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Feeding Baby Goats Cow Milk

bottlefeeding baby goat - separate baby goats from mother

On an idyllic farm, the doe delivers her goat kid, cleans them, and happily begins nursing soon after. As farmers, we know sometimes things don’t always go as planned.

Sometimes a doe will reject her kid, suffer poor milk production, become ill during or after labor resulting in the inability to nurse, damage a teat, and so on.

When something unforeseen and unfortunate happens, so does improvisation.

Feeding Baby Goats Cow Milk

During goat birth, it is essential that the kid or kids are quickly dried off and stimulated.

Goat kids will often stand, call out and begin searching for a teat if they are healthy and had an uneventful delivery. In normal cases, the baby goat will be able to feed from its mother.

feeding baby goat

The Importance Of Colostrum For A Baby Goat

Within the first 24 hours of kidding, the doe produces colostrum.

Colostrum is a thick, yellow milk full of maternal antibodies, fat, minerals, vitamin A, and other energy sources.

Goat kids require this colostrum to thrive and typically do not survive or thrive without colostrum in the first 24 hours.

If possible, after kidding, it is imperative to collect colostrum from the doe and bottle feed (or tube feed if necessary) the baby goat.

Colostrum from another mother who has kidded within the last 24 hours is preferred, with frozen colostrum following that. There is powdered substitute colostrum sold at most farm and feed stores.

Before lambing or kidding season, I usually have some on hand, just in case. Goat kids should ingest colostrum within the first hour after birth, not to exceed 6 hours without.

Feeding A Goat Kid After The First 24 Hours

If your goat kid has survived their first 24 hours as a newborn and is now ready to be transitioned to milk, you have options.

Of course, fresh goat milk from the mother would be best for bottle-feeding babies, but cow’s milk will work fine as well.

As with the powdered colostrum, goat milk replacer is available but not as readily as cow’s milk from the grocery store.

weaning baby goats

Cow’s Milk For Baby Goats

While drinking cow’s milk is absolutely fine for goat kids, there are a few things to consider:

Source For Cow Milk

Ideally, if your farm also has a family milk cow, fresh cow milk will be easiest for your kid (and you) to handle.

If fed directly after milking, the milk may be at a proper temperature and readily accepted by the goat kid. If you do not have a milk cow or access to raw milk, cow’s milk from the store will also work.

Best Kind Of Cow’s Milk

If purchasing milk from the store, it is crucial to purchase whole cow’s milk for your goat kids.

Whole cow milk has a higher fat percentage, and with cow’s milk being slightly less fatty than goat’s milk, to begin with, whole milk is the only option to choose that will guarantee your kid puts on adequate weight.

Proper Care And Preparation Of Cow’s Milk

Goat kids expect a warm meal! Therefore warming the store-bought milk is a must to avoid stomach upset. The milk should be warm but not hot.

The milk should be fed in a bottle with an appropriately sized teat to encourage suckling. The bottle should be washed out after each feed and left to dry before the next one.

How Much Do I Feed My Goat Kid?

Guaranteeing your goat kid is eating a proper amount of milk is an important part of bottle feeding.

Age Of Goat Kid Amount Of Milk Per Feeding Approx. Feeding Frequency
2-4 Days Old (After Colostrum) 8-12 ounces 4 times per day
5 -14 Days Old 12 ounces 3 times per day
2 – 7 Weeks Old Up to 30 ounces 2 times per day (or 3 smaller feeds)

These are approximate amounts, and a goat kid should be fed more if appearing hungry.

bottle feeding a kid - what can baby goats eat

Successful Bottle Feeding

Once you and the baby goat get into the bottle feeding routine, be it with goats or cows milk, the bonding time can be very useful in creating a friendly whether or future milker.

How To Bottle Feed Baby Goats

Bottle-feeding your baby goats may pose some challenges at first. But in time, both you and your goat will be comfortable with it.

Start off by preparing the cow’s milk in a bottle. Take the kid in your lap and slightly hold its head up.

Put the bottle into its mouth. Some baby goats will navigate the bottle right away.

However, it’s not always the case. Sometimes, you need to have persistence and patience when it comes to bottle-feeding baby goats.

Other goats may start chewing the nipple instead of chewing it. When this happens, keep on trying until they learn to suck instead of chewing.

When and How Long to Bottle Feed Kids

Fortunately, a baby goat can be weaned as early as one month of age. However, it’s best to keep bottle-feeding them for a few weeks longer.

You can bottle-feed them every four hours after birth or whenever the kid starts to make a fuss.

In most cases, homesteaders would bottle-feed female baby goats for at least three months and bucklings for two months.

Other goat owners would think this is unnecessary and costly. That’s why they would rather provide water and hay so that kids can start weaning whenever they’re ready.

Feeding Baby Goats Cow Milk: Conclusion

It may be a challenge at first, but feeding baby goats cow milk can be one of the most fulfilling experiences in goat raising!

There might be instances that the goat’s milk may not be enough to support their kid’s needs. So giving them cow milk is the next suitable choice!

Bottle-feeding baby goats cow milk can provide them with the nutrients they need. All it takes is a little patience and hard work to get your baby goats comfortable with bottle feeding.

READ NEXT: Goat Milking: Everything About Milking Goats and How To Milk Them

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