Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bottle Feeding Baby Goats

I don't have any trouble bottle feeding baby goats. To me the whole thing is a breeze. About this time of year, just as goat kidding season is starting to ramp up, there is a lot of interest in how to bottle feed baby goats. This is how we get 'er done in The Good Land.  (click on link for more details)

Bottle feeding baby goats. Easy as pie.

Basically it goes like this:

Step One.  Acquire baby goats.
Step Two: March out there boldly with your battle .. I mean.. bottle feeding implements.
Step Three: Insert bottle into baby goat mouth ....and let them do all the work.

Maybe I'm doing something wrong but this works for us.

The other day I read yet another account of a 'heart broken' baby goat owner who was obviously  scammed by a seller - their new baby goat was not bottle trained. They were complaining that they couldn't get the baby to drink from the bottle. They actually wanted their money back and called the seller a liar. Beggin' your pardon, friend, but maybe the problem isn't that baby goat, maybe it's you.

This post provides a detailed explanation of the how's and why's of bottle feeding baby goats and it includes a fun video.

The main keys for success seem to be:

Be the udder. Get low. Hunker Down.

1. Be the udder. Your baby goat is instinctively looking for legs and an udder.  Not some big, weird, two legged person waving some kind of scary plastic thing in her face. Do not pick her up. Instead, get low. Hunker down. Act like an udder.

2. If you don't have goat milk you can use regular old, full fat, cow milk from the store.

3. We prefer to feed "little and often" - little creatures do best when they have a lot of small meals instead of two big meals. This keeps their blood sugar stable, keeps their body temperatures warm (if its cold weather), and frankly - we believe - is kind of soothing.

4. There are all kinds of charts and graphs about how much you should feed. Mostly we feed them until they are full and a little milk drunk. But you don't want to over feed or they could get sick.

5. I think folks get hung up on technique. Or maybe they just give up to easily. Make sure the milk comes out of the bottle easily - especially at first. You want them to suck the milk down, but the milk should come easily or the babies will give up. Don't be afraid to make the hole in the nipple bigger so the milk flows easily.

There is a lot of goofin' around but they are just happy.

There have been actual fist fights over what kind of nipples goat people use for their bottles. Of course we cant abide by that kind of nonsense so we just used puppy bottles. You heard me - puppy bottles just like these PetAg Complete Nursing Kit 4oz:

Mostly we have bottle fed mini baby goats. Nibbles happens to be the world's worst mother and gets tired of her babies and we end up feeding them. These puppy bottles are the perfect size for starters. Eventually we need bigger ones so we bought lamb bottles like these Advance 984 Completed Lamb Bottle Set with Nipple, 2-Quart.

Your other option, if you have an uncooperative momma goat, is to find someone else to feed your babies. Both Debbie and Dahli, our full sized La Mancha goats, are kind of good sports and will allow other babies to nurse off them.

That's Dahli - not their momma. She will do anything for snacks.

When I say "good sports" I mean that I'm bigger than they are and they just have to stand there while I hold them. And let's face it - both of those gals will do anything for snacks. So I just call them up to the milk stand, pour on the goat food, and while they are stuffing their faces I just sneak the little ones under them and let the babies nurse.

Some people would argue that there are a lot of reasons to only bottle feed baby goats. We don't believe these reasons ("the babies won't be snugly enough!") and our goats do not have the communicable diseases that are passed from momma to babies. So we are very happy to have our goats do all the work.

Happy, well fed baby goats should be skip poppin' like this!

But even I have to admit.... the baby goats are pretty darn cute when they are getting their sips. Of all the farm chores feeding baby goats is one of the best jobs.

Happy Saturday everyone! Are you bottle feeding baby goats yet?

ps.  If you are new to goats and need a reference, I really love Storey's Guide to Goats. It's a great all around book with good common sense information. You can find more farm tools and references from my Amazon store here. Don't see what you need? Just use the Amazon search box on the right to purchase what you were going to buy anyway. Anything you purchase from these links will help support this blog and won't cost you a penny more. Thanks!


David said...

Goodness all this goatiness! Any new cheeses? Cheese (and baby goat) would be my primary interst in raising goats.

Chai Chai said...

I guess you are correct, in the hopping kid picture the earless kid is getting more "air" in its jump!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

We cant wait for our momma goats to get up to milking speed, Dave. I've been yearning for fresh cheese all winter!

CC - those little earless ones really know how to catch some air!

Unknown said...

Great photos! Love the babies in the air!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

thanks Nancy!

Vera said...

We haven't had to bottle feed baby goats yet, but I have fed lambs, and enjoyed the experience very much. Nothing like having little ones rushing to meet you from across the field!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Vera i think we posted on each other's sites at the same time! i like the funny little squeaky noises the babies make. they make everything fun. :-D

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