Baby goats will nurse from their mother for at least six to eight weeks after birth.
Unfortunately, there are times when the doe refuses to feed her babies, or she cannot provide them with enough milk, and they will need to be bottle-fed.
Whole milk from the grocery store may be used if you do not have access to goat milk.
But are baby goats able to drink cold milk, or does it need to be warmed up first?
Baby goats need warm milk for at least two to three weeks, and then you may gradually decrease the temperature until they are drinking cold milk. Feeding cold milk too soon will lower a baby goat’s body temperature to dangerous levels and slow down its digestion, causing severe bloating.
Goats typically give birth in late winter to early spring, and it is crucial to keep the babies warm because they are susceptible to hypothermia during the cooler months.
Slowed digestion and bloating are also extremely dangerous for young goats, sometimes leading to death.
Keep reading to learn more about feeding baby goats, including tips on bottle feeding and how often it needs to be done.
What To Feed Baby Goats
When baby goats are first born, they must receive colostrum within 24 hours of life.
The first milk a doe produces after giving birth contains colostrum, providing the baby goats with essential nutrients and antibodies to ensure they develop a strong immune system.
It is crucial to keep a colostrum supplement made for goats handy in case the mother rejects the kids or cannot produce enough milk to feed them.
A goat colostrum supplement like this one comes in powdered form and is mixed with warm water.
You will need to feed the colostrum to the newborns every 3-4 hours for the first three days of life.
It is essential to closely monitor the newborn goats for any signs of lethargy or distress, as they are very vulnerable during this time.
After the goat kids have had their 24 hours of colostrum, you will need to bottle feed them with warm milk.
Fresh goat milk is recommended for feeding, but if the doe is not lactating or you are unable to milk her, you may use whole cow’s milk from the grocery store.
Do not feed the goats unpasteurized milk from cows, as it may contain dangerous bacteria, which pose health risks.
There are goat milk replacer powders and other milk products, but they must be used cautiously.
If the goat milk replacer is not mixed correctly, the kid will not be able to digest it, which could lead to death.
Why Does the Milk Need to Be Warm?
The milk must be warm to prevent slow digestion, bloating, and hypothermia.
Baby goats are sensitive to colder temperatures, and the cold milk could send their small bodies into shock, especially during cooler months.
After 2-3 weeks of bottle feeding, you may gradually decrease the milk temperature until the goats are drinking cold milk.
Once the goats are drinking cold milk, you will be able to use the cold milk method.
This method involves keeping the milk feeder on ice to keep it cool and fresh for the day for free-choice feeding.
A free-choice milk bar is often convenient for people who work during the day.
A Lambar, or teat feeder, is another feeding option, and it consists of a bucket with nipples attached to it.
A bucket feeder makes the task of feeding multiple kids much easier.
However, it is usually best to bottle-feed whenever possible, so you know how much milk each goat gets.
How To Bottle-Feed Baby Goats
Baby goats are high-maintenance when it comes to feeding them.
Placing the goats on a multi-animal feeding system right after birth is a bad idea.
Instead, you will need to begin bottle-feeding the baby goats to ensure they receive the right nutrition.
You have to begin with small meals 4-5 times per day.
Feeding a goat kid too much at once will lead to painful bloating, diarrhea, and other digestive issues.
You may use a regular baby bottle for feeding, but you will need to cut the nipple to allow more milk flow.
There are also specialty bottles made specifically for lambs and goats, and they feature a Pritchard teat.
The Pritchard teat has a narrow cone shape, allowing air to flow while keeping the milk from squirting.
You may also buy the Pritchard teats separately, and ones like these are made to fit on a standard soda bottle.
Hygiene is critical to prevent harmful bacteria from forming, and you will need to thoroughly rinse the bottles and nipples with hot water after every feeding.
Hold the bottle as vertically as possible so the goat has to raise its head the same way it would if it were nursing from the doe.
This position not only improves milk flow but encourages proper digestion.
The following steps outline how to properly warm the milk, how much to feed the baby goats, and when the feedings should occur.
Heating the Milk
The milk for the goat bottles must be heated on the stove, as microwaving it will destroy essential vitamins and other nutrients.
If you have a supply of frozen colostrum or goat milk, it is best to thaw it in cold water rather than in a microwave for the same reason.
To warm the milk for feeding, bring a pot of water to a boil and remove it from the stove burner.
After the water has cooled for a couple of minutes, place the milk bottles into the water until they are at the desired temperature.
You do not want to overheat the milk or risk curdling it and making it too hot for your goat to drink.
A goat’s mouth or throat could be burned by hot milk.
The ideal milk temperature is about 103 degrees Fahrenheit, which is similar to the average body temperature of a baby goat.
Gently shake the bottle so the heat is distributed in the milk evenly and there are no hot spots.
How Much To Feed Baby Goats
How much you feed your goats will vary according to their size.
For instance, pygmy goats need slightly less food at each feeding than larger breeds.
It is important not to overfeed your baby goats because it will cause them to become bloated or have diarrhea.
Related: Why does my goat have a big belly?
The following tables illustrate the amounts of milk needed for a goat according to its size.
Bottle-Feeding Full-Sized Goat Breeds
|Age||Amount of Milk Per Feeding||Frequency|
|0-2 Days||3-6 ounces (Colostrum)||Every 3-4 hours|
|3 Days-3 Weeks||6-10 ounces||4 times a day|
|3-6 Weeks||12-16 ounces||3 times a day|
|6-10 Weeks||16 ounces||2 times a day|
|10-12 Weeks||16 ounces||Once a day|
Bottle-Feeding Pygmy and Other Miniature Goat Breeds
|Age||Amount of Milk Per Feeding||Frequency|
|0-2 Days||2-4 ounces (Colostrum)||Every 3-4 hours|
|3 Days-3 Weeks||6-8 ounces||4 times a day|
|3-8 Weeks||12 ounces||2 times a day|
|8-12 Weeks||12 ounces||Once a day|
When To Feed Baby Goats
Sticking to a regular schedule when bottle-feeding your baby goats is crucial.
When you feed your goats four times per day, a typical feeding schedule may be morning, noon, early evening, and late evening.
You may need some late-night feeding sessions for the first 2 to 3 days of colostrum feedings, but they will be fine overnight for 7 to 8 hours once they are a few days old.
How Long Do Baby Goats Need Bottle Feeding?
Goats are typically bottle-fed until they are between 6 and 8 weeks old, but some farmers like to bottle-feed for at least 4-5 months.
The benefits of bottle feeding for a prolonged period are larger, healthier goats, and they will be more bonded to you, so they are less skittish.
You may introduce hay and grains when the goats are 6 to 8 weeks old.
Do not stop bottle-feeding entirely until the young goats can eat hay, grains, and pellets and they are drinking water on their own.
Interesting read: Can a goat safely drink beer?