Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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Most of you know that I am a firm believer in not having bottle babies. I much prefer to hold their dam to let them nurse for several days or foster them onto another doe with similar-aged kids than bottle feeding for three months. It is neither cost- nor time-effective to have bottle babies plus they never think of themselves as goats and never fit into the herd. Your worst nightmare is a grown buck who was a bottle baby. He will hurt every person on your ranch -- usually unintentionally -- because he thinks he is still a baby (person). "Spoiled" doesn't begin to describe such a buck.

However, the winter of 2009-2010 has been a terrible challenge both to birthing dams and producers, and the choice in some instances has been either bottling newborns or letting them die. Deliberately letting newborn kids die is not an option on my ranch.

Therefore, here is how you calculate what you should be feeding so that you don't over-feed a newborn to (roughly) a 10-day-old bottle baby. Remember, suckling is a very satisfying experience. Newborns and very young kids will nurse until they overeat on milk and die. Floppy Kid Syndrome is a very real possibility.

Weigh the newborn. Convert its weight into ounces. Calculate 10% to 12% of total bodyweight in ounces, divide that number by four feedings, and feed that amount over a 24 hour period. Example: An eight-pound kid weight converted to ounces is 128 ounces. 8 x 16 oz - 128 oz. Multiple 128 oz by 12% = 15.4 ounces. Let's be generous and round up to 16 oz, Divide 16 oz by 4 feedings = 4 oz per feeding. Recognize that this amount varies by sex and number of kids in the litter and is higher for heavier newborns.

Check the kid for a full tummy by placing it on the ground on its feet, supporting its own weight. Stand over it, facing the same direction that the kid is facing. Place your fingers in front of the back legs on both sides of its tummy. The tummy should feel firm, not hard and not squishy. If the formula provided above doesn't accomplish this, adjust it upward a bit until you achieve the needs of that particular kid. This is not a written-in-stone rule; common sense must prevail.

The amount of milk changes as the kid grows, and the percentage of milk to body weight increases too. But by about two to three weeks of age, the kid is much more physically active and eating some solid food, so the chance of over-feeding on milk is lessened.

My point is to illustrate how quickly you can over-feed a newborn or very young kid. This is true if you use goat's milk, cow's milk, milk replacer, or any formulation of your own concoction. A kid will suckle until it drops if you let it. It doesn't know how much is too much milk. You have to control milk amounts, just like dams do. A kid has to have enough time between feedings to digest the milk in its stomach or undigested milk will accumulate and kill the kid. Overeating on milk is a painful death.

The Articles page at my website www.tennesseemeatgoats.com has columns I've written on health problems of newborn and young kids, floppy kid syndrome, how to get a kid on a bottle, and a host of other articles involving kidding problems. Take advantage of the information before kidding begins

Suzanne W. Gasparotto
Lohn, Texas 76852

Meat Goat Mania

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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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