Caring for Goat Kids: From Birth to Weaning (2024)

Goat kids: bouncy, lovable, adorable…and difficult! Today I want to talk about goat kid care—everything from what to do right after birth, to bottle feeding, to weaning!

Prepping for birth:

While this is not a post dedicated to pregnancy, kidding prep, etc., it is important to have a complete first aid kit by your side ready for the newborn kids:

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links from which I will earn a small commission. Any and all support is greatly appreciated!

Puppy pads


Nasal Bulb


Blow dryer

Dental floss

Small Syringes



Cayenne (tincture preferred, but powder will do)


Honey (raw preferred)

Selenium/Vitamin E gel or Replamin Gel or BoSe (vet prescription)

Vitamin E Gel Soft Gels

Vitamin B Complex Injectable

Nursing bottle

Kid Stomach tube

Colostrum replacer

Cod Liver Oil

The first moments of life:

Once a kid is born, you will want to use your nasal bulb to get mucus and birthing fluids out of the nose and mouth. Gentle but firm rubbing of the whole body will help stimulate the kid to cough or sneeze out excess birthing fluid as well. Assess the kid’s immediate situation – checking for weakness, unresponsiveness, deformities, and other glaring issues.

A healthy kid – possibly sneezing out some fluids, alert, possibly vocalizing. This is great! Just continue to clean the kid and place in front of the doe to finish cleaning.

An unresponsive or weak kid – if a kid is born unresponsive or very weak, a pinch of cayenne on the tongue or a few drops of cayenne tincture should be your first action. Lots of firm rubbing on the rib cage. Once the kid is responsive, an oral or SubQ dose of 1/2cc Vitamin B Complex injectable (use only the injectable version of B Complex, not oral gels. At under 24 hours of age, the injectable version can be dosed orally or by injection) & selenium (via a pea sized dollop of Replamin plus gel, the label dosage for Selenium/Vitamin E gel, or BoSe and a Vitamin E gel cap for humans) should be given.

Deformities – If you notice a kid is born with deformities, often in the legs/hooves, this goat will need mineral and vitamin supplements – including selenium, vitamin E, and likely some A&D (cod liver oil is a good source of this). Selenium and vitamin E should be the first thing you give once the kid is cleaned off. Shortly after this, you should determine whether splinting of a deformity is needed.

Stillborn – Sometimes an unresponsive kid is deemed stillborn. These are two different situations. If there is an unresponsive kid that was recently alive and healthy in the womb, even if there is little to no heart action, cayenne and rough stimulation has the possibility of restarting the kid’s system. With a stillborn, the cayenne and stimulation will not change the outcome of the situation as the kid will be too far gone. If the eyes are sunken, that indicates the kid had been deceased for a long time in the womb.


If a kid is having trouble suckling, whether due to weakness or appetite issues, this is another time to use your cayenne (tincture on tongue, or powder mixed with a little honey to rub on their gums). B Complex & selenium/vitamin E as mentioned above should also be given.

The doe’s udder may be plugged, as they produce a waxy seal during pregnancy to keep bacteria out. Be sure there is a steady milk flow and the plug is released after kidding.


If all is well and the kid is nursing, the last thing to do after making sure the kid is healthy is to dip the umbilical cord in iodine. The umbilical cord will break on its own, but if it is longer than 4 inches, you can tie it off with dental floss and use a sterilized scissors to trim it to a reasonable size. Dip in undiluted iodine. An un-dipped cord can lead to navel infections.

Early life:

At a few days old, the kids should be nursing well, walking well, peeing and pooping. Because they are only drinking milk, especially the rich colostrum-filled milk in the first few days, they will have more mustard-colored, yellow, pasty stool. This is normal, but it may get caked on their bottom if the doe does not clean it off, so watch that it does not become a blockage.

To ensure that the kids are drinking enough milk, you can weigh them daily on a scale that measures in ounces, and be sure they are not losing weight, and are gaining weekly.

If you notice that a kid is hunched and lethargic, they may be constipated. In bottle kids, which we will discuss later, this is usually a sign of overfeeding, but it can also mean they are not getting enough. Take into account urination and stomach appearance to determine what this position means, especially in a dam-raised kid. An enema is always a good idea when you see this, and taking the kid’s rectal temperature is also good to be extra cautious. Note that if the kid is pooping normally, hunching can also be a sign of illness.

Directions for an enema: Mix 2oz warm water with 2 drops of a gentle dishwashing liquid. Dawn Dish Soap (Original) is a good option. Do not use anything with bleach. Place the kid on a towel in front of your sink. Put the kid on its side and make sure that the rear end is facing toward the sink. Use a 3cc, 6cc, or 12cc luer slip syringe to draw up the warm water with soap mixed in, and slowly and very, very carefully, slide the tip into the kid’s rear end. Be cautious with this step and be ever-so-gentle. You are not putting the whole syringe into the rear end, simply the tip. Gently push the plunger to release the warm soapy water into the goat – this process will likely need to be repeated a few times to loosen the hardened feces. You can massage the goat’s sides to help the liquid and feces come out.

Abnormal poops:

Any profuse scours (diarrhea) in kids under 3 weeks of age is usually a sign of E. Coli, Salmonella, or other bacterial/viral issues. These will often be accompanied by a very foul smell and high fever. Kids can go downhill quite quickly with these issues, and the best treatment is Neomycin or SpectoGard (this may go by other names, but it is a red liquid for pigs). If you prefer a natural treatment, I would try GI Soother, HerBiotic, and Kochi Free used all together. Please reach out to a mentor or vet and discuss the situation in-depth, including the smell, texture, and color of the stool to help solve the issue.

Nibbling solid food:

At a week old, kids may start mouthing hay or leaves, especially if they are with their mother. Hay should be available to them, but they are not expected to really eat it.

A note on disbudding:

Disbudding (removal of horns) should be done at anywhere from 5 days-14 days of age. It is a personal choice, and is by no means necessary!

3-4 weeks and older:

At 3-4 weeks of age, the battle with parasites begins. Coccidia is a protozoan parasite; it lives in almost all goats, but in very few numbers, so it does not cause issues with a functioning immune system. In kids, their immune system is not fully developed, so they are extremely susceptible to coccidia. I recommend having kids on a natural coccidia prevention via natural dewormers. The two herbal blends I recommend are GI Soother and DWA from Fir Meadow LLC. I use GI Soother to target coccidia, and DWA for most other parasites. These two formulas can be started at 4 days old, and will give you a head start on parasite management and immune support. Your job at this age is to watch closely for signs of parasites or illnesses.

Eating solid foods:

At a few weeks old, kids should begin to develop an appetite for hay. The rumen is not fully developed until a few months of age, though. At about 3 weeks or a little sooner, you can introduce some grain as well if you plan on feeding this.

Drinking water:

Kids will start to explore water at around 2 weeks old, and should consistently be drinking water by 4-5 weeks old. It can be tough to teach bottle babies to drink water; as most kids learn to drink from watching their mothers drink from buckets. Try to expose any bottle babies to other adult goats, put water on your fingers, use shallow bowls, bring the bowl to their noses and touch the water to their lips, etc. and they will eventually get used to it. Despite temptation, do not feed kids water from a bottle. This can lead to hemoglobinuria, or “water intoxication.”


The earliest a goat should be fully weaned is 12 weeks of age. While most breeders tend to send their goats to their new homes weaned at 8 weeks, I personally feel it is healthier for them to go a full 3 months with their mother’s milk. If left to be naturally weaned, some does will let their kids go 6 months, often longer. The longer kids nurse, the healthier they are.

A note on wethering: 12 weeks old is also the earliest age that a male goat should be castrated. The preferred age is 4 months.

Bottle Feeding vs. Dam Raising:

I am not a huge fan of bottle feeding ‘by choice.’ Some people like to pull kids from their mothers and bottle raise to have more friendly kids, or to send them to new homes at an earlier date. While this isn’t a horrible thing to do, I prefer dam raising, and I believe it creates healthier goats. Thus, I only recommend bottle feeding in certain circ*mstances. You may need to bottle feed if:

  • There are birthing complications and the doe is unable to produce milk for the kid
  • The doe has mastitis
  • The kid is born with a health issue, and cannot nurse properly
  • There are too many kids, and one is being underfed or neglected

If a kid is not able to nurse properly, gain weight, and stay in good health, you will need to bottle feed. Bottle feeding is not as easy as you may think. The saying “mother knows best” is quite a true statement for raising goat kids. When dam raised, the doe will do most of the work. You may want to weigh the kids daily to ensure they are eating enough, but you are not responsible for each feeding. When you bottle feed, it is up to you to take over the role of the doe, and regulate the milk you are feeding. Overfeeding bottle babies is a huge issue. They are so adorable, and they will cry for a bottle all day long, even if they are well-fed—this can make it hard to resist giving more milk. It is important to know, based on the weight of the kid, how much to feed and when. Please see this link for my complete bottle feeding directions:


When giving a gel to a newborn, such as Selenium/Vitamin E gel or Replamin gel, I would not use the applicator tube. Instead, I would put the dose on a finger and place it onto the kid’s tongue. Kids can easily choke on or aspirate a large glob of a gel.

When using Replamin gel in kids, I recommend a pea-sized dollop. When using Selenium/Vitamin E gel, follow label instructions for a newborn. When using BoSe, I would give 1/8th-1/4cc and a vitamin E gel cap for humans (these are usually about 500IU).


Vitamin E is necessary for the body’s utilization and absorption of selenium. Selenium & Vitamin E gel already has vitamin E in it, as does Replamin. BoSe is best when given alongside a secondary source of vitamin E, which is why the gel cap is recommended.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a vet, nor am I a licensed professional. I am in no way a “goat expert” and my opinions are only that of personal experiences, and my insights shared are not medical treatment suggestions, care suggestions, or any directions for raising goats at all. I am simply sharing my own personal opinions. Any and all changes to your goats’ health regimen, care, etc. should be approved by a veterinary professional or licensed professional. I also believe that every goat owner has their own way of doing things, so just as my opinions are my own, and cannot apply to anyone else, your opinions are also regarding your individual goats, and I welcome you to share them in a kind, constructive manner.

Caring for Goat Kids: From Birth to Weaning (2024)


Caring for Goat Kids: From Birth to Weaning? ›

Proper nutrition beginning at birth goes a long way in preparing baby goats for the weaning process,” says Olson. “When not nursing on the doe, feeding a high-quality milk replacer specifically formulated for goat kids ensures kids are better prepared to tackle the rigors of weaning.

How do you take care of a goat after giving birth? ›

soon after birth

But, you do want to make sure she eats and drinks as soon as possible afterwards. She needs calories and water for energy and to make milk for her kids. You also want to keep an eye on her to make absolutely sure that she passes and releases her placenta.

When should goat kids be weaned? ›

When kids are offered a good quality hay or pasture plus a creep feed, they can be weaned as early as 30 days of age, but it is better to wait until 6 to 8 weeks. A better measure for weaning a kid is when it weighs at least 2 to 2.5 times its birth weight and is eating a significant amount of dry food.

How do you wean a baby goat from its mother? ›

How to Incrementally Wean Kid Goats. Take your baby goat away from the mother for an hour or two a day every day. Put them in a different enclosure where they cannot see or hear the mother. This works best if the mother (dam) and kid are preoccupied with other herd members, like fellow weaning kids and nursing mothers.

What do you feed a baby goat after birth? ›

Feed the Baby Colostrum

If the kid does not feed from its mother, you will need to bottle-feed it colostrum, the early milk that is high in nutrients and immune-building properties. 2 Colostrum can come from its mother, another goat, or it can be purchased at a feed store.

What is the floppy kid syndrome? ›

Floppy Kid Syndrome

FKS commonly occurs when a kid has overfed on milk and it is unable to digest the contents of its stomach quickly enough before the next milk feed goes in. This produces a toxic situation in the kid's stomach.

What happens if you don't wean goats? ›

There are several major problems that can result if kids are not properly weaned. These include coccidiosis outbreaks in the kids and mastitis in the does. Both of these can result in death and reduced performance. Prevention of these problems through proper weaning technique is simple if you follow some basic steps.

When should I start feeding my goat kids? ›

At one week old, a baby goat can eat a small amount of grain in addition to drinking milk. By one month, you can offer the baby some hay and give it some time in the pasture to make sure the baby's diet is varied and nutritious enough.

Will goat kids wean themselves? ›

In the wild, goats will wean their babies on their own. On the farm, the farmer helps with the process when the mothers and goat kids are ready. Weaning boer goats and weaning dairy goats are a pretty similar process.

Do baby goats need milk at night? ›

That first day of bottle feeding is a little rough, as feeding 6 times in a day requires one feeding in the middle of the night. After that, though, the kids can last overnight.

What is the mothering behavior of a goat? ›

Maternal behavior in the goat appears at the time of parturition, partly under the activating influence of vaginocervical stimulation. Mothers actively lick their neonate and rapidly establish a selective bond with their kid through olfactory recognition.

How long do baby goats need milk? ›

Milk Feeding Period

The milk-feeding period lasts from birth until the moment when the kid no longer consumes any milk. It can last for as little as three weeks, or as long as 5 or 6 months, depending on the production system. The first milk a young goat should receive is colostrum.

What do you give a goat after kidding? ›

Molasses for Mom

Our goats always drink a ton of water after giving birth. Mom will especially appreciate a warm bucket of molasses water. The sugar will give her energy, the water will rehydrate her and the iron in the molasses will replenish her. I usually mix about a 1/2 cup into a gallon of warm water.

What age do baby goats need water? ›

Goats less than 30 days of age will need a liquid diet until about 60 days of age. They will start to nibble goat ration pellets at about 30 days of age. Provide fresh drinking water at all times for the goat in a clean bucket that the goat can easily reach.

Do baby goats like to be held? ›

Baby goats are a lot like human babies. They like to be held, cuddled, and adored. They also have very long legs, and can walk on them when they are born. They can jump 3 feet or more to catch up to their mom or other herd members.

How long can you milk a goat after it gives birth? ›

A dairy farmer essentially takes the role of a nursing baby, by milking the female at least twice a day thereby prolonging the natural nursing for up to 300 days after the goat gives birth. The milk is stored in a chilled tank until it is either picked up by the processor or, in our case, until we make cheese.

Do you have to milk a goat after kidding? ›

As with all mammals, goats lactate only after giving birth. After kidding, dairy does will go on to produce milk for about two years if they are milked regularly. Then they will need to be bred again to keep the production flowing.

Do nursing goats need water? ›

A lactating goat will require an additional 1 quart of water for every 1 pint of milk produced. If a goat is producing 5 pints of milk at peak lactation while raising twins, 2.5 gallons of water are required each day.

Do you have to cut the umbilical cord on goats? ›

Umbilical Cord Care

Always allow the cord to tear between mother and baby naturally. After it's torn, if you'd prefer, you can trip it to about 2 inches by using scissors. This isn't necessary and we don't typically do this, but prefer that extra protection. Once cut, dip it in 7% iodine solution.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Last Updated:

Views: 5976

Rating: 5 / 5 (70 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: The Hon. Margery Christiansen

Birthday: 2000-07-07

Address: 5050 Breitenberg Knoll, New Robert, MI 45409

Phone: +2556892639372

Job: Investor Mining Engineer

Hobby: Sketching, Cosplaying, Glassblowing, Genealogy, Crocheting, Archery, Skateboarding

Introduction: My name is The Hon. Margery Christiansen, I am a bright, adorable, precious, inexpensive, gorgeous, comfortable, happy person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.