Archive | 6:49 pm

What a Goat Kid Eats

28 Mar

Diet is one of the most important things to ensure a kid grows well and is strong and healthy.  When they are born, kids will almost immediately start trying to stand and make their way back to their mom’s udder and drink that colostrum.  There is an increasing number of people who immediately remove kids from their mothers to prevent the spread of CAE (see info source below), but all of my girls are allowed to raise their babies if they are able.

Pam and Daughters

It provides them with much needed nutrients and calories and antibodies to help build a strong immune system.  Once the kid(s) start nursing, the doe’s milk will come in.  This will be the kid’s main food source until they are weaned between one and three months.  I wean at two months if needed for health reasons (mom sick or run down), but I prefer to wait until closer to three months.

Squirt nursing

Goats are ruminants.  Even though they haven’t fully developed their rumen at birth, they will start eating roughage at a fairly early age.  Kids will start to eat grass or hay with their nanny when just a few days old.

Rocky sampling his mother's hay

They are not really getting the nutrients from this hay because their rumen isn’t developed, but it gets them started eating it and helps with development of the rumen.  They will start getting some nutritional benefits from the hay at just a few weeks old.  Besides, it’s fun to see the kids eating with their moms.

Bullwinkle eating with his mom

He chews and chomps away and even wears a little on the top of his head.

Bullwinkle eating hay

Kizzy’s daughters are also starting to eat hay.

Bonnie eating hay

Soon, the kids will start eating grain with their mothers as well.  I have a couple who are already sampling corn at the age of two weeks, but most of them wait until they are four to six weeks old before they start on the corn.

Even though they will not drink much at first, it’s also important to make sure kids have access to fresh clean water.  To start with, they will probably stick their nose in and then spit and snort, but it won’t take long before they start drinking it.

In addition to milk, hay and water, it’s important to provide minerals for the goats as well.  You can buy a lick tub that is made specifically for goats.  Fionn is sampling the salt/mineral block.

Fionn sampling the mineral block

I’m lucky when it comes to minerals.  Where I live, just the mineral block or lick tub is sufficient for their needs.  Some areas have such low levels of copper (or other minerals) that additional supplements are necessary for proper growth and nutrition.  It’s important to know what minerals need to be supplemented in your area.  You can ask a vet or an experienced goat owner.

Weaning is done at different ages, depending on the needs, purpose and resources of the person.  No matter what age the kid is weaned, it’s important to make sure they are eating roughage and grain before the milk is removed from their diet.

Source of information: my own experience and  HERE.