Raising goats on your farm means that you will have to take care of the kids later on. What should you prepare before they are born? How much care should you give to the babies? And when can a baby goat leave its mother? You can find out all the answers in this article.
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Caring for newborn baby goats
For every animal, the first one to see when babies open their eyes is important. You are recommended to be present when the baby goat is born, which will create a connection between you and your goats. The more time you are with them, the stronger the bond will be.
To get ready for a baby goat, you need to bear in your mind the 3 main things below.
1. Take care of the umbilical cord
Let the umbilical cord break naturally. You will only trim the cord in case it is longer than 3-4 inches. If you need to do so, remember to:
- Sterilize a pair of scissors.
- Clean the cord with iodine.
- Let the remaining fall off by itself.
In case you are not sure what you should do or are afraid of getting your goats infected, get some medical support from a vet.
2. Leave the baby goat with the mother
This period is necessary as the mother will lick her baby clean, and it’s the moment for family bonding when the mother would love to spend some time with her baby.
In most cases, the mother goat will eat some of the afterbirths. This may sound not clean, but it’s fine. You will need to stand by, and support in case of any incident.
3. Feed the baby with mother milk
The first milk, called colostrum, from the mother goat plays a very important role as it is rich in nutrients and antibodies that are essential for the baby to survive. You have to ensure that the baby goat drinks the milk from its mother within 1 hour after birth.
In case the baby encounters some difficulty during this time, you can help by giving the direction or bottle-feeding colostrum which can be from its mother, another mother goat or a store.
Decide to feed baby goat with a bottle
Bottle feeding will definitely strengthen the bond between you and your goats as the baby has more time with you and receives the first feeding in their life from you. This can enable the baby to be more obedient and friendly to humans.
Meanwhile, when fed by its own mother, the baby goat will have more benefits and grow more healthily. One of the advantages is that it reduces your workload. Another advantage is that a dam-raised goat is likely to be healthier and stronger thanks to the pure colostrum from its mother.
If you choose to bottle-feed a baby goat by yourself, it’s better to let him with the mother for a few days for the colostrum enhancing his immune system.
The milk quantity and feeding frequency can be referred to as the below table.
|Age||Milk quantity||Feeding frequency of a day|
|1-3 days||150 ml (5.1 fl oz)||4 times|
|4-10 days||300 ml (10.1 fl oz)||4 times|
|10-14 days||400-500 ml (13.5-16.9 fl oz)||3 times|
|2-3 weeks||1l||2 times|
|3-8 weeks||1l||2 times|
|8 weeks||500 ml||once|
It can be seen from the table that the milk quantity varies upon the age of a baby goat. When starting to reduce the frequency of feeding, you can add some treats to the diet of a baby.
So, you have known the milk feeding schedule, let’s continue with how to separate baby goats from mother.
When can a baby goat leave its mother?
At the age of 2 weeks, you can separate baby goats from their mother, and let them spend time playing with other goats. Since they are now ready to socialize with their herd, leaving the mother at this age will minimize the shock for them, and also have time for the mother to take a short break.
During this period, your baby goats should be offered some tiny treats like apple, banana, or carrot. This can help them imprint more strongly on humans. At first, they may refuse to taste your offers, but later on, you will be surprised because of their competition of running to you.
From 6-8 weeks is the ideal time for weaning, although some decide to wean their baby goats at around 4 weeks of age. It really depends on the health status, the diet, and the behavior of a baby goat as well.
This process requires a lot of care and attention as it may impose some stress on your babies. By the way, the change, either additional or removal, of the diet should be stable and proper to avoid digestive problems and to develop your baby goats’ digestive tracts for solid food.
You can follow the diet recommendation below.
|1 week||As in the previous table||A bit of grain
Hay (alfalfa, timothy or Bermuda)
|Assist the rumen development|
|1 month||Decrease the amount slowly||Grain
Hay (alfalfa, timothy or Bermuda)
|Let your baby goats get used to the new diet|
So, the strategy is adding more solid food while reducing the amount of milk. Remember when you decide to change anything in the diet, your goats must be okay with the new food introduced and stay healthy.
One more important thing, in the weaning period, baby goats will be more likely to carry coccidia, a parasite in fecal matter, which can cause diarrhea, resulting in dehydration or even death. Hence, you should always pay attention to your baby goat poop pattern to identify the problem timely.
When your baby goats are good at different types of solid foods, an ideal diet for them should include:
- 80% of hay – as the roughage is important to the rumen function.
- 15% of pasture, weeds, or hay pellets.
- 5% of grain.
- Fresh and clean water must also be available all the time.
When baby goats don’t need milk in their diet anymore, they are weaned successfully. At this moment, they can run and enjoy themselves with other goats. However, there are a few things that should be noted.
- Their immune systems are not fully developed, so it’s better to put them with a limited number of healthy goats to always stay strong.
- Baby goats should be gathered together and separated from aggressive adult goats, which is to preserve their safety and relationship.
- Separate feeding should be prepared to avoid any competition with older goats.
All in all, taking care of a baby goat is as difficult as any other baby animals. Seeing them grow up every day, you will have your own sense of achievement. One of the important questions when giving care to them is “When can a baby goat leave its mother?”. I bet that you can decide. Observe the babies, and you will know what they need.