Bottle Baby Instructions
This information is not intended to replace or override advice and/or instructions provided by a licensed veterinarian. We are simply sharing what has worked for us.
Are you wondering if bottle babies are right for you? This detailed overview of feeding schedules and requirements is a good place to start to see if bottle babies are a good fit for you.
Let's start with what to feed your bottle baby. The type of milk used is a personal preference. The official and vet recommended replacement for fresh, raw goat milk is goat milk formula. However, many breeders have had horrible results (sick, weak and failure to thrive kids) using formula. We suggest using milk in the following order of preference:
1. Fresh, raw goat milk from a store, farmer or co op
2. Store bought pasteurized goat milk
3. Fresh, raw cow’s milk from a store, farmer or co op
4. Store bought, pasteurized WHOLE cow’s milk
5. Goat Formula
How much do they eat per feeding?
The amount per feeding is based 20-30% of their body weight but babies have tiny stomachs so this has to be spread out among feedings. You may need to increase the number of bottles in a day to get enough milk consumed.
The amount to feed is 3 to 4 oz of WARM milk per 5 lbs of body weight. Note that this means as the kids grow, their consumption per feeding will increase. Do not feed kids until they are full as serious complications can arise. Stick to the % guide and use good common sense.
Regular baby bottles can be used but most kids prefer a more natural shape and size like the Pritchard Teat. These screw onto small soda or tea bottles. We suggest using Teajava glass bottles or these kid bottles that are easier to clean. We usually buy these bottles in bulk and have some on-hand to sell.
Up to 4 weeks – Every 4 hours (6 spread out feedings per 24 hours)
Sample Schedule: 5 AM - 8 AM - 12 PM - 4 PM - 8 PM - 11 PM
Above, is an adjusted schedule with cluster feeding to be able to skip a 2 AM bottle. Small (under 3 lbs) and/or weak kids MUST have continuous feedings throughout the night.
Between 3-4 weeks, kids will start to be able to eat AND digest hay. Before 4 weeks they cannot digest and absorb solid food despite their attempts to nibble. Be sure to begin offering hay and/or soaked pellets and fresh water by 3 weeks.
4 to 6 weeks - Every 6 hours (4 bottles every 24 hours) or the below adjusted schedule:
Sample Schedule: 6 AM - 11 AM - 5 PM - 9 PM
Once kids are eating hay and drinking water regularly, you can be much more flexible with this schedule. They still require the same amount of milk per 24 hours, but it can be spaced as needed for your own scheduling needs.
6 - 12 weeks – Every 8 hours (3 bottles every 24 hours)
Sample Schedule: 11 AM - 5 PM - 9 PM
We simply drop the morning feeding since this is when they are getting fed their hay rations. If they are in with the herd, you will want to ensure that they are hungry and eat when there is plenty of food available. This will also (hopefully) help as you wean them off of bottles and prevent the early morning screaming routine as they will become accustomed to not getting a bottle the first time they see you in the morning.
12 - 16+ weeks – Every 12 hours (2 bottles per 24 hours)
Sample Schedule: 11 AM - 9 PM You will eventually go down to once per day until you completely wean them off of milk.
We leave the night feeding as their last as it is nice to send them to bed with a full belly. We find that stopping bottles cold turkey is easier on the kid. If they don’t know if/when they are getting a bottle they will be more likely to cry and scream hoping for one. It only takes about 2-3 days for the crying to stop when bottles stop. Even then, offering treats and love will help.
Heating up the milk
DO NOT MICROWAVE! This kills vital nutrients.
Because we prefer to use glass bottles, it is important to take care when heating the cold milk up to avoid cracking the glass. If you are using plastic bottles, you can simply put the bottle into the hot water directly.
Here is our method:
1. Remove the glass bottle's screw cap and replace with the nipple.
2. Place cold milk bottle(s) in a medium saucepan filled 2/3 with cold water and heat on high until water is hot to touch. *DO NOT* leave the bottle(s) sitting on the bottom of the pan while the water is heating. Instead, hold the bottle(s) about an inch from the bottom of the pan as the water heats up. This will prevent the bottles from heating too quickly and cracking.
3. Once the water is hot to touch , turn off the heat and leave bottles to come to desired temperature. Always test milk! Remember, goats run a 101-102 body temperature so they will like their milk warmer than a human kid.
TIP: If you are headed to the barn in cold weather and or have multiple kids to feed, use a small bucket or bowl filled with the warmed water and continue to submerge the bottles in the warm water right up until the kid(s) is fed.