kids from possibly contracting this disease from their mothers,
the kids are removed from their mothers at birth. The mother is not allowed
to clean or nurse her kids. The mothers are milked and the milk is then
pasteurized before it is fed back to the babies via a bottle or "lamb
bar". The mother never knows her child, the child never knows it's
mother. This conflicts with our philosophical/religious beliefs, and so
we let our does raise their kids. You will have to make your own decision
on how you want to handle this. For
more info on CAE, click here.
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