Raising a baby goat can be an exciting and rewarding experience. But there’s a lot to learn, particularly if you’re new to keeping goats. We have put together this guide to show you how to care for newborn goats, what to feed them and when to wean them, so you can raise a healthy, happy animal.
Care starts at birth
If you want to give your baby goat the best possible start in life, you should be there at the birth. The newborn goat will then be accustomed to human contact from its very first moments, so it won’t be afraid of humans. This will help you immensely in your future relationship with your goat.
You should stay after the birth to make sure the umbilical cord breaks, which it will do naturally. The cord should only be trimmed by you if it is more than 10.16 cm in length. If you do need to trim it, make sure your scissors are sterilised.
You also need to make sure the mother goat bonds with her baby. This will be obvious if the mother is licking the baby clean.
Your baby goat’s first feed
One of the most important decisions you need to make when raising a baby goat is whether you want it to feed from its mother or whether you intend to feed it yourself. Your baby goat will need its first feed within an hour of being born, so you should ideally make your decision before the birth.
Sometimes a mother goat will fail to bond with her baby, which takes the decision out of your hands – you will immediately need to feed the goat yourself.
The first milk is known as colostrum, and it is extremely high in the nutrients the baby needs. However, colostrum does not necessarily have to come from the mother. If you are feeding your goat yourself, you can use a colostrum supplement, which will give your baby goat all the nutrition of its mother’s first milk.
Giving baby goats milk
Learning how to feed a baby goat can take a bit of time. And, you’ll need to make sure you have all the right equipment if you intend to feed the baby yourself. You’ll need a specialist goat bottle with a nipple designed for lambs or kids, as well as milk replacement formula suitable for infant goats.
You will need to feed your baby goat four times a day for the first month and three times a day after this. So, it is important you plan your time carefully and that your baby goat gets used to drinking from a bottle from the very start of its life.
If you are letting the mother goat feed the baby, you will still need to handle the baby regularly to make sure it is comfortable with human contact. And who could resist cuddling a baby goat?
At one week old, a baby goat can eat a small amount of grain in addition to drinking milk. By one month, you can offer the baby some hay and give it some time in the pasture to make sure the baby’s diet is varied and nutritious enough. At one month old, your baby goat is ready to have its milk intake decreased gradually so it can make the transition to an adult goat diet, which is about 80 per cent hay.
How long does it take to wean a baby goat?
Baby goats usually start to wean at around four weeks old, but the process can take a little longer.
You can also enhance your baby goat’s nutrition with appropriate supplements to make sure it grows up healthy and strong.
Learn more about how to care for newborn goats
Keeping your baby goat warm, dry and well-fed is key to raising a healthy adult. And don’t forget the cuddles! This is a highly rewarding process that will result in a lifelong bond between you and your goat.