Feed baby goats milk

Goat Milk for Babies: Is it Safe?

Written by WebMD Editorial Contributors

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 04, 2021

In this Article

  • Goat Milk and a Child's Safety
  • Nutritional Comparison Between Goat Milk and Cow Milk

Goat milk has higher protein levels than other similar baby formulas, and is also higher in protein than human milk. Goat milk contains minerals like sodium, potassium, calcium and phosphorus. With all these apparent health benefits, you may be wondering if it would be safe to feed your baby goat milk. 

Goat milk formulas can be healthy for babies and toddlers who have concerns about cow milk. Goat milk is more digestible than cow milk and resembles human milk more closely than cow milk.

Goat Milk and a Child's Safety

Goat milk alone is not recommended for babies. The milk has a high concentration of minerals and proteins, but less folate than is necessary to meet a child's nutritional needs. Some studies also indicate that goat milk is associated with high rates of anemia.

While goat milk alone is not safe for your child, some medical practitioners recommend goat milk-based formulas. These can be safe from your child's birth to when they are a year old. However, you should avoid fresh goat milk and any other pure animal milk during your child's first 12 months.

Once your child is over a year old, you may want to introduce some goat milk to their diet, but you must consult with your doctor to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrition they need. 

Why consider goat milk? Goat milk is an excellent source for protein and calcium. Studies also indicate that goat milk is a good source of vitamin B1, chlorine, phosphorus and vitamins. Once you administer goat milk to your older child, you can reduce the risk of constipation, diabetes, and cancer.

Goat milk helps reduce cholesterol levels. If your child has high blood cholesterol levels in their arteries and gallbladder, you might want to consider using goat milk. Goat milk has about half as much cholesterol concentration as cow's milk. You can administer goat milk to your child to help keep their saturated fat intake and cholesterol levels in check.

Nutritional Comparison Between Goat Milk and Cow Milk

Goat milk has more protein and fat compared to cow milk. Goat milk also has more potassium, vitamin A, and calcium, essential for your child's growth. It is also generally lower in sodium and carbohydrates. 

Goat milk contains lactose just like cow milk. If your child is lactose intolerant, you can consider plant milk which contains no lactose. Examples of plant milk include hemp milk, soy, or almond milk. In addition, goat milk is easier to digest than cow milk.

Drawbacks of goat milk. The fact that goat milk protein is similar in structure to cow’s milk means they can both give your child allergic reactions. In this case, goat milk may not be a safe alternative to cow milk. Since goat milk is not as common as cow milk, you may have some trouble finding it in stores.

When goat milk is safe. Consider nutritionally appropriate goat's milk formulas for your baby if they are under 12 months. The best goat milk-based formula needs to be fortified with minerals and vitamins. You can consult your pediatrician, who may recommend you to supplement with vitamin D if the goat's formula lacks the nutrient.

If your baby is sensitive to cow milk, provide goat milk as an alternative. Goat milk-based formulas are a healthy and nutritious option for toddlers showing sensitivity to cow milk. 

Is Goat Milk Safe for Babies? – Cleveland Clinic – Cleveland Clinic

Only when you become a parent do you realize what a hot topic milk is. From babies having tummy troubles with regular formula to the recent baby formula shortage, feeding your baby can sometimes be a challenge. You may have heard about goat milk as a possible alternative and are wondering if it’s safe.

The short answer is goat milk isn’t an option for infants under 1 year of age. Some formulas made from goat milk may be a viable alternative, but they’re hard to come by in the United States.

Pediatrician Matthew Badgett, MD, helps fully explain the differences between goat milk and goat milk formula, as well as other questions about how to choose a safe formula for your baby.

Is goat milk safe for babies?

We won’t beat around the bush; goat milk is baahh-d news for babies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that pure goat milk is unsafe — and in some cases, life-threatening — for infants under 1 year of age. This means: no goat milk for babies within their first 12 months of life. The same rule is generally applied to pure cow’s milk as well. This is because your brand-new baby has a delicate digestive system, one that can’t handle the proteins found in animal-derived milk.

“Traditional baby formulas are specifically designed to have the right balance of macronutrients and different fats, carbs and proteins,” explains Dr. Badgett. “And the biggest concern is getting the right mix of salts, specifically with sodium and water.”

Goat milk consumption in babies can lead to health issues, including:

  • Hyponatremia. Babies can develop hyponatremia from consuming goat milk. This condition occurs when there isn’t enough sodium in their blood.
  • Megaloblastic anemia. As goat milk doesn’t have all the added proteins your baby needs, it can also lead to a folate (vitamin B9) deficiency.
  • Allergic reactions. Just like with cow’s milk, babies can also have severe allergies to goat milk. This can vary for each child, so make sure to talk to your pediatrician or healthcare provider about your child’s specific needs.
  • Infections and sepsis. During the first years of life, your baby is at much higher risk for infections and sepsis — especially if the milk they’re consuming isn’t being stored or sterilized properly. “For all those reasons, goat milk is not recommended for any infant under one year of age,” says Dr. Badgett.

Rest assured, goat milk can still be a good option later in life. After your little one turns 1, you’re in the clear to introduce it into their diet if you’d like. Just make sure the milk is pasteurized and that your child is getting a good mix of folate in their diet (as goat milk is low on this essential vitamin).

“As kids get older, goat’s milk is fine, especially when it’s part of a complete and balanced diet,” says Dr. Badgett.

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Is goat milk formula a good alternative?

Formula made from goat milk is a whole different discussion. While it’s not as available in the United States, goat milk formula can be a safe alternative to regular formula. As long as you’re getting it from a dependable source, it can work as a replacement for formula made from cow’s milk.

When it comes to goat milk formula for your infant, here are some things to consider:

Pros and cons of using goat milk formula

Pro: It may be an alternative to cow’s milk formula

According to Dr. Badgett, many parents have been toying with the idea of goat-milk-based formula for their babies who have cow’s milk sensitivities. If your child has an allergy to cow’s milk, they may experience symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting and, in some extreme cases, anaphylaxis.

That’s where goat milk formula comes in. Some studies show that it may have less lactose and is easier on your child’s tummy.

Con: It’s not regulated in the United States

Currently, goat milk baby formula is approved in countries like Australia, but it isn’t regulated in the United States. This doesn’t mean you can’t get your hands on it, but importing formulas from overseas comes with a new set of risks.

“You have to make sure that you’re not getting an expired product, or that you’re actually getting the product that you’re supposed to be getting,” cautions Dr. Badgett.

However, if you’re traveling abroad and in a pinch because you don’t have access to your usual formula, goat milk formula is a safe option to try.

What about homemade formulas?

As goat milk formula isn’t as readily available in the U.S., you may be googling around for a recipe to make a batch of your own at home. Dr. Badgett warns against making any homemade formula — whether from goat’s milk or cow’s milk.

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“If I mess up my chocolate chip cookie recipe and they were too gooey or they were too dry, I’ll still eat them and I’ll be fine. But the same isn’t true for a baby,” Dr. Badgett explains. “There are consequences when you mess up the production of infant formula. It’s really important for infants that their formula is made in a controlled and sterile environment because their ability to tolerate certain things is different.”

The bottom line? It’s never OK to make infant formula at home. Stick to purchasing and preparing commercial formulas.

Other formula alternatives

Not sure if goat-milk-based formula is the one for you? The good news is there’s a big range of other formula options you can try. While breast milk is recommended, traditional formula is a healthy alternative because it’s formulated to be as similar to breast milk as possible. However, if for any reason your baby isn’t doing well with traditional formula and you aren’t breastfeeding, there are other formula varieties available.

“Some babies do struggle with cow’s milk intolerance and other babies just don’t do great on traditional formula. If that’s the issue, there’s a lot of other formula options that we can consider,” says Dr. Badgett.

If your baby can’t handle typical formula, you can try other options like soy-based or hypoallergenic formulas.

Compared to other countries, goat milk formula isn’t as popular in the United States. But it can be an option if it’s available in your area. The important thing to remember is that goat milk is not the same as goat milk formula — your baby should not be given pure goat milk before they turn 1. Be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician about any allergy needs your baby has and questions about picking the formula that’s right for them.

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

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From the first days of life, a newborn kid needs the care of his mother and his 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.


  • 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.

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.

Methods of feeding

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

Under the uterus

Feeding 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.

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.

As they grow older, the amount of additional feeding becomes 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.

After weaning from a goat, the diet should not be changed abruptly: milk is replaced with oatmeal, mixtures and mash of 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:

  • Thanks to the beneficial substances in goat milk, kids have a strong immune system and are less susceptible to diseases;
  • development and mass 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:

  • kids 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.

After the baby goat is born, it is immediately removed 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 always be fed to the kids. 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.

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


Feeding without a queen, 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 for dairy 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;
  • 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 costly and complex, 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.

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.

In the 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 vegetables should be present in the diet of babies.

As a top dressing from 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.

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

If you provide kids with proper care and feeding, balance their diet, then with any of the methods 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.

More to read

Feeding goats at home: norms and diet

Goat feeders: requirements, DIY

How to milk and milk a goat: tips and description

Goat milking machine: requirements , DIY

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Feeding newborn kids - AgroXXI

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


  • First feeding - 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.

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.
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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