How we raise our kids
We begin raising our kids before they are even born. When the doe is eight weeks from freshening (giving birth), she is dried off (we stop milking her) and we gradually give her less and less grain until she is getting only a quality grassy hay. If she was not in milk to start with, then she would have been on this diet since she was bred. If the doe is under a year old, then we keep her on a little bit of grain until the last month of her pregnancy, since she is still growing.
To stop milking, we just stop. Then, 5 days later, we milk her out one last time. This signals to the mammary that production has stopped and her udder will gradually become smaller.
When the doe is 4-6 weeks from her due date, we gradually start to give her high quality alfalfa hay, once a day at first, increasing to twice a day by the time she kids. In leiu of this, you can also use alfalfa pellets. If the doe does not like the pellets (many of our girls do not), then you can use Tums or Calcium Gluconate drench. This is sweet and they really like it. A good dose would be 30cc once a day. This will supplement the calcium the doe needs for her bones AND her growing kids in the last month of pregnancy.
All our goats have free choice access to loose Sweetlix or MannaPro Goat Minerals, baking soda and kelp, since our area is known to be selenium deficient.
Around four weeks before the due date we start them back on a good 16% grain ration, slowly increasing it until by the time she is due, she should be getting 2-3 cups of grain, along with all the alfalfa hay she wants and plenty of fresh water. It helps the first timers (and you!) if they learn to jump up on the milk stand before they kid.
When the kids are born, we remove them from the doe right away, drying them off and dipping their cord and navel in Triodine to prevent bacteria from entering the navel. The kids receive as much warmed, heat-treated colostrom as they want (but no more than 10 oz at a time!), as soon as possible and are put into a pen in the barn or a box in the house. They receive colostrom 4 times the first day and 4 times the second day. Since many of the goodies are taken out by heat-treating the colostrom, I like to add a scoop of powdered Goat Colostrom supplement. It gives the full spectrum of anti-bodies needed to prevent disease. We also give the newborn a teaspoon of baking soda in a couple of ounces of warm water as a bottle at some point in their first 24 hours. This will help to regulate their ph levels and prevent floppy kid syndrome, especially if the birthing process took awhile. If they are born in cold weather, they are either in the house or have a heat lamp above them. Newborn kids do not generate their own body heat for the first 5 days.
A good feeding schedule for the first week would be: 7 am - 11 am - 4 pm - 9 pm
By the third day the kids are receiving pasteurized milk 4 times a day, about 5-6 hours apart since it takes about 5 hours for them to digest it. More than this and you will risk newborn scours. After one week, the kids go to 3 bottles a day of no more than 16 oz each feeding. This is their schedule for the first month. If you put fresh alfalfa hay in front of them, they will learn to nibble on it that very first week. They start nibbling at grain by the second week. We start this by providing them with a bit of oatmeal with a drop or two of molasses on top.
The second month they receive 16 oz pasteurized milk twice a day, and the third month they receive one bottle a day. Everyone feeds their kids a bit differently. There’s no right or wrong way, for the most part. Some folks prefer to start them on grain right from the start. Others prefer to withhold grain from them until they are several months old. We take the middle ground and start giving them 1/2 cup a day of the adult's grain mix when they are 4 weeks old. They may pick through it at first but before long will eat the entire amount. This should be gradually increased to 1 cup twice a day by the time they are two months old and continue through their first year of life.
We used to recommend using Land O Lakes Kid milk replacer but have recently found out that they were bought out by Monsanto. Read their stance on GMO's here: http://www.landolakesinc.com/company/philosophy/FeedingThePlanet/ECMD2-0063671
So use your best judgement when using a milk replacer. We have used Manna Pro Kid milk replacer this past year with great success and it can be found easily at your local Tractor Supply store. (They also make a very good goat mineral.) So we try to add some milk replacer to the kid's bottles by the end of the first week. We like to give our kids 50% pasteurized milk and 50% milk replacer by the time they are two weeks old. This boosts the nutritional value that the pasteurization removes from the milk.
We do not vaccinate our kids but choose to address issues as they present themselves. The adopting family may choose to vaccinate on their own.
By the time the kids are eight weeks old, they should be with their new family, eagerly taking a bottle from their new “mom” or “dad”. This helps transition them to their new home, knowing that their food comes from a trusted human, who they quickly learn to love and respond to. This is a good time to start teaching them their name, just as you would a puppy. They will learn to respond to you when you call them for the rest of their life. The bond you will have with your animals will give you great joy and contentment. A loved and well-cared for animal will serve you well in production and friendship.
*Please note that these are our opinions and not intended to be professional or medical advice in any way