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Important! Please Read This Notice!
All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.
In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. We are not veterinarians. Neither nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.
PLEASE keep in mind, just because there is a DVM after the name does not mean they have the proper answers for goat owners 'Caveat emptor'- You need to find a responsible GOAT Vet


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Bottle Feeding Baby Goats Print E-mail
Written by Administrator-GL   
Sunday, 10 February 2008

Feeding Bottle Baby Goats

The most important thing I can stress when feeding bottle baby goats is to try and do what a natural goat mom would do- The first few days goat moms allow the babies to eat many times per day but if you watch them they only eat a small amount each time, as they get older, mom will only stand to allow them to nurse for a certain amount of time and then walk away- so babies learn to eat more at each feeding - giving bottle babies 2 or 3 huge bottles a day in the first weeks is not only harmful for the baby's digestive system but really not fair to the baby.
After they receive colostrum (Mother's first milk) For the first 24 hours of life, bottle fed kids should be fed fresh (or frozen) goat's milk if at all possible. If you cannot get fresh goat's milk, you can use whole (not 2%) cows milk from the store. I do not recommend using fresh cow's milk UNLESS you know for a fact the farm is certified because the transfer of Johne's or CAE to a baby goat from the cow's milk is possible. In a PINCH You CAN use Canned milk ONLY if you read the ingredients- do NOT used what is called FILLED Evaporated milk- Many canned milks are part soy, Never use this. Use only whole canned milk if you need to.(Diluted in half with water) Carnation canned cow's milk is whole milk without soy and is safe to use.
Milk Replacers Kill Baby Goats!!- Milk Replacers KILL Baby Goats!!! MILK REPLACERS KILL BABY GOATS!!!!!

I know this is ridiculous to put this way BUT Please people.. Trust me.. while there may be an unusual case of milk replacers NOT killing baby goats BUT they do more than they do not Unless the breeder is able to get the scouring baby turned around before they die! I cannot stress this hard enough.
Real whole milk, even raw milk from a cow, is much better for them than milk replacer , which can cause diarrhea and floppy kid syndrome. Very often, problems with bottle fed kids stem from the use of milk replacer. I cannot tell you how many emails and phone calls I get a week (sometimes so many in just a DAY) from gals who are losing kids due to kid milk replacers- Even the "best" replacers. "Even" the ones that say "kid replacer" Just don't use them. They are expensive and really not your best choice.


 OMG! But How do I change them over? Just start giving them milk?

Surprised  Well you could but it probably won't help the digestion any because any sudden change in diet will give gut upset and intestinal issues.  Rather change themover gradually and here's how:

The best way to change from replacer to milk is:

Mix up a quart of any good livestock electrolyte mix (I prefer Vi-Tal) But any good MILKLESS electrolyte powdered solution will work  (read the ingredients) , ( or in a pinch you can use gatorade, pediolyte or  sports drink) , add to each bottle 2 pumps of  goat nutri-drench (or equivalent) and a  tsp of molasses or corn syrup to each bottle for energy.
If you do NOT have any electrolytes you can make some in a pinch-

Homemade Electrolyte Solution

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp NO-Salt (potassium)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 oz corn syrup or molasses

Add warm water to make 4 pints and mix well. Give this as a replacement for milk bottles until the kid is feeling better- Usually 24 hours.

This will be a 4 day feeding process:

  1.  Day 1- use this exclusively in all bottles
  2.  Day 2 -give 1/2 this solution and half milk (regular  whole cows milk from the grocer)
  3.  Day 3- give 2/3 milk and 1/3 this solution
  4.  Day 4-give all whole milk

This allows the baby goat to adjust to the change gradually and reduces the chance of further gut upset.

IF Your baby is already down and weak

First take the rectal temperature so you know what you are dealing with- a subnormal temperature needs a quick response from you to bring the core body temperature back to normal article gives advice on how to do this - Take the baby off milk completely for at least 36 hours, You will need to give an electrolyte solution (I also add a pinch of baking soda and some form of easy to assimilate sugar such as molasses or corn syrup-just a little bit for energy) and administer CD Antitoxin injections to kill the toxins in the gut caused by the milk in the belly not being able to digest. Once the poop has become normal and the baby is holding a normal temperature and no longer weak you can Gradually change the baby to milk as mentioned above
You also need to determine if the baby is suffering from FKS or ecoli - ecoli will have a fever present and I administer BioSol (neomycin sulfate) in addition to treatment for birth chill - FKS usually happens at about a week old (overfed bottle babies being the exception) and the kid will have a sub normal temperature- baking soda is the answer for this - a tsp of baking soda dissolved in 8 ounces of warm water will neutralize the gut (If tube feeding 60ccs of this will be enough) -in addition, milk of magnesia will help to push the nasty stuff from the system (only a half tsp for tiny kids)- then begin your regimen of electrolytes for the next day or so before you reintroduce milk.

Don't be tempted to give water bottles to your baby goats,

Read the article on  Hemoglobinuria


In Place of just using Whole cow's milk, Many breeders use a "formula" for richer milk:

(I personally would use this for kids who are just not thriving or growing as well as they should on plain milk)

1 gallon Whole Milk
1 can Evaporated Milk
1 cup Cultured Buttermilk
Goat Nutri-Drench

Pour off 3 cups of the whole milk into a container. Add the evaporated milk and butter milk. to the remaining milk in the gallon jug-  Add back as much of the whole milk (roughly 1 cup) to refill the gallon milk container. Add 1 "pump" of Goat Nutri-Drench to the first bottle of the day.



Examples of nipples to use for baby goats
The hole in most nipples is too small and may need to be enlarged. The black lamb nipple had cross cuts already in it but may need to be enlarged. I just grab the tip and stretch it a tiny bit to enlarge the slits already there. The natural rubber nipples have small holes in them and they are a bit more difficult to enlarge- a heated needle works well. The Pritchard teat comes with NO HOLE in it.. the very tip must be cut off.. Careful not to cut too much or you will have a mess and ruin the nipple. The idea is to make baby have to suck but not so hard it gets tired trying to get any milk out. You don't want the baby to choke on a flow of milk that is too much.  I use beer bottles for the rubber nipples, just stretch it over the top of the bottle (It makes milk flow better if you poke a small hole right where the nipple comes away from the bottle at the base of the nipple for air flow and ease of milk flow so the nipple does not collapse) With the Pritchard teat you need a bottle  with threads since it screws on to the bottle. Some flavored water bottles have threads.

Getting Baby Goat to Accept the Bottle

Here is where patience comes in handy. "Some" baby goats will not want a bottle and to get them to accept it can be extremely frustrating. Don't get mad at him because he is more confused than you are at this point. YOU know you are trying to feed him, he knows this is Not right. Patience please. Hold the bottle in such a way that the baby feels as if it is secure (See photos below). Sometimes you have to actually open his mouth and insert the nipple. Eventually he will realize this is milk and he is hungry and this will fill his tummy. Make sure the milk is warm enough- many babies prefer milk warmer than tepid- not as warm as a cup of coffee but not tepid and Never Cold! Cold milk can cause a tummy ache. What ever you do .. do NOT allow the baby to Not nurse because it becomes difficult and make them wait until next feeding because by then they will be hungry enough to eat. You will end up with a weak baby goat who will still balk at the bottle and when he does eat this time will gulp too fast and become sick. Nip it in the bud right at first and help him realize this is a good thing.. Patience! Loving words and encouragement.
The "natural" way a baby eats is head tilted up. Baby Goats have what is called the rumino-reticular groove that is in the esophagus. This valve closes off the rumen and allows the milk to flow directly into the abomasum. The baby goat's 4 chambered stomach is not yet functional - he is basically a mono-gastric animal at a young age.
Rumino-reticular groove placement

Tilting the head up sends a signal to the rumino-reticular valve to close therefore allowing the milk to flow into the proper chamber of his stomach.
How to hold a bottle for baby Goat bottle feeding
Just a Guideline, adjust to your baby's size and appetite- a well fed baby's stomach should feel full but not tight. Watch the baby poop- scouring means too much milk and not pooping can mean gut distress - keep enema supplies on hand and CD ANTI toxin (which is NOT the same as your CDT toxoid vaccine) which can literally save your baby's life if needed and it is typically not found at your local feed stores- excepting some Tractor Supply stores. You may have to order it thought Jeffers
(Now available in 50ml bottles instead of just the 250ml bottles)
Fill your baby bottle with a measured amount of milk , allow baby to nurse until the stomach feels full and not tight- then RE-measure what is left in the bottle- Subtract what he ate and this is a good starting point, as the baby grows they will need more milk less often- trying to feed newborn baby goats 2 or 3 times a day and filling the belly up with 8 ounces of milk right from the get go will make him sick- too much and not often enough so the baby will gorge itself with the milk when he finally gets it- TRY to mimmick mom-

Guideline for Bottle Baby Dairy Goat Feeding Schedule
Pygmy and Nigerian Goat Baby Amounts in [ ]:

  • * Day one- 2-4oz. [Pygmies/Nigerians 1-3oz] (per feeding) colostrum, every 1-2 hours.
  • * Day two- 3-4 oz. [Pygmies/Nigerians 2-3oz] (per feeding) colostrum if you have it or whole milk, every 2 hours
  • * Day three- 4-5 oz.[Pygmies/Nigerians 3-4oz] (per feeding) colostrum if you have it or whole milk, every 2-3 hours or 8 times a day
  • * Day four- 6-8oz. [Pygmies/Nigerians 4-5oz] (per feeding) whole milk, 7-8 times a day.
  • * Week One - 8oz [Pygmies/Nigerians 5-6oz] (per feeding) whole milk, 6-7 times a day.
  • * For the next 2 weeks-10-12oz.[Pygmies/Nigerians 6-8oz] (per feeding) whole milk, 6 times a day.
  • * For the next 2 months-10-12 oz.[6-8] (per feeding)whole milk, 4-5 times a day. (they should be nibbling a bit of hay by now)
  • * For the next 1 month or 6 weeks-12-14 oz. [Pygmies/Nigerians 8-10oz] (per feeding)whole milk, 3 times a day.
  • * 12-14 oz. [Pygmies/Nigerians 8-10oz] (per feeding) once a day for the next 2 months.






This is JUST a guideline- Adjust as needed - start with the recommended amount and feel the baby's tummy- Stop when it feels full but not tight- measure what is left in the bottle and feed what the baby ate- as the baby grows add to that amount according to size.

When dealing with larger babies and babies over 2 weeks of age you can go by baby weight. Figure 15% of the kid's weight in milk spread over a 24 hour period. (I personally prefer to figure on a 20% ratio) A 10lb kid "could " get away with 4 feedings at 6 ounces each totaling 24 ounces which is about 15% of the body weight in milk- a 15lb kid would need a total of 36oz a day in 9 ounce feedings 4 times per day- this again is a guideline and needs to be increased gradually. Any time you bottle feed a young kid under 2 weeks old it is ideal if possible to offer smaller feedings more often but in the case of working parents this may not always be possible.

Colostrum (First Milk)

*Baby Goats NEED colostrum for the antibodies they get from the goat moms. While they probably will not "die" from not getting colostrum, they will survive and thrive much better With it. Colostrum is the first milk goat mom's produce. It is thick and full of antibodies. The Baby Goat can ONLY assimilate the properties of these antibodies for the first 24 hours of life. After the first 24 hours of their life, the colostrum is good for them but is only rich milk. The antibody properties while still in the colostrum can no longer be utilized by the baby goat's body. The first 12 hours of the baby goat's life is most vital for utilized colostrum benefits. The second 12 hours they still utilize the properties of the colostrum but not 100% as they did in the first 12 hours. Ideally- The newborn baby goat needs to have it's first drink of colostrum within the first 20 minutes of life.

More detailed information on colostrum

Feeding Baby Goats Grain or Goat Feed

Remember that concentrated feeds such as sweet feed, COB, goat chow, or any pelleted concentrated feed is difficult for a baby goat to digest because the rumen is not yet fully developed and will not be fully functional for the first 6 months of life. If you must feed grain or sweet feed below is a chart to use as reference but must be adjusted accordingly. If you baby goats begin to have scours - cut back. Personally I feed my baby goats their bottles or allow them to be dam raised until weaned which is usually around 4-6 months of age and they are offered and eat fresh high quality hay, which they will begin to pick and chew sometimes as early as a few days old. This picking at and chewing the hay begins to develop the rumen for future digestion. Adding too much sweet feed or concentrated feed such as pellets or goat chow can throw a baby goat into digestive upset.
Baby Goat Grain Chart GUIDE
WEIGHT (in lbs) GRAIN (or goat feed)
5 1/2 oz
7 1oz
10 2 oz
15 2 oz
20 3 oz
25 3 oz
30 4 oz
40 5 oz
50 6 oz

 Baby Goats and Hay

At about a week or so old, Provide fresh hay  (preferably grass hay) to kids  to nibble on and begin to develop the rumen  - they will nibble it chew it but at this age will not really eat it since the rumen is not a developed part of the stomach yet- but the enzymes in the hay will help develop the rumen and the hay will give them something to do as well.  You will see dam raised kids nibbling  while they watch their moms eat hay. Kids will also nibble on dirt, this is normal and it provides them with natural immune building bacteria.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 19 April 2018 )
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