Whether you’re starting or growing your goat-raising enterprise, keeping goats can be an intensive project as well as a labor of love. Starting your herd off with a consistent and healthy goat feeding schedule is a key component for raising robust, productive adult goats.
New Heritage Feeding Co. understands herd health and quality feed like no other company on the market today. Check out our tips for establishing a reliable goat feeding schedule from birth through the first months of life on your farm or in your backyard.
Visit our website for a comprehensive selection of goat feed that promotes lifelong health and wellness for your herd. We’re here for you whether you have one pet goat or hundreds of grazers and milkers on your farm.
Baby Goats: Cute and Hungry!
Feeding newborn baby goats may seem elementary: you let them nurse with their mothers, right? Though you can undoubtedly keep moms and babies together for feeding, you may wish to consider a bottle-feeding schedule for several reasons:
- Bottle-fed goats learn to identify and interact with humans from the start. This proclivity is useful for show goats who get handled frequently, as well as for milkers who must learn “manners” in the milking process.
- Bottle-feeding allows the farmer to track consumption and growth more accurately for several weeks. You’ll be able to make sure all your goat kids thrive and troubleshoot any health issues more quickly.
- Bottle-feeding with pasteurized goat milk may also prevent the transmission of viral caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE, a common goat disease) from mother to baby via colostrum.
I’m Sold on Bottle-Feeding. How do I do it?
Bottle-feeding your baby goats can feel intense at first. Know that you’ll keep up a busy goat feeding schedule for about 6-8 weeks. Then, your goat kids should wean off of milk and switch to grass and grain.
Here’s a tip if several moms are ready to deliver: it will help to write down birth dates and organize your feeding space for babies at different development stages.
Your time and effort will pay off after a couple of months with babies on their way to a healthy and thriving adulthood. Remember, like the human newborn phase, this type of baby care is short but intense. It may not feel like it two weeks in, but the intensity will wane before you know it.
Be sure that you’re ready to commit to a bottle-feeding schedule because you cannot interrupt the goat feeding schedule once you begin. You essentially become a stand-in “goat parent” for those crucial first eight weeks.
Setting up your system
Not only will you need a milk supply (from either the goat kid’s mom or an outside vendor), but you’ll need a system for washing bottles and nipples, pasteurizing milk. Not to mention you’ll need to be refrigerating your milk supply, so it does not spoil.
We recommend acquiring enough large plastic tubs and goat bedding material to keep your newborns comfortable, accessible to you, and stress-free during or close to feeding time.
Follow This Goat Feeding Schedule for the Best Results
You can break down your goat feeding schedule into the first few days, the first two weeks, and two-week segments until week eight.
Here’s what to do right after birth:
- Dry the goat kid (likely after a healthy dose of human and mama snuggling) and place it in one of your bedding tubs. Within an hour, you’ll give the newborn warm colostrum from mom. You’ll need to milk mama after she delivers to obtain the colostrum, or you may use colostrum you’ve collected and frozen previously from another mama goat.
- Why is colostrum important? This is the “pre-milk” from mama goats that contains all the necessary immune-system building nutrients for the baby’s healthy start. Colostrum is chock-full of antibodies from mom, which jump-starts baby’s immunity just after birth.
- 2. Feed your newborn goat frequently (1-2 ounces every 4 hours during the day) the first day. Each feeding is a chance for the baby to ingest more colostrum from mama, as well as learning how to navigate a human-made nipple and feed effectively. Pro tip: allow for about an hour of very slow heating in a glass jar placed in a warm water bath for colostrum pasteurization. You’ll need to heat the milk to 145 degrees for 30 minutes.
- 3. On day two, increase the colostrum to 3 oz four times per day, following the same pasteurization guidelines. You may notice a change in colostrum thickness from mama goat, which is normal.
For the rest of the first week, try:
- Slowly increasing the bottle amounts to 3-5 oz per feeding
- Feeding four times per day over a 12-hour period
- Reaching 24 ounces of milk per day by day seven
During the 2nd week, you’ll keep increasing the milk to 36 ounces per day, over four daily feedings. Or, 8-9 ounces of milk at each feeding. After the first week, you can begin to introduce alfalfa hay for nibbling practice. Adding alfalfa will “turn on” the goat’s ruminant system.
Continue to add hay and watch your goat kid’s consumption. As they eat more hay, you can begin to cut back on bottle-feedings to 3 per day at 9 ounces per bottle. It’s smart to help them learn how to drink water at this age as well.
It’s okay to introduce starter grain at this stage, but a few minutes of nibbling is plenty for these young goats. Keep bottle-feeding three times per day, and increase to ten ounces each bottle.
Your goat kids should have the hang of the bottle, hay, and a little grain at this time. You can increase each bottle-feeding to 10-12 ounces each for three daily feedings. It’s almost time to wean!
Weeks Six Through Eight
As their hay, grain, and water consumption increases, you can drop back to two daily bottle-feedings, at 16-18 ounces per bottle. After week eight, you’ll ween your goat kids. We recommend scheduling their last bottle at night–you’ll know why when you do it. (Baby goats make a lot of noise that first morning they don’t get their routine bottle of warm milk!)
New Heritage Feeding Co. Supports Healthy Goat Herds
Thankfully, those goat kids get over their weaning grief pretty quickly, and you can get back to life as usual. Be sure to visit New Heritage Feeding Co. for the best selection in wellness-supporting goat feed. Stop by our website today to find a vendor near you, and enjoy healthy, happy goats from birth to adulthood.