What can i feed my baby goat
What Do Baby Goats Eat? What You Need To Know!
If you are a farmer or have recently acquired a baby goat, you may be wondering what to feed them. Providing baby goats with the right care, shelter, maintenance, and diet are crucial to ensure that they become healthy adults in the future.
Fortunately, baby goats’ diets are generally uncomplicated and easy to provide. The life stage of your baby goat will affect the type of food they should be fed. In the case of a newborn goat, you may even need to bottle feed them.
In this article, we will cover all the information you need to know about feeding your baby goat a high-quality diet to ensure that they can grow and develop properly.
Identifying Your Baby Goats Life Stage
To start, a baby goat is referred to as a ‘kid’, and it is what most farmers and agricultural veterinarians will call baby goats, so we will refer to baby goats as a kid throughout some parts of this article. If you are new to farming and baby goats, then this may not be something you may have known.
If your mother goat has recently given birth, then her offspring is considered a newborn. They are in their earliest life stage and will not be able to eat solid food until they are around six to eight weeks of age. During this time, the baby goat will have been weaned from their mother and solid foods can be gradually introduced into their diet.Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock
If the newborn goat does not feed on the mother, you must start feeding them colostrum through a bottle. Colostrum naturally comes from the mother and is high in nutrients and immune-building properties. You can purchase agricultural milk replacement from your local agricultural feed store which contains high amounts of colostrum.
After eight weeks, your kid is ready to eat solid foods and refuse milk. Their diet will vary in comparison to adults, as their solid foods should be rich in nutrients to accommodate your baby goat’s essential growth stage.
How to Bottle Feed Baby Goats
If you do decide to bottle feed your newborn goat the first step is to positively introduce them to bottle feeding. Start by squeezing the bottle into their mouth until a bit of milk comes out. This will help them associate the bottle with milk and therefore encourage them to drink from the bottle.
Newborn goats should be fed up to four times a day for the first few weeks. After they are a month old, you can begin to reduce feeding to three times a day. With the help of an agricultural veterinarian, you will be able to monitor the exact amount of minerals and other supplements to add to the milk’s mixture. Late kids can be fed goat’s milk from another nursing or pregnant mother, lamb-milk replacer, or cow’s mild. If you decide to feed the kid fresh milk, the milk should be pasteurized or purchased from stock that is certified to be free of the encephalitis (CEA) virus, paratuberculosis, and mycoplasmas, and in some cases heat treatment may be necessary.Image Credit: Piqsels
These items are essential when you are bottle-feeding a newborn goat:
- A baby bottle suitable for baby goats and other farm animals
- Lamb or goat nipple teat
- Goat milk replacement formula (We recommend Manna Pro Milk Replacer with Probiotics to get started)
- Colostrum replacement powder
- Supplements provided by an agricultural veterinarian
Newborn goats should be fed between 10% to 12% of their body weight per day and should be provided with sufficient milk or milk replacer within regular intervals to achieve optimal growth.
What Do Baby Goats Eat?
You can determine if a baby goat is weaned when they start to prefer solid foods over milk. Baby goats should have access to grain-based creep feed and hay as early as one week of age, but they will primarily drink milk during this time.
A baby goat’s primary diet consists of around 80% of high-quality hay, and 5% should consist of goat feed grains. The remaining percentages of a baby goats’ diet should consist of pasture, weeds, and hay pellets. It is important to note that goats are ruminants, which means that they have a four-chamber stomach. Roughage is necessary to help the rumen function properly.Image Credit: Pixel-mixer, Pixabay
After your kid has been weaned, other solid foods should slowly be introduced into their diet to avoid digestive issues such as bloating. It is very common for your baby goat to experience constipation or diarrhea due to fast dietary changes. Hay pellets may be a good idea to feed to young baby goats before introducing them to fresh roughage. This is because hay pellets are a more easily digestible form of hay.
Here is a quick rundown of a baby goats’ diet after eight weeks of age:
|Hay (or hay pellets)||75-80%|
|Goat feed (grains)||5%|
Safe Plants and Weeds for Baby Goats
Baby goats are browsers and although many people believe they can eat anything, there are certain foods you should avoid feeding your baby goat as they may be poisonous, and there are also certain foods that many farmers and agricultural veterinarians recommend.Image Credit: Pixel-mixer, Pixabay
- Fresh grass
- Maple leaves
- Roses (leaves, hips, flowers)
- Apple leaves
- Musk thistle
What Foods Should You Avoid Feeding Baby Goats?
It is important to not keep your baby or adult goats in a pasture where azaleas or rhododendrons are growing as these plants are poisonous to goats. In addition, feeding baby goat old food that has been sitting in the heat or gathering moisture may grow mold that can cause your baby goat to fall ill. Care should be taken to ensure that your baby goat’s main feed is stored correctly and replaced when necessary.Image Credit: Piqsels
Avoid Feeding (Warning):
- China berries
- Dog fennel
- Bracken fern
- Eastern Baccharis
- Virginia creeper
- Black cherry
Take caution to ensure that the pasture is free from all poisonous plants as they can harm your goat. Baby goats are curious and will eat most plants and weeds growing in the pasture. Contact your local agricultural veterinarian if you suspect your baby goat may have consumed a poisonous plant. Take a sample of the plant with to the veterinarian so that the right treatment can be administrated.
- You may also want to read: Can Goats Eat Bananas? What You Need to Know!
Feeding your baby goat is easy once you understand their basic dietary requirements. The main concern when it comes to feeding kids is to ensure that the diet is balanced and suitable for their life stages. A baby goat fed correctly will grow to be a healthy and proportionate adult with a hearty appetite. Feeding your baby goat is a rewarding experience, and their eagerness to feed is admirable by many owners.
You May Also Like:
- Can Goats Eat Cucumbers? What You Need to Know!
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Featured Image Credit: AllaMosurova, Shutterstock
Raising Goat Kids | Purina Animal NutritionSkip to Content (Press Enter)
Wellness : Nutrition
Mikelle Roeder, Ph.D.
A proper program for raising goat kids begins prior to birth, because producing a healthy newborn kid means meeting the nutritional needs of the doe while she is gestating.
Once the kid is born, it's really up to you to make sure it gets off to a good start.
Newborn kid goat care and management
There are two management practices that are critical to the future health of a newborn kid. First, the navel cord needs to be dipped in a tincture of iodine solution. This will help prevent disease-causing organisms from directly entering the body. Iodine treatment will promote drying of the cord to help it break away cleanly from the navel. Do no remove the cord; allow it to dry and fall off on its own. Early removal can result in the kid bleeding to death.
Even more critical to a kid's future health is making sure it is fed colostrum as soon after birth as possible. Colostrum is the first milk produced by the doe. Colostrum contains antibodies which provide the kid's initial immunity against diseases. Since the antibodies in colostrum can only be effectively absorbed in the first 18 hours after birth, feeding as early as possible is recommended. The amount of colostrum fed in the first 24 hours should be 10% of the kid’s body weight. Bottle feeding colostrum helps ensure adequate consumption. Excess colostrum can be frozen and saved for orphaned kids.
Disease organisms, particularly caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE), can be transmitted from the doe to the kid through the colostrum. Transmission can be avoided by feeding kids colostrum from does shown to be CAE-free, using heat-treated colostrum or by feeding a colostrum replacement. After kids consume their colostrum, they can be left with the doe to nurse or started on milk replacer, such as LAND O LAKES® Doe's Match® Kid Milk Replacer.
Bottle feeding kid goats
When bottle feeding, keep kids on a proper feeding schedule and restrict intake, since overfeeding can lead to diarrhea, bloat and even death due to Clostridium perfringens, which thrive on excessive starches and sugars in the digestive tract (this is called “overeating disease” or enterotoxemia). Kids can be aggressive eaters, and it is tempting to give them more than they should have, so be adamant about sticking with a recommended program. A typical kid goat feeding program is outlined below.
|Age||Amount of liquid milk per feeding||Feeding Schedule|
|Day 1||Colostrum, 10% of body weight*|
|Days 2 - 10||4 - 6 oz||4 - 5 times/day|
|Days 11 - 21||7 - 12 oz||3 - 4 times/day|
|Days 21 - weaning||12 - 16 oz||3 times/day|
*e.g., a 4-lb kid would need 0. 4 lbs of colostrum, or about 6.5 oz (0.4 lbs x 16 oz/lb)
Smaller kids should eat at the lower end of the range, larger kids would need the higher amount in the range provided.
Weaning kid goats
When kids are offered a good quality hay or pasture plus a creep feed, they can be weaned as early as 30 days of age, but it is better to wait until 6 to 8 weeks. A better measure for weaning a kid is when it weighs at least 2 to 2.5 times its birth weight and is eating a significant amount of dry food. It may help to gradually reduce the amount of milk replacer being offered as you approach the designated weaning date. Kids will start consuming hay or pasture by 2 weeks of age; this intake of fiber stimulates the development of the epithelial lining of the rumen, which is critical for future digestive health and function. Shortly thereafter they can be offered a fortified concentrate feed such as Purina® Goat Grower or Purina® Goat Chow, both of which will provide critical nutrients.
These nutritional steps will help you make sure your kids get off to a healthy start for a long life.
Environmental management is also important. Kids should be housed in clean pastures or dry lots, and crowding should be avoided. Shelter from the elements is essential. The drier the premises, the less chance for exposure to pathogens and parasites, all of which love moisture. Proper vaccination and parasite control programs will minimize chances for future health problems.
With proper care, your kids will be off to a long, healthy and productive life.
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Table of contents:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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: 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.
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 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.
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:
- 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.
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.
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.
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;
- 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.
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 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.
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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