Why You Should Bottle Feed Goat Kids

Why You Should Bottle Feed Goat Kids

When goat kids are born here, we bottle feed them rather than allowing them to nurse from the doe.

I get a lot of questions about this, so I'm going to explain why we choose to bottle feed all of our kids:

1) The kids are more friendly if they are bottle fed.

I know a lot of folks that dam raise will claim their babies are just as friendly, but this has simply NEVER been my experience. I prefer the personable, friendly, calm demeanor of bottle raised kids and I won't even purchase any more dam raised kids because working to calm them down is too time consuming and rarely successful.

2) I control the milk supply.

Since I breed my goats in order to get milk, knowing exactly how much a doe is producing is important. By bottle feeding, I can make sure each kid is getting enough milk. Too often larger, more dominant kids will push a smaller kid away so that they get less to eat. Particularly with large litters of 3 or 4 kids, it can be easy to miss if a kid is not getting enough milk. Bottle feeding eliminates the uncertainty since I know exactly how much milk is produced and exactly how much milk each kid consumes.

3) Disease prevention and medicating is easier.

A lot of goat diseases are passed from dam to kid through milk supply. By bottle feeding I can make sure the kids only get clean, tested milk or milk that has been pasteurized to kill off diseases. This is not quite as vital if your herd has been tested for CAE, CL, and Johnes, but it's still a valuable consideration. Additionally, giving kids coccidia prevention - which is an absolute necessity for goat keepers in my part of the US - is much easier when I can simply slip the medicine into the kid's bottle. They never even notice!

4) Easy to sell, easy to feed.

I have seen folks who are trying to get a month old kid to take a bottle because the doe is sick, can't nurse, or has died. What a terrible position to be in - with a kid that doesn't want to eat because they are unfamiliar with the bottle. By introducing kids to a bottle early in life, I am giving myself a safety net. Even if all my does ran away or (Lord forbid) died, my kids would not have to go hungry as I can still feed them with a bottle.

Additionally, when I am ready to sell a kid it is much easier to send them home with a bottle and milk than to force wean them from mom. In my opinion, tearing a kid away from the doe at 8 weeks and sending them to a new home, new herd, new food, and new keeper is terribly cruel. With bottle feeding they are able to bond to their new keeper and wean slowly when they are ready.

If you think bottle feeding is right for you, check out my handy guide to bottle feeding.