Bottle feeding baby goats cows milk

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats - Backyard Goats

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Once your kids arrive, you will need to decide if they will be dam-raised or if you will be bottle-feeding baby goats. There are reasons you might choose to bottle feed from promoting friendliness to managing the dam’s udder. Or you may be forced to bottle-feed because for one reason or another the dam can’t or won’t let the kids nurse or a kid is too weak or compromised to nurse. Whatever the reason, if you are planning on bottle-feeding, you likely have many questions including:

  • What kind of milk to feed baby goats?
  • How to get a baby goat to bottle feed?
  • How much milk to feed a baby goat?
  • How long to bottle feed a baby goat?

What Kind of Milk to Feed Baby Goats:

When bottle-feeding baby goats, the very first milk they must receive is colostrum. Ideally, the dam will be producing enough colostrum that you can express her own into a bottle and immediately feed it to the kids.  But if her fresh colostrum is not available for some reason, your other choices are to feed fresh colostrum from another doe that has kidded at the same time, feed frozen colostrum that you saved from a previous kidding, or feed kid colostrum replacer. For this last choice, it is important to be sure it’s kid colostrum replacer and not calf or lamb replacer as the nutrient needs are different for different species. It is also important to be sure it’s colostrum replacer and not milk replacer. Newborn kids absolutely must get colostrum in the first 24-48 hours of life or their chances of survival are low. Do not substitute any type of homemade replacer at this stage and don’t try to get by with regular whole milk.

Washing bottles with Pritchard nipples. Photo credit: Melanie Bohren.

Once you get the newborn kid through the first 24-48 hours, then you can switch to milk. Ideally, you will have fresh goat milk available as this is best. Many goat owners who choose to bottle-feed will milk the dam and then immediately transfer the milk to bottles and feed it to the babies.  Other goat owners prefer to heat-treat the milk before bottle-feeding baby goats in order to eliminate the risk of potentially passing CAE or other diseases from the dam to the baby. I, myself, do my CAE tests while my does are pregnant so that I know they are negative and then I feed the mother’s milk to the babies raw, which feels more natural to me and I believe it contains more of the beneficial antibodies than heat-treated milk does. But if you do choose to heat-treat, remember that colostrum cannot actually be pasteurized because it will curdle, so it must just be gently heated to 135 degrees F and held at that temperature for one hour. Regular milk can be pasteurized at 161 degrees F for 30 seconds.

If you don’t have fresh goat milk for bottle-feeding baby goats, then your choices are goat milk replacer or another species of milk. I have seen goat milk replacer recipes but the advice I get from my veterinarian and goat mentors is that whole cow milk from the grocery store is more adequate and appropriate in the event that I don’t have, or don’t want to use, powdered replacers.

How to Get a Baby Goat to Take a Bottle:

If your newborn is healthy enough to have a strong sucking reflex, getting it to take a bottle will be relatively simple. I like to use the little red “Pritchard” nipples for newborns because they are smaller and easier for them to suck. Don’t forget to snip the tip of the nipple as it doesn’t come with a hole in it! Hold the bottle at an angle so that the milk is flowing downward, open the baby’s mouth with your fingers, and stick the nipple inside. I find it helpful to put gentle pressure on the top and bottom of the muzzle to help the baby hold the bottle in its mouth at first. A strong kid will generally be hungry and start sucking enthusiastically.

Bottle-feeding a baby goat. Photo credit: Kate Johnson.

If the baby is too weak to suck, you may need to feed a few drops at a time through a medicine dropper (be careful not to put too much on its tongue or in the side of its cheek at once or it could go down the wrong tube and into the lungs).  Or you may need to tube-feed the baby. I’ve also had babies that just needed to wake up a bit in order to get the sucking response going, and I find that using a supplement like “Nutri-Drench” or some Caro syrup or even coffee, rubbed on their gums, is often enough to give them a little energy boost and get them eating.

How Much to Feed a Baby Goat:

How much your babies will need depends on whether they are full-sized breeds or miniature breeds, and also on how old they are. In general, try to feed three to four ounces per five pounds of weight per feeding. At first, you may be feeding every three to four hours, and then after a few days, you’ll spread this out to four feedings a day. You can drop that back to two or three feedings a day at about three weeks of age, and then down to twice a day by six to eight weeks. For the last month, you can feed once a day as they should be eating some hay and grain by then, if not sooner. 

Here are two useful charts to use as a starting point.  You may need to modify the schedule and number of feedings per day based on your own schedule and time constraints, but this is a good place to begin:

Bottle-Feeding Nubian Goats (or other full-sized breeds):
Age     Ounces per FeedingFrequency
0-2 Days3-6 ouncesEvery 3-4 hours
3 Days to 3 Weeks6-10 ouncesFour times a day
3 to 6 Weeks12-16 ouncesThree times a day
6 to 10 weeks16 ouncesTwice a day
10 to 12 weeks16 ouncesOnce a day
Source: Kate Johnson at Briar Gate Farm
Bottle-Feeding Pygmy Goats (or other miniature breeds):
Age     Ounces per FeedingFrequency
0-2 Days2-4 ouncesEvery 3-4 hours
3 Days to 3 Weeks6-8 ouncesFour times a day
3 to 8 Weeks12 ouncesTwice a day
8-12 weeks12 ouncesOnce a day
Source: Melanie Bohren at Sugarbeet Farm
How Long Do You Bottle-Feed a Baby Goat?

As a general rule of thumb, when I’ve decided on bottle-feeding baby goats, I try to feed doelings for at least three months and bucklings or wethers for at least two months. Sometimes I go longer if I have extra milk, but this seems to get them off to a good start and by two to three months they are eating grass, hay, and even some grain, so their need for milk is greatly reduced.

Bottle-feeding baby goats is a time commitment, but it’s also a fun way to bond with your babies and make them oh so friendly!


Goats: How To Bottle Feed A Kid

The bottle feeding process is easier than you might think, and it ensures proper nutrition and forms more docile milk goats.

by Lisa SegerMay 22, 2017

PHOTO: Lisa Seger

At our farm, bottle babies are the rule. We are a dairy, and so we bottle feed for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it allows us to make sure kids are getting enough milk to grow well and thrive and that the business gets what it needs. Second, and nearly as important, is that bottle babies, who are handled several times a day from birth, are generally more docile and easy to handle as they grow up to be milk goats. This is why many people who show goats or raise them for milk or meat also raise their kids on bottles. But for most hobby farmers and pet owners, there is no real need to ever bottle feed.

Until there is.

Whether it be a newly purchased kid, the loss of a nursing mother or the rejection of a kid by an otherwise fine dam, with enough years in raising goats, eventually you will probably find yourself needing to raise a bottle baby. Here are our tips on how to make that as painless as possible. Photo by Lisa Seger

What To Feed

If you have a goat in milk, even if it is not the mother of the kid you are raising, start there. Goats’ milk is obviously the best choice to bottle feed if you have it. If you do not, we recommend whole cow’s milk. This can come from either your own farm (if you have a milk cow) or just from the grocery story. If it’s store-bought, just be sure it is whole milk. We do not recommend milk replacer. To start with, it’s more expensive and less accessible. Also, I just do not believe something made in a lab is a better option than the real thing. Mammal babies drink milk.

If your kid is a result of a death in childbirth, this may sound grotesque, but you should milk out what you can from the mother right away. The first milk mothers produce is colostrum, which contains vital nutrients and antibodies. Without getting colostrum in the first day, kids are unlikely to survive or do well. Feed stores do carry powdered colostrum products for an emergency.

How Often To Bottle Feed

On the day of its birth, a kid will need several small meals. We generally bottle feed about every four hours or when the kid squawks. Don’t worry if the kid doesn’t eat much more than a couple ounces for the first several meals. It will come around. After that first day of feeding colostrum, we move to the following schedule through weaning.

Photo by Lisa Seger

Days 2 Through 4

Feed eight to 12 ounces of warm milk, four times per day. The kid might not always eat it all. That is OK. Generally you can tell a kid is full during any feeding when it starts chewing on the nipple instead of sucking.

Days 5 Through 14

Feed 12 ounces (and more if kids is still hungry, as much as 20 ounces) three times per day. Make the bottles progressively less warm to get the kid to cold milk by two weeks.

Weeks 2 Through 7

Feed two times per day, about 30 ounces. If the kid is not drinking that much, or if you have the time and don’t mind doing it, remain at three times per day with a little less per feeding.

Weeks 8 Through 12 

When kids are reliably eating hay and nibbling goat feed, start the weaning process by reducing the number of feedings and volume per feeding. You can do it abruptly all at once, but your kids will be angry. I suggest a multiday process.

These are rough guidelines for raising kids with limited time and resources. We devised these to help working folks fit bottle raising into busy schedules. Also possibly helpful to reduce time spent feeding is building and using a lambar. Obviously, if you have the time, you can feed less milk more often, which is how they would feed if nursing.

There is no right or wrong way to bottle feed, as long as your kids are eating well and gaining weight. They should put on about 10 pounds a month on average. From about 2 weeks onward, make sure they have free access to hay and water. At about 4 weeks you can start introducing grain. It might take a while for them to start eating it. Again, do not wean them fully until they are eating hay, grass and feed reliably.

I love bottle feeding. I also think the time spent bonding with the kids is why our adult herd is so loving and people-oriented, and why they are almost always gentle, easy milkers on the stand.

Feeding newborn kids - AgroXXI

How to feed a kid from the first days to 7-8 months of age (+ video)

Table of contents:

  • First feeding - the benefits of colostrum
  • Scheme of feeding kids under the uterus
  • Feeding plan for kids without queen
  • Cultivation with pasteurized milk
  • Pot feeding
  • Kids diet

First feeding - benefits of colostrum

Whichever way you choose to rear your goat, it is important that the time between birth and first feeding with colostrum is as short as possible. The maximum interval is 1 hour.
The fact is that kids are born with a very weak immune system and are prone to many infectious diseases. They do not yet have the necessary antibodies in their blood. It is with colostrum that a newborn receives not only the first portion of tasty and nutritious food, but also maternal antibodies to strengthen immunity. nine0004

The second reason why you can’t do without colostrum is the “launch” of the digestive system. If the kid quickly receives colostrum, then the first to colonize his stomach and intestines are not harmful, but beneficial lactic acid bacteria, which not only prevent pathogens from multiplying, but also destroy them. In addition, they contribute to the release of original feces and good digestion.

Feeding scheme for kids under the uterus

This method is practiced only for goats with low milk production. Kids are with queens up to 3-4 months of age, after which they are transferred to a milk replacer and other food. nine0042 When rearing a goat kid on suction, you should make sure that the goat's udder is healthy and clean, and the milk is well milked. In goats, sometimes plugs form in the nipples, which prevent the goats from sucking the uterus normally. Weak kids cannot drink milk at all if a cork has formed, so the first trickle before feeding the kid should definitely be milked.

The best and tender hay and concentrates should be given to kids from 3 days of age. nine0004

In the first 5 days, the baby should receive milk 3-4 times a day in a volume of up to 1.5 liters. Remember that the substitute should be introduced into the diet gradually, until the mother's milk is completely replaced by it.

From the age of 20 days or from the age of one month, the kids must be given mineral supplements: 5 grams of salt, 5-7 grams of bone meal or crushed chalk per head per day. By 2-3 months, the daily dacha of bone meal or chalk is increased to 10 grams. nine0004

At the age of 3 months, kids should be gradually weaned from the queens - over a 7-10-day period, alternating days of feeding with mother's milk and days on concentrate.

Feeding schedule for kids without queen

Cultivation with pasteurized milk

An alternative to artificial milk replacer is natural pasteurized goat's milk. Pasteurization is necessary to kill the bacteria and make the milk fit for consumption some time after the goat has been milked. nine0004

There are two methods of pasteurization - fast and slow. When fast, the milk is heated to +74°C for 30 seconds. With slow, the temperature is lower, but the holding time is longer - it is necessary to heat the milk to + 64 ° C and hold for 30 minutes. Today, for these purposes, you can use household pasteurizers or a regular stove and a thermometer.

After processing, quickly cool the milk in a sterile container. Remember that everything related to milk must be sterilized in order to avoid re-contamination. nine0004

If you are planning to heat colostrum, the technology is slightly different here. It must be heated to +56°C and held for 60 minutes. This treatment simultaneously destroys bacteria and preserves the antibodies necessary for the kid.

When growing without a queen, special bottles or cups are used to water the kids. Milk containers must be clean. But it should be remembered that the growing kids begin to butt heads and can accidentally hit the person who feeds them from the bottle. In addition, feeding from a bottle with a nipple is a rather slow way to feed kids. nine0004

Pot feeding

You can teach kids to drink on their own from their very birth. Despite the apparent unusualness of the method, the kids willingly agree to drink from the pot and drink from it with great pleasure, because here they have the opportunity to immediately drink a lot.

You can accustom a kid to a pot or bowl already with the first portion of colostrum. To encourage a kid to drink, you need to heat it 1-2 degrees above normal temperature (+39°C). To make the goat drink for the first time, dip its muzzle into the pan for a second. Usually this is enough for the baby to figure out what to do next.

Small cups can be used to water the little kids first, and then they can be replaced with pots. Cups and pots are much easier to keep clean than bottles, and you don't have to incur the extra expense of buying teats and bottles. There is, however, one significant drawback - the kids sometimes put their feet in the pan and spill all the contents. nine0004

Kids diet

Until the age of one month, the kids need to be fed four times a day (every 4-5 hours), the first time at 6 am, the last at 21 pm.

From the age of 10, a small amount of good hay or brooms is placed in the feeders and they begin to give 4-6 grams of salt per day.

From the age of 3 weeks, goats are fed concentrates: bran, rolled oats, crushed cake (preferably a mixture of them), adding to the concentrates 8-10 grams of crushed chalk or bone meal per head per day. Oatmeal is boiled daily, given warm and lightly salted. Root crops must be given in finely chopped form. nine0004

Also remember that from the first day of life, goats should be given plenty of clean, non-cold water to drink.

After the transfer to the stall content in 7-8 months, they are given daily 1.5-1.6 kg of hay, 200-300 grams of concentrates and 0.8-1 kg of silage or root crops (tuber crops). On such a diet, young animals grow and develop well.

The live weight of a kid with proper feeding up to 6 months of age should increase monthly by 3-5 kg. nine0042

Read about mating goats here


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Feeding kids from the first days of life: diet and norms

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From the first days of life, a newborn goat needs the care of its mother and its owner. Feeding kids is an important process that requires breeders to be responsible and know the basics. After all, the further health and performance of babies depends on proper care and diet. nine0004


  • Preparing for the first feeding
  • Methods of feeding
    • Under the uterus
    • Without queen
  • Diet and feeding schedule during the milk period

Preparing for the first feeding

Most goats give birth naturally and without complications. After giving birth, the female's umbilical cord is cut, the udder is washed, and first the first streams of colostrum, which contain bacteria, are expressed, and then it is put into a clean bowl. nine0004

A newborn kid is wiped with a clean cloth, the mouth and nose are freed from mucus. It is important that it does not get into the lungs of the baby, as it can infect and cause inflammation. In a newborn baby, the skin is not able to absorb or give off heat, therefore, in order to avoid hypothermia, especially if it is winter, the kid must be wrapped in a warm blanket and brought into the house.

From birth and first feeding, no more than 1 hour should pass: the protective functions of the baby's immunity are weakened, and the body is not able to resist bacteria and dangerous viruses. In order for the immune system to start actively producing antibodies that fight harmful microorganisms, it is necessary to provide the kid with access to the mother's colostrum as soon as possible. This fluid contains all the nutrients necessary for proper development. nine0004

Ways of feeding

Depending on the direction of the female's productivity, feeding goats in goat breeding can be carried out in two ways: growing on suction under the uterus and feeding without a uterus.

Under the uterus

Feeding the kids under the uterus is the most optimal and convenient way and is practiced only with goats of low milk production. The cubs stay with their mother until they reach 3-4 months of age and suck the udder provided to them in free access as many times a day as they like. nine0004

When growing kids naturally, it is necessary to take care of the mammary glands of a goat: although the kids feed on their own, they do not suck out all the colostrum, especially in the first days. The secretions accumulate and can lead to the development of mastitis. To prevent this process, the female's udder is checked after feeding, and in the presence of colostrum or milk residues, they are milked.

After 3 weeks, the diet of babies begins to feed: 5 g of salt, the same amount of bone meal or chalk. At 3 months, this norm increases by 2 times. nine0004

As they grow older, the volumes of top dressing become larger and the goats begin to be given concentrated feed: a mixture of bran, oats and sunflower meal.

Upon reaching 3-4 months of age, within 7-10 days, the kids are weaned from their mother (it is allowed to let the kids go to the uterus every other day). After natural feeding, it may be difficult to transfer to artificial nutrition. The first day the kids endure it very painfully: they worry, bleat and refuse to drink milk mixtures. nine0004

After weaning from a goat, the diet should not be changed abruptly: milk is replaced with oatmeal, mixtures and mash from bran and wheat flour. The transition should be gradual, and after a week the kids should be ready to feed on their own.


The scheme of feeding kids under the uterus has many advantages and advantages: nine0015

  • Thanks to the beneficial substances in goat milk, kids have a strong immune system and are less likely to get sick;
  • development and weight gain is faster;
  • observing the behavior of the mother, the goats get accustomed to hay and concentrates faster;
  • The breastfeeding process is simple and requires minimal effort on the part of breeders.

The method has the following disadvantages:

  • goats born in summer or late autumn completely suck out the goat when pasture;
  • damage by babies to non-working (rudimentary) nipples, which causes their swelling, soreness and anxiety of the mother.


This method of feeding is more troublesome and requires constant monitoring and care by the farmer. It is used in the breeding of highly productive dairy goats. nine0004

After the baby goat is born, it is immediately taken from its mother and fed with warm milk from a bottle with a rubber nipple or from a cup. The optimum temperature for warmed milk is around 38 ºC.

Even with this method of feeding, goat colostrum must be fed to the goats. It cleanses the stomach from the primary feces and contains in its composition all the useful substances necessary for the further growth of the kid. Babies, in whose diet mother's colostrum is introduced from the first days, are less susceptible to diseases and infections. nine0004

A newborn baby goat should immediately be taught to drink milk from a cup. All utensils must be sterile to prevent contamination by germs.

For artificial feeding, when the mother-nurse is absent, for example due to death or if she has mastitis, instead of goat's milk, goat's milk substitutes are used. The composition of the mixture includes dry skimmed cow's milk, vitamin substances, fats of vegetable and animal origin, useful elements, emulsifiers and flavorings. nine0004


Feeding without a queen, just like natural feeding, has its advantages:

  • from the first days of life of goats, the farmer can independently control the process of feeding and their diet;
  • obtaining high milk yield from a goat in the dairy direction of productivity.

The method of artificial feeding has significant negative aspects:

  • kids weaned from their mother at an early age are more susceptible to diseases and infections; nine0015
  • if breeders do not provide proper care for offspring, then the development of kids is slower and some of them may have a weak immune system and sickness;
  • the method of rearing young animals without a queen is more expensive and complicated, it requires financial investment and considerable effort on the part of the farmer.

Diet and feeding scheme during the milk period

Within a month after birth, it is recommended to feed the offspring first 5, and then 4 times a day every 4 hours in small portions, gradually increasing the amount of food. nine0004

Up to 10 days of age, only fresh goat colostrum is included in the diet of kids (the first 3-4 days), and then milk - first 200 g per feeding with a gradual increase to 300 g. After 10 days, they begin to give freshly boiled and strained liquid oatmeal . You can add it to milk for 1 tbsp. spoon, increasing its amount every day.

At the age of 2 weeks, goats are fed with roughage (hay) and green grass. From 20-30 days of age, they begin to accustom to concentrates, starting from 20-30 grams. nine0004

In summer, young animals at the age of 1 month are recommended to walk on the pasture.

From the 31st day of birth, finely chopped root crops should be present in the diet of babies.

As a top dressing of minerals and instead of green grass, for the prevention of vitamin deficiency, babies are given fresh needles, fish oil 4–8 g per day, table salt and chalk with bone meal.

At the age of 5 months, the grown offspring are transferred to keeping in the stall. In order for the body to receive all the substances indispensable for growth and development, the diet includes 1.5 kg of hay, 300 g of concentrates and about 1 kg of root crops. Feeding babies according to this nutritional scheme will provide them with a monthly weight gain of up to 4 kg. nine0004

Regardless of the method of feeding, clean and not cold water in large volumes should always be freely available to kids.

If you provide the kids with the right care and feeding, balance their diet, then with any of the ways of nutrition, they will grow up healthy and prolific. It is only necessary to show attention and surround them with care, and they will definitely thank you in the future with delicious milk or fresh meat products.

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