There are no special dietary restrictions for goat kids due to age. Our kids have access to the same foods as the rest of the herd from day 1 and dam raised kids are often eating alongside their mothers within a couple of days. Bottle fed kids may need some encouragement to learn how to eat hay and pasture, so if possible, raise them with the herd to help them learn. If not, you can teach them by showing and encouraging eating of appropriate foods.
As soon as kidding season begins, I equip the kid creep with kid-sized hay, mineral and water feeders. This area is accessible only to kids, which means the big goats can’t steal all the tasty leaves from the hay and kids quickly learn they have a safe place to eat, rest and play.
The feeder contains free choice alfalfa 24/7. We will begin adding a separate feeder of free choice grass to all animals this winter to allow for self balancing. Kids will consume pasture with their dams, but in the first 8-10 weeks I keep free choice hay available to them as well so they can get as much nourishment as they need to grow.
We use mineral buffet and kids have access to that from day 1 as well. I usually notice them nibbling within the first week of life and it is reassuring to have that balance maintained from the very beginning.
Water is offered in a 1-gallon bucket. They usually begin showing interest in that at a few days old and by then are stable enough to not fall in and drown. You can use a small bowl in the beginning if you’re concerned about the risk of drowning.
When I begin separating kids overnight for milking purposes, I will offer Chaffhaye in the evening as a treat to entice them to go to bed. I put a generous amount in so they can snack on it when they wake up as well.
This is the entire diet for dam raised kids.
Bottle raised kids get only the addition of milk with no other changes.
Retained kids don’t suffer the severe stress of a move and for the most part don’t struggle with coccidiosis issues in our management. If I begin to see diarrhea or other signs of digestive upset, I utilize my system for herdwide herbal dosing as follows:
To one pound of kelp, I add 1/4-1/2 cup powdered herbs. In this case, I would use digestive support herbs: equal parts nettle, mullein, clove, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger and cayenne. I put this out in a small feeder that only kids have access to and let them self medicate.
If anyone develops worsening symptoms of digestive upset, I will implement my coccidiosis protocol. I send home a bottle of this remedy with every buyer who takes a kid with instructions to dose for five days.
Buck kids are weaned at around 10 weeks (I choose 12 weeks but recommend 10 due to collective fear of early breeding), so they are moved out to the buck pen where they continue eating either alfalfa or pasture and the mineral buffet. Doe kids remain with their dams and continue eating alfalfa or pasture and minerals. I usually remove the Chaffhaye around weaning time but will include it if I feel they need an extra boost. If I were continuing to separate at night, I would continue offering Chaffhaye but usually enough kids go home that I have some does without kids and I can just milk those ones for our milk needs.
To sum it up: kids can eat the same hay, pasture and minerals as their parents.
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