Bottle feeding baby goats is a real joy, and sometimes, a necessity. Even if you’re planning to damn raise kids, sometimes a mother will reject her baby and require you to bottle feed your newborn goat kid. While bottle feeding may seem very very straight-forward, there are a few very importnat factors that have to be taken into account when bottle feeding goat kids.
Setting Up to Feed
The most important supply when bottle feeding, is the nipple. Hands down, the best nipple for feeding goat kids is a Pritchard teat. These are easy to find at Tractor Supply, most feed stores and online shops wherever you buy livestock supplies. These fit on the end of most soda bottles, which makes them even more convenient.
Before using, boil the nipples to sterilize them and to help get rid of any rubbery, chemical taste. After that, you have to cut the tip to allow the milk to come through. You can do this with the tip of very sharp scissors or with tiny wire cutters, slicing a small “x” into the tip of the nipple. For the bottle body, I use 12 oz. bottled waters. I do this to avoid any lingering traces of soda smell of taste, and so I can easily gauge how many ounces each of the kid is receiving. Since our kids are Nigerian Dwarfs, I was advised to never give them more than 12 oz. at one feeding, and I knew this was an easy way to make sure that didn’t happen.
Preparing the Bottle
To prepare the bottles, fill each one with the desired amount of cold goat’s milk, then warm up a pan of water on the stove to just above boiling. After removing the pan from the heat, place the bottles in the heated water for about three minutes. The milk should be quite warm, but not so hot that the kids will find it hard to drink. Doing a wrist test is always advisable, and soon you will know just the right temp.
The most important thing to remember when feeding a bottle kid, is to make sure the kid’s head is in the proper position. The kid’s head must be tilted upwards with the neck well extended so the milk bypasses the rumen and goes directly into only one of their stomachs. Milk entering the rumen can make a kid extremely ill and even kill them.
At first some goat kids can be a bit fussy about the bottle. Hold them firmly in your lap and made sure to encourage them to take the nipple. You can put a hand in a ring around their muzzle so that it gently covered their eyes, as it mimics the darkness of feeding from an udder. After just a few feedings,your kids will become champion eaters.
After a few days of getting settled in, make sure you offered the kids hay and water, and then grain and free choice minerals. Encourage them to explore it, but don’t push. You can tell by a change in the kid’s stool when they’ve started to really eat it.
For a bottle schedule, this is a good guide to follow up until weaning:
* 4 bottles a day until they’re 4 weeks
* At 4 weeks old, drop down to three feedings
* At 6 weeks, drop down to two feedings
* At 8 weeks, take evening bottle away every other day
* At 9 weeks only one bottle per day
* At 10 weeks, one bottle every other day
Stop bottle feeding completely after this
You can fill the bottle a bit more as they grow, but be careful not let them overeat. As soon as they release the bottle, take it away. This way the kids will learn quickly to eat what they need only. Keep a carefully eye on the kid’s stool to stay aware of any potential problems such as Coccidia or Enterotoximia that can occur at this stage. If you encounter any health issues while bottle feeding your kids, I always refer to the Fiasco Farm website, which contains fantastic medical advice and treatment plans for sick goats.