April 2013 Issue



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Getting Kids to Nurse a Bottle

If you absolutely have no other choice but putting a kid on a bottle, here is how to do it.

Getting a kid to nurse a bottle takes time and patience. Convincing a newborn to accept a bottle is much easier than an older kid. The nipple does not feel like mom's teat and the older kid will fight acceptance of it. Sometimes it is necessary to let the kid get hungry by waiting six or eight hours before offering it a bottle. Do not let the kid have access to any milk or water during this timeframe or it won't be hungry enough to nurse.

I like to use Prichard teats because they are longer than human baby bottle nipples and fit the shape of the kid's mouth. Sometimes wetting and sprinkling the Prichard teat with granulated sugar will whet the kid's interest. Sit or kneel on an over-turned five-gallon bucket or seat of similar height and place the kid between your legs. Placing your thumb across the bridge of the kid's nose and your fingers under its chin, insert the nipple of the bottle into the kid's mouth using your other hand. Put your fingers across its eyes to simulate the darkness of being under its mother's legs. Hold the nipple in the kid's mouth, moving it in and out of the mouth and squeezing gently to stimulate the kid's interest. Take care not to flood the kid's mouth with milk that could be aspirated into its lungs. Premature and slow-to-learn kids can benefit from a 1/2 cc injection of prescription Vitamin B1 (thiamine) to help "wake up the brain." Once the kid learns that the nipple delivers milk, it should begin to suck, but do not expect this to happen on the first few tries. When the kid figures out how to nurse the bottle, you can sit on the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, place the bottle under your knee, and the kid will feel like it is under its dam's legs nursing her teats.

Caution: Most people feed too much milk too often to newborn and young bottle babies. Once a kid gets mature enough to eat solid food, the risk of feeding too much milk is somewhat reduced. The greatest risk of overfeeding milk is from birth to about four weeks of age. See my article on Overfeeding Bottle Babies on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com for a formula for determining how much milk to feed based upon the kid's weight in ounces.

If at all possible, graft an orphaned or rejected kid onto another dam. Bottle babies are not desirable. They are expensive to raise, almost never fit in with the herd because they view themselves as people, may wind up on the bottom of the pecking order, usually don't stay with the herd well, and are dangerous when grown because they still perceive themselves as that eight-pound kid who used to climb into your lap. The most dangerous goat on your ranch is a grown male who still thinks of himself as a bottle baby/people. Someday he will hurt someone unintentionally -- probably you. Regardless of how you may think about them, goats are livestock with instincts and behaviors reflective of their place in and their need to be part of their herd.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 4/11/13

Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.


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Whenever I collect colostrum from my does, either due to them having a single or having lost a kid or kids, I milk it out either by hand or by using the Handy Milker (see June 2009 MGM issue) measure it into 2 to 3 ounce increments and pour into a snack size freezer bag. I label the bags with the date of collection, whether it is from day 1 or day 2 from kidding, the does name and number of ounces. I then take the small bags of individual servings and put them all together in a larger, freezer bag and again label with the does name, date of collection and whether it was collected on day 1 or 2. I store these in a freezer that is not “frost free” as it will keep indefinitely in this manner. Whenever I need colostrum for a newborn I remove enough bags for 2 days worth of feedings, storing it in the refrigerator until needed. I put warm tap water in a glass container in the sink, put one feedings worth (2 or 3 oz bag) into a quart sized bag in case the snack bag leaks and slowly thaw the colostrum by adding warmer water to the glass container until the colostrum is thawed and warm enough to feed the kid. Once it is warm enough to feed I snip the corner off of the snack bag and pour the colostrums into a bottle through a funnel.


There are commercially made colostrums products available for purchasing but nothing beats the protection provided by a goat from your own herd who has developed the needed antibodies to your environment to give those newborn kids the antibody protection they need to survive and thrive.

Pat Cotten
April 13, 2013

BendingTree Ranch TexMaster Goats

Twin Myotonic bucklings out of Bending Tree Ranch Red Cloud and Bending Tree Ranch No Spots.

Weaned 4-13-13. One sold, one available.


Bending Tree Ranch Red Cloud

Bending Tree Ranch No Spots

CONTACT: Pat Cotten 501-581-5700
Bending Tree Ranch located
near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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