We all know this: goats are herbivores. They like eating plants, grass, hay, etc.
But when do baby goats start eating grass?
How much is too much?
And more importantly: when do you start weaning them?
In this article, let’s answer your questions about feeding baby goats, foraging, and more!
When Do Baby Goats Start Eating Grass?
Baby goats start eating grass when they are about two weeks old.
In fact, they’ll likely start testing hay or grass as early as a few days old.
However, you should make sure that it’s in small, chewable pieces.
Otherwise, big chunks might cause them indigestion!
Can Newborn Baby Goats Eat Hay or Grass?
Young goats may try to taste or sample hay or grass.
But more than their nutritional needs, they’re actually doing this to mimic their mamas!
At their early stage, their rumen is not yet developed to digest hay or grass.
Rumen is one of the chambers of a goat’s stomach where they store and ferment the food they’re eating.
It helps break down the grass, hay, and other high-fiber food that goats eat.
But this doesn’t mean you should stop baby goats from roaming around.
In fact, just let them! (More on this later.)
And don’t worry. Your kid will likely not take more than a bite or two out of curiosity.
Remember that nursing mothers need plenty of access to water and forage, so it’s perfectly acceptable for there to be grass and hay near your newborn baby goat.
Benefits of Grass and Hay to a Baby Goat’s Health
Baby goats should have unlimited access to roughage such as hay, grass, or alfalfa.
It is extremely beneficial for their physical and mental health!
Remember when we mentioned (a couple of sentences ago) how their rumens aren’t fully developed yet?
Well, eating grass or hay actually stimulates the development of a kid’s rumen.
The best hay for young goats is usually the second cutting, though most mold-free hay is perfectly acceptable.
Also, don’t forget that goats enjoy underbrush, bushes, vines, and young trees.
These also provide a lot of nutritional benefits for goats of all ages.
No need to monitor or supervise them when doing it!
Can Baby Goats Eat Too Much Hay or Grass?
Baby goats will slowly and naturally acclimate themselves to higher levels of roughage.
So no, they will not eat too much grass or hay.
They will do the bulk of the work of transitioning (weaning) from their mothers’ milk to the pastures that you provide them.
However, you should still be wary about bloating—which happens even to adult goats.
About Weaning Goat Kids
Weaning baby goats is an essential process for goat farmers.
While some farms may choose to wean their goats as early as one month, experts recommend waiting for at least two months before weaning.
A new study emerges
In 2020, The Ohio State University conducted a study on weaning dairy goats, and the results offer some valuable insights.
According to the study, weaning should be based on the kid’s weight and the amount of solid food it eats rather than its age.
It is advisable to wait until the kid is at least 2.5 to 3 times its birth weight before weaning.
If you can wait for one month past this milestone, it can lead to reduced stress, improved growth, breeding success, and production in the first lactation.
Reminder before weaning
To help with rumen development during the transition from milk to solid food, it’s essential to offer solid food and fresh water to the kid soon after birth.
Before weaning, feed the kid about 1% of their body weight in solid food.
Gradually reducing milk intake over several days can help prevent weaning shock.
When planning for weaning, it’s essential to avoid stacking stressors.
If multiple stressors are unavoidable, it’s advisable to wait at least one week between each.
By following these guidelines and closely monitoring the kids during the weaning process, you can ensure a smooth transition to solid diets while maintaining growth and welfare.
Proper preparation and care are key to raising healthy and productive goats.
How To Wean Baby Goats
Weaning a goat from milk to solid food can seem like a simple task, but it is important to keep several factors in mind to ensure a smooth transition.
Here are some tips and tricks to make the process as easy as possible:
Firstly, provide access to clean, fresh water at all times, and make sure that it is easily accessible for the goat.
Adding electrolyte supplements to the water during the weaning process can help to maintain strength and encourage water consumption.
Free-Choice Hay or Grass
It is also important to offer free-choice hay or grass as soon as possible so that the goat’s rumen can adapt and develop.
High-quality forage should make up the majority of the goat’s diet, with access to minerals to ensure complete nutrition.
Pellet feeds can be offered as a replacement for milk, with 16 to 22% protein creep pellet feed being an excellent option.
It is best to start offering pellet feed from day two of life.
Higher protein pellets should be started early, and lower protein pellets later in the weaning process.
Remember to monitor intake carefully, especially if there are multiple kids.
Finally, make the transition as slow and gradual as possible.
Weaning should take, at minimum, 1-2 weeks to complete, with less milk offered at fewer intervals each day.
To keep the goats occupied during this time, consider providing enrichment activities.
Human socialization, playtime with other goats, and exploration of new pastures should help.
With these tips in mind, weaning a goat from milk to solid food can be a stress-free process for both you and your goats.
FAQs About Baby Goats Eating Grass
More questions about weaning baby goats? We answered a couple of FAQs below.
When Can Baby Goats Eat Grain?
Baby goats can get their first taste of grain when they are about a month and a half old.
That’s around 45 days (or older).
Make sure that this grain is formulated especially for kid goats and not for other species or age ranges.
The rumen of the goat is just starting to develop, so make sure that you’re being as gentle and gradual with it as possible.
Can Baby Goats Eat Alfalfa Cubes?
Most goats should not be fed alfalfa cubes.
They are too difficult for goats, let alone baby goats, to chew and eat without a major choking hazard.
If you are faced with a pasture, grass, or hay shortage, you can resort to alfalfa cubes.
However, they have to be properly soaked in water before being presented to the goats.
This eliminates the choking risk and makes it more palatable for the goats to eat.
Keep in mind that the goats may not eat this anyway, as many of them are not keen on eating wet roughage.
Can I Feed My Baby Goat Treats?
Baby goats can have a few treats in very limited portion sizes once they are a couple of weeks old.
Some good treats for baby goats include bite-size or smashed fruits like watermelons, grapes, blackberries, cantaloupe, apples, and raspberries.
Cut-up or smashed vegetables are also okay, especially carrots, broccoli, celery, or pumpkins.
Baby Goats Start Eating Grass? Keep These in Mind!
It’s possible for baby goats to start eating grass, hay, and other roughage as soon as they can—it’s part of their nature!
Just make sure you help them by cutting up the grass as small as possible to prevent them from choking.
Remember, they’re babies still; their rumens are still developing.
They’re also still learning the ways of the world.
So let them nurse from their mamas, and only wean them when they’re ready!
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