So you want to raise up your baby goat right? I’ve got the best methods for you to use so your baby goats grow up big and strong. Read on so you can get started on raising baby goats the right way. These tips and practices are perfect for any homesteader at any level!
Best Practices for Raising Baby Goats
Baby goats are one of the most delightful side-benefit of homesteading. I call them a side-benefit because the main reason that homesteaders decide to get goats is because they want milk for their family and all the other amazing things that milk makes: ice cream, butter, yogurt, kefir, cheese… yum. Perhaps the ongoing concern about hormones and antibiotics in milk is causing concern, or perhaps you just want the added benefits of goat milk without the nasty, nasty taste of the store bought stuff. In my opinion, it’s like bottled buck-stink, and famously, my walking-trash-disposal-spaniel even once refused to drink some I had rejected. There’s nothing like it, fresh from goat warm, or chilled to perfection, depending on your taste.
But back to baby goats. The reason they’re a side-benefit is because in order to have milk, you have to have babies! They’re cute, funny, adorable, bouncy and just all-round fun! You get to keep additional does to add to your milk-making herd, or sell them for a little extra farm-funds to other homesteaders looking to have their own home-raised milk.
One of the big questions that arise once the babies are on the ground is, “how do I raise them?”
You basically have three options: dam-raised, bottle-raised or dual care. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, and really what it comes down to is what suits your situation best.
This involves leaving the babies on the mama goat to raise. If you are short on time and unable to provide a baby with a bottle every 4-6 hours, then this might be the best option for you. You won’t have to milk the doe to feed the milk back to the baby every few hours, and you know that the milk is always available to the baby, on-demand, at the perfect temperature. There’s a lot to be said for this method – it’s as God intended!
However, I do not generally use this method because there are a few drawbacks that I find significant:
- If there’s one baby, or sometimes even with two, the babies will nurse unevenly on the udder, causing it to become unbalanced. If the doe is to be shown, this will be a problem, and could lead to a lifetime of unevenness which may or may not correct with subsequent freshening.
- In the case of triplets or quads, you may end up having to pull on or more babies anyway as Mama may not be able to cope.
- Babies will be significantly different to those which are bottle raised. They’re usually more wild, harder to catch, and less fond of their people. I have a dam-raised doe who routinely used to run from me and then try to kick me in the head on the milk stand. When you’re dealing with this twice a day for a year or more, it’s no fun at all. Over time she has warmed to me and no longer does this, but it’s taken years.
- This extends the routine care: feet trimming, vaccines, shaving during summer, kidding clips, etc. When you compare them to bottle babies, they’re just so. much. harder.
- If babies are sold for show, to either adults or 4Hers, dam-raised babies are often less compliant in the show ring.
This is a high-maintenance way to raise babies, as you have to be available to give them a bottle every 4-6 hours but, in my opinion, it gives the nicest, most compliant babies.
They are well-handled, used to people, and affectionate. The down side? Well, if you have bought the babies as bottle babies and are feeding them something other than goat milk, purchasing the Vitamin D whole milk from the store can get pricey. For various reasons, I do not recommend milk replacer. The only other disadvantage I can think of is that the babies can be excessively friendly, bordering annoying! I have on doe who was rejected by her mother, so I bottle raised her. She now hates to have to go out to the pasture with the others and prefers to hang in the yard where she can intercept me as I go about my daily business, and can occasionally be found in my laundry room, tipping over cat food and banging on the kitchen door for affection. However, this is till my baby-raising method of choice, it works well for me. People like my animals because they’re easy and sweet and the ones I keep are a joy to handle.
If you do decide to bottle raise, just bear in mind that you need to ensure the kids have appropriate socialization. Don’t be tempted to purchase just one bottle kid – you’ll have a screaming mess on your hands before you know it. Always purchase in minimums of pairs, and if you can’t afford two does, get a wether as a second to keep your doe happy.
This is where you leave the momma with the baby, and ensure that she is feeding it, but you offer the first feeding of colostrum in a bottle, and usually one or two bottles a day thereafter.
This combines many of the advantages of bottle raising – the kids are friendly and well-handled – with the huge advantage that you don’t have to get up in the night to feed kids or find someone to give them a midday bottle if you’re at work (or end up taking them to work with you!) because they snack on mama.
However you decide to raise your goats, proper worming and coccidia prevention is crucial, or the babies will not grow to their maximum potential. Coccidia especially, when left untreated, can cause such extensive internal intestinal damage that the kids never recover and, if they even survive, grow to be unthrifty, ragged-looking, sickly adults.
But with proper care and raising, you’ll find your new goats to be entertaining, affectionate, productive member of your family – congratulations! You’ll be enjoying them for many, many years to come.
Need more reason to get baby goats? Check out this adorable video of funny and cute baby goats from CrazyFunnyStuffCFS:
There are different methods in raising baby goats and knowing your options makes things a little bit easier for homesteaders like you and me. Whatever your preference is, with proper care and attention, I’m sure you’ll have healthy goats in the homestead all the time!
Do you have baby goats of your own? What method do you prefer? Let us know below in the comments! And if you need some reason to start raising baby goats, here are some inspiration!