July 12, 2008

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats

I thought I was done with kids(new baby goats) for a few months. Unfortunately not. Looking at Louise and her expanding belly, her filling udder and cranky attitude I know we are expecting. Debating on whether or not to bottle feed these kids that will be born in the next month if not sooner.

Each kidding season we bottle-feed for various reasons. The majority of the time it is due to removing the dairy kids to milk the doe. Occasionally situations arise when a non-dairy breed doe will have multiple births and can’t produce enough milk to support all kids, so we supplement. We have had times when a doe won’t accept the kid or refuses to let them nurse. Then there is my weakness for adopting orphans from other farms requiring bottle-feeding.

Over the years and after much research I have found that there are many methods of bottle-feeding. Every goat book written offers a different schedule. Some recommend bottle-feeding by age, some by weight. These are 2 schedules I have used at different times.

Bottle Feeding by Age

Day 1-2: 4-6-oz 4-x day
Day 3-7: 8-10 oz 3-x day
Weeks 2-6: 16-18-oz 2-x day
Week 6 to weaning (8-14 wk): 20-24-oz 2-x day

Bottle Feeding by Weight

5 -lbs.: 3 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 4 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 6 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
7 -lbs.: 4 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 6 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 8 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
10- lbs.: 5 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 7 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 10 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
15 -lbs.: 7 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 9 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 14 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
20- lbs.: 8 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 11 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 16 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
25- lbs.: 10 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 13 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 20 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
30-lbs.: 12 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 16 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 24 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
40-lbs.: 16 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 21 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 32 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.
50-lbs.: 20 oz if feeding 4 X’s a day, 27 oz if feeding 3 X’s a day, 40 oz if feeding 2 X’s a day.

Note: There are exceptions to the rule, at times when we have a very tiny kid, it is advisable to feed smaller amounts more frequently. Or the big healthy kids with insatiable appetites we may begin their feeding routine at the 3-day-old amounts.

Equipment for bottle-feeding can be as simple as a human baby bottle with a preemie nipple or as specific as the Lam-bar bucket (round or square) for feeding multiple kids. A variety of bottles and nipples are made. Some are size specific targeting different breeds of goats like the Pygmy, or as generalized as the pop bottle nipple. Nipples come in different lengths, colors and materials.
You can order bottle-feeding supplies from Hoegger Goat Supply, Caprine Supply, any farm supply or store. Most local feed and farm stores carry some type of bottle feeding supplies.
I highly advise to stay away from the half gallon sized white calf bottles with the interchangeable lamb nipples. These are hard nipples and most of the kids we have raised over the years fought hoof and horn not to take them. They are not pliable and do not feel natural to the goats.

We have tried both types of Lam-bar buckets, the round and the square. We find the hanging square bucket with the 6 screw on/off nipple attachments to be more user friendly, easier to clean and sterilize.

If feeding 1 or 2 kids, I have found the Non-Vac Lamb Feeder bottle to be my favorite. It will withstand dishwashing and sterilizing. It has a soft latex nipple that the kids take to well. Holds 16 oz.which will take them almost through all stages of bottle feeding.

Did You Know?
When a nursing ruminant newborn stretches its neck (when nursing on mom) the esophagus forms a groove that carries milk into the true stomach (abomasum). When it does not stretch its neck, the milk falls into the first stomach (reticulum)--intended for forage digestion. This inhibits digestion and causes the reticulum to enlarge (hence the pot-belly). Info provided by Stan Potratz

What do you bottle-feed if there is no goat milk?
We have been in that predicament. There are different brands of milk replacer; milk replacers made specifically for kid goats and milk replacers for all breeds. I highly recommend the kid specific replacer. Should have all the nutrients you kid needs.

So what if you can’t find milk replacer?
A formula for milk replacer that I have used and had excellant results with is 2 parts evaporated milk to 1 part water. I have also added a little probios powder to the milk as well as used Poly Visol liquid baby vitamins.
During the bottle feeding of each kid I stay with whatever I start feeding with. If it is replacer I keep them on replacer for the duration, same goes for the formula. If you change out it can cause scours and upset their systems. Don’t get me wrong, you can change what you feed, but it has to be done slowly and gradually.

The Importance of Colostrum
The 1st day of birth the first 24 hours the kid should receive colostrum, preferably from it’s mother. If that is not available then you will need to find Colostrum. Paying attention to if it contains antibodies and essential nutrients for newborns. There is a colostrum replacer and a colostrum supplement. You need to give the supplement. The “Replacer” does not contain actual colostrum, though is a good additional supplement you could use.
Our Rule of Thumb in feeding colostrum is 4 ounces per lb. of body weight in 24 hrs. If the kid weighs 8 lbs. then we make sure it has at least 32 oz. of colostrum.
We normally bottle feed the babies their mothers milk from birth to weaning.
Milk out any extra first milking colostrum, label and freeze it in ziplock bags for future needs.

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