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The Pros and Cons of Bottle-Feeding a Baby Goat

Ellison Hartley is an agriculture advocate and animal lover who believes that life is better on a farm!

Baby Cain, the first day I got him, just a few days old.

Baby Cain, the first day I got him, just a few days old.

Before You Commit to Bottle-Feeding a Baby Goat...

If you take a baby goat from its mom and make the decision to bottle feed it, you are its mom now. This means that you have to make sure you are available to feed it throughout the day (and sometimes at night, if necessary).

There are a million different opinions on what the best feeding schedule is for bottle baby goats. There are a lot of factors involved in making the decision. I'm not going to get into the specifics of a feeding schedule in this article, but I want to emphasize that you may have to rearrange your schedule to make sure the baby goat gets fed.

Cain, the most precious adorable baby ever.

Cain, the most precious adorable baby ever.

Baby Goats Can Be Expensive

The cost of purchasing a baby goat depends on a lot of things. Generally, buying a bottle baby will be less expensive than buying a goat that is older and weaned from its mother. Still, the cost varies anywhere from free to hundreds of dollars if it is a purebred goat of quality breeding.

After that, the main cost involved is for the formula for them to eat. Again, as there are many opinions on feeding schedules, there are also many opinions on what the best brand of formula is. Some people even make their own formula. There are a lot of recipes available online. No matter what route you choose to go as far as milk replacer brand, it is a cost that you would not have if you let the mother raise the baby the good old fashion way.

Cain and Mabel in their pajamas, they were house goats as babies (obviously!)

Cain and Mabel in their pajamas, they were house goats as babies (obviously!)

What Kind of Environment Does a Baby Goat Need?

Baby goats are very susceptible to cold and damp weather. They cannot be exposed to the elements. You need a warm, dry place to keep them. Since you are going to be feeding them throughout the day and possibly night, it should be someplace convenient and close to where you are.

Many people, including myself, opt to keep bottle-babies in the house. As odd as it may sound, it is the easiest way to keep them warm and dry. I keep them in the kitchen, in a little exercise pen.

In order to keep them in the house without making a mess, I put baby diapers on them and onesies. Silly as it sounds, it is a really easy way to keep them warm and dry without having to clean up the mess they make when they go potty.

If they are going to be outside, they should be somewhere that is dry and not drafty. A healthy baby goat can quickly get sick with pneumonia if not kept in a safe environment. Obviously, if you keep them inside, diapers and onesies are an additional cost to raising them this way.

Two Is Better Than One

A baby goat taken from its mother is going to be upset, to begin with. Goats, in general, don't do well alone. They especially don't as bottle-babies.

Keeping a baby goat by itself is tough. You will be its food source not to mention its only friend. Baby goats are very loud, and a lot of times, if living alone, will get very attached to their humans and be very, very loud and sad whenever you leave them.

Also, if kept outdoors they can snuggle up together for warmth. Just like all animals, they generally do better when they have companionship. If you are thinking about raising a bottle-baby, I would seriously consider getting it a friend. You will thank me later.

How to Wean a Baby Goat Off the Bottle

If you have other goats, your bottle-baby will, with time, easily be weaned. They naturally start wanting to put everything in their mouths and if they see other goats eating they will copycat. As they start eating hay and goat feed, you can gradually decrease the milk replacer until they are weaned.

If you do not have other goats for your baby to copycat from, weaning can sometimes be a little harder—mostly because they associate you with their food. Not only will they have a hard time figuring out what the new food is, they will also be missing the nurturing you give them when you bring them their bottles throughout the day.

A baby being weaned off a bottle can be very loud and sad, which is another reason why you might consider buying a pair of them. It is good for them to have each other.

Are Bottle-Baby Goats Really Friendlier?

I believe so. I have found that the bottle-babies that I have raised bonded with me quickly. They trusted people and were not nervous or skittish at all. Even after they were in with the older, adult goats, they still had especially great personalities.

Cain was so precious...how could anyone resist that face?

Cain was so precious...how could anyone resist that face?

What Is the Difference Between a Goat Raised by Its Mother and a Bottle-Fed Goat?

Obviously, letting the mother nurse the baby is the most cost-effective and natural way to raise a goat. However, those who want goat milk for cheese or soap will want to keep that milk for themselves.

I have found the temperament of a baby raised by its mother is dependent on the mother's temperament. If the mother is calm and well-adjusted to people, the baby will have no reason to fear people. If you interact with the baby goat daily, it will most likely be well-adjusted. If the mother is skittish toward people, her baby will most likely be the same way. If mom is afraid, of course, the kids will tend to be afraid, as well. Momma knows best!

To Bottle-Feed or Not to Bottle-Feed?

It is really just a matter of opinion. If you are planning to use the goat's milk, know that your goat won't produce enough milk for both you and her baby. Bottle-feeding is what you will have to do.

If your mother goat is calm and gentle and you plan on spending a lot of time with your goats, that baby goat will most likely be just as sweet, calm, and well-adjusted as a bottle-baby.

If you want to try bottle feeding, I have always found it to be a fun and rewarding experience. As long as you are up for the time commitment and cost, bottle-feeding is a fun way to raise goats.

There really is nothing more adorable than a baby goat, if you ask me! They are even more adorable when they are bottle-fed and think of you as their mommy. Just make sure you do your research and are well prepared so you are up to the challenge!

Bottle-babies are cute and fun, in my opinion totally worth the work.

Bottle-babies are cute and fun, in my opinion totally worth the work.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Comments

Ellison Hartley (author) from Maryland, USA on October 13, 2018:

Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it! I had fun writing it!

Christian Writings on October 12, 2018:

What an adorable post! I would absolutely love to have some baby goats... but for now my kids (human ones) and I will have to settle petting the neighbours goat down the street. Lovely article :)