Bottle Feeding a Goat: Everything You Need to Know

Have you ever asked yourself, how do you bottle feed a goat? Whether you’re simply curious or if you need to bottle feed a goat kid for the first time, knowing the different options available to you is vital. Luckily, as someone who’s bottle-fed goat kids countless times before, I’ve come up with some key tips and ideas that may help you find out how to successfully bottle-feed a goat kid. After all, bottle-feeding goats shouldn’t have to be a major headache, and with the right approach, you can make sure that this is done right.

Is Bottle Feeding Goats Hard?

Bottle-feeding goats is generally a simple process. Goat kids usually have a pretty strong appetite, which means that newborn, healthy, and strong goat kids will usually take to the bottle easily. 

However, there are a few scenarios when bottle-feeding goats can be hard. Goat kids that their mothers have partially reared are often much more stubborn to take the bottle. Even if the kid was only fed by its dam for a few days, you might find that they refuse to accept the bottle – no matter how hungry they might be. 

Alternatively, if your goat kid is weak, lethargic, or struggling to raise its head, you will likely also have difficulty getting it to take a bottle. In this case, you may need to get a vet’s help, as the kid may need treatment before it can swallow. If your goat kid cannot swallow, you should never try to force it to take a bottle. Doing so could result in the milk flooding your kid’s lungs, which could cause inhalation pneumonia.

How Do You Bottle Feed a Goat? 

If you think that bottle feeding your goat kid is the right option for your needs, you’ll first need to learn how to bottle feed a goat. Indeed, there’s a certain knack to it. And, while bottle feeding a goat kid isn’t hard, you may need to help the kid a little to learn how to take the bottle. After all, it’s not the same as drinking from the dam’s udder!

What do you Bottle Feed a Goat With?

When bottle feeding a goat, you should always start by bottle feeding high-quality colostrum. Pure, freshly milked, uncontaminated colostrum from one of your goats is ideal here since this will contain antibodies specific to your farm or land.

However, if your doe/nanny is not in good condition, her colostrum may be poor quality, which could give the kid a bad start in life. 

In addition, if yours does have certain diseases – such as Johnes – these can pass through the milk. As such, when buying new goats, you should always take precautions to prevent buying these conditions. If you do find that your goats have such conditions, they are often untreatable, so you should be careful not to use any colostrum or milk from infected dams – as this increases the chances of the kids contracting such conditions.

What if I Can’t Use Colostrum from the Dam? 

If you are unable to use colostrum from the dam or another nanny on your farm, there are alternatives you could consider. You could source fresh milk or colostrum from another farm; however, this comes with a challenge to find top-quality colostrum that’s not going to carry disease. You could also use a powdered colostrum replacer, which may be safer from the disease perspective.

Getting colostrum into your goat kid as soon as possible is crucial. The ideal method is to get colostrum into them within an hour of birth; however, in a worst-case scenario, the kid can absorb antibodies for up to six hours from the colostrum (at a declining rate). Kids do not have a functioning immune system immediately at birth, so giving them this colostrum is vital to give them the best chance in life!

After six hours, you may be able to transition your goat kid(s) onto a standard milk replacer or fresh goats’ milk. Again, you should always follow the aforementioned precautions for disease and quality).

What Kind of Bottle Do You Use For Goats?

Most people will use a lamb feeding bottle to feed their goat kids. However, you may be able to use other bottles, such as a puppy feeding bottle, if needed. 

Ideally, try to look for a bottle with a teat that mimics the shape of the dam’s teats. In my experience, I found that kids were most likely to be fussy with a long, thin teat. Meanwhile, our Boer does themselves have short, stumpy teats!

Always take a slow and steady approach when cutting a hole in the teat to allow milk flow. Too fast a flow can cause the kid to inhale part of the milk, potentially causing inhalation pneumonia.

How Long Should You Bottle Feed a Goat?

How long you should bottle-feed a goat depends on countless factors. However, you must never wean a goat kid until its rumen is functioning – i.e. when it has learned to chew the cud. The kid should also be well-grown and eating well before weaning.

Are Bottle Goats Safe to be Around? 

Bottle goats can be a lot more confident than many other goats. They are normally friendly and fun to be around, but you should always be aware that they may not have the same boundaries as other goats. 

Final Thoughts 

If you’ve been wondering how bottle-feeding goats works and the key things you should know, we’ve summarized a few vital tips today to help inform your decision. Indeed, in most cases, bottle-feeding goats is a pretty straightforward process.

However, starting with the right strategy, the right bottle, and (hopefully) an enthusiastic kid that wants to drink is always important. Still, even if your goat kid is refusing milk – some are convinced you’re trying to feed them poison, even when you’ve milked it directly from their dam’s udder – there are ways to convince them that, actually, it is quite yummy after all.

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