Caring for abandoned kids or kids from dry does


Caring for abandoned kids or kids from dry does

It sometimes happens that a doe is not able to nurse and take care of her kid after giving birth. This could be because the doe has died, its unhealthy, its not producing enough milk or it abandons its kid due to lack of experience.

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If this happens you must act quickly to save the kid’s life. Caring for an abandoned newborn kid is a bit of work for a few weeks, but you’ll have a good chance of success if the kid is otherwise healthy. The kid needs a warm, draft-free environment to be able to survive.


First things first, Colostrum Colostrum, the first milk a doe/ewe produces after she gives birth, is key to giving a baby goat a strong, healthy start. Since baby goats are born without immunity, goat colostrum helps provide immune protection until their immune system are fully functional. It provides important antibodies the doe is unable to pass on during pregnancy. The body of a newborn kid is uniquely suited to absorb these antibodies into the bloodstream via the intestines especially in the first 24 hours.

A doe’s colostrum provides the best nutritional start for her newborn kid because it contains antibodies specific to your herd and environment. Timing is everything when it comes to providing goat colostrum to newborn goat kids. As time ticks by following birth, so does the antibody concentration in doe’s colostrum.

Baby goats should begin to nurse naturally within hours of birth. If they do not nurse within 4 hours or receive an adequate amount of goat colostrum for whatever reason, you’ll need to step in to assist. One way of achieving this is milking another goat that has recently given birth and bottle feeding the colostrum to the lamb. If this option is not available, you either need to make your own colostrum replacement or use the commercial versions.

The following recipes shared by a few goat breeders can come in handy when you need to make your own colostrum replacement:

Recipe 1

1 litre cow/goat milk

250 ml fresh cream

1 egg yolk from a chicken on your farm. Take care in seperating the white from the yellow as the egg white cause diarrhea.

At Zazo Boergoat Stud Farm, we have adopted this colostrum replacement recipe. We keep free range chickens in the goat pens to provide eggs when we need them.

Recipe 2

I litre milk

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon of glucose powder

Recipe 3

Half litre milk

Half litre warm water

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon castor oil 1 teaspoon cod liver oil

As a guideline feed 4-6 times daily to achieve 10-15% of the lamb’s body weight per day. Some farmers feed the colostrum replacement for 24 hours and some do it for up to 4 days. At Zazo Boergoat Stud Farm, we prefer to feed the colostrum replacement for 2 days after birth.

It is also recommended to warm the mix to the goat’s body temperature of 38-40 degrees celsius. Also disinfect the tits and bottles thoroughly before and after each feed to avoid contamination. If you are feeding the mix for more than a day, make fresh mixes each day.

Find a foster mum

After ensuring that the kid consumes colostrum, try to find him a foster mother. If you keep several does and have others with kids, you might persuade one of the mothers to take on another baby. If the doe just kidded, don gloves and rub the placenta of her kid all over the abandoned kid. If the strange kid smells just like her own, she’s more likely to accept him and allow nursing. If there’s no placenta available, place a menthol nasal
product in the doe’s nose and on all of the kids’ heads, tails and abdomens. That could fool the doe into thinking the newborn is hers.

Goat milk replacer If no doe is available, you’ll have to bottle-feed the kid. Feed your kid milk replacer that’s designed specifically for goat or sheep kids. You’ll have to mix a fresh batch every day based on the product specifications. It is recommended feeding a half-cup to three-quarters of a cup four times a day for the first three days. From the fourth day to the second week, increase the amount of milk replacer to 1 cup or 1 1/4 cups, but the kid needs only three feedings daily. From the ages of 2 weeks to 6 weeks on, feed 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups twice daily. From age 6 weeks to 12 weeks, increase the amount to 2 1/3 to 3 cups twice a day. After 12 weeks, you can wean the kid.

Solid foods

By the end of the kid’s first week of life, you can introduce small amounts of grass hay or lucerne. By the age of 10 days, introduce the kid to a starter feed that’s 18 percent to 20 percent protein. The kid should have access to fresh water at all times.

Credits Zazo Boergoat Stud

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