Welcoming a new baby goat into your life can be an incredibly rewarding experience. These adorable and curious animals can quickly become beloved members of your family. However, proper care and attention are essential to ensure their health and well-being. In this article, we'll provide detailed instructions on how to care for a baby goat from birth to thriving adulthood. Whether you're a farmer, a hobbyist, or simply an animal lover, you're going to want to give your baby goat the best possible start in life.
Before your baby goat arrives, you need to ensure that you have the right facilities and supplies in place:
Shelter: Prepare a clean, dry, and draft-free shelter for your baby goat. This shelter should offer protection from the elements, including rain and cold weather. While you want to prevent drafts, goats need plenty of fresh air and ventilation even in the coldest climates. The build-up of ammonium from their urine can cause serious respiratory issues.
Predators: Your goats' shelter should be predator-proof as goats, especially babies, are highly susceptible to predators. You will need to make sure that there are no gaps in their fencing more than 1" and that nothing can dig under their enclosure. Bobcats have been known to access pens with 2-3" gaps!
Fencing: Secure the area with appropriate fencing to keep the goat safe and prevent it from wandering.
Bedding: Lay down clean and dry bedding for the goat's comfort as well as absorbing their urine. Our favorite bedding method is on clean dirt, creating a thin layer of "stall dry" or other ammonium-absorbing livestock products. Next, we layer a grass hay like Bermuda, about 2-3" deep. Once kids are older, over 10 weeks, we will add a layer of fine shavings under the Bermuda to help absorb their urine. Goats love to nibble and young kids can get very sick from eating the shavings so we do not recommend using shavings of any size until after 10 weeks old.
Heat Source: Unless temperatures are below freezing and you have kids under 5 lbs, we do not recommend using a heating source. Too many barn fires have resulted in preventable tragedies. Giving kids a smaller enclosure inside of their room or barn is a much better option. Using a crate or barrel to create a smaller area that can retain their body heat is the safest way to keep new kids warm. A deep layer of grass hay will also allow them to burrow down and keep warm.
Feeding Equipment: Ensure you have the necessary feeding equipment, such as bottles, nipples, and milk (or milk replacer if needed). Our Amazon storefront* has a list of some of our essential items for new and adult goats.
Food: Your babies will need hay, fresh water, and minerals. Our baby goats are offered hay from birth as they are usually with their moms who require hay. They learn quickly to mimic what Mom is doing and at just a few days old are already practicing eating solids. They cannot digest and utilize the solid foods until their rumen gets going around 3-4 weeks. However, these early days of practice are an essential part of that process. The same goes for water. They do not need water until they are 3-4 weeks old but they will begin to practice alongside Mom. Minerals are an essential part of a goat's nutritional intake and should be offered at all times, free choice. We only use goat-specific loose minerals. Our favorite brand is Sweetlix. Please reference our Feeding Goats article for more in-depth information.
First Aid Kit: Goats are pretty easy to keep but they can get sick or need some extra help staying in top shape, especially if you are breeding and/or milking them. You will want to keep as much on hand as it makes sense for your herd and your situation. A hobby farm with 2-3 goats won't need the same supplies as a breeder with 35+ goats.
Veterinarian: Finding a vet knowledgeable in goat health is not always easy. Most vet schools teach horses, cattle, sheep, and companion animals with very little attention to goats. Also, a lot of supplements and medications are not tested on goats so some creativity and knowledge are required. Don't wait until you have an emergency to ask around and find a good vet.
Livestock Guardian Dog: We love our LGD's and can't imagine ranching without them! However, they are not a good fit for every situation. If you have the means, we can recommend them enough. They are specific breeds of dogs bred over thousands of years for instincts to protect and bond with livestock. This bond and instinct to protect drives them to be on guard 24/7 and keep their charges safe. In parts of Africa, there is a cheetah conservation effort donating LGD's to farmers to prevent the farmers from having to shoot the cheetahs to protect their livestock. It's been incredibly successful.
Long-term, if you plan to breed or milk, these items are very helpful:
Kidding Barn: This is a must-have if you intend to breed. Mamas need a secure and private place to deliver and recover. Other does in the herd can be very aggressive with new babies. It is also important to monitor new mamas' food and water intake during the first 2-3 days. In our experience, we isolate mamas when labor begins and then have small groups of 2-3 does and kids in enclosed areas away from the main herd. Having a proper setup prior to breeding saves a lot of heartache and stress when those first kids arrive.
Milk Barn & Stanchion: The first time I attempted to milk a goat, she was standing on a straw bale chained to the stall door. Needless to say, I was not successful. We have come a long way since then! Moving our milking supplies and stand into a dedicated shed was a game changer. We recommend a stanchion, water & sink and electricity. Having storage is also very helpful. It is noteworthy that even if you do not intend to breed or milk, having a stanchion is very important. There will be times when you need to secure your goat for hoof trimming and other routine care.
bottle-feeding a baby goat is an essential part of their early care. In this article, we will discuss the importance of bottle feeding, provide guidelines for proper feeding techniques, and offer valuable insights to ensure your baby goat receives the nutrition and care it needs to thrive. All information presented here is supported by reliable sources and expert advice.
Baby goats, also known as kids, heavily rely on their mother's milk for essential nutrients and antibodies during their early stages of life. Unfortunately, circumstances may arise where the kid is separated from its mother or unable to nurse. Bottle feeding becomes crucial in these situations to ensure the kid's growth, health, and overall well-being.
Even in kids who remain with their mother, bottle feeding is an integral part of careful husbandry as kids reach a certain age where it becomes difficult if not impossible to get them to take a bottle. Kids who are not trained to take a bottle can be left without any means of getting the much-needed milk should an emergency arise.
The ideal age to wean a goat kid is 10-12 weeks. Eight weeks is the minimum age and sixteen weeks is our goal with our own bottle kids. Our keeper does who stay with their mom in the herd will nurse for up to a year! By bottle training all of our kids, they are able to go to their new home at a younger age to solidify the bonding process with their new families as well as access nutrient-dense milk for the ideal duration.
Please reference our bottle-feeding instructions for more in-depth information.
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