To allow bonding the doe must clean and groom her kids and remain undisturbed for two to four hours. Usually the kidding should be without any external intervention. However, one may intervene only in these conditions:
• When there is mal-presentation or difficulties in kidding.
• When the kid does not bleat or breathe because the doe failed to clean it, remove the membrane over the nostrils
• Cutting the navel and application of iodine. Iodine application is not necessary if bedding is clean.
• When there is no bonding between the doe and the kid.
• Kids should suckle the first milk (colostrum) within the first six hours of birth which is rich in antibodies that increase the immunity of the kid. If the doe is not producing enough milk for her kid, fostering or bottle feeding is recommended.
• From about 3 weeks of age kids start nibbling grass and leaves. This is important for rumen development.
• They should be allowed to browse/graze from no later than one month. Effective grazing and browsing starts at 6-7 weeks.
Raising Goat Kids
Kids are born without antibodies circulating in their blood and rely on antibodies in colostrum, or first milk, for protection against disease during the first few weeks of life. The antibodies are concentrated in the doe’s udder prior to kidding, are sucked by the kid and then passed through the intestinal wall into the kid’s circulation. This transfer, or absorption, is made possible by special cells in the intestinal lining that permit antibodies to pass through for the first 18 hours of life. After that time, the cells are eliminated and no further antibodies can enter the blood stream. It is critical then, that kids suckle soon after birth, preferably within 2-4 hours. Colostrum is also high in nutrient value, especially vitamin A, B-vitamins, proteins, and minerals. The protein content of colostrum is about 20% as compared to 3.5% for normal milk.
Overfeeding colostrum or other milk to kids can cause loose bowels and possibly scours. The extra colostrum should be placed in the refrigerator and fed later at about body temperature. The kid must be handled gently and not forced to drink. After a few hours, the hungry kid will drink readily. The kid may be changed to goat’s milk, cow’s milk, or powdered milk after about one day on colostrum. Provide about 2 to 3 pints of milk each day in 3 to 4 feedings the first 2 to 3 days and twice per day thereafter.
The kid must be treated as a simple stomach animal such as the dog or cat. That is, a milk diet is needed for the first few weeks of life. A small amount of grain such as a calf starter or goat chow may be introduced to the kid at 2 to 3 weeks of age. In general, the grain should contain about 14 to 15% crude protein with added minerals and vitamins.
As soon as the kid starts eating, the rumen starts developing and eventually the kid will start chewing its cud. This is an indication that all four compartments of the stomach (rumen, reticulum, omasum and abomasum) are developing. Animals having four-compartment stomachs are referred to as ruminants. As the animal grows, the rumen becomes the largest compartment.
Clean, fresh water and salt blocks should be available at all times and especially as the kid is weaned from receiving milk at 8 to 12 weeks of age. Start the kids drinking from a bucket as you discontinue milk feeding. Also, be sure the kid has started eating some grain and hay.