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How To Take Care Of A Newborn Goat

Raising Goats Guide Series 3

A brand new goat has just been born to its nanny.  This is the beginning of a new life for you and the newborn goat.  There is plenty for you to do, starting with removing the wet and cold goo that they come into the world with. 

The goat’s head will be wrapped in a membrane and it may not be able to breathe at first.  Unlike a regular human baby delivery, this is a normal process.  Don’t freak out or overreact because they eventually come to life.

As with a human baby, the umbilical cord should be detached.  If it does not do that with the newborn goat, use two pieces of thread and create a knot around the cord.  Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut between the knots.

Clear the membranes by using a clean cloth or a towel.  You will usually find the membranes on their nose (nostrils) as well as their head.  Take another clean cloth and wrap it around your hand.  Place it inside the newborn’s mouth to remove debris and mucous.

The goat has to be stimulated.  Gently stroke the sides of the goat.  This not only helps with stimulation, but it also helps to get their blood pumping.  Soon afterwards, you will be able to hear them breathing.  Keep the newborn warm and dry with clean towels.

Place a bulb syringe into their throat and suck out secretions or tissues that were left from before.  Close one nostril by pinching it and place the syringe into the open nostril.  Do the same thing with the other nostril. 

If you don’t have a bulb syringe, you can use a strand of clean hay into their nose.  Make jiggling movements with the hay until the baby goat sneezes.  Once they sneeze, any excess that was left should be gone from the nasal cavities. 

Get a container and fill it will iodine solution (7%).  Put the end of the goat’s umbilical cord inside of the container.  With the open end of the container, press it against the newborn’s stomach and cover the entire area with the iodine with the exception of the newborn’s genitals.

Take the teats of the nanny and squeeze them.  You want to get rid of any obstructions and get milk to start coming out.  Place the newborn (or kid) close to their mother.  You are working on feeding them for the first time. 

To get them adjusted, put a tiny bit of milk on the kid’s lips.  If they don’t want it, give them a bottle.  Once they feel like suckling from their mom, they will try again.

After they have been in the world for about an hour, the newborn should have no more than eight ounces of milk.  After that, allow the mother to take care of their child.

Give the milk to the baby goat and place it in a small container.  You will need to collect colostrum, which is the first milk that you will get from them.  Baby goats need this because it helps to keep them healthy. 

See if the baby goat has gotten accustomed to nursing from their mother.  If not, the baby will have to be bottle fed four times every day.  The goat’s milk should always be fresh. 

It is extremely important that your kid gets colostrum.  This first milk has plenty of carbohydrates, proteins and nutrients that your kid will need in order to stay healthy.  It also contains antibodies, which your kid will need for protection. 

Since the kid’s lining in their digestive system adjusts within a day after they are born, the antibodies are needed prior to the adjustments being made. 

The baby goat should be fed regularly every day.  They should be fed at least four times daily.  Their stomachs are small and they need plenty of nutrients.  They will be assured of regular feedings as long as they stay with their mother. 

There may be times when you will have to bottle feed them.  You can use a baby bottle and cut a small X in the tip of the nipple.  They should always be fed goat’s milk; however, raw cow’s milk will suffice when goat’s milk is not available. 

With the latter, three tablespoons of corn syrup is needed for each gallon.  In the event they are not used to cow’s milk, be patient and let them get used to drinking it.

The baby goat should always sleep in a warm and dry area.  Make sure there is enough covering to prevent the goat from being in the sun and the rain.  Ensure that the area is not drafty.  For their bedding, use straw. 

You need to use a material that does not stick to your baby’s coat.  You may need a heat lamp if the baby goat was born in the early spring season or the late winter season.  The heat lamp will keep the baby goat warm. 

Using a warm and damp cloth, clean the kid’s face, ears and back legs every day.  Look on the hooves for debris and remove it.  Make their coat look good by using a soft brush. 

Your baby goat can eat grass hay that is free from mold.  Some good ones to use are Bermuda or Timothy.  You can start feeding it to them after they have turned a week old.  You will need to get a special hay rack just for them.  They will be enough room for their heads to get to the feeder. 

At about eight weeks, slowly get them to eat other goat food.  The food is different and contains enough protein for them.  Follow the instructions to find out how much they can consume.

Trim the hooves on your baby goat.  If you need assistance doing this, check out some agricultural organizations such as the 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America.  They can give you help on what you need to do. 

Trimming hooves is a process that is not to be rushed.  It should be performed on a regular basis.  Otherwise, the baby goat will suffer from health problems in the legs and rotting in their hooves.

Since goats can injure themselves unintentionally, it’s best to remove the horns of the baby goat.  This is called dehorning.  Baby goats can also injure others if their horns are not removed.  If this is your first time, get someone who is experienced in this to assist you.

Once the baby goat has turned three weeks old, they need to be vaccinated.  At six weeks, they need to have a booster.

For the bucks that won’t be bred, they should be neutered.  Four weeks is the earliest that you can start the process.  You can cut, band and castrate them.  If this is your first goat that you’re taking care of, you should band them. 

This method is the easiest way for first timers to learn how to neuter their goats.  A band castrator is used along with a rubber band to place in the scrotum area.  The blood flow stops going to that area.  Their testes are no longer functional and can be removed within two weeks.

Baby goats can get worms.  Schedule time regularly to get rid of them.  Some things you must do to prevent them from coming back include keeping the goat’s living area clean, not to graze a lot and not to have a lot of goats in the same area.

Recommended reading

Raising Goats Guide eBook 
Boer Goat Profits Guide Power Pack

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