Are you prepared to bottle feed your goat kids? Even if you plan on letting the mother feed the baby, you should learn how to bottle feed goat kids, just in case!
On our farm we dam raise all of our kids. I think it is better for all parties involved and it is easier on me. But every so often we have a mother who rejects all or some of her kids and we end up with a bottle baby.
When this happens you are the kids mother- it can be hard work, especially those first few days, but in the end you get some really sweet kids that will follow you everywhere just like a puppy would! So if you are in a situation where you need to feed a newborn kid, here’s a look at how to bottle feed a goat.
How to Bottle Feed a Goat
When you are expecting kids you should always be prepared for the fact that you might end up bottle feeding. This means powdered colostrum, bottles, and nipples should be part of your kidding kit, just in case. You need to work fast and get milk into the babies as soon after birth as possible and won’t have time to run to the store.
If possible, hold the baby up and force the mother to feed it the colostrum. This gets the powerful antibodies into the kid and it might encourage the mother to change her mind on rejecting the kid.
Related Reading: Signs Your Goat is in Labor (or Will Be Soon)
There are different options when it comes to nipples and bottles- some use cheap baby bottles from the dollar store. We have found the Pritchard nipples work the best for us and the kids accept them much easier than the other options. These nipples will screw on to most standard soda or water bottles.
Getting a kid to accept a nipple can be tricky sometimes- and more so if they have been on their mother at all. You need to remember their natural stance when they are nursing from their mothers and get the bottle in a similar position as her teat would be.
For newborns, I gather them up in my arm, so that their heads are right under my chin. This should get their reflexes going and they will start to but you like the would their mother’s udder. Sometimes it helps to get them sucking on your finger first and then slipping the nipple in their mouth. Once the feel the milk in their mouths they should start to suck.
Newborns can be pretty sleepy- just like humans. We’ve had particularly weak babies that would hardly suck, but would chew on the nipple in their mouths. I let them to this because they were swallowing some milk down as well.
By 24 hours old they had pepped up and were sucking strong. They may not take in much at one time, but feed them often in that first 24 hours.
When and How Often to Bottle Feed a Goat:
The following is the basic schedule we follow when we are bottle feeding:
First 24 Hours: Colostrum from a mother (or other goat) if possible. If you don’t have fresh colostrum from a goat you can use Powdered colostrum. 1/4 cup every 2-4 hours for the first 24 hours. Then move to milk.
First week: approximately 4 oz of milk every 2-4 hours. There is some argument about nighttime feedings but in my experience they can go about 5-6 hours maximum. I keep the kids in the house at night the first 2 nights to get a feel for their schedule and then set alarms to go outside to them after that. I try to get them to the every 4 hour mark pretty quickly- usually by 4 days old or so.
Weeks 2-4: Start spreading out the feedings to every 4-5 hours. They will be able to go longer stretches at night as well-we move our babies to an 8-hour stretch by about 10 days old. They should be getting about 5-6 oz per bottle at first but this amount will go up a bit as they grow larger. We get our babies on this schedule by about 10 days old: 6:30 am, 10:30am, 2:30pm, 6:30 pm, and 10:30 pm.
Weeks 4-5: They should be getting bottles 4 times per day evenly spaced throughout the daylight hours (morning, noon, evening, and just before bed) with each bottle being about 8 oz depending on the size of the kid.
Weeks 5-6: Move to 3 times per day (morning, noon, and night) each bottle containing about 8-10 ounces of milk.
Weeks 7-10 weeks: Give 2 bottles per day, in the morning and evening. Each bottle should have 10-15 ounces milk depending on the weight and appetite of the kid.
Weeks 10-12: Start reducing the amount of milk per bottle or go down to 1 bottle a day. The goal is to have them weaned completely by 12 weeks of age.
The amounts I have listed are just what has worked for us and our goats. Start with less and build up to what your goats seem to be healthy and thriving on.
The biggest thing to remember when bottle feeding a goat is to always leave them wanting more as opposed to overfeeding. If the kid starts to play with the nipple they are done and you can reduce the amount of milk in the next bottle according to how much they took in during the previous feeding.
And if they start to scour reduce the amount of milk per bottle as well. You want their tummies full, but they should not be round and bloated. All goats should have fresh water and forage/hay available as well. We offer some grain once they are a few weeks old.
What to Bottle Feed a Goat:
If possible we use our raw goat milk to feed the babies, but if that is not an option this is the recipe we use as a milk replacer:
- 1 gallon of whole cow’s milk (from the store is fine)
- 1 cup cultured buttermilk
- 1 can of evaporated milk
Simply pour out a few cups of the cows milk, pour in the evaporated milk and the buttermilk and add back in the cow’s milk until the gallon jug is full. Shake gently before each use.
(Note: I have no experience with using powdered milk replacer, I have always used fresh milk or the above mix. I have been warned by MANY, MANY, MANY goat owners to never use the powdered replacer- it will cause scours and likely death in your kids. I would rather spend money on fresh goat or cow’s milk than use it)
I also like to add a pump of Nutridrench to at least one bottle a day for the first few days for an added nutrient boost. If you use this mix and eventually need to move them to goat milk make sure you do it gradually so you don’t mess up their digestion and cause scours.
Want more help? Check out The Busy Homesteader’s Goat Management Binder! It has a newborn checklist to help get your babies off to a great start. Plus to-do lists, record keeping sheets, checklists, and resource pages to help keep your herd happy and healthy!
I am not a veterinarian. This article is based on our experience bottle feeding our own goats.
Hi, I have a baby goat which refuses to drink from a bottle any suggestions on what I could do to get her to feed without having to force-feed? She was rejected by the mother a month and a half after she was born but was able to feed up to that point. We noticed she was just not keeping up with her three other brothers in weight and growth. So we started paying attention to her feedings the mother was just not willing to feed all four kids.
we have fed baby goats over 400 in our married yrs we always use they milk replacer that is real milk never soy they all do well we use to use purnia now we use silver we have lost some but saved most we use it half strength to calves milk
My baby is 2 weeks and 4 days old. When do I start introducing him to water/ hay/ feed?
I just had a doe give birth yesterday to 3 kids but she won’t produce any milk so I have to bottle feed. I couldn’t get them to take either so what I did was hold them like a baby and then they drank the bottle right away. Now they drink it all with out having to be held. It seemed to work great for all three kids I have.
Please do not “hold like a baby” ever. . . goats are always to be sternal (on their sternum or up right, never on their sides or on their backs) it messes with their rumen. To get a baby to eat, hold their head with the palm of your hand across their eyes and nose and open mouth with finger and shove the nipple in. . . most goats should “go to town ” on a nipple, if not put molasses on it
What I do is start by using an eye dropper to feed the first couple times that gets them to taste it and want to eat. Next I try to get them over to the nipple however when you buy a new nipple they usually have too small of a hole so I make it bigger but be careful once you cut the nipple you can’t make the hole smaller but when it is too small new babies can’t hardly get anything out of them so they get tired of trying and refuse they need to be able to easily get the milk out but if it leaks when holding the bottle nipple down it is too big
What about mineral requirements especially copper with bottle feeding with this recipe ?
ow gosh, I just read about the powdered milk. And I just gave that for a few days to my kid! We don’t have fresh milk where I live. And neither buttermilk. I have the kid now and if I have to order things online than it takes al least two weeks before it reaches here (Sint Eustatius, Dutch Caribbean). What can you suggest?
You should be fine. This is a great schedule but like you butter milk is hard to get so when I got my first bottle baby she came with powdered replacement and never had a problem so I continue using it with all my babies. Some powdered milk re placers are better than others.
Powdered milk replacer is fine . Just remember to err on the side of caution and make it a little thin.
Heavy whipping cream in a jar, shake it till it gets lumpy and forms a ball, pour out the liquids and now you have buttermilk, and a jar of butter:)
This makes a type of buttermilk, but not the cultured buttermilk I am talking about here.
I just got my first set of baby goats 3 weeks ago. Chewy the now (per my neice gender free) wether, and Stella the doeling, 2 days older. I started on goats milk from Chewy’s birth home and after a week went to 25% goat replacement (formula) and several days later 50/50 roughly. I have to visit the very generous 4H-ers home every 2-3 days but at just over 4 weeks all is good. A little newborn softies but no diarrhea. I have Chewy 80% peepee trained and Stella, arg, likes to jump on my bed to pee. I grabbed her up today and since then has gone 3x outside for me with Chewy.
My 4Her says to break them in gradually, we are at 50% and holding. I use the Manna Pro Kid Milk Replacer as it is what was available at my local feed store.
I use a powdered whole milk product for my babies. Called Nido. They love it, plenty of minerals, and holds well in the pantry. I add a touch of probiotics to help as well. Mine wouldn’t eat the powdered milk replacer at all.
We use whole milk never lost a kid on whole milk.
Sarah, thank you for the information! I am wondering if the cow’s milk has to be straight from the cow or if it can be store bought? Thank you in advance! – Lauren
When we don’t have the goat’s milk and use this recipe we use whole milk from the store.
Should you worm it up
I did warm it up slightly and the liked it.
I have purchased powdered feed and two nipples yellow with red end, there Wes not a hole in the ten, i s
Used a pin to make a hole in the end and I have fo force the milk to come out, my question is how or what do I use tp make a proper hole?
I’ve always uses sharp scissors and made as small a hole as possible
Instead of cutting off the end of the Pritchard nipple or trying to pierce it I recommend cutting long wize with a razor blade so that the two halves of the little tip come back together. It won’t drip or run out that way.
We are bottle feeding our first kid. What kind of hay do you feed them? Thanks!
Going to pick up our first baby today she is 11 days old mom is a loner and wont let her nurse enough. Can I use your cow /butter/evaporated recipe until she weans at 10-12 weeks? We dont have acceas to goats milk.
My baby goat is doing very well on the whole milk recipe
I used Doe’s match Dried Formula that you can buy at the feed store it is made for goats I always liked this before I found what i have been using now. But If i could go back and do it all over again I would feed whole cow’s milk instead of the powdered goat formula. she didn’t get the runs but she didn’t really grow like the goats are that i am now bottle feeding.
I have been bottle feeding 2 kids with Whole cow’s milk and 1 is a 4 1/2 week old Buck and 1 was just born on 3-8-2018 Mom didn’t reject her but she had 3 kids and couldn’t do it all her self so i opted to bring her in to the house and bottle feed. But Mom still licks this baby when she is out side But she doesn’t let her nurse from her but she will mother her with the other 2 kids but i bring her in the house during the night.
I think if i were to put her back with mom and the 2 kids she would feed her but i don’t think she has enough milk for 3 kids like my 2 other proven mothers do but hey 3 kids for a first time Mom is amazing
We have fresh milk from our Jersey cow and I make cultured buttermilk from it. What is your reason for adding evaporated mark to the mix? Is that necessary?
If you have access to fresh, raw, cow milk….I would just feed that with no additions.
Thank you so much for this article. One of our babies is struggling, and this was so helpful. I drove the hour to town to get to the farm store and picked everything up today—
Hey, my baby goat just died today afternoon.I bought 2 baby goats from few days they were too sick not even able to stand up so i took them to my home with me and did my very best to make them eat…nd adored them very much..They both have diarrhea…dark green loose stools…i took them to vet nd he gave them tab for stomach insects and controlling diarrhea and lactic acid bacillus powder..and he said to mix it with banana….so i gave this to both….and today afternoon my 1 baby died very painfully idk why….nd my other baby is still in pain i guess because she is grinding her teeth…she is very weak nd can’t stand up after she sits…. I can’t trust that doctor now… I’ve lost my baby today….please help me save my another baby….if you can tell me what i can do now…her diet or anything I’ve to do to make change….please help me…!!!
What is their diet right now? What are they eating? Age? Feel free to email me for help as well.
Sarah, I want to thank you for your website!
We are relatively new to goat raising maybe 3 years but this was only the second time for babies. We bought Mama goat as a companion for Billy (our granddaughter’s goat) who was neutered. She must have been pregnant when we bought her and I’m sure he did not know. She presented us with triplets new years eve 2 years ago 2 males 1 female.
In the mean time we were gifted 2 males (people seem to want to get rid of them). In January Mama had 4 babies and 2 days later her daughter Belle had twins. We were keeping an eye on the 4 babies to make sure they were all getting fed and everything seemed fine until we were hit with a freeze in early Feb. My husband always counts them to make sure they’re all there and one was missing. He found her in the barn very cold and barely able to move. I guess the rest left her sleeping and with no additional body heat she just couldn’t move. We brought her in and it took me several hours of cuddling and finally putting her in a cardboard box swaddled in towels and draped a heating pad over the top before I could get her warm enough to try to feed her some warmed formula.
She was so weak I had to use a syringe and drop it in her mouth. We had the powdered goat milk so I mixed it up and started her on feedings as soon as she started responding. First out when she started sucking I over fed her so she got diarrhea. So I cut back on the amount and added a little more water to make sure it wasn’t mixed too strong even though I followed directions.
I researched everything I could find online about feeding baby goats. Most of it says don’t feed them cows milk it won’t work and it’s not good for them!!!! Several days in and still diarrhea. I had given her some Pepto because one site said it was okay it didn’t really slow the diarrhea. My husband took her to the vet and she has parasites and coccidiosis. They treated her in the office and sent medication home for us to treat the next 4 days.
Three days later still having diarrhea so last night I researched the internet some more and found your site about everything but specifically about feeding baby goats. You said feed them cows milk if necessary. That was all it took. So last night she had about 3 ounces of cow’s milk…..no problems. This morning only a little loose stool. Oh I think we have something going here. She has had 3 feedings of 4 ounces and NO more diarrhea!
Today was sunny and kinda cold but my husband took her out for a little while and she joined the other goats. Mama wouldn’t let her nurse which doesn’t surprise me but at least they didn’t reject her. We’ll work on the rest.
I know this is super long but let me say again how happy I was to find your site. I hate to think that I worked so hard to save this precious life from freezing only to lose her to scours.
What can I feed my month old babies besides their milk? Any certain types or brands or grain or oats?
They will start nibbling on grass and weeds. You can give them hay. You can also start giving some grain, maybe just a handful or so to get them used to eating. You can get a goat feed from the feed store or rolled oats….
We have a bottle baby, rejected by momma, now six weeks old/15lbs. We feed her 3x daily, 16 oz, your formula and she’s doing great (thank you!) She still seems hungry; how much should she max out at? When can we reduce to 2 feedings daily?
At that age I think the amount of milk you are giving is probably appropriate. Have you encouraged her to forage/eat hay? I usually move to 2 bottles a day around 7 weeks.
I was told by a vet to use a can of sweetened condensed milk. That it was better for them than evaporated milk because of the sugar content. The sugar gives them energy.
I wouldn’t use condensed milk. They don’t need all of that sugar. If you want extra energy, adding something like nutra-drench is a much better option.
I’m back again and that baby is just doing great. I quit the powdered goat formula and just use the formula that you posted using cow’s milk. I just have one question though. I see the recipe on several sites and it always says 1 can evaporated milk but there are two sizes so which size? I’ve kind of winged it on that point.
I’m sure this is probably an old comment thread but hopefully I can get an answer :) We just bought 4 5 week old kids and they had been fed just cows milk. Is it ok to add this to their milk all at once or do we need to add it little by little to get them used to it? I’m hoping it will help them not be so hungry as they are each eating 35-40 ounces a day and seem very hungry before and after every feed.
You should making all changes to their feed gradually.
how warm should the milk be
Do you use whole cows milk From the grocery store or fresh cow’s milk?
Yes, whole milk from the grocery store, though if you have access fresh would be better
If you’re down to just one bottle would you give it to them morning or night we currently do the morning
What is the best type of hay and feed to use.
I have almost two week old goat who is gone off her bottle and shivers and grinds her teeth afterward like she’s in pain, I have been giving her the electrolyte mix instead for the past two feeds but she hardly drinks it she normally gets 4oz milk replacer every 4hours, any advice is appreciated thanks
Hello! I have an 8.2 lb 12 day old doe kid that was a triplet not getting to eat because of larger sisters.
How much should I be feeding her a day of your mixture. My concern is her not getting enough. I see the amounts you should feed on the powdered mixes, but didn’t know if this should be about the same.
Thanks in advance!
Hello! I just had two babies born yesterday and they are up moving with mama and trying to feed but I’m worried they aren’t getting any/enough milk from mama. The mama won’t let us get near her enough to try and see if she is producing milk (she’s always been skittish). So my question is, can you supplement bottle feeding even if they are getting milk from mama to make sure they are getting fed. TIA
Could I use evaporated goat’s milk in place of the plain evaporated milk?
Hi can you give a baby goat powderd cow colostrum? thanks
Thank you for all the awesome resources you offer on your site. I have learned so much. Thanks to you I am finally ready to get ducks this spring.