CARING FOR YOUR NEW GOAT KID
Caring for your kid properly is simple, but there are a few things you will need to be mindful of. The information that we give you here is intended to help you build a good relationship with your kid and to help you keep it healthy and happy. There are a lot of goat sites and information on the internet that you can read up on. We are just giving you the basics.
Your new kid WILL cry. It is in a new place, it misses mom, and it doesn’t know you well yet. Some kids will cry themselves hoarse. Attention and cuddling/rubbing will help alleviate the crying. Kids will cry less if they have a companion kid with them. Sometimes, for a single kid, some sort of small stuffed animal or a rolled up towel in it's quarters will calm them. For bottle babies, the ticking of a wind up clock might mimic the mom's heartbeat and calm your kid. The crying usually subsides by the third day.
Kids need attention! Especially during the first 2 weeks that you have it. Whether your kid is bottle feeding or raised by it’s mom, it now needs your attention. It is best to keep your kid in a small enclosure for the first week or so until it bonds with you. A 10ft x10ft chain link dog lot works well. This will minimize the need to chase the kid to interact with it. Working with it in close quarters will minimize stress and speed the bonding process. Talk to it so it can learn your voice. Goats can learn their names. The more you talk to it, the calmer it will be. Rub you kid on the body, face,and neck. Don’t rub your kid between the ears and eyes, or in the horn area. This will cause the goat to develop pushing issues which can lead to butting. STAY CALM! Don’t rush towards your kid or move suddenly as this will cause it to run and be nervous. Playing rough with your goat will cause aggressiveness. Stress will cause a goat lots of sickness and vet bills.
If you have chosen to bottle feed you kid, you are in for a treat as well as a chore. Powdered goats milk replacer and bottles/nipples can be found at Tractor Supply, Southern States, and other feed/farm/supply stores. You can also use regular whole milk from the grocery store, but that will be a bit more expensive than using powdered milk replacer.
If using powder, we recommend that you double the amount of water listed on the bag instructions, so it's not too rich that it loosens the kid's bowels. If using whole milk, cut it in half with water also and stir in 2 whole raw eggs per gallon to add protein.
A human baby bottle and nipple will work. We also like using the black "lamb's nipple" that is stretched over a soda bottle. It is shaped more like a mother goat's nipple.
Your kid will need to be fed a minimum of three times per day. Although it is best if you can feed 4-5 times a day. The more you feed, the faster and better it will grow. It will be reluctant to take the nipple the first day. While you cradle the kid in your arms, you will have to forcibly open it’s mouth and hold the nipple in. Squeeze a little milk into it’s mouth, even if it is messy. The kid will usually take very little milk the first day. By the second day, your kid will be hungry. It might still be reluctant to take the nipple, but once it tastes the milk it usually will readily suck. Usually by the third day the kid will readily take the nipple and suck. And within the week it will be coming to you looking for the bottle. For the rest of it’s life this goat will practically be in your pocket!
When your kid is less that a week old it will only drink 2-8 ounces of milk per feeding. By the time it is a month old it might take 12-16 ounces per feeding. Of course this will depend on how often you feed. The kid will not over nurse. It will stop sucking when it gets full. Adjust the amount that you feed as to how much it desires. You will need to bottle feed for a minimum of 8 weeks, then start weaning by gradually cutting the amount and the frequency of feedings. It should be fully weaned from the bottle by 3 months old.
Your kid will normally start experimenting with grass/weeds by the third week. You can put a little grain/pellets in a bowl for it to start sampling about this time. Sometimes it helps the transition to solid food if you put a little grass or pellets in their mouth for a few days. Some folks find it helpful to “lightly dust” the pellets with the powdered milk. Don’t be alarmed if your kid progresses a little slower or faster than this. Every kid is different. Just work with it and keep it healthy.
Find you a veterinarian that has worked with goats. You will need a vet sooner or later. We use “Lexington Large Animal Medicine” on E.L Myers Road, in the Reeds community. You might choose to take your goat to the vet semi-annually for maintenance or you might choose to do the routine health care yourself. If you do it yourself, you’ll need to do a worming treatment in the spring and fall (April-ish and September-ish). Ivermectin (injectable for cattle and swine) 2cc per 50lbs, squirted into the mouth works great. All goats will have some worms. Nothing will immune the goat. The treatment is to keep the worms at a manageable level so they don’t impair the goats health.
While you are doing their worming treatment, this is also a good time to check and trim their hooves. You can find good examples of how to do this on YouTube.
There are many vaccines, shots and tests that are available for goats; rabies, cd&t, etc.. Your vet might recommend some of these. We hold to the “minimal medicine” approach. We feel that a lot of the vaccines and shots are unnecessary. We only medicate when we see a need for it. You decide what is best for your kid/goat.
Get a small bottle of antibiotic (LA-200 works well) and some small needles. If your goat gets a cold or fever it’s good to have on hand until you can get to the vet.
Most of the medical supplies that you "might" need and the feed and tools can be found at Tractor Supply, Southern States, or online at www.valleyvet.com or www.jefferspet.com.
Loose, runny bowels are generally a sign of illness. It could be that your goat has eaten something bad, or it could be a coccidian outbreak (too many protozoa parasites) usually brought on by stress. All of these are treatable. It might involve a vet visit for a stool sample and fecal count. (If treating coccidia, request 12.5% "Di-Methox" instead of "Corrid") (We use Toltrazuril - Baycox). Prolonged loose, runny bowels will cause dehydration, especially in kids. Dehydration can kill! If you goat has diarrhea, 5-10cc of pepto-bismol will generally tighten the bowel back up temporarily, but you'll still need to find the reason for the diarrhea and treat that.
Minimize the stress your goat encounters as much as possible. It will be happier, healthier, and get sick less often.
Goats like a “stable and consistent” diet. They need greenery and roughage and water. They like weeds, vines, leaves, mushrooms, acorns, grass, tree bark and hay. As roughage, normal (horse quality) grass hay is just fine for goats. Alfalfa hay is more costly and can sometimes cause digestive issues (Bloat) if not fed correctly. Molded hay can cause serious health problems (Lysteria) to goats.
Feeding grain or goat pellets is not absolutely necessary, but it will usually help them gain weight and gain some nutrients that they might be missing on normal pasture. About 2 cups of grain/pellets per goat, per day, is plenty (we use Purina Noble Goat pellets). Caution to feeding goats products containing molasses such as "horse feed" or "sweet feed". Sometimes it can cause a vitamin B deficiency and endanger the goat. Whatever you decide to feed, be consistent. If you change something you are feeding, do it gradually. Contrary to fairy tales, a goats digestive system can be very sensitive and abrupt changes can be stressful.
It is necessary to have loose minerals or a mineral salt block for them to lick as they please. This will supplement what they might be missing from normal pasture.
It also is good to find a treat that they like and use it as a reward or bonding help. Different goats will like different things and might not be open to eating something new the first time or two that it is offered. Some suggestions are: bread, apple pieces, banana pieces (skin and all), potato skins, grapes, or garden vegetables.
Diet for Male goats.
**Neutered males have a higher tendency to develop kidney stones IF
they are neutered too young, and/or they don't have the proper diet.
especially neuters, need a diet that has a proper calcium to phosphorus
ratio. The best diet consists of minimal grain/pellets and maximum
roughage (hay, weeds, grass). The roughage is needed to keep saliva
levels up, which causes phosphorus to be defecated rather than urinated.
The green roughage will provide vitamin A, which is necessary also.
*Purina Noble Goat pellets or DuMOR Goat Formula feed are good feeds for most goats because they contains a small amount of coccidiostat, and Ammonium Chloride.
*DuMOR Goat Formula pellets is BETTER for males because it has a better calcium to phosphorus ratio than Purina.
water is best for goats. Well water tends to be hard (high in
minerals). It is always a benefit to add Ammonium Chloride to their
water to reduce kidney stone formation.
*All goats need either a mineral salt lick or loose minerals to partake of at will.
**See the following URLs for more information:
There are several plants that can be poison or toxic to goats when eaten. These include but are not limited to, molded hay, wild cherry, Japanese maple, boxwood, rhododendron, laurel, holly, tomato plants, potato plants, daffodils and azaleas. Remove these from the area your goats will be, or restrict them from the area where these plants are. If they do ingest these, and exhibit strange behavior, force feed them a mixture of ground up charcoal (without added lighter fluid) and vegetable oil, and get them to your vet. Sometimes a goat can eat a small amount of these plants and not be bothered.
Housing and Protection.
Goats are natural outside animals. They handle the cold and heat without assistance. However they HATE getting wet. So at a minimum they need a shelter to get out of the rain. It is best to have a 3 sided shelter so they can also have a wind block. Do not completely close in the shelter as this will cause dust congestion. It is best if they have access to some shade.
Some folks do raise goats inside of their home. They can be litter box trained or trained to do their business outside. We even know of one goat that was trained to use the toilet, but goats normally live outside.
Keep in mind that the pasture/yard fencing that you choose has a dual purpose. Not only does it need to keep the goat in, it also needs to keep the predators, such as dogs and coyotes, out. A 4ft high chain link or woven field wire is best. Gates should open inward to prevent goats from pushing the gate open. Electric fencing is good as an addition, but insufficient by itself.
Don’t leave goats and dogs together unattended. Even the sweetest lap dog, given the right circumstances, will attack and kill a goat, especially a kid. Remember, by nature, dogs are predators and goats are prey.
Just contact us if you have other questions in caring for your kid. We are happy to answer your questions. We want your goat experience to be a great one.
L.W. & Cassandra Shoaf.