Can a Baby Goat Drink Cow’s Milk?

There are times when unforeseen circumstances prevent a baby goat from drinking its mom’s milk. 

Perhaps tragedy struck, or maybe the doe is struggling to produce enough milk to feed her baby or babies. 

Without goat milk, you need a substitute to guarantee your kid gets enough calories and nutrition.

Cow’s milk is a suitable milk alternative for baby goats because the nutritional content is very similar. Raising a baby goat on whole cow’s milk is safe if they get the initial necessary colostrum after birth. After 12 weeks, they are old enough to wean.

Keep reading to learn more about the vitamins and minerals found in animal milk, how to prepare cow’s milk for your baby goat, and how much to feed a growing kid. 

can a baby goat drink cow's milk

Can A Baby Goat Drink Cow’s Milk?

Newborns and older kids require slightly different things. 

The first milk a doe produces after giving birth is colostrum. 

Antibodies in colostrum can boost a newborn kid’s immunity against disease, and colostrum contains critical nutrients for a good start to life.

If your newborn goat cannot drink from its mom for whatever reason, don’t just give it cow milk from a store. 

It needs the immune system boost provided by colostrum, which isn’t found in regular milk from either a goat or a cow. 

Colostrum is available in powder form at pet or farm stores and from your vet. 

Mix the powder with warm water to reconstitute it, following the ratios on the packaging. 

Once your goat is a few days old, switch to regular milk. 

Goat milk is always preferred since this is naturally what a kid drinks, but cow’s milk is very similar in structure and provides adequate nutrition. 

Here are a few highlights of the nutrient content of a glass of goat versus cow milk.

Fat10.1 g7.9 g
Carbohydrates10.86 g11.71 g
Protein8.7 g7.7 g
Cholesterol26.8 mg24.4 mg
Vitamin A483 IU395 IU
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)0.12 mg0.11 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)0.34 mg0.41 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)0.68 mg0.22 mg
Calcium326.95 mg275.72 mg
Iron0.12 mg0.07 mg
Magnesium34.16 mg24.4 mg
Phosphorous270.83 mg204.96 mg
Potassium497.75 mg322.08 mg
Sodium122 mg104.92 mg
Zinc0.73 mg0.9 mg

*Note: This is based on whole milk. 

Skim or 2% percent milk will be slightly different, but whole milk is the recommended nutritious option for feeding baby goats.

As demonstrated above, most of the makeup is close, with cow’s milk having higher and lower nutritional amounts. 

The main vitamins and minerals needed for a baby goat to grow are the same ones a baby calf needs. 

The main difference between goat milk and cow milk is the lower milk fat content. 

If you are worried about this, add a little bit of buttermilk or yogurt to the cow’s milk to increase the fat. 

Remember your kid must get enough fat to gain body weight as it ages. 

How to Prepare Milk in a Bottle

The process of feeding a baby goat is pretty straightforward. 

Warm some milk, preferably using a stove or the hot water method. 

Make sure the milk is warm but not scalding. 

You don’t want to burn your kid’s throat. 

Not only will this hurt them, it may also make them skittish about drinking from the bottle. 

Put the warm milk in a clean, sterile bottle with a teat. 

Use boiling water for five minutes or a store-bought sterilization agent to guarantee all harmful bacteria are killed. 

Read more about why goats need warm milk in our article.

Offer the bottle to the kid. 

They might not immediately start drinking, so be patient but keep trying. 

The kid will eventually take the bottle and start drinking. 

If they are still not interested after multiple attempts, call your vet. 

There might be another health concern affecting their appetite.  

How Much Should I Give My Kid?

The amount of milk you give your baby goat and the frequency of feedings depends on their age. 

As they grow, increase the amount of milk you give them, but decrease the number of feedings daily. 

Before they reach 12 weeks, start weaning them off milk and encourage them to switch to plain water. 

Use the table below to determine how much they need to be fed. 

A few hours oldA couple ounces of colostrumEvery four hours or when kid bleats
2 to 4 days old8 to 12 ounces of milkFour times per day
5 to 14 days old12 ounces (or more)Three times per day
2 to 7 weeks old30 ouncesTwo times per day
8 to 12 weeks oldGradually reduce from 30 ouncesGradually reduce the number of feedings

As babies, livestock are susceptible to digestive issues, so carefully monitor their stool. 

Suppose they get diarrhea; water the cow’s milk down to check if they’re having trouble digesting it properly. 

If the problem persists, contact your vet.  

Other Milk Alternatives For Goat Kids

If you have concerns about cow milk, milk formulas for goats are available. 

These come in powder form, and you simply mix the powder with warm water following the recommended ratio on the packaging. 

If you are worried about storing a source of nutrition on hand at all times, a baby goat or baby cow milk formula comes in handy since it is shelf-stable. 

With this in your pantry, you will always be prepared in a pinch, especially if you live farther away from a grocery store. 

Other animal kinds of milk are not recommended since dairy from a cow is the closest replacement you’ll find. 

Dairy from other animals is also less readily available and more expensive, making them a hassle on your wallet.

Almond milk and other plant alternatives are also not great options, as they lack lactose and other natural nutrients in animal dairy. 

Read next: What size diaper for a baby goat?

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Growing up amidst the sprawling farms of the South, Wesley developed a profound connection with farm animals from a young age. His childhood experiences instilled in him a deep respect for sustainable and humane farming practices. Today, through, Wesley shares his rich knowledge, aiming to inspire and educate others about the joys and intricacies of rural life.

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