Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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The Best Way to Handle Orphaned and Rejected Kids

Occasionally you will encounter a kid that has been orphaned, is hypothermic, has not bonded with its dam, or has had the bond broken with its dam, leaving it without adequate nutrition (milk).

The best course is to make the dam nurse its kid, if she is available. With a weak (hypothermic) kid whose dam is able to nurse it, try to use the dam's colostrum and milk when feeding the kid. Dams identify their kids primarily by smell. Notice how they smell the rear of each kid that gets near them. Dams are checking for their scent of their own milk in the kids' feces.

If the kid is a weak newborn, the immediate short-term solution to getting nutrition into it is to stomach tube some of the dam's colostrum into the kid. When the kid is stabilized enough to go back to its dam, smear some of the dam's placental tissue over the kid's body. If placental tissue isn't available, put some of the dam's colostrum or milk on the kid's nose, head, butt, and along its spine (topline) in an effort to convince the dam that it is her kid.

If you want the kid to nurse its dam or graft it onto another dam, do not put the kid on a bottle. It will get used to the feel of the nipple and will resist sucking a teat that feels different.

If the doe is rejecting the kid because it is hypothermic/weak, putting the kid back with its dam will probably have to be delayed for several days. Using the dam's milk is therefore more important for re-bonding. Don't put a sick or weak kid with its dam too soon. You can always take steps to get its dam to take it back once you get the kid healthy. It will relapse quickly and possibly die if you rush this process.

Fellow long-time goat raiser Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch near Damascus, Arkansas puts the problem kid, once stabilized, and its siblings in a wire crate inside the dam's pen. Then she lets the kids out several times a day to nurse so that they eat at the same time. In a couple of days, the dam usually treats them all equally.

If the kid is several weeks old and doing poorly, it has likely never had a full tummy in its life and is used to getting along on what milk it can steal, so it is wise to stomach tube the kid small amounts several times so it knows what a full tummy feels like. Keep water buckets out of the kid's reach; the starving kid will drink water to fill its stomach and you will soon find it dead.

The kid may have to be allowed to get a little bit hungry before it will nurse the dam's teat. Hold the dam and make her let the kid nurse several times a day. After about a week, even the most determined dam should accept the kid if the kid is about the same size and age of the kids she lost or the kids she currently has nursing her. If the dam will not or cannot take the kid, then you must graft it onto another dam with fewer kids or a dam whose kids have died. But do not overload her. If she has one kid, give her a second one. Do not make her take another kid if she already has two kids of her own. While it is not impossible to get a dam with nursing kids to accept and raise kids younger or older than hers, it usually works much better when the kids are of similar age and size.

It is important for both you and the kid that it not become a bottle baby. Sometimes it is unavoidable when other does aren't available to adopt it. It is much easier to spend a week convincing a doe to adopt a kid than to bottle it for three months (not to mention costs involved) plus the kid will not have had its adaptability taken from it by making it a bottle baby.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 3.2.20

References available at www.tennesseemeatgoats.com :

Collecting and freezing colostrum and goat milk

Weak and abandoned newborns


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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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