Hi! I'm new to this board and new to goats. We bought two orphaned wethers (Nigerian Dwarf) at two weeks old and now they are 4 weeks old. I've been following the schedule the breeder gave me to feed them, and starting yesterday (at 4 weeks) I've dropped one feeding, so they're down to 3x/day, 10 ounces whole cow's milk. ONCE I've seen one of them nibbling at the alfalfa we have out for them, and I've seen them both drinking the water we have out. I've also seen the other one chewing on some of the twigs/leaves that are in their pen. My concern is that I don't see any difference in the hay levels (though I've changed the hay twice due to rain getting it wet) and they don't seem interested in the grain we're introducing to them. The breeder suggested that I pull out some of the choicer parts of the hay and put it in a bowl, but that too doesn't tempt them. Yesterday and today they're hollering like crazy, which of course I take to mean that they are hungry! How do I know that they're eating? Another thing--their mama died soon after the kidding (a weird gallbladder thing, according to the vet who did the necropsy) so these guys have never had an adult to teach them the ways of things, if that's important. Any help for this newbie will be appreciated!
Welcome to the life of a goat owner. Bottle babies are noted for being stubborn when it comes to eating on their own. If you have a couple of other goats or even sheep they can be put in with, this would help them see they need to eat the goodies put in front of them. If a bottle baby could they would stay on the bottle their entire lives. My girls which are over a year old still will take a bottle if offered. After raising these 2 girls in the house, I learned they don't know they are a goat. This year I left a bottle baby out in the pen with the others and she started eating when they did. Have patience, and just keep putting the food in front of them. You can try putting a piece or two of grain in the mouth so they get a taste of it. It is fantastic they are drinking water this is a good start. You will want to keep bottle feeding them until they are at least 3 months old.
thanks for the response! I tried putting some grain in their mouths (they loved that! LOL) mostly they just spit it out. I'm going to keep trying to pull out the leaves/green parts of the hay to see if they'll eat that from a bowl.
These little guys are our first goats, so I don't have any other ruminants to put them with to learn from! I've thought of asking the breeder if we could "borrow" someone for awhile, maybe that could work? Here I thought these guys would be an easy beginning for us! (our plan is for milk goats, but we have to wait until Fall)
What kind of grain are you trying to feed them.My bottle babies wouldn't eat grass or grain when I got them,so I gave them a dose of probias to get the rumen going and nutridrench for vitamins and a taste of something other than milk then I tried them on goat sweet feed.They liked the molasses smell and taste and took right off.If you botle feed them they seem to expect you to give their grain to them by hand.After a day or 2 they should be taking it willingly on their own.I switched to regular grain once they quit dropping the grain while eating,about a week later!.They expect grain after every bottle now.Just make sure you have clean fresh water available at all times for them.I got them on grass my picking little piece of clover and putting it up to their mouths.If one will try it,the rest will follow suit.My babies started at 3 bottles a day,then at 2 weeks went to 2 bottles a day.Next week they will be 8 weeks and weaned hopefully,if I can ignore the crying.Mine are eating grain,grass,briars.They are nice and plump,I don't see any reason not to wean at 8 weeks.Mine love the multiflora briars that have popped out over the past 3 weeks.They prefer them over everything else. They go eat the leaves of the briars from 7-8:30 in the morning before they come crying to the door for their bottle.Then they eat a little grain and back to the multifloras until 7:00 in the evening for bottle again,then a little more grain.Then it's back to the briars until dark when they head to the barn for the night.They are babies to us,but they are mature grownups to each other.This is just what I have done and it has worked great for me,but as I have seen on this and other forums,opinions vary.Just do what will work for you!
Post by goatlover25276 on Apr 5, 2007 13:22:32 GMT -5
Bottle babies do seem to get pretty attached to their moms even if they only have 2 legs.It is easier to wean them if you don't have the babies trying to get to the nanny and the the nanny trying to get to the babies.Stay inside and turn up the tv or radio.If that don't work,go on vacation.
Post by kathyskidds on Apr 5, 2007 19:06:33 GMT -5
I have 1 that will take a bottle if offered too. He is my bcuck and was a bottle baby but to get him to let go I had to put him in with some other goats to learn how to be a goat. He is great and if you are starting a herd you need some does to get into milk...the wethers wont be anything but pets for ya...I know we have alot of wethers that are worse than dogs following you around...dont get me wrong they are very loved or they wouldnt be here...Get you a older doe or 2 and put them in with it and they will learn to be a goat really fast they are like Monkey see Monkey do , and very curious also...justa thought
Post by duchessdream on Apr 5, 2007 19:36:02 GMT -5
getting another older goat is a great idea to get them to be goats, my bottle kids have older bottle kids in with them that were already grazing with thier mothers before I got them. They saw the older 2 nibbling on grass and pellets now they do a little. great idea!
I still don't think they're eating the hay, but I have been trying other things, and they've shown an interest at least! They like the tops of this weed we have all over (I know it as foxtails, but these are still green) Today I shoved the bottom part of a head of lettuce between the feeder wires and they seem to nibble on that. I'll try the tip for the vitamins/etc and see if that helps!
As to having milk--I know that I need does, not wethers! ;D We're on the waiting list for a couple of does this Fall, if all goes well we will have two, both pregnant. These little guys just needed a home, we have the room, and I thought they'd make good pets/starter goats for me and my kids to learn first hand on. I've also been busy reading, reading, and more reading, but nothing beats experience.
They're still hungry, down to 3 bottles a day, though. I can't tell if they're gaining any weight, but they don't appear to be losing, so I hope that's a good sign. They're usually pretty quiet, unless they hear my voice or the crunching of the gravel we have around the place. Then they let loose! The only other time I hear them is if I'm a few minutes behind on their bottles. (Heaven forbid one of my 2-legged kids needed lunch or a diaper change!)
This board looks like a great place to be! I've bookmarked this spot and I'll be around again, I'm sure of that!
Post by goatlover25276 on Apr 9, 2007 21:04:27 GMT -5
You can put some Vanilla flavored pediasure(walmart generic) in their milk if you feel they need a little weight gain.I used it for my little goat,Rabbit when she was being a little picky or whatever it was that made her not want her bottle after a few sucks.She started gaining weight and ended up outgrowing my other 2 bottle babies.Now she is hurt and she can't even have any milk.I bought her a pack of pediasure for when she gets better,I'm being optimistic.
Post by kathyskidds on Apr 10, 2007 17:02:55 GMT -5
3Dragonmom where are you located, what type of doe are you looking for? Surely there are some breeders there or around there that should have some does that have freshened they will sell. Depending on where you are, look on the internet and I am sure you might find others.Waiting is the hardest part and if its going to take that long I would look for some close by thats not a far drive and get a older doe to take the wethers mind off the bottle and teach them how to be a goat...that is what my doe did with my bottle baby and he is almost grown now...GOod luck with your lottle guys and I hope they bring you joy...
Post by 3dragonmom on Apr 14, 2007 11:19:37 GMT -5
Hello again! It's nice to continue to see some helpful advice being posted here.
Since I last posted, I've definitely noticed a change in the goats, especially the larger one, but both have gained some weight. (their little bellies are rounding out a bit!) They really like it when I bring them the lettuce, so I've done that again. (but not every day! don't want to spoil them TOO much) They still aren't interested in the grain, but since then, the little bit that the breeder gave us to start them on was eaten by my dog. So, I've got to get some more I guess to keep them at it.
As to any other breeders here: I'm interested specifically in the Nigerian Dwarf, and I've only located a couple of breeders within an hour or so of me (rural Riverside county, CA). I agree, it would be nice to have an adult around the babies, but in any case, we still need to build a bigger pen and shelter, so while what we have for now is fine for two babies, this Fall is about as soon as we'd be ready for a couple of adults too! I suppose I could spread out the search a little wider, but it does seem that freshened does go quickly!
Post by kathyskidds on Apr 16, 2007 21:13:21 GMT -5
if they are not showing interest in feed I make it a game with it ...i hold some in my hand and pretend to eat it and my babies just cant stand it till htye get some of it and then they start eating... I hope this helps some cause this works for me...
additional ideas for ways to make grain yummy for babies:
Hand feed them Sunflower seeds, raisins, Grape Nuts, or anything else like that. They tend to latch on to eating that type of treat, then you can make a nice mixture with your grain to entice them to eat it too-- start them out with only a handful of grain available at a time-- you want them to feel like it is a great treat.
Alternatively, if you can get a small sample of this, I have found it to work great: Sprinkle a little Natural Glo (a Moorman product) over their grain. Some babies will devour anything that is covered by this fine rice meal. It won't hurt them any, and it is a good source of fat and nutrients. Just don't go buy an entire bag. It comes in 40 lb bags, costs a fair amount, and as a small time goat owner you will never get it all used up! Some horse breeders or feed suppliers will part out a bag for you if you ask.