April 2013 Issue



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In any goat-raising venture, you are going to have kids that have either been orphaned or subjected to hypothermia or other illness that either prevents the establishment of or breaks their bond with their dam, leaving them without access to sufficient milk or any milk at all.With a weak/hypothermic kid whose dam is able to nurse it, try to use the dam's colostrum and milk when feeding the kid. Dams identify their kids primarily by smell. Notice how they smell the rear of each kid that gets near them. Dams are checking for their scent of their own milk in the kids' feces. See my article on collecting and freezing colostrum and goat's milk on my website's Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

If the nursing problem arises when a kid is a newborn, stomach tube the dam's colostrum into the kid at the appropriate time. See my article on Weak and Abandoned Newborns on my website. When the kid is stabilized enough to go back to its dam, smear some of the dam's placental tissue over the kid's body. If placental tissue isn't available, put some of the dam's colostrum or milk on the kid's nose, head, butt, and along its spine (topline) in an effort to convince the dam that it is her kid. if the doe is rejecting the kid because it is hypothermic/weak, this process may and probably must be delayed for several days. Don't put a sick or weak kid with its dam too soon. You can always take steps to get its dam to take it back once you get the kid healthy. It will relapse quickly and possibly die if you rush this process.

Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch near Damascus, Arkansas puts the problem kid (when stabilized) and its siblings in a wire crate inside the dam's stall/pen. Then she lets the kids out several times a day to nurse so that they eat at the same time. In a couple of days, the dam usually treats them all equally.

If the kid is older than newborn, it has likely never had a full tummy in its life and is used to getting along on what milk it can steal, so it is wise to stomach tube the kid several times so it knows what a full tummy feels like. Keep water buckets out of the kid's reach, or you will find it dead from drinking (non-nutritional) water to fill its belly. Don't put the kid on a bottle. It will get used to the feel of the nipple and will resist suckling a teat that feels different. The kid may have to be allowed to get a little bit hungry before it will nurse the dam's teat. Hold the dam and make her let the kid nurse several times a day. After three to seven days, even the most determined dam should accept the kid if the kid is about the same size and age of the kids she lost or the kids she currently has nursing her. However, do not overload her. If she has one kid, give her a second one. Do not make her take another kid if she already has two kids of her own. While it is not impossible to get a dam with nursing kids to accept and raise kids younger or older than hers, it usually works much better when the kids are of similar age and size.

It is important for both you and the kid that it not become a bottle baby. Sometimes it is unavoidable when other does aren't available to adopt it. It is much easier to spend three to seven days convincing a doe to adopt a kid than to bottle it for three months (not to mention costs involved) plus the kid will not have had its adaptability taken from it by making it a bottle baby. See my article on Adaptability on the Articles page of my website.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 4/12/13

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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