Many baby goats find it challenging when it comes to weaning. However, you can make this time less stressful for goat kids by well-prepared beforehand. First, you need to answer: When to wean goats?
When and how to wean gets a huge impact on young goats. It may affect their health and the ability to withstand disease. Most farmers start weaning baby goats when these kids reach 2-3 months old. But one more important way is to base on their weight.
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Why is weaning goat kids so important?
Weaning, or replacing a milk-based menu to dry feed for animals, is one of the toughest times in a goat kid’s life. The time for weaning baby goats may be different between meat goat and dairy one. It happens at the same time baby meat goat is separated from its mother. For dairy ones, these 2 milestones are separated.
Even it sounds crucial for younguns to wean, this is vital and necessary to get baby goats to be familiar with a solid food diet. Before this weaning time comes, kids only consumed liquid milk from their mother or milk replacer fed by raisers.
It’s a need to help young goats to consume dry feed which is the main food that they will consume for the rest of their life. Since it’s important to goat raising, do weaning gradually so that your mammal kids can adapt!
When to wean goats?
In most cases, deciding when to wean goats based on their weight is better than based on their age. It’s highly recommended that kids should not be weaned until they grew 2.5 to 3 times the size of their birth weight. Baby goats may weigh at least 20 to 25 lbs to be weaned.
One factor that even more effective than weight is dry feed consumption. At the time of weaning, a goat needs to be able to consume dry feed at least 1% of their body weight. This serves for supporting their maintenance and growth during weaning when milk in their diet is absent.
If you decide to wean goat kids by age, the process could start early as 28 days or later than 4 months. Weaning age varies greatly in goat breeds. However, somewhere between 60 and 90 days of age is most common for weaning baby goats.
Besides, you can put a lot more other factors to concern about when deciding at what age to wean goats. These factors could be their season of birth, age, predator risks, parasite problems, markets, facilities, labor, forage resources, and so on.
What if goats are early weaned?
Early weaning allows female goats to return to their breeding condition earlier. As goats are early weaned, it can decrease worm burden and predator risk. For raisers to count about economic standpoints, it is cheaper to feed early-weaned kids as baby goats convert feed very efficiently.
On the contrary, early weaning still causes stress for both the dams and their kids. Also, weaning at an early age may require more facilities, pasture fields, pens as well as a higher level of management.
Early weaning is the most popular associated with early, winter, and shed goating. It comes with breeds that have a high genetic potential for growth. Creep fed is commonly used among early-weaned goats. You should also consider production systems and scenarios when early weaning goat kids. In fact, early-weaned offspring show a chance of rapid growth.
What if goats are late weaned?
Late weaning is more natural and for sure – easier for both farmers and animals. It is less stressful for young goats. Late weaning could help raisers to use available forage to finish their kids and mother. Pasture gains are usually more economical. Also, late weaning management isn’t too complicated.
On the opposite, late weaned goats show a higher risk to become parasitized or killed by enemies. Using the same forage resources, goat kids have to compete with their dams for consuming those. It may be necessary to reduce the number of male offspring sometimes due to the age of weaning, species, and breeds.
Late weaning is most commonly associated with late, spring, and pasture goating. At this point, baby goats are mostly finished on pasture diets so creep grazing could be an advisable practice. Late weaning probably suits breeds with less potential for growth.
Read more: When Can A Baby Goat Leave Its Mother?
What to know before weaning baby goats?
Before weaning any offspring, you should learn a few precautionary steps first.
1. Make sure your baby goats get enough colostrum
Colostrum is vital milk-fed by the mother goat within the initial 18 hours after being born. This provides goat kids the immunity to survive through the first months of their lives.
2. Record their birth weight
This is to make the baseline that helps to monitor goat’s growth going forward. Multiply that weight by 2.5 to know the exact weight your baby needs to reach before being weaned off milk.
3. Prepare the weaning pen
Introduce them to the weaning pen and possibly let them live there with their mother or other goats for a few weeks to get them to be familiar with the pen.
4. Vaccinate and deworm before you wean your goat kids
CD-T vaccine is needed to keep goats from getting tetanus and enterotoxemia. And deworming kids at least 2 times before weaning to prevent the spread of parasites.
5. Introduce hem to solid foods
This should be done when a goat reaches the two-month mark. This will help ready them for the weaning stage.
Tips on reducing stress at weaning goat
No matter when to wean goats, efforts should be made to reduce stress once the weaning phase starts.
- Creep feeding could reduce the stress of early weaning for babies. You should leave your goats to stay in familiar surroundings to get more comfortable during weaning.
- The diet of lambs and kids should be changed gradually two weeks before and after the weaning phase. Cocciodiostats are suggested to be administered in the feed, mineral and water. Vaccinations and management things must take place at least two weeks before weaning.
- The high-quality feed should be removed from the doe’s diet before weaning to prevent mastitis. A low-quality forage diet and intake water restriction will help halt milk production in the mother goat.
What to do after weaning?
Once the weaning phase is finished, there are things you need to remember to give your goats a happy time post-weaning.
First, ensure that newly weaned offspring are provided plenty of water. Goat kids could be dehydrated quickly if there’s a water shortage. The water trough should be short enough that young goats can reach.
Second, remember to give them plenty of forage or roughage in their meals. Young goats need those feed to balance their diets and help the digestive systems working on track.
Last but not least, you should watch out for signs of disease after weaning baby goats. If you suspect any illness, call a vet immediately and move your sick goats away from the groupings as soon as possible. For a better understanding of health issues during this switching period, looking at the baby goat poop chart so that you can have a chance to foresee your goat’s disease.
The weaning process may seem challenging for new farmers. However, if you prepare well for the journey, equip much need knowledge, and know when to wean goats, weaning time could be a memorable experience in your farming life. Remember to follow the right steps of weaning goat kids, your babies will grow with flying colors in their lives after.