Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas Suzanne W. Gasparotto 300 Happy Ridge
Lohn, Texas
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Getting a kid to nurse a bottle takes time and patience. Here is how to do it.

Convincing a newborn to accept a bottle is much easier than an older kid. The older kid, even if only a few days old, will fight acceptance of the nipple because it does not feel like its dam's teat. You may have to let the kid get hungry by waiting six or eight hours before offering it a bottle. Do not let the kid have access to milk or water during this initial bottle training or it won't be hungry enough to nurse. A kid who has never received enough milk since birth will manage to live off this inadequate supply until its growth rate finally demands more milk. That kid will drink water to fill its stomach and one day you will find it dead from starvation.

I use Prichard teats because they are longer than human baby bottle nipples and fit the shape of the kid's mouth. Sometimes wetting and sprinkling the Prichard teat with granulated sugar will whet the kid's interest. Sit or kneel on an over-turned five-gallon bucket or seat of similar height and place the kid between your legs, facing away from your body. Place your thumb across the bridge of the kid's nose and your fingers under its chin, then insert the nipple of the bottle into the kid's mouth using your other hand. Put your fingers over its eyes to simulate the darkness of being under its mother's legs. Hold the nipple in the kid's mouth, slowly moving it in and out of the mouth and squeezing gently. Take care not to flood the kid's mouth with milk that could be aspirated into its lungs.

Once the kid learns that the nipple delivers milk, it should begin to suck, but do not expect this to happen on the first few tries. When the kid figures out how to nurse the bottle, you can sit on the bottom of a five-gallon bucket, place the bottle under your knee, and the kid will feel like it is nursing under its dam's legs.

Premature and slow-to-learn kids can benefit from a 1/2 cc injection of prescription Vitamin B1 (thiamine) to help "wake up the brain."

Caution: Most people feed too much milk too often to newborn and young bottle babies. The greatest risk of overfeeding milk is from birth to three or four weeks of age. Once a kid is mature enough to eat solid food, the risk of feeding too much milk is somewhat reduced. See my article on Overfeeding Bottle Babies on the Articles page at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com for the formula for determining how much milk to feed based upon the kid's weight in ounces.

If at all possible, graft an orphaned or rejected kid onto another dam. Bottle babies are not desirable. They are expensive to raise, almost never fit in with the herd because they view themselves as people, may wind up on the bottom of the pecking order, usually don't stay with the herd well, and are dangerous when grown because they still perceive themselves as that little kid that used to climb into your lap.

The most dangerous goat on your ranch is a grown male who still thinks of himself as a human because he imprinted on humans as a bottle baby. Someday he will hurt someone unintentionally -- probably you.

Goats are livestock with instincts and behaviors that make them need to be part of their herd. They are healthier, happier, and safer when they are allowed to be goats.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 3.2.20

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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. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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