How to Care For Your Newborn Goat!
I can still remember the excitement and nervousness that I felt when my first set of baby goats were born! Now don’t get me wrong, it’s exciting every time we have new babies, but that first time was extra special!
It was also very nerve wracking! I was so worried that I would do something wrong! Or forget to do something! I called and text my friend Maureen (the goat expert?) I don’t know how many times asking for advice!
Now fast forward a handful of years and we are eagerly awaiting our first set of babies for the season! We have had many experiences along the way. Some births went smoothly, a couple didn’t. I have had babies already born and waiting for me when I went out in the morning and I’ve had does that had problems and needed help. I’ve watched babies being born from the sidelines, and I’ve had to actually go in and turn a couple of babies around and pull them out myself! (We will cover this in a future post as well as mom care for after birth!) Fortunately, so far, all of our births have had happy endings!
Having goats truly is an adventure!
But today we are going to focus on caring for babies right after birth.
What You Need:
First let’s go over a list of all of the items that you will need to care for your newborn goats and the links to where you can find them. Then we will discuss why you need these items and when and how exactly to use them.
6. 6cc Syringe
8. Small cup (about the size of medicine cup)
9. Weigh tape or scale
10. Carry tote to store baby care items
11. Several towels & paper towels
12. 16.9 oz. plastic soda bottles and funnel
14. Large plastic tub with hay
15. Baby Wipes
Ok, so that’s the list. Don’t let it overwhelm you. There really is not as much as it seems! And once you get everything set up you’re ready to go and will be caring for babies like a pro!
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Be sure to get a carry tote to store your baby care items in. This will also make it easier when babies come. You will already have everything in one place and can just grab it and run!
Before we get started!
Now before we get started on the how and why I just want to make sure that we’re on the same page. This post assumes that you are going to be bottlefeeding the baby and that you are going to take it from the mother at birth. If you are not, then you will be able to skip some of these steps and will not need some of the items on the list.
I have several reasons for why I take the babies from the mom and bottle feed.
The first reason is that my goats are dairy goats. Which means that I will be milking them for my family. So I milk the goat twice a day, give the baby what it needs in a bottle and keep the rest for my family.
The second reason is that I sell my babies to those that are either planning on milking goats themselves or showing goats.
My goats are registered dairy goats and come from good show lines. While I do not show myself, some of my customers do. Nobody that shows goats wants a goat that was dam raised.
Dam raised means that a goat was nursed by its mother.
Dam raised kids tend to be more skiddish and not as trusting of people. Bottle fed babies on the other hand love people and look at the person that bottle feeds them as their mother!
If you are going to show or milk a goat you definitely want it to be bottlefed. It will make your life much easier if you have a people friendly, gentle goat!
Step 1 Immediately after birth:
Alright, so we have our supplies on hand and your baby goat was just born!
Immediately dry the baby off with a towel, wiping off as much of the goo as possible. Make sure to wipe off the nose and mouth so that the baby can breathe properly.
I do let the baby stay with the mom for about 10 to 15 minutes or so to lick the baby clean. This is beneficial for the mom and helps her to pass her placenta.
Step 2 Nutridrench:
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After wiping the baby clean I give it 4cc of Nutri-Drench in its mouth using a 6cc syringe.
This gives the baby a high energy boost, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, electrolytes and antioxidants. The baby will recover from birth faster and take a bottle better. You can repeat this if needed according to the directions on the bottle. But for healthy strong babies I usually give them just one dose at birth.
Step 3 Cord Care:
Next let’s look at the babies umbilical cord. The cord will detach from the mother on its own during birth, so you won’t have to worry about that. You should not cut the cord unless it is really long. I trim it with scissors so that it is 3 to 4 inches long.
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Once the cord is a good length you are going to take your small cup, fill it with betadine, and dip the cord in it.
Make sure that you dip the cord all the way in up to the goats belly. Hold it in the cup for a few second, making sure that it is fully covered.
This step is very important as it will help to prevent infection and help the cord to dry faster. You can repeat this step an hour or so after birth if you would like.
If for some reason the baby’s cord is bleeding a lot during the first day or so you have to tie it off. I have used dental floss and that seems to work well!
You just don’t want the baby to bleed out from its umbilical cord. If it’s just a little bit it should be fine and should dry up on its own. If it is bleeding a lot and the floss doesn’t seem to be working contact your veterinarian.
Step 4 Feed Babies:
As soon as you have given your baby Nutridrench, dipped its cord and wrapped it in a towel, put it in a warm spot. Here in florida we find a nice sunny spot, but up north you’re going to want to find a nice warm spot inside.
Now you are going to take the mom, put her on your milk stand and milk her. I will include more info and better pics of this in my Mom After Birth Care post and my How To Milk post as well.
But, I will tell you now not to milk her all the way out. I normally milk my does half way the first two or three times so as not to shock their systems.
It is very important to milk her right away because you need to get colostrum into the baby within an hour after birth. Also, milking the mom will help her to pass the placenta faster if she hasn’t already done it.
Ok, you have your milk, so now what do you do with it?!
Remeber that odd item on the list, soda bottles?! This is where they come in. I use the Pritchard Teat Nipples that screw right onto a soda bottle. Just cut the very tip off of your nipple to make sure that the milk can come out.
Also, you have to use a soda bottle. The majority of water bottles are too thin and the baby will suck it flat while drinking milk. The soda bottles are thicker and more heavy duty. If you can find a similar bottle that the nipple will fit on then that’s fine, but from what I’ve found soda bottles are the easiest to find.
My family does not drink soda. So we buy them during kidding season and dump the soda out. Make sure you rinse them out before adding milk!
Immediately after milking pour the colostrum into your bottle using a funnel. Screw on your nipple and you are ready to feed your baby!
To feed the baby sit him or her on your lap.
Hold the neck of the bottle in between your thumb and forefinger with the nipple in your palm. Using the palm of the same hand cup the babies chin.
Cup your other hand on the back of the babies head.
Using your fingers of the hand holding the bottle push the nipple into the babies mouth from the side.
Look at the above pictures to see how I feed my babies.
Once the baby tastes the milk it should start to suck. If it’s not interested wait a few minutes and try again. Don’t panic if it won’t drink very much at first. Just keep trying and eventually it will get the hang of it!
I’ve had babies suck down half a bottle right after birth and others that didn’t act interested at all.
You can leave the babies bottle out at room temperature for quite a while. If you do end up refrigerating it, be sure to warm it in hot water before feeding it to the baby. You can test it on your wrist just like you would for your own baby:)
I have also attached this FREE printable that tells how often and how much you should feed your baby goats!
Something else that is associated with feeding is pooping! At first the baby’s poop will look like tar. It’s actually very similar to the meconium that human babies pass after birth. After the baby starts drinking milk it will turn yellow and become more firm.
If the baby was with the mother she would lick the baby clean. And since the mother isn’t there you are going to have to wipe it off to prevent it from hardening over. I find that baby wipes work great!
Step 5 Weigh the baby
After the baby has been fed you need to weigh it. I use a weigh tape, but if you have a scale you can use that as well. Record the babies weight as well as its date of birth.
Step 6 Vitamin B-Complex
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Vitamin B-Complex is a high potency injectable multivitamin for use in the relief of B vitamin deficiencies and to provide supplemental nutritional vitamins.
I give it to all of my babies at birth. It gives them a nutritional boost as well as helps to strengthen them. In my experience it helps babies to bounce back from the stress of birth faster. It is especially useful if you have a weak baby.
I give my babies 1cc under the skin. For very small babies I might do a half of a cc. You don’t want to overdose.
For example, the babies pictured in this post are twins. One twin is 11 pounds and the other is only 5 pounds! I gave the larger one a full cc, whereas I only gave the smaller Baby half a cc.
Also, my goats are large breed goats. The babies featured here are Oberhasli goats. For smaller breeds such as Nigerians, I would definitely give half of a cc.
The above photo shows how I inject the Vitamin B-Complex.
You might want to have someone help you hold the baby still to do this.
I inject it behind the front leg. Grab the skin with your thumb and forefinger and pull it away from the body.
Inject the needle into the pocket at the bottom of the skin that you have pulled out, pushing up.
Do not inject towards the body, inject it parallel to the body. The needle should stay just under the skin and should not enter the muscle or body.
By pulling the skin away before injecting you are less likely to penetrate deeper than you should. Make sure that the needle doesn’t go back through the skin and that the tip stays under the skin.
If you go back through then you are just squirting Vitamin B all over yourself and the baby is getting none!
If it doesn’t go in but squirts on you, your hands will be orange like this!
Slowly push in the syringe making sure that it it’s not leaking out from the injection site.
When all of the Vitamin B-Complex is injected pull the needle out. Then massage the spot to help the Vitamin B-Complex to absorb into the body.
If the above pics are hard to follow here are some pics of me injecting Vitamin B-Complex into the mother. She is on a milk stand which makes for much better pics than a squirming baby!
Step 7 Selenium & Vitamin E
This step might not be necessary. I only administer Selenium & Vitamin E Gel when I have a weak baby with weak legs. I wanted to include it though, because if you do have a baby in that situation you want to be prepared!
I follow the dosage guidelines on the container. It comes in a dial a dose tube, but I always put it in a 6cc syringe to administer it. I worry that I will overdose it by using it directly from the tube and I like to be certain that I’m giving the baby the correct amount.
Where to Keep The Baby:
For the first few days you are going to want to keep the baby inside. Don’t panic! You do not have to let a baby goat run around your house:)
I put a jumbo rubber storage container by my back door filled with hay. This is where we keep the baby until it is big enough to go outside with other babies its size.
How long you keep your baby inside depends on the weather and your goat housing conditions. If you live in frigid conditions you will want to keep it somewhere warm until it is big enough not to freeze. If you have a barn that is somewhat warm you can move it there after a few days. It also helps if it has other babies to cuddle with for warmth! I live in Florida and after several days we move the babies outside.
Be sure to change the hay in the tub frequently so that the baby has a nice clean, dry place to lay. Plus it gets pretty stinky if you don’t!
Now For The Fun Part:
And that’s it! You did it! Congratulations! You have given your baby goat a very successful start!