When do baby goats start eating solid food

Raising Goat Kids | Purina Animal Nutrition

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Wellness : Nutrition

Mikelle Roeder, Ph.D.

Multi-Species Nutritionist

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

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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When Do Baby Goats Start Eating Grain? – Savvy Farm Life

As grazing animals, the diet of a goat should consist mainly of shrubs, weeds, grass, and other vegetation. You can also feed grain to your goats to help sustain their diets and ensure they are getting the sugars and nutrients they need to stay healthy. While goats shouldn’t be fed a lot of grain, it can be used to help them keep their weight and produce more energy for growing and pregnant goats.

When do baby goats start eating grain? Baby goats can start eating small amounts of grain as early as 1 week of age to help develop their digestive system. By 4 – 8 weeks of age, baby goats will be weaned from their mothers and be completely reliant on solid foods.

The development within the first few weeks of a goat’s life is vital to their health and success as adults. Understanding goats and how they develop can help you take better care of them and see that their needs are met. In this article, I’ll cover the development of young goats and how feeding grain works into it.

Why You Should Feed Baby Goats Grain

One of the main reasons you should start feeding grain to baby goats as early as one week of age is to help develop their rumen, which is part of their digestive system. Goats are ruminants, meaning that their stomach has four different compartments. The first section of the stomach is called the rumen.

The rumen partially digests food before the food is regurgitated to be chewed again. This is called “chewing the cud.” This enables the goat to extract as much nutrients from the food as possible.

The rumen is a vital part of the digestive system that must properly develop for the goat to function. Feeding baby goats a handful of grain at feeding time can help the rumen start digesting more solid foods.

How Much Grain Should You Give to Baby Goats?

When it comes to feeding baby goats grain, it’s important to allow for the development of the digestive system, specifically the rumen. If you feed a baby goat a bunch of grain all at once, the goat can become severely sick since it’s not used to digesting solid foods. Too much grain can be bad for any goat since they are designed to eat mostly grass, shrubs, and weeds.

You should transition your baby goats to solid foods and grain gradually. Start off by providing about a handful of grain to the baby goat at one week of age. From there, you can start gradually increasing the amount of grain until you’re feeding about 1/2 cup per day. The baby goat should be reliant on solid foods by about 4 weeks of age.

By the time the goats are adults, you can feed as much at 1 cup of grain per day; however, it’s important to remember that the goat’s diet should be made up of primarily of forage, not grain.

What Type of Grain Should You Feed Baby Goats?

When it comes to feeding grain to you baby goats, you can start off by feeding them a goat starter grain. Starter grains a specifically designed for young livestock to aid them in growth and development. Goat starter grain is particularly high in protein, and you should aim to feed a starter grain that has 16 – 18% protein. Protein will provide your goat with an energy source that will fuel development.

You can feed goat starter grain until your goats are about 16 weeks old, then you can gradually transition them to the grain you provide your adult goats. If you need to know what to feed your goats once they’re past 16 weeks old, I recommend whole grain, which contains oats, cracked corn, flaxseed, alfalfa, beet pulp, and sunflower seeds. The reason I recommend whole grain specifically is because it is more of a natural feed that doesn’t contain processed and sugary food.

When Do Baby Goats Start Eating Grass?

Besides eating small portions of grain each day, a goat’s diet will heavily rely on forage, which can be grass, hay, shrubs, weeds, bark, and twigs. Since forage is such a big part of a goat’s diet, you may be wondering when exactly do baby goats start eating grass?

Baby goats will usually start to pick at grass and hay at 2 – 3 weeks old. At first, they may nibble at it then spit it out. Some babies may start eating vegetation more quickly than others; it usually just depends on the goat. It’s best to start your baby goats off on hay, as it is easier to digest than grass. Alfalfa hay provides a higher quantity of protein and minerals than other hays, so it’s a good choice to feed to your baby goats.

When Should You Wean a Baby Goat From Its Mother?

For the first few weeks of its life, a baby goat will rely heavily on its mother for comfort and care. Goat milk provides vital nutrients and vitamins that enables the baby goat to develop. Baby goats also imprint on their mothers, meaning that they form a strong attachment to their mother and look to them for care.

Weaning a goat is when you separate a baby goat from its mother at the proper time in order to help the baby goat learn to rely on solid foods instead of its mother’s milk. Weaning will also teach the baby goat to live on its own rather than relying on its mother for care and protection.

Weaning often happens when the baby goat is 4 -8 weeks of age. As the baby goat ages, it will rely more and more on forage and solid foods as well as start to get more comfortable wandering away from its mother. If you notice these behaviors in your baby goats, you know it’s time to wean them.

When Is a Goat’s Rumen Fully Developed?

In the first section, I mentioned how important the development of the rumen, the first compartment of the goat’s stomach, is to the digestive system. The rumen enables the goat to get as much nutrients from their food as they can; if the rumen is under-developed, it can affect the growth of the goat and the ability of the goat to eat and digest food.

The rumen of the goat should be fully developed by 3 months of age. While a baby goat can be fully dependent on solid foods as early as 1 month, the rumen will still be developing and adjusting to a solid food diet during this time. It’s always important to monitor your baby goat to see if they are properly developing and digesting food.

Signs That Your Goat is Having Digestive Issues

Digestive problems can be potentially fatal to goats, so it’s important that you’re able to notice when your goat may be dealing with a sore tummy. Here are some behaviors your goat may exhibit when their stomach isn’t feeling good:

The Goat Will Eat Less

One clear indicator your goat is having a digestive problem is that they won’t want to eat. This can be a sign that the goat is having difficulty digesting the food, or that they may be in pain when they eat. I know that I don’t like to eat food when I have a stomach ache; I guess that goats don’t like to either!

The Goat Will Whine

Goats are very expressive creatures, and they usually wear their feelings on a sleeve. Some goats may actually whine if they are in pain. If you’re goat is bleating excessively, it may mean that their stomach is hurting them. If you wan’t to know more about how goats express themselves, check out my article Goat Affection: 10 Clear Ways Goats Show Affection.

The Goat Will Be Lethargic

A goat that doesn’t feel good often displays the same behavior as a human that doesn’t feel good. I know when I’m feeling sick, I rather lay around all day than get up and do something. If your goat isn’t feeling good, they will be lethargic and won’t have their usual energy. Instead of playing, socializing, and eating, they may be more apt to go off by themselves to lay down.

The Goat’s Side Will Feel Hard

If the goat’s digestive system isn’t contracting, food and nutrients won’t be able to pass through the body. One way you can tell if the rumen isn’t contracting is that the goat’s side will feel hard to the touch and may stick out more than normal. In some instances, you may see the muscle spasm as it continues to hold the tension.

If notice any of these signs in your goat, the best thing to do is to call a veterinarian and get guidance on how you should handle the situation. Raising goats can be rewarding and enjoyable, but it also takes hard work and dedication. I have many articles about taking care of goats. If you’re looking for reading material, check out the articles below!

  • Do Goats Get Cold: Winter Goat Care Guide
  • Can Goats Live in the Woods?
  • Do Goats Get Fleas? Essential Goat Care

When kids start eating hay, diet

You ask: “Tell me, when do kids start eating hay? A couple of days ago we had an addition - a couple of kids. At first they were left with their mother, but they noticed that the second, smaller one, did not have enough milk. The older, more impudent and gluttonous brother, always tries to be the first to feed. You need to drive it away directly so that the second one eats. In general, we decided to feed ourselves: we sell milk, heat it up and give it from a bowl. Interested in when babies can diversify the diet, and at what age can they already eat hay?

We answer: In order for a goat to give high milk yield in the future, it is necessary to provide the young animals with proper feeding from the first days. Its basis is mother's milk, and over time - and additional components. Since goats are ruminants, you also need to know when kids start eating hay. This is one of the very first complementary foods that begin to be introduced to young animals. It plays an important role in the digestive system. But, in view of the fact that she is still establishing her work in babies, it is not worth rushing with a variety of diets.

When kids start eating hay

Kids start eating (that is, not only chewing, but also swallowing) fully hay closer to the age of one month. By about the time they are 3 weeks old, the fourth section of the animal's stomach, the abomasum, begins to work. This manifests itself in the form of a burp. And it means the beginning of preparing the stomach to receive "adult" feed, and not just milk.

Despite this, it is recommended to start giving hay to kids even earlier, already at the age of 10 days. Of course, they will not eat it yet, but they will lick the leaves with pleasure. And they contain different yeasts and fungi. They are very useful for digestion and the formation of a healthy intestinal microflora.

Hay must be only good, not rotten, without mold, not rough, soft-leaved. You can also give some juicy food (vegetables), and if it's the summer season, then fresh grass.

Diet for kids from birth to three months

Kids should receive milk for at least four months, drinking at least 400 ml at a time. Feeding can be organized in two ways: under a goat, when the baby suckles himself, and artificially, when fed from a bowl.

Goats that are fed with goat's milk, but from a bowl, grow stronger. In this case, it is possible to completely control both the frequency of feeding and the amount of food eaten. In addition, the gross milk yield of females does not decrease. When kept under a goat, it is not uncommon for young animals to grow unevenly. More developed kids eat the rest, leaving them not enough milk.

As for the diet, it should be as follows:

  1. From birth to a month. Immediately after birth - colostrum, then milk at least 1.5 liters per day. Feeding frequency at first 6 times, from the third day - 5 times, from the eighth - 4 times. With artificial feeding, milk must be heated to 42 ° C. From the third week, some hay is added. You can also give crushed potatoes and bran.
  2. Two months. Milk, 200 g of root crops and hay, oatmeal up to 800 g per day.
  3. Three months. Gradually transferred to the "adult menu". Goats are given concentrated feed, hay, straw, silage, branches, vegetables, grain.

When, what and how to feed kids up to six months

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.

No more than 1 hour should pass from birth and the first feeding: 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.

Feeding methods

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:

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

  • 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 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.

In case of artificial feeding, when the mother-nurse 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 yields 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 costly and complex, 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 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 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 proper 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.

What else 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