Goats have wonderfully curious and affectionate personalities and are often seen as one of the highlights of petting zoos – especially adorable baby goats. Their comforting nature can make them great companion animals, but it’s easy to forget how destructive they can be if given the chance.
Baby goats can make great pets but you must put the same consideration into their care as you would with a fully grown goat. Kids may be smaller but they are still a handful – noisy, messy and with specific shelter and food requirements – so caring for one is a full-time job.
If you are committed to their needs, raising a baby goat can be a joy and a great way to teach children about the responsibilities of animal care and farm life. To help you learn more about baby goat care, we’ve answered some of the common queries from nursing and sleeping habits to their cost and health concerns.
Do Baby Goats Like to be Held?
Yes, but they will tolerate being handled and cuddled by humans far better if you give them this contact from a young age.
Around 6 weeks old is a good item to start as they will have begun to wean off their mother’s milk and will become familiar with their human feeder.
How Much Do Baby Goats Cost?
Baby goat costs can vary between $75 and $250. Prices will depend on the location, the breeding quality, and the breed itself as pygmy goats, for example, are very popular.
Also, consider that vet bills, food, and other living costs adds up to around $100-150 per year or more once they reach maturity (around 5 months old).
How Long Do Baby Goats Nurse?
Baby goats will nurse (feed off their mother’s milk or ‘colostrum’) for up to 8 weeks. Allowing them to nurse has its advantages, namely that you won’t have to routinely milk the mother in order to bottle feed it, allowing it to feed on the all-important colostrum nutrients before you decide to wean.
If you do decide to bottle feed your baby goat, this decision should ideally be made pre-birth so you are prepared with pre-frozen colostrum or a colostrum replacement as these nutrients are vital in the first few days of a newborn’s development.
How Often Do Baby Goats Nurse?
Baby goats will normally nurse around 4-5 times a day and will do so until they are about one month old. If you decide to bottle-feed them it’s important to replicate this natural feeding schedule, cutting it down to 3 times a day once they are older than one month.
Can Baby Goats Survive Cold Weather?
Baby goats are fairly resilient and newborns will only struggle if temperatures fall below zero Fahrenheit. Keep winter newborns comfortable by fitting their barn with good insulation and draft control, and warm bedding.
As they grow older and become more active, feeding on roughage such as hay and grass will help them maintain body heat, as will proper coat care and frequent daily exercise.
How Quickly Do Baby Goats Grow?
From birth up until their weaning period (around 6-8 weeks old), baby goats will typically gain around 10-15 lbs per month, and this will reduce down to 8-12 lbs weight gain per month once they are weaned onto solid foods. At around 6 weeks old, kids should weigh at least 2 times their body weight at birth.
Do Baby Goats Sleep a Lot?
Yes, baby goats can sleep for around 4-5 hours during the night and can take extended naps throughout the day. During their first few weeks, newborn kids will sleep much longer to preserve energy for feeding.
What to Feed Baby Goats When Weaning?
From around 6 weeks old, start kids off on small amounts of grain to help their rumen stomach chamber develop. One month after that, start introducing pasture and fresh drinking water to them and slowly reduce their milk if they are bottle-fed so they can begin acclimatizing to adult goat feed.
Do Baby Goats Need Minerals?
Minerals are hugely beneficial to baby goats as it helps support their muscle and bone development, as well as milk lactation later in life. As mineral blocks are too tough on a baby goat’s tongue, provide them with loose mineral supplements in a mineral feeder once they have started weaning. Elsewhere, good quality hay will naturally contain calcium, improving a kid’s bone health.
Are Baby Goats Loud?
A baby goat’s noise level can depend on the breed – pygmy goats for instance are known to be quite loud when demanding food – but kids in general will ‘bleat’ throughout the day to communicate just as human babies and toddlers sometimes do.
Daily bleating is normal, but cries can become louder if they are hungry or thirsty, and there will be a distinct change in tone and volume from their normal bleating if they are in pain.
Are Baby Goats Blind at Birth?
Healthy baby goats are normally born with full vision, but newborns can occasionally be born with conditions that cause blindness such as conjunctivitis. This and similar bacterial infections of the eye can be treated with antibiotics prescribed by your vet, but things like congenital cataracts can cause irreversible blindness.
When Can Baby Goats Join the Herd?
Baby goats can join the herd when they are about 2-3 weeks old. To minimize aggression from others, it’s wise to place the goat herd in neutral territory (such as a new pen or a different pasture from their usual spot) and, under supervision, introduce the baby goat in the herd.
Is Cow Milk Good for Baby Goats?
Raw cow’s milk will not provide baby goats with the nutritional benefits they need to develop and should NOT replace the vital colostrum (mother’s milk) a newborn needs in their first few days. Any milk they receive before being weaned should either be from their mother or a special goat milk formula.
Is It Normal for Baby Goats to Have Diarrhea?
Diarrhea or ‘scours’ is common in baby goats but it can be fatal without prompt treatment. Diarrhea can arise from a bacterial infection in newborns or from an intestinal parasite in newly-weaned kids. Consult your vet asap so they can determine the type of scours via fecal examination, and prescribe the suitable medication.
You can help prevent diarrhea in your goats by providing them with good quality feed, fresh water and a clean living environment. Try to encourage a more hygienic barn by using pine shavings in their bedding to help absorb fecal matter. You can also sprinkle powdered freshener on the floor of their stall to absorb ammonia.
Is Cylence Safe for Baby Goats?
Cylence is an insecticide used to treat lice and is safe to use on baby goats. Make sure to dilute the solution strength by mixing 1ml of Cylence in 25ml of water and drip the solution over the goat’s spine. Repeating the application every 3 weeks if the lice problem persists.
Is Permethrin Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, Permethrin can be safely used to treat baby goats for lice and ticks. Using a 10% concentrate solution, dilute as the bottle instructs and mix in with a bucket of dish soap and warm water. Wash your goat with this mixture all over and rinse them lightly, repeating this process every 10 days.
Is Python Dust Safe for Baby Goats?
Yes, Python livestock insecticide dust is safe for use on baby goats to prevent nuisance flies that gather in their barn and around their face during the day. 1 oz. (3 tablespoons) can be applied to their hair over their back, shoulders, legs, and head.
Will Male Goats Hurt Baby Goats?
Yes, it is possible for an adult male goat to hurt and possibly kill a baby goat, so you must make sure an intact (uncastrated male) is not kept in the same quarters as a female other than during the breeding season. Intact males can be aggressive and unpredictable and are likely to bully pregnant cows and attack the kids.
Will Raccoons Kill Baby Goats?
Raccoons are quite unlikely to kill baby goats, preferring to hunt and kill chickens on a farm over any other animal. Baby goats can be vulnerable to fox attacks though, so don’t give them the opportunity by investing in some security measures on your farm or homestead.
As well as providing fencing and a secure shelter for your kids, installing LED lights to deter foxes and other opportunistic predators and perhaps consider keeping guardian animals to protect your livestock such as dogs, donkeys, or alpacas.
Will Hawks Attack Baby Goats?
Yes, hawks and other large birds of prey such as owls, eagles, and ravens will attempt to attack baby goats. As aforementioned, guardian animals such as dogs can make great deterrents against predators.
Otherwise, you must ensure their stalls are secured at night with latches to prevent kids from escaping and stop potential predatory animals from gaining access.