Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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I don't like having bottle babies. It is neither cost- nor time-effective to have bottle babies. They never completely behave as goats and usually wind up on the bottom of the pecking order in the herd. I much prefer to hold the dam to let them nurse for several days until the doe accepts them or foster them onto another doe with similar-aged kids than bottle feeding for three months. The most dangerous goat on your place will be the bottle baby buck that is now grown. He will hurt every person on your ranch -- usually unintentionally -- because he thinks he is still a baby "person." However, there are instances in which the choice is either bottling newborns or letting them die. Deliberately letting newborn kids die is not acceptable.

Below is a formula for calculating the amount should be feeding so that you don't over-feed a newborn to approximately two to three week old bottle baby. Use this formula when the young kid is consuming only milk. When it starts eating solid food, the amounts don't have to be so precise. Suckling is a very satisfying experience. Newborns and very young kids will nurse until they overeat on milk and die. Floppy Kid Syndrome is a very real possibility.

Weigh the newborn. Convert its weight into ounces. Calculate 10% to 12% of total bodyweight in ounces, divide that number by four feedings, and feed that amount over a 24 hour period. Example: An eight-pound kid's weight converted to ounces is 128 ounces. 8 x 16 oz = 128 oz. Multiple 128 oz by 12% = 15.4 ounces. Round to the nearest whole ounce - in this case 15 oz. Divide 15 oz by 4 feedings = 3.75 oz per feeding. Recognize that this amount varies by sex and number of kids in the litter. Feed 4 times a day for the first week, reducing the 3 times a day during Week 2, and settle on 2 times per day when the kid is three weeks until weaning at three months of age. The amount of milk required increases as the kid gains weight. This formula is critical during the first two or three weeks of the kid's life to prevent it from developed Floppy Kid Syndrome (overeating on milk).

Check the kid for a full tummy by placing it on the ground on its feet, supporting its own weight. Don't try to evaluate stomach fullness when holding the kid. It will always feel more full than when supporting its own weight. Stand over it, facing the same direction that the kid is facing. Place your fingers in front of the back legs on both sides of its tummy. The tummy should feel firm, not hard and not squishy. If the formula provided above doesn't accomplish this, adjust it upward a bit until you achieve the needs of that particular kid. This is not a written-in-stone rule; common sense must prevail.

The amount of milk needed changes as the kid grows. By two to three weeks of age, the kid is much more physically active and eating some solid food, so the chance of over-feeding on milk is lessened. But never let the kid drink all it wants. Milk is a vital part of the kid's nutrition program all the way up until weaning at three months of age. Do NOT wean at two months of age.

It is very easy to over-feed a newborn or very young kid. This is true if you use goat's milk, cow's milk, milk replacer, or any formulation of your own concoction. A kid will suckle until it dies. It doesn't know how much is too much milk. You have to control milk amounts, just like dams do. A kid has to have enough time between feedings to digest the milk in its stomach or undigested milk will accumulate and kill the kid. Overeating on milk is a painful death. I like Ultra-Bac 24 all-species milk replacer made by Milk Products Inc. It mixes smoothly and digests easily. Never use a milk replacer with soy in it. Don't use homemade concoctions that combine condensed milk, buttermilk, and cow's milk. Many goat kids have serious constipation and digestion issues after consuming such rich formulations.

The Articles page at my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has columns I've written on health problems of newborn and young kids, floppy kid syndrome (overeating on milk),weak kid syndrome (hypothermia and starvation), getting a kid on a bottle, and a host of other articles involving kidding problems. Take advantage of the information before kidding begins.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, ONION CREEK RANCH, Texas 2/11/16


Did you know: If you are having trouble getting a kid on a bottle, wet the Prichard teat in water and then dip it in granulated sugar. Fill the bottle with milk or milk replacer and put the nipple in the kid's mouth.

In most cases, the kid will smack his lips together when he tastes the granulated sugar, simulating sucking, and will begun to suck the nipple on the bottle.

Meat Goat Mania

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All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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