How to care for Baby Goats
As a goat farmer, have you ever come across a cute healthy-looking baby goat and felt like “wow, it’s so cute and beautiful” that’s what happens when baby goats are taken care of and managed properly.
Baby goats are so playful to be around with when they are properly taken care of.
A pasture full of playful goat kids can provide non-stop hours of entertainment and joy. As fun as the baby goats can get, they need proper care to grow healthy.
To ensure the kids (baby goats) get off to a healthy start, you should familiarize yourself with necessary management practices in areas such as nutrition, and basic knowledge of kidding which involves knowing what to do when the DOE has her babies or kids.
Here are what you should know about the baby goats
- Baby goats have a low immune system, they live on the mother’s and build their immune system through milk from the mother.
- They draw more nutrient from the milk of the mother than other food items.
- They are vulnerable and therefore are easily attacked by bacteria and other pathogens.
- They enjoy space: baby goats love having enough space to play around.
- They love a dry and warm environment. Exposing them to cold could lead to freezing or illness.
- They are playful when managed well, a quiet baby goat is a sign of illness or uncomfortable conditions. You should observe such goat find out what is wrong.
The baby goats should be watched and observed regularly because a change in their behaviour is mostly a signal from the goat.
Best ways to care for the baby goats
1. Provide the Doe with proper nutrition before delivery
Goats are remnant like cow they have a stomach that has four sections, the pregnant doe should eat forage consisting of hay and pasture plants.
- Before your baby goats arrive, you should feed the doe properly, a properly fed doe produces quality milk. Proper feeding of the doe plays a key role in baby goat care, this is because no one can provide better care for baby goats than a mother doe can.
- Provide good pasture, fresh hay, clean water and grain supplements will provide the proper nutrition a Doe needs to stay healthy and adequately nurse their newborn kids.
Pasture, forage and browse comprise the primary and the most economical source of nutrients baby goats need, in many cases a good pasture is all a goat needs to remain healthy
Hay is the primary source of nutrients for goats during the winter or non-grazing season, hay such as alfalfa and clover are higher in protein, vitamins and minerals than grass hays.
- It’s often necessary to provide supplemental nutrients that pasture and hay alone can’t provide, this is particularly true for goats, grain concentrates such as corn, barley, wheat, and oats can provide an essential source of protein vitamins and minerals.
2. Provide enough space for the kids
If you want to make baby goats happy, provide enough space for them, space should be warm and dry, cold environments affects the kids and can cause illness or infection.
- You can use hays to make the floor warm and dry.
- Ensure to change the beddings frequently, goats urinate wherever they are, this could get the beddings wet, ensure you change the hays before it gets wet.
- Provide light when necessary, most especially at night.
3. Ensure the kids get milk from the mother immediately after birth
Colostrum or first feeding is the first form of milk produced by the mammary glands of mammals (including humans) immediately following delivery of the newborn.
Colostrum helps in the provision of nutrition, offers essential protection against infection while the immune and digestive systems are developing and maturing.
In baby goats, colostrum is extremely important in boosting their immune system, cell development and improvement of body weight, it also bears antibodies needed by the kids for strength and faster growth.
- Ensure the baby goats are fed (through suckling of the udder) within an hour after delivery.
- You can massage the tip of the udder to ensure that the milk isn’t blocked.
- Check the kids from time to time to ensure they are not having troubles in getting milk from the mother.
- You can use a bottle to feed the colostrum to the kids if they can’t drink from the mother.
- If the milk isn’t coming out of the udder (this can happen due to complications), get colostrum from the stores and ensure the kids takes it.
4. Ensure the kids stays with the mother often
Immediately after giving birth, trim the umbilical cord, allow the doe time with the kid, the doe will lick the baby goats before breastfeeding the kids. Allowing the kid time with the doe will
- Increase the bond between the mother and the baby goats.
- Bonding is very important between the mother and the kids, ensure thorough cleaning of the birthing areas.
- Provide food for the mother, as stated above, the doe needs to be properly fed, this will improve the quality of milk as well as increase the rate of its production.
- Clean water should also be provided for the doe to drink.
5. Slowly wean the goat kids
Baby goat loves milk just like many other animals including human, taking them off milk should be a slow process, the transition from milk to dry solid food can be challenging at times.
- Slowly wean your goat kids.
- Introduce dry food such as hay, pastures intentionally while reducing the amount of milk they take.
- Grains helps to develop rumen, introduce grains and water from time to time starting from one to two weeks of age.
- You should start weaning from 25 to 30 days after the birth of the goat kid.
6. If need be, Disbude the goat kids at an early stage
In the wild, the horn can be of great help in protecting the goat from predators, and in establishing dominance within a herd but in most cases especially in domestic settings, they can be dangerous.
In the process of establishing dominance, goats harm themselves within the herd, this may not be encouraged by some farmers, therefore, they disbud the goats.
Disbudding (removing the horn buds) goats as kids do not alter their behaviour or growth ability, except possibly by making them less aggressive to other goats.
- Disbudding should be done at an early age within the first month of delivery.
- Seek to advise from a veterinary doctor to avoid complications which could prove harmful.
- Follow safe anaesthetic and surgical procedures when disbudding goat kids.
- Safety of the baby goats should be taken into account while disbudding the goats.
7. Vaccinate the baby goats regularly
Vaccination is essential in preventing diseases and improving the health of the baby goats.
- Vaccination should be done regularly.
- Avoid vaccinating the goat kids by yourself, seek the services of a veterinarian.
8. Keep a clean loafing shed
Cleanliness is very important in goat farming, goats enjoy dry neat, dry and warn
- Clean the loafing shed regularly.
- Get rid of remnant food materials
- The watering trough should be clean on daily basis.
- Harmful objects such as knife, cutlass and metals should be kept away from the goats.
9. Keep a clean pasture
When goats are mixed in the pasture, they eat randomly, this occurs more in baby goats, goat kids are vulnerable and get infected easily.
- You must protect them from pathogens by keeping the pasture clean.
- Keep the pasture free of waste products that could be consumed by the baby goats, these waste products are dangerous to the baby goats whose systems are still getting used to the environment.
- For better protection, keep the goat kids in a separate pasture where they will be given preferential treatment.
- Schedule regular check-up with a veterinarian.
Regular checking of the baby goat will avail you the opportunity to notice ahead time any abnormality with the health of the goats.
10. Trim the hoof of the baby goats
Inspect and trim the hooves of the goat kid as they grow to determine if any hoof problems could lead to infection, early discovery ensures that such infection do not spread among the herd, example contagious foot rot.
Wrapping up, baby goats are playful and full of entertainment to be with, they love to play around the loafing shed if there is enough space, this only occurs when they are taken care of. They grow better and healthier in a warm dry bed preferably hay beds, eats often and require milk directly from the mother for optimal performance.
Quality baby goat care is important to the continuity of every goat farmers farm. The kids should be adequately taken care of to reduce their vulnerability to infection and diseases.
The above-listed methods have been tested, you should try if not all, at least 90% of them for the sake of your goat productivity.
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