Bottle Feeding (Nigerian Dwarfs)

Feeding Schedule for bottle babies (Nigerian Dwarf)

Baby must have colostrum for the first 2-3 days.  If you don't have the mother's milk, you can buy Whole Cows Milk (Red Cap) from any grocery store.   Please do NOT use milk replacer on goats.
First Week
1-2 ounces when hungry approximately every 2-3 hours.  You can increase the amount by an ounce at a time if needed and let them drink all they want.

Week 2
2-4 ounces every 3-4 hours.  (Example schedule: 6am-9am-12noon-3pm-6pm-9pm)
Gradually increase the amount and let them drink all they want.

Week 4
6-8 ounces. Reduce the amount of feedings to 4 times a day.  (Example schedule: 8am-12noon-4pm-8pm)

Week 6
6-8 ounces at least. Reduce feedings to 3 times a day.  (Example schedule 8am-2pm-8pm)

Week 8
Reduce to 2  feedings a day and reduce amount

Week 10
Reduce to 1 feeding a day

Wean at 12 weeks.

This is just what has worked for us.  Each baby goat is different and some take more or less milk.  You will need to access how your baby is doing by measuring and tracking its weight and decide if this works for you and increase or decrease as necessary.

Getting baby to take a bottle

It is best to start early on bottle training if you are hoping to have a bottle baby.  Sometimes we end up with a bottle baby because the mother is unable or refusing to nurse the baby.  In this case there are a few tricks I have learned to get the baby to eat.  Some babies take to the bottle very easily while others must be forced.  Here are some tips:

While sitting on the ground with baby in between your legs facing away from you, pinch open the mouth by gently squeezing the sides of the mouth.  Insert the bottle nipple and give the nipple a little squeeze so milk comes out.  If baby is refusing, you are gonna wish you had three hands because you will need to hold the head in place and keep squeezing until she gets the idea.  You can also try pulling it in and out a bit to see if that helps her understand what's in her mouth.  I have had to force the bottle for several days before baby caught on so be prepared to put a little work into it and be patient.  Once the baby catches on you will just need to put the nipple up to her mouth and she will happily take it.

If you want to train your dam raised baby to take the bottle, it's best to start by 2 weeks old.  Separate the babies at night once they are 2 weeks old so that you can milk the moms in the morning.  By morning, the baby goat will be very hungry and this is a great time to offer a bottle of milk.

Bottle babies are very sweet and look to you as the mom.  It can be a very special bond to bottle feed your baby goat.  Good luck!

11 thoughts on “Bottle Feeding (Nigerian Dwarfs)”

  1. Do I always use cow whole milk after a week old r do I use goat replacement milk we are just getting in to goats so if u have any ideas on raising goats please let me know thanks for ur help

    1. Great question! While providing fresh goat milk would be best, its not always viable. As an alternative, you can use whole cow’s milk until the goat is 3 months old. This allows the goat to get enough calcium for its basic bone development and growth. Also be sure to also offer fresh hay, water, and a handful of grain by two weeks old. This will allow the goat to develop a good functional rumen. Congratulations and best of luck with your new goat adventure!

  2. My 1. Week old drinks about 2 ounces every 3 hours but continues to have very loose stools. What can I do to stop it.

    1. What kind of milk are you providing? Whole cow milk or powered formula? Whole cow milk is recommended over powered formula. Typically loose stools tend to indicate either high protein consumption or other alignments like e-coli. You can provide the goat with anti diarrheal medications, such as Kaolin Pectin, to help reduce the amount of water being released from the intestines into the stool. If that doesn’t clear up in 4-6 hours, you’ll likely need to try a medicated anti diarrheal called spectoguard and provide electrolytes from the loss of fluids. These are all over the counter options found at most feed/co-op stores. If your goat is still having diarrhea over a 24 hour period you’ll need to get in touch with your veterinarian.

  3. Hi my Nigerian though just gave birth to triplets three days ago. I was told to purchase manna pro kid milk from tractor supplies as a support because mom can’t produce enough milk for all three. Do you recommend this or whole milk at three fee as us old?

    1. Hi Deanne. I apologize, I didn’t see your message until now. I hope your triplets are doing well. Manna pro milk replacer is an alternative from goats milk that is out on the market, however if you check the main ingredients you’ll see that whey makes up The top 3 main ingredients, followed by animal fat and coconut oil. Now whey is a by product of milk, but likely that is cow milk due to its availability and not goat milk. So, the use of whole milk is safer to use as you know whole cows milk is the only ingredient provided & is safe for human consumption. We also suggest adding two (2) table spoon of condensed milk and buttermilk per gallon of milk you use to feed the kids. This help the kids get enough fats in their diet. Also, once the kids are two days until weaned off the bottle entirely, also include calf pro medicated (1 ml / 11 lbs.) this helps with coccidia prevention as they transition to a medicated feed. I hope the information helps and best of luck with your kids!

    1. Depends on the method in which you feed. If you feed by the bottle, depending on the weather the kid is exposed to (barn or home) you can warm the milk and test the temperature by dripping it on the back of the hand to find the best temperature. We only warm our milk if the temperature outside is colder than 36 degrees. If you bucket feed, you can place a cold pack or even a frozen milk jug in the bucket to prevent spoilage and leave it out during the day until the next feeding. If you opt for this method, be sure to secure the bucket and cover it to prevent rodents and flies from landing in the milk.

  4. Hi! Great article! I have 2 Nigerian Dwarf kids born this morning. Mom has rejected them and isn’t producing much colostrum. I’ve gotten enough of of her to get them both started on bottles but not enough to get through the night. My husband went and picked up a sheep and goat colostrum powder from DurVet. The instructions on the bottle say to mix 1 tsp powder into milk. The dam doesn’t have enough milk to mix, so I’m guessing we should mix it into whole cows milk? How many days would you offer the colostrum powder before switching to just whole cow milk? I’m hair they recieved mom’s colostrum for their first few bottle feedings but it just isn’t an option moving forward. Thank you for any advice!

    1. I’m sorry to hear that the doe isn’t being accepting of them. Is this her first kidding? Is she showing signs of mastitis? Some of our does, especially first time kidders are not always the best mama’s. Generally I put them in their own stall to bond. If I see the rejection still occurring, we tie the doe t where she can’t get too far from the kids and let the kids nurse, that generally stimulates oxytocin to allow milk flow and bonding. Also sometimes the edema from the kidding can cause tenderness to point they reject. The biggest concern I always have is of course mastitis. Be sure to feel for hard spots and a warm to touch udder. If you feel any hardness or temp, there is a teet application medication called “today” that contains cephaprin sodium. It works to break up the mastitis.
      As for the colostrum powder, you are correct in mixing it with the whole cows milk. I’d recommend giving the powder for 48 hours, tapering off as you get closer to 40 hours. This will allow a smooth transition. I also suggest purchasing calf pro to add to the milk, as it’s a medication that helps prevent cocci. The dosage for goats is 1 ml per 11 lbs. this should be provided until the goat is at least two months and is consuming a least half to 3/4 of its meals on medicate grain. Coccidia is the number 1 culprit to diarrhea under the age of 1. Best of luck with that babies and keep me posted to how they do!

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