I love to raise animals here on our farm, but there are a few things I don’t like. Not because it is hard but it is just a part of raising animals that I don’t like.
Tips to wean baby goats
Weaning baby goats or any kind of a baby can be hard, but it is just a way of life. A baby goat can be weaned anywhere from 6 – 8 weeks old. That just doesn’t seem right to take a baby away from its mom when they are young. I know I am kind of a softie. I like to leave them on the doe for the full 8 weeks but sometimes they need to be weaned at the 6 weeks.
What age to wean
One of the reasons I might wean them at 6 weeks is for the health of the doe. I watch the doe to make sure she is not losing to much weight. Recently I weaned a baby goat a few days before she was 8 weeks old. When I continued to milk the doe she was giving over 4 pints of milk morning and night. I was amazed to think that little doeling was drinking that much milk a day.
Zoe my doe is a good big healthy doe and was doing just fine. I continue to milk her to feed my bottle calves. While another one of my yearling does raised a big healthy wether. I weaned him before 8 weeks because her body weight was going down. She was putting all of her energy into raising that baby goat. It all depends on the health of the doe and the kid.
What I look at before weaning a kid:
- I make sure they are eating other foods really well.
- Are they drinking plenty of water?
- Are they eating mineral?
- How old are they?
- What is the condition of their mom?
If all looks good they are ready to wean. Weaning can be very stressful on babies. The hardest thing is listening to them cry. That is why this is one of the parts of raising animals I really don’t like because they sound so sad. The other one is dehorning or disbudding them, and I don’t like it when they are sick, selling them is hard and the worst is when they die! Ok, I like raising animals that are healthy and live forever on my farm!
Weaning baby goats
When weaning baby goats I do a few things to make it a little easier on them.
- I have 2 pens side by side. I open up both pens so they are comfortable going in and out of both pens and know where to find the food and water.
- With the pens side by side, they are still close to their moms so when I close the gate and wean them they can still see their mom.
- I don’t like to wean babies when the weather is cold or wet I wait for a nicer day. This just adds more stress and can cause their immune system to drop.
- I feed them in both pens so they are used to eating in both places.
- When I wean I try to do it the quietest possible way without a lot of chasing them around causing more stress. Usually, all the babies will go into the weaning pen to eat and play. I simply just close the gate.
After a day or so the babies start to calm down and quit crying for their moms. They already know where the feeder is so they can go eat. By the end of the week, all is well. They still go to the fence to see their moms but are not as concerned about being in the same pen with her.
Weaning a bottle baby
Weaning bottle babies is a different story. They are not attached to the moms but are attached to me. It seems like every time I walk out the door they start bawling for a bottle. I am feeding a couple of babies the moms wouldn’t claim. I milk my goats and then feed my bottle babies. When I get ready to wean them I start cutting the milk back at about 6 1/2 weeks so the babies will start to eat other feed. I don’t take them off of the bottle, I just put less milk in the bottle.
By the end of 8 weeks, they aren’t getting a lot of milk but I do give them a little bit of a bottle just to make them happy. Now you can either take them totally off of the bottle when you know they are eating enough hay or you can take them off of the morning or evening feeding and feed them just once a day. Usually, when I do this I feed them at night so they will calm down and sleep.
After a week or so they stop looking for the morning bottle and it isn’t a big deal. Then I take them off of the evening bottle also.
Weaning kids doesn’t have to be stressful or hard on you or the kids, it is all the technique. Do you have any special tips you could share about weaning your baby goats?
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