Hand feeding baby goats

Hand-Raising an Orphan Goat | Pets on Mom.com

By Michelle A. Rivera

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The right supplies and the right attitude are all you need to hand-raise a healthy orphaned goat. This is not all that different from raising orphaned puppies and kittens. Mammals share basic needs that must be met. Meet those needs, and you'll reach your goal.


Baby and pygmy goats become orphaned for a variety of reasons. A pregnant goat may deliver a litter of triplets and will need help because she can't nourish all three. A baby goat may become injured and need special care, such as Snowflake from Florida who was facing euthanasia because her father accidentally kicked her and broke her femur. When the young daughter of the farmer who had the goats couldn't bear the idea of the baby goat being put down, she convinced her dad to bring "Flakes" to a local animal rescue that normally only takes in dogs and cats.


The University of Maryland recommends baby goats get their fair share of colostrum -- a high-calorie, nutritional product lactating mothers produce -- during the first 24 hours of life. If for some reason baby goats have not been able to feed from their mothers in those critical hours, they will need colostrum replacement products available at farm and feed supply stores. At three days old, baby goats are bottle-fed four times a day with goats' milk or suitable replacement product. When baby goats are about ten days old, they are offered palatable goat feed such as goat pellets soaked in milk, grass and hay. As with all animals, goats should always be provided fresh drinking water.


Patty Palmer runs the rescue organization where Flakes was brought, but she raised Flakes at her home. Palmer learned raising the specifics of raising little goats as she brought up Flakes. In the beginning, when Flakes was only two weeks old, she bottle-fed Flakes every two hours, then every four hours. Flakes gradually began grazing for grass but still enjoyed bottled goat milk from time to time. Flakes gained weight according to schedule, weighing about 30 pounds when she reached ten weeks. When her femur was fully healed, she was adopted out to a loving family where she could live on a farm with other goats. Baby goats may also require vitamins, supplements and minerals to thrive.


Palmer says that socializing Flakes was a big problem. The baby goat seemed to think she was a dog because she insisted on sleeping on the bed with Palmer and, in general, fitted herself into the pack of resident dogs; eating with and playing with them. Palmer advises against treating a baby goat like a pet unless she will live in the home like a dog. Also Flakes was not reliably housebroken, and began to eat the drywall in the house. You may consider a solid, outdoor shelter for your goat if you plan to settle her in a farm someday.


  • University Of Maryland Extension: Raising Lambs and Kids Artificially
  • Goat Wisdom: Feeding
  • Goat Link: Feeding Baby Bottle Goats
  • Buttercup Soaps: Goats 101
  • North Carolina State Extension Office: Nutrition of Meat Goats
  • Baby Goat Farm: Feeding Your Goat Herd
  • Fiasco Farm: Feeding Goats


  • Palm Beach Post: Facing Death, Now Pygmy Goat is Living Large as Animal Rescue Mascot

Photo Credits

Writer Bio

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats - Backyard Goats

Reading Time: 5 minutes

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!



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. nine0011


  • 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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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: nine0004

  • 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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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. nine0011


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; nine0004
  • 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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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. nine0011

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

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 certainly 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

Latest comments


Proper feeding of kids is a guarantee of high milk yields in the future. -

The first feeding of a kid, video. How many times a day to feed the goats? What to feed monthly goats? Proper feeding of kids is the key to high milk yields in the future.

The high productivity of goats depends on how the future nurse was raised . Depends on WHAT she received and in what quantities.

This is especially important in the first three months, starting from the very first feeding . Keeping kids under a goat makes it impossible to control the amount of milk consumed if there are two or three kids under the goat.

Full control can only be obtained by bowl feeding the kids. We feed our kids from a bowl and are very pleased with the results. Kids grow strong, have a large belly and a strong digestive system capable of processing large amounts of feed, from which, as you know, milk is obtained. The more feed units an animal can process per day, the more daily milk yield will be. nine0011

Feeding kids from the first days of life.

The basis of our method is the abundant feeding of the kid in the first months of life.

Goat lambing. Birth of goats. Afterbirth." HERE.

In all the literature devoted to goat breeding, on the first day of life, the daily norm of milk for a goat is 500g.

Our goats drank up to 600 g of milk at the first dose (not colostrum, because the goat could not be started before lambing). nine0011

Per day (DURING THE FIRST DAY ) a kid is able to drink up to 1900 g of milk . In this case, their intestines are quickly freed from the original feces (meconium) and the body receives a starting set for intensive work . This is a very important point.

By the age of 30, the books recommend bringing the daily milk intake up to 1200-1400 g. Our monthly kids drink 2500-2600 g of pure goat milk per day.

How to feed newborn kids?

I would like to focus on the soldering technique. "How to milk a goat correctly?" - HERE.

Milk is offered only from a bowl. This allows you to control your milk intake at each feeding. Milk is poured into the bowl so much that it remains after the goat itself moves away from the dishes. Not a single kid ever had diarrhea, even though he fell off the bowl, like a ball. For the first two or three feedings, care must be taken that the kid's nose does not sink deep into the milk, and he does not capture it with his nostrils. If this happens, then after two or three sneezes, the baby will then figure out what's what. nine0011

First, bring the bowl to the muzzle and lightly press the goat's head between the ears with your finger. In no case should you put him on his knees, as is sometimes recommended in the literature, and poke his nose into a bowl. The kid will perceive all this as violence against himself and start a war with you. Then he will no longer have time for food, and he will remember this fear for a long time.

How many times a day to feed the kids?

About the desoldering mode. The first two days the kid eats 6 times a day strictly after 4 hours. nine0144 Milk should always be warmed up to 40 degrees.

Feeding a kid from a bowl.

On the third day, you can switch to five meals a day. The goat itself prompts such a regime, refusing the sixth feeding, or the last two or three feedings will drink sluggishly.

On the fifth or sixth day, his figure, after each feeding, will look like the letter "F". An abdomen will appear, which undernourished kids do not have.

On the 7-8th day, you can switch to a four-time feeding. Intervals between feedings must be equal. This is important because the goat should come to the next feeding hungry. He pounces on a bowl of warm milk and drinks heavily. Coming to his senses, he raises his head and looks as if he is saying: “What have I done? I ate again!"

When fed traditionally or kept under a goat, kids grow flat like a flounder. They have the sporty appearance of running animals. Dairy animals must have different dimensions. nine0011

Video. Baby goat's first feeding.

It happens that a goat runs up to a bowl and refuses to drink milk. The main reason for here lies in the underheated milk. Babies are very sensitive to this. It is necessary to warm up the milk and offer the kid again. I noticed that milk heated to 42-43 degrees, the kids drink faster and more than milk with a temperature of 40 degrees. In the cold season, if the kids are drinking in an unheated barn, the bowl of milk should be placed in another larger container filled with warm water. In this case, the milk will stay warm longer. nine0011

“Shed for keeping goats. Goat shed floors. Feeders for goats” — HERE

When a goatling drinks milk, it can (and should) be lightly stroked on its back. This procedure increases the amount of milk drunk. Apparently, he thinks that they want to drag him away from the bowl. After the kid has drunk, he needs to wipe his muzzle with a dry, clean rag or soft hay. After two or three “washes”, the kid will stand and wait to be rubbed on his face and said a few affectionate words. Everyone loves affection. nine0011

Another point: the literature recommends introducing decoctions into the diet from 10 days of age. We never do this, because cereal or flour broth is already “adult” food, and the digestive system of a 10-day-old kid is not yet able to digest it. Most often, after such food, goats develop diarrhea , as a result of which growth and development slow down. And this is not the worst option.

On the third-fourth day of life, the kid must be offered a rotten stump, gnawed by wood-boring beetles. It will happily eat softwood and brown woodworm excrement. Thus, the kid populates its gastrointestinal tract with microflora, which, in the future, will process cellulose. Goats belong to trees and shrubs and their diet must contain cellulose (bark or twigs).

When to start giving hay to a kid?

From 10-11 days old, there should be good soft-leaved hay in the feeder. The kid, at first, does not eat it, but only savores it, licking various kinds of fungi and yeast from the surface of the leaves, which will also, in the future, take part in its digestion. At first, he spits out the licked leaves, and after 15-17 days he can already swallow some of the leaves he likes. After the 20th day of life, you can already see him belching. This suggests that the abomasum (the fourth section of the four-chamber stomach of ruminants) begins to slowly "wake up" in order to then take "adult" food. nine0011

On a walk, a kid is very interested in moss growing near the ground on trunks of aspen, young oak, blueberry trunks.

Gradually, the kid is preparing to become an adult ruminant.

And in the literature, instead, it is proposed to make attacks with talkers and decoctions of cereals on the still unformed digestive system of a kid. This is fraught! The main food until the age of one and a half months should be pure milk.

All the rest - variants from inferiority by the presence of milk, from ignorance , or from the greed of the owner, who prefers to drink this milk himself, or sell it.

The average weight of a 4-6 month old kid in the literature is 15-23 kg. Our monthly accelerating goats weigh, on average, 13 kg. Monthly goats weigh 20 kg or more. A six-month-old goat weighs 50 kg or more.

The maximum weight gain in goats is in the first month of life. It is important not to miss this time and in no case limit them in nutrition . Then, with each subsequent month, the weight gain is slower, although the kids continue to consume goat milk in plenty.

That is why it is important not to restrict goats in milk in this initial period of their life, otherwise then they will never reach high rates in terms of weight and milk yield. They will not be able to consume large amounts of feed as their digestive system will be less developed than in an animal that has been fed ad libitum pure milk from the first hours of life until the age of six months. nine0011

Feeding kids according to the Sosnowski method.

Our feeding technology, at first glance, seems expensive and troublesome. But, I assure you, after 6 months, comparing the results, you will no longer want to raise kids differently.

Your pets will differ in all respects for the better from goats raised in a different way. You will look at the flattened neighbor goats with tears in your eyes, thinking about how she was underfed in childhood, trying to deceive the growing body with all kinds of talkers, knocking down the baby’s digestion and resorting to medicines to save her from diarrhea. nine0011

It must be borne in mind that in order to raise one kid using our method, you need to have two nurse goats in the farmstead, if your one goat is not able to fully provide the necessary amount of milk.

A three-month-old goat is able to drink up to seven liters of milk per day, but at this age three liters will be enough for her to eat adult food, which she is already able to process in large quantities. What to feed a goat in winter? - HERE . nine0011

“The goat's gum has disappeared - the scar has stopped. Tympania of goat rumen. - HERE.

At what age can a goat be covered?

Goats fed from childhood ad libitum from a bowl are ready to cover after 4-5 months. And not in a year and a half, as almost all literature recommends.

This late covering is due to the slow growth of due to the lack of normal food provided by nature , i.e. pure mother's milk. Now the representatives of the human race are all completely fed with mixtures that ruin the health of our future generations. But this is another topic and not for us to decide. Everything has been decided for us for a long time ...

We covered our kids when they were four or five months old. At the time of covering, the goats weigh 40-42 kg. At 9 months they became mothers and a month after lambing (10 months old) we milked 4.2 liters of milk per day from such a goat.

One of our goats had her first hunt at 97 days old. This suggests that good feeding reduces the period of idle (unprofitable) maintenance. The sexual cycle of a goat is 17-23 days. The hunt lasts 36 hours. Now goat breeders, who feed their kids from a bowl to their heart's content, also cover early. nine0011

Usually we skip the first hunt and cover the second. I think that goats grown according to our method should be covered without delay, because. in them, all the energy produced by large amounts of feed can go into obesity. The ovaries can fail and the fertility of such an individual will be very problematic.

Comparison of feeding methods for kids.

Now some comparative arithmetic.

Sosnowski's method (ad libitum, pure milk from a bowl). nine0144

In three months, our goat drinks, on average, 350-370 liters of pure goat milk. Covered at 5 months. Starts milking at 9-10 months of age.

After the first lambing, her maximum daily milk yield is, on average, 4 liters. Brings healthy full-fledged kids.

After 4-5 lambing, our goat reaches a daily milk yield of 6-7 liters.

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