You are here:

Goats/Bottle Babies!!



I have decided to expand my goat herd and branch into some dairy goats!  So I have purchased some bottle babies from a dairy goat herd.  I will be getting 15 doelings.  Some of them have been started on a bottle and some are still with their dam.  All are under two weeks old with the youngest being just a couple days.

I am totally new to bottle babies as all my kids have been kept on the dam until weaning.  Is there any tips you can give me?  I was going to give a CDT the day I get them home and am planning on cold ad-libitum feeding.  I have designed buckets with nipples to feed them with.  

Is there any shots or medications I should give them right away?  Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!  I don't want to loose any so I have more to milk next year!

Thank you!

ANSWER: Bottle babies are the best.  Although feeding the ad-libitum way is not technically bottle raising.  With that said, I bottle raise all our kids - so far 12, 2 just went to new homes today.  I raise them in milk replacer as the folks who purchase them usually do not have availability to goat milk.  And, yes, it is quite a chore to bottle raise but seeing the difference in attitude from true bottle to partial bottle (ad-libitum) to full dam raising makes me a believer in the bottle or at least bucket feeding (but with this they should also be handled a lot so the "dam-raised" freakiness is not there when they are an adult).  If I get kid goats from other herds to raise, I start them on a CDT toxoid 1 cc vaccination (I always use intramuscular injections) when they arrive home, as well as selenium/E/D dosing (I use human selenium tablets which for kid goats is one of the 200 mcg selenium tablets crushed and dissolved in a little hot water, and to that add half the oil from a 1000 IU vitamin E capsule and half the oil from an 800 IU vitamin D capsule - this is all mixed together and given as an oral drench), which helps with possible white muscle disease in selenium deficient kids.  I also give vitamin D oil (2000 IU) once a day for first days at new place to help their immune system strengthen up - I use .25 cc of that oil.  Also, I then continue (as I do for my own kids) with CDT vaccinations at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, 8 weeks, 3 months, 6 months and 9 months all at 1 cc and then start a 1 year old at 2 cc then.  I also use Sulmet liquid at .5 cc in their bottle once a day to help keep bacterial counts low in their systems - I usually do this until they are about 4 weeks old.  Hope this helps.  Donna

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Ok wow.  Transitioning dam raised kids to a bottle is a chore!  The first night I was like what was I thinking!  But it's getting better.  I now only have four that are still stubborn with the bottle.  It's the four oldest ones.  Any tips?  They are three weeks old and have been on the dam this whole time.  I have been forcing them to drink for two days.  When they stop swallowing I stop forcing because I don't want to get milk in their lungs.  I can get 4-6 ounces in them before they won't take any more.  They are all healthy and active, no signs of sickness or fevers.  

Also how much milk should they be getting?  They are any where from 3 weeks to two days old.  A friend of mine said 6 to 8 ounces twice a day but my goats are bigger.  I just worry about over feeding and giving them diarrhea.

Thank you for the vitamin tip.  It really seems to give them a good jump start and I haven't had anyone look droopy yet!

Hi there - yes it is a definite chore and can be frustrating.  I just got a 4-week old kid last week who was on his dam the whole time.  Took him only a day and a half to catch onto the bottle - I don't make them eat, I offer the bottle, sometimes put the nipple into their mouth with one hand and with the other hold their mouth closed gently and help simulate what would be sucking action.  I do hold them securely, sometimes wrapping them in a towel. Usually by 24 hours out they are getting hungry and more willing to try and by 1 and a 1/2 days are very hungry and then take the bottle.  The nipple is important too especially for older kids.  I usually use the Pritchard teats but sometimes change to a human baby nipple to see if they like that better.  The age is really more important re eating than the size - by 2 weeks they should be on three bottles a day at about 6 ounces each time, by 3 weeks 3 times a day up to 8 ounces each time, by 4 weeks 3 times a day 8 to 10 ounces each time.  By 6 weeks they can be fed a.m. and p.m. at about 10 to 12 ounces, increasing to no more than 16 ounces and this does depend on the size of the kid at this time.  By 4 weeks they should be eating a little hay, and I start mine on cheerios (yup) to get them interested in learning to chew, then I gradually add calf manna as they get used to chewing.  I also always leave a small container of water in their pen by about 3 weeks of age.  Hope this helps.  Donna


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

©2016 All rights reserved.