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The chart below is designed to make feeding kids easy for new producers. There is enough milk for larger kids, and smaller kids will simply eat less out of the bottle. Kids should be fed 3-4 times a day when they are infants, as their stomach capacity is small. But when kids are two weeks old or more, you can feed 2, 3 or 4 times a day, depending on what fits your family's schedule, by taking the total amount needed per kid per day, and dividing it by the number of feedings you can do. For example, a total of 36 oz. for 3 week old kids can be fed twice a day in 18 oz. feedings, three times a day in 12 oz. feedings, or four times a day in 9 oz. feedings.. There is some evidence that feeding three times a day instead of twice during the first 4-6 weeks of life, increases the growth rate. (Langston, Training, Nutrition section p. 26)
This table is a compilation of many resources including Considine, Harris and Springer, Van Saun, Belanger, Langston, as well conferences with experienced producers. The amounts of milk and colostrum recommended by experts, varies widely. Because of the wide variation, It was very difficult to decide what to feed and how to feed it. The amounts on this table have been tested on one commercial dairy farm for over 3 years, and they were found to be effective for that farm. You may want to use this as a very flexible guideline, and adjust amounts as needed for your herd. You also can use the Langston calculator at http://www.luresext.edu/goats/research/nutritionmodule1.htm if you wish. You will need to know the breed, birth date, weight or heartgirth of the animal to use the calculator.
(*1) The latest research shows that for maximum
papillae formation in the rumen, you should feed milk, then grain and then
hay. Do not feed hay until the rumen
has had time to develop papillae. If
you feed hay and grain at the same time, you will get some papillae
formation, but no where near as much as when you feed grain first.
If you feed hay alone, before grain, the animal will never be able to process
grain well, and may be sickly.
The following site, http://www.milkproduction.com
has a slide show of pictures where you can see for yourself what happens in
each scenario. Although the pictures are of calf rumens, Dr. Van Saun, small
ruminant expert from the University of Pennsylvania, says that you will see exactly the same thing in the goat. (Van Saun, Feeding For Two, 2006)
Be very careful when reading older articles and books, as many of them will tell you to feed hay before grain, as that was the recommendation for many years. Research shows that a weaned kid eating hay and grain and no milk at 2 months of age, has a reticulo-rumenal capacity that is 5 times greater than a kid of the same age who has been fed a full milk diet. (Dawson) This is very good insurance for a long and healthy life.
(*2) Grain should be cut back if the kid is getting fat. (If you can't feel the kid’s ribs he is too fat.) Watch Body Condition Score. Aim for 3 on a 1-5 scale. Grain should be increased if hay is poor quality. (See the section "Hay Quality" on the Building and Planning A-L page to see what ”poor quality” hay means.) (Langston, Training, Nutrition section.)
(*3) Langston University recommends 1 oz. of natural
colostrum / lb. of body weight. The average birth weight for an
average dairy kid is 7 lb, so you would feed 7 oz, three times in the
1st 24 hrs (every 8 hours) for a total of 21 oz. in 24 hours (Langston,
Training, Nutrition p. 26.) The amount has been increased here to 8 oz.
(1 cup) to make it easier to fill bottles. It is much easier to fill a
one cup measuring cup to the top, than to painstakingly measure out 7 oz.
when you are filling hundreds of bottles.
(*4) Sometimes the kids have more trouble feeding if
they aren't fed soon after birth. Many experts recommend feeding them
colostrum within 12-24 hours of birth, but experienced producers will tell
you that it is best to feed it as soon as possible. (Personal Interview,
If you are bottle feeding to prevent the newborns from getting CAE from their mothers, tape the mother’s teat ends closed before the expected birthing date so the baby doesn't suckle after birthing. Remove kids from the birthing area immediately upon finding them. Hand feed colostrum for 1-2 days, then feed milk replacer or pasteurized goat milk. (Smith, 79)
Kids may lose their swallow reflex when their body
temperature is too low in the winter. Hang heat lamps over the pen
and keep them warm and tube feed those that can’t swallow. (See Tube feeding in the Medical section of this
website.) Dr. Neil Anderson from the
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recommends buying
used electric pad heaters which are made for farrowing rooms for sows. The heaters come in various dimensions
and use very little energy. Some are
better than others are because they provide an even heat rather than having
hot spots, so check with a pig raiser to find out what is best.. (Anderson, E-mail
The mother can be milked into a mini-milker at milking time in order to remove the colostrum from her body each day until the milk clears. Colostrum will come for 2-3 days. You will know when the colostrum is ending because the milk will start foaming. Any milk/colostrum from that point on should not be fed to a baby as colostrum, because it won't have enough antibodies in it, but it can be fed as heat-treated milk. Do not put colostrum in the bulk tank. (Judy Remo)
See also Berg, J., P. Robinson, D. Giraud. Raising Dairy Goat Kids. http://ucanr.org/freepubs/docs/8160.pdf accessed 3-16-11.
Milk must be pasteurized in order to kill pathogens. There are 5 methods:
1) heating milk to at least 145 degrees F. (62.8 degrees C) and holding it at that temperature for at least 30 minutes (holding method)
2) Heating milk to at least 161 degrees F (71.7 degrees C) for 15 seconds (HTST)
3) Heating milk to at least 191 degrees F (88.3 degrees C) for 1 second
4) Heating milk to 203.9 degrees F (95.5 degrees C) for 0.05 of a second
5) Heating milk to 212 degrees F ( 100 degrees C) for 0.01 of a second (ultrapasteurization).
Colostrum cannot be heated to these high temperatures, as it curdles above 135 degrees. It must be heat-treated by slowly bringing it's temperature to 135 degrees, holding it there for 10 minutes, then loading it into hot vacuum containers, where it is held for one hour. it can be bottled and frozen. When you are ready to use it, put it in a bucket of hot water for about 20 minutes to thaw.
There are step-by-step directions at Heat treating Colostrum and Pasteurizing Milk
You can buy a dual-use pasteurizer that can pasteurize milk as well as heat-treating colostrum. (See Hoegger Supply or Caprine Supply in the Reference section under "Equipment Suppliers.")
Directions for mixing milk replacer or colostrum replacer gives new producers a supply list and directions for the easiest way to handle milk preparation.
1) Suckling Kids can suckle directly on proven CAE-free, Johnes-free mothers
Only mothers who have had two consecutive negative CAE blood tests, six months apart should be allowed to suckle their babies. All other kids should be housed separately from their mothers and should not be allowed to nurse.
2) Bottle feeding:
Bottle feeding ensures that each kid gets the
colostrum it must have to be healthy, and is the best way to ensure that
each kid gets the amount of milk he or she is supposed to get..
Producers can identify infants that can't suckle, and can tube feed in
order to save the kid. It also allows the producer and kid to bond,
making later treatments and milking easier. The downside is the time
it takes to fill and wash bottles and nipples.
3) Caprine or lamb bucket feeders:
(Caprine Supply) (Hoegger Supply) (Sydell)
Buckets save a producer a lot of labor, but there is an initial period where the producer must train and observe the animals to make sure everyone is eating. The downside of buckets is the inability to determine whether each kid is getting his or her share of the milk. Some producers put small jars in the buckets, with the correct amount of milk for each kid and then run the tubes into the jars. This is ok as long as each kid stays on only one teat. Unfortunately, kids often change nipples, so you still don't know whether one kid is getting more than another. Observe carefully for bloat. and scours. You will still need a few bottles with Pritchard nipples to feed colostrum and in case a kid can't suck on the bucket nipples at first.
Bucket feeder nipples.
Gray rubber Red rubber Latex nipples for newborns
Photos: (Caprine Supply) ( Hoegger Supply) (Premier Supply)
The latex nipples are best for newborns, and the red and gray rubber can be used after a week or so. (The older kids chew up the latex, so don't waste them on the older kids.)
Miscellaneous links on bucket feeding:
If you want to make your own bucket feeders, go to Making bucket feeders
Instructions on bucket feeding may be found at http://www.premier1supplies.com.
When you buy white feeder buckets from Premier 1 Supply, you can have them drill nipple holes in them, for a low fee. See their catalog at http://www.premier1supplies.com/goats/species.php
4) Self-feeders (lamb- bars or nipple-boards with tubing placed in buckets
Self feeders reduce producer labor. The key to this type of system is maintenance of low temperature milk (40 degrees F). This will prevent bloat by limiting intake. Again, these feeders require an initial training and observation period, and some goats may drink too much or too little. One advantage to on-demand feeding is that small frequent feedings decrease digestive upsets and increase digestibility of the milk. (Dawson)
5) Free Access Feeding With Acidified Milk
Free-access feeding of young kids mimics natural feeding, and prevents the bloating that comes from hand or bucket feeding large amounts at one time. Neil Anderson of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture is studying this Finnish technique, and has published his findings. Read his latest report here. You can order Formic Acid from Univar company. (See the Reference section under "Equipment Suppliers.")
Be sure to restrict feeding to what is specified in the feeding guidelines if bottle or bucket feeding, or control intake with cool milk temperatures if using a self-feeder. Consuming large quantities at one feeding, allows milk to enter into the reticulo-rumen and cause bloat, or pass rapidly through the abomasum and into the intestine, causing scours. (Dawson).
When you limit daily consumption of milk to recommended amounts, you leave room for consumption of dry feed. Dry fees is important in developing body capacity, which increases feed intake (more room for storage) and increased digestion. (Dawson)
Your first defense against scours is cleanliness. Keep all feeding equipment spotless. Keep pens clean and fill with fresh straw daily, so babies don't eat droppings.
Your second line of defense is preventive treatment of the kids with either Deccox M or Sulmet.
According to an ADGA article "Herd Health Program," , Dr. Scott Haskell, DVM recommends that you "Add Sulmet to milk to prevent diarrhea. Each feeding use 3 cc sulmet per 12 oz of milk." (Haskell, Herd Health Program). (Editor's note: this seems high. Please check with your vet and have them call FARAD to check this dosage.)
Steve Hart of Langston University goat research program recommends using Deccox M to prevent coccidiosis. See your vet for details.
Your third line of defense is control of an outbreak through quarantine. At the first sign of scours, remove the kid and put it a separate pen that is used exclusively for sick babies. If you leave a sick kid in the pen with other kids, scours will spread like wildfire. If you bring new goats to your farm, quarantine them for thirty days. (Haskell)
See the disease database for treatment of scours.
In the first weeks of life, dairy kids can be expected to gain 1/2 lb. ( 250 g) /day. (Dawson)
The following method is used for milk replacer mixed full strength according to package directions, or for pasteurized, goat milk from the mothers (same as table above):
If you are using milk replacer, you could also just decrease the amount of powder you put into the water. The following example will give you an idea how this is done. (This is for Land O Lakes calf, nursing, non-medicated milk replacer. You will need to make your own table using the mixing directions on your milk replacer bag):
If you don't have time to feed three times a day, you can take the total amount per day (6 cups mixed at the appropriate strength) and divide it in half (3 c.) and feed that amount twice a day instead as long as the kid is big enough to tolerate that much milk.
1) 2 months old to 7 months old (weaning to breeding), where you feed for growth.
2) 7 months of age to adulthood (breeding to birthing), where you feed to support growth, breeding activity and (for does) prepare for birthing and support fetal growth.
Expected monthly gain is 10 lb. per month through the 5th month (0.33 lb. per day based on a 30 day month), then 5 lb. per month thereafter (0.16 lb. per day.)
12-14% crude protein, 60 TDN. Feed ½ lb. grain ration per head per day if youhave good forage, and 1 lb. per day if the forage is poor quality..
Mix 2# of 6% Decoquinate (Deccox) per ton of calf starter or calf grower feed (or)
Mix 2# of 6% Decoquinate (Deccox) per 50# of white salt and feed free choice
Do not house bucklings or doelings with adult animals or they will be bullied, may get hurt, and may not get enough to eat.
Castrate bucklings raised for meat if customers want mild tasting meat. Don’t castrate if they want strong tasting meat. If not castrated, keep any over 4 months old away from does.
Does should always be fed in individual cups to make sure they are receiving adequate nutrition.
Lactating goats need 5 lb. of total feed a day for every one hundred pounds of body weight. This total feed should be a combination of 50% or more forage (pasture or hay) and the remainder grain ration. (Coffee DG, 17)
An adult doe will eat from 3-10 lbs. of hay per day depending on type, quality, waste and other factors. (Belanger, 94)
Grain is a supplement to the goat's usual forage diet. The supplement is needed to support the goat's increased needs for milk production and support of fetal growth. The amount of grain you feed depends on the amount of milk produced.
Rule: Take the amount of milk the goat is producing per day and subtract three lbs. Divide that amount in two. That gives you the amount of feed she should get per day. Then divide that by the number of feedings per day to get the amount per feeding. (Hart)
Example: (If the goat gives 8 lbs. of milk, take 8 lbs. and subtract 3 lbs. That gives 5.lbs. 5 lbs. divided by 2 is 2.5 lbs. of ration per day. Divide that into two feedings (at morning and evening milking), and you get 1 ¼ pounds of grain each morning and evening, along with all the good hay the goat can eat.
Using that rule, here is the amount of grain you would feed for different levels of milk production.
The avg. goat gives 5 lb. milk per day.
If your forage resource is poor and you must feed a lot of grain to very high producing does, then do it in divided amounts throughout the day, and offer sodium bicarbonate so you don’t damage the rumen. (Coffey, DG, 17)
The goat’s body score should be 2.5-4.0 before breeding season.
It is just as dangerous to be too fat as it is to be too thin. If your goat has a body score of 4.5 or more, or below 2, the goat will likely get pregnancy toxemia, so make sure you have treatments available before birthing season starts. (Langston, Training, Nutrition Sectionp.16
Some people recommend flushing (feeding additional grain) two or three weeks before breeding season, to encourage increased ovulations. (Harris and Springer)
According to others, there is no need to “flush” animals with an adequate body score of 2.5 to 4.0. They recommend that you only do flushing if the body score is less than 2. (Haskell)
In the middle of the third month of pregnancy, start to slowly reduce the amount of grain, so that by the beginning of the fourth month, when they are dried off, they receive only forages and no grain. In the last month of pregnancy, they will be started back on grain.
Does should be dried off two months before delivery, and should rest during pregnancy month 4 and 5.
The dry period is important, as it allows the goat’s mammary system to repair. Some people put an antibiotic treatment such as “Tommorrow” into the udder at dry-off to prevent mastitis. (Note: this product does not dry off the goat, it just treats the udder after you have dried off the goat.) Other products seal off the udder to prevent bacteria from entering the canal. (Example product: SureSeal.) the sealants are very effective at preventing mastitis. (Haskell, Mastitis).
Very high producing does need a longer dry period. If you do not allow your does to rest, they will produce only 65-75% as much milk in the next lactation. (Harris and Springer, 1996). (Haskell, Mastitis)
Dry goats should eat forages (minimum of 4 lb. of good forage per day on a dry matter basis, for every 100 lb. of body weight) (Coffey, DG, 18), minerals and buffer free choice. Dry does should not receive any grain the first month they are dry, as long as their body score remains at 3-4. If their score is below 2 feed a little grain each day.
Body score your goats once a week, watching closely for weight loss, especially in does that have a history of multiple births.
The second dry month, start giving grain to all the goats, and build up the amount slowly until they are receiving 1.5 pounds (two ¾ lbs. feedings/day) by the time they give birth.
Note: If you feed poor quality forage in pregnancy, or too much grain late in pregnancy with too fast an increase after birthing, you will lose milk production in the first 12 weeks of lactation. (Morand-Fehr)
If the goat does not dry off naturally by the middle of the third month, milk only once a day for a week, then only milk once every other day until the milk flow stops. There will still be some milk in the udder, which will be absorbed over time.
Increase the doe’s feed slowly until she is receiving 3 pounds of ration (two 1 ½ lb. feedings) by one month after delivery, when she is in her peak production. Production peaks at about 2 months post-partum. At that point, feed according to milk production, as outlined above at “lactating dairy goat.”
A buck needs a 12-14% protein diet. If your hay or pasture test shows less than this, then supplement with whole shelled corn or sweet feed at 0.25% to 0.5% of his body weight.
(Take 0.0025 x ___lbs. body weight, and 0.005 x ___lbs. body weight) plus minerals and water.
Example: for a 200 lb buck, this would be 0.0025 x 200=0.5 lb., and 0.005 x 200= 1 lb so you would give ½-1 lb. per day. If you feed twice a day then you feed ¼ lb - ½ pound per feeding.
Caution: do not feed high amounts of grain all the time. If you feed greater than 1/5% body weight (0.015 x body weight) in grain for a long time, the buck will be prone to urinary calculi. You can correct this by giving a ration that has a minimum amount of phosphorus (twice the amount of Calcium as Phosphorus). You should also give a urine acidifier such as ammonium chloride at 0.5-1.0 % of diet and salt at 1% of diet. (This section summarized from Langston, Training, Nutrition section, p. 18-19, 27)
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