Go on any big goat forum and you will hear that feeding bottle babies milk replacer is a big no-no. But, if you have hungry kids, no raw goat milk or cow milk, and you’re facing the high cost of store bought milk, milk replacer for goat kids looks good to you. Can you bottle feed goat kids on milk replacer? Yes.
To preface this article, I am NOT a vet. I take no responsibility as to how using milk replacer with your goat kid turns out. Bottle feeding goat kids means commitment. It means whether you feel like it or not you have to feed those bottle babies X number of times a day. I am committed to my goat kids. This is what works for me.
I am going to walk you through my recent (and ongoing) bottle feeding experience using milk replacer. Our dear Esther had triplets. She was not well when she had them. She did not have a big milk bag. Esther refused to let 2 of her goat kids suck. I had does with triplets and quads and could not “snitch” from them. What to do? I also had NO colostrum, which all goat kids need to survive.
I had some regular whole milk from the store on hand. I also had some Alpha Whey Colostrum on hand. It is for human consumption. It’s first day dairy cow colostrum. I filled a small human baby bottle with whole milk..warmed it and added the liquid colostrum to it. I also put a little honey in the milk. The goat kids took to the bottle feeding and devoured it.
I fed this combination for 24 hours. Going out every 2 hours to feed them. They were small, cold, and weak in the beginning. After 24 hours of bottle feeding the whole milk/colostrum, they began to get stronger. Stood on their own and “looked” for the bottle.
I continued on whole milk for these 2 goat kids for 1 ½ weeks. We then had to make a decision on whether to keep buying whole milk from the grocery or use milk replacer. We chose to use milk replacer, as I have had great luck with it in the past.
When starting to use the replacer, we replace a quarter of the bottle with the milk replacer and the rest was whole milk. We did that for 2-3 days. No diarrhea or tummy aches. We upped the milk replacer to ½ and ½ with the whole milk. They were on that for a week. We then would give a whole feeding of milk replacer. No diarrhea. No tummy aches. They are on straight milk replacer and these goat kids are really starting to take off.
Things NOT to do when using milk replacer.
1.Making too big of a change. You need to add the milk replacer a little at a time. Let the kids get used to it.
2.Do not feed cold milk or cold milk replacer to goat kids. Warm it like you would for a human kid. 100 – 102 degrees would be great.
3.When mixing the milk replacer, be sure to use warm water. It dissolves the replacer, cold water does not.
4.STIR the water/milk replacer. Feed immediately. Goat kids need that milk replacer. If it stays in the bottom of the bottle, it’s a waste of money and not doing the goat kids any good.
5.Be consistent with a bottle feeding schedule.
6.Don’t overfeed the goat kids.
Things to keep in mind when bottle feeding goat kids.
1.Just because you are bottle feeding the kids..try to keep the kids with mom. She helps keep them warm and nurtures them.
2.All milk replacers are not the same. Ask around and find out what milk replacer others in your area have had good luck with.
3.This has been MY bottle feeding experience with goat kids and milk replacer.
Bottle feeding goat kids is a real job. But bottle feeding goat kids is a lot of fun too. If you are forced to use milk replacer, go slow, don’t cut corners. Milk replacer has raised a lot of goat kids successfully. Don’t be afraid. Go bottle feed that goat kid with milk replacer and have fun!