Raising kids the natural way

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by Tim Pruitt, Jul 30, 2008.

  1. Tim Pruitt

    Tim Pruitt New Member

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    Owning dairy goats can be time consuming and labor intensive. However, if we the breeders will deal with diseases, we can raise kids to become healthy adults without spending the hours that pasteurizing and hand-feeding requires. Kids can be kept with their dams and raised in family groups eliminating the need for multiple pens required to keep the various age groups separate. The doe kids bond with their dam and the pecking order is less of a problem as no yearling is a stranger. Having grown up with the herd each animal will know its place in the herd.

    Dealing with disease: Although there are contagious diseases other than Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE) that can be passed from dam to kids – it is one that is most often passed through the milk. Annual testing of your herd will help ensure that you maintain a CAE negative herd. This is very important since you will be dam-raising your kids and the colostrum and milk is the major way of spreading this disease. One reason I believe that this disease ran rampant in dairy herds in years past is because of pooling raw milk to feed kids. By pooling the milk from the whole herd, if one doe was infected then the whole kid crop became infected. Thus the spread was rapid. One of the main reasons for doing this of course was so that the kids would bond to their human handlers rather than their dams and thus would be gentle and easy to handle. However, this desired bonding can be done even with dam raised kids if done properly. Does who test positive should be removed and completely separated from the herd and their kids raised on pasteurized milk. This is extremely important since nursing kids will often steal milk from another dam while her kid is nursing. Even a sip of the milk from the infected doe could mean infection to your otherwise clean herd. Please do not consider dam raising until you are sure of the health status of your herd. Also if you think you can have tame kids without putting some time into them, then dam raising will result in disappointment. Goats like horses or any other type of livestock will be wild unless some time and effort is given to keep them tame.

    In my opinion, goat kids are not born wild, it is a learned behavior. The secret of dam-raising will be bonding with the kids from birth. If their mother, sibling or herd mate runs from you, they will follow their example. However, if they are accustomed to you and your touch from birth then they will be gentle and tame throughout life. It is important to be at every birth to give assistance or assurance to the doe and kids. Since goats often have multiple kids, mom can be distracted by the labor while having another kid while the new born is still in its sack. Being there to clean the kid’s mouth and nose and placing it away from the dam that is pawing (nesting) can save a kid’s life. Do all the normal things, such as using iodine on the navel and giving the kid a quick health check. Leaving the kids alone with the doe and walking away at this time is the wrong thing to do. Instead milk the doe and feed the kid a bottle within an hour of birth. If it won’t eat, then wait another hour and try again but make sure the kid consumes at least 5 to 8 ounces or more of colostrum. You can then leave the kid with the mother letting the kid nurse from the dam at will. Helping the kid find the teat is sometime necessary to ensure it gets a good start. It is beneficial if the new mother and the kids have a few days to stay together alone in a pen of their own for bonding before returning to the herd. After about three days, let the new mama and her kids out into the main herd, usually you will find that after a sniff or two the herd will accept them. Kids raised on their mothers will mimic what she does and will learn to eat feed, alfalfa pellets and hay quicker than bottle raised kids. If parasites are kept under control, the kids will grow off more quickly than bottle raised kids because they can eat when they are hungry all throughout the day and it is always at the right temperature.

    By the time the kids are 10 days to 2 weeks of age, they should be penned away from their mothers at night. This is important, as this will be part of their bonding to you. Each morning, for the first month, it is helpful to give a bottle of the mother’s milk to each kid before returning them to their dams. The kids will be hungry and will more readily take a bottle. You can drop this to a bottle every other morning or even 3 times a week after the first week or so and eventually to once a week. Although this might be unnecessary for the kids you are planning to retain in the herd, teaching them to take a bottle will allow you to sell a kid before weaning because it will readily take a bottle. This also helps if you are going to show the dam as you can feed the kid while the mother is bagged up for the show. Also if for some reason you decide to sell the dam or the kid, it is easily transferred to bottle feeding. This is also helpful if the doe should die or become ill and cannot nurse her kids because of treatment etc. For the first month, I pick each kid up and pet it as I return it to its mother. After the kid is a month old, I put a collar on it and lead it to its mom, that way, it learns to lead and does not have to be dragged around the show ring. The kid soon learns that not only does it get food from me, I am also the one who helps it find its mother (its source of food). While away from mom, you can feed it pellets or feed with a coccidiastat. Because it will be hungry every morning, it will even more readily eat its feed.

    Care of the doe: You will milk out the doe completely every night, removing all of the milk from her udder. In the mornings, for the first month, you can leave a little milk in the udder for the kids but this is unnecessary if you have given the kid a bottle before releasing it to the herd.

    After the first month, I milk the doe completely every morning, taking all of the milk. This will encourage the hungry kid to eat feed or hay with its dam. Within 2 hours after milking, the mother will have adequate milk to feed its babies and she will continually make milk throughout the day. Sometimes kids will favor one teat more than another and especially a single kid. If at night, you find the doe with more milk in one side than the other, tape the favored teat the next morning for a day or two forcing the kids to nurse both sides of the udder. This will keep her mammary from becoming uneven.

    One of the advantages of dam raising is that the doe is never overfull during the day and can better fit to your schedule. You don’t have to worry about being late for the evening chores because the kids are relieving her all day long. The kids too are being fed as they need it eliminating the need for you to feed multiple feedings during the day. Allowing her to make 12 hours of milk during the night gets her used to carrying milk and keeps her from arching her back during the show. It also keeps her from walking around all evening with a full udder putting strain on udder attachments. Does who are allowed to raise their kids seldom blow teats like often happens with does that are bagged up morning and evening and you will find that evening chores take less time because there are usually just a few squirts of milk to be removed from the udder.

    Multiple kids: Having triplets and especially quads can be a challenge to dam raising. Sometimes, you can graft at least one of the quads onto another doe who has a single kid or you may have bottle it a couple morning and evening to make sure they are all getting the proper amount. Keeping a watchful eye on their progress will result in more proper developed kids.

    You will find with penning the kids each night, the kids will quickly learn the routine and will come when called into their pen for their evening feed. Because our Sundays are rather busy, we leave the kids out on Saturday night to minimize the chores on Sunday, cutting down on our milking time.
    Although each goat breeder must find what works for them, we find that dam raising produces happier does and healthier and happier kids if managed properly.
     
  2. BlissBerry

    BlissBerry Guest

    Thanks Tim!

    May I include this in GK101?

    Sara
     

  3. cmharris6002

    cmharris6002 Guest

    Thanks Tim!

    I dam raised my first kid this year, my guilty secrete :lol It was a single buckling born at the end of May out of a first Freshener (CAE neg) so I thought it would be better than bottlefeeding/raising him by himself. It has worked out wonderfully. He is just as sweet as our bottle kids and she milks like a dream. I liked it so much I am considering it for a couple of does I want to freshen around Christmas.

    Christy
     
  4. Tim Pruitt

    Tim Pruitt New Member

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    Yes, by all means... Although there are a few typos that may need fixing.

    Also everyone please feel free to add to this thread or ask questions concerning it.
     
  5. BlissBerry

    BlissBerry Guest

    Great!

    I'll post your article for now and I can add any comments later.

    Sara
     
  6. birdiegirl

    birdiegirl Member

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    Yes, I too kept my embarrassing little secret all to myself.......my whole crop of kids this past year was dam-raised.......
    How cool to see that my method was pretty much the way Tim describes......I think where I messed up is the amount of time I spent with the kids in the first 3 days. On the kids where I was present at birth, and handled them extensively, those kids grew up to be just as friendly as bottle kids.
    my Nigerian does were still skittish themselves when they gave birth- it took several weeks on the milkstand to tame them down. By that time, their kids were still shy-I wound up pulling them and training them to the bottle.

    I do like raising the kids in a natural herd situation. None of my goats (except the bucks) are separated- they all travel together in one big herd. The kids learn to browse much earlier than bottle babies- they also learn to eat alfalfa pellets much sooner.

    My dam-raised doelings are huge- much larger than my purchased bottle babies from last year. They are about as big as their dams, right now. And still nursing, too.

    So while my original plan for this coming season was to handbreed everyone, lute to induce labor, to ensure that I would be present for all births, to pull and bottle raise........I may just do things the way I did last year.
     
  7. rg1950

    rg1950 New Member

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    Tim,
    Great article. We have always dam raised in the past, until May, when we had bought a pregnant doe. We pulled the babies and are bottle (lambar) raising them. Comparing them to our dam raised kid (and looking at how big and healthy Vickis lambar babies are), and weighing in the depression of the momma having her babies taken from her, we haven't decided if we will go back to the dam raising or stick with the lambar. This momma who we pulled her babies was depress and refused to eat and lost a lot of weight. This may have been also due to the fact that she had just been moved. We still have 4 months to decide if we will dam raise or lambar raise. :D. Gotta get the CAE Samples sent off for testing since we bought several new goats and increased our herd this year.

    We always dam raise our Boer goats. We don't milk boers anyways. With our nubians, we have always pulled the babies at night, when they are a month old, milk in the morning and put the babies back on after milking until the babies are around 3-4 months old, when we pull them for good and put them in a pen beside their mothers. That way they can still see and hear each other. There are pros and cons to dam raising. We are just trying to figure out if there are more pros than cons (or vice versa). Our dam raised goats are just as friendly as our bottle raised ones, but it don't happen by itself. It takes (what you said) petting them and feeding them daily, spending time with them from the day they are born.

    Tara
     
  8. Kalne

    Kalne New Member

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    We dam raised our first year too and are considering switching back. Less work as far as allllll that pasteurizing and bottle mess (we don't use lambars). We have been testing yearly for CAE and I'm just thinking as long as we're not bringing in anyone new why not.
     
  9. Ravens Haven

    Ravens Haven New Member

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    I have been wanting to learn how to dam raise but my problem is I sell milk to pay for my goat habit, how can I dam raise and still sell milk. Especially in quantity as we usually do.

    I am freshening 17 does this year, 6 will be yearlings, I may try with them.

    This is a really good thread.

    Thanks
    Autumn
     
  10. Tim Pruitt

    Tim Pruitt New Member

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    Autumn,
    You will probably be using goat milk to feed kids until weaning age anyway. The way you get milk for your customer base is by milking the doe completely out each morning. You can do this after the kids are 3 -4 weeks old or even before if you give them a bottle. They will be nursing the doe the rest of the day and you get what they leave at night. After 3 - 4 months you wean the kids and keep on milking and having the morning and evening milk to sell etc.
     
  11. Tricia

    Tricia New Member

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    Tim -- Very well stated.

    Autumn -- One of the reasons I do extended lactations is so that I always have a milk supply.
     
  12. Ravens Haven

    Ravens Haven New Member

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    Thanks everyone...

    Autumn
     
  13. whimmididdle

    whimmididdle Guest

    I'm so pleased to see this post from you Tim.

    Good job,

    Whim
     
  14. Sondra

    Sondra New Member

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    When I first started with goats I dam raised everything and all were friendly at 2 wks of age I separated the kids at night and milked in the AM kids were then left on the dams all day I really like this because I didn't have to milk everyday if I didn't want to.
     
  15. laughter777

    laughter777 New Member

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    I really like that I found this post! I know that 2 of my does were raised CAE preventatives. Not sure about the third need to check. If all 3 were raised to prevent CAE would it be a safe guess that I could dam raise all three sets of kids?? One doe (raised preventatively) is due in Nov, the other 2 will be bred for March kids. I had hoped to dam raise, as I like to try to keep things as close to natural as possible with all my critters.

    Sarah
     
  16. Tim Pruitt

    Tim Pruitt New Member

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    It would be a good idea to test your goats at a reputable lab like WSU. More info on labs and testing can be found in goats 101 here on this forum.
     
  17. laughter777

    laughter777 New Member

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    Thanks. Wasn't sure since knowing they (2 for sure) are from a CAE clean and preventative raised herd and that the test results aren't always accurate.
     
  18. MysticHollowGoats

    MysticHollowGoats New Member

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    Great post Tim!

    This is also the way we raise our small herd. I am one who actually enjoys milking each day but on the rare occasion that I can't it is very helpful to just be able to leave her kids with their dam.

    We have a kid sized flip up door leading to our kid pen (where the kids sleep at night from 2 week old and on) in which the kids have free choice items available at their height level so they don't have to compete with the other adult does. All my does get up on the stand for their grain so the kids are offered their grain in the kid pen.
     
  19. Tim Pruitt

    Tim Pruitt New Member

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    I too have a kid door that leads to my kid barn. In the kid barn, I have several pens for kids of different ages. These also double as kidding pens. At night, we open up the kid door and call for the kids to come. Most of the time they will all obediently come. Occasionally we will have a kid that hides so that it can spend the night with mama. However, with a little effort we get each kid in their beds. The does enjoy a time away from their kids at night but are watching expectantly for them every morning. It does wonders for an old doe to raise her kid - it gives her reason and purpose for living.
     
  20. Ashley

    Ashley Active Member

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    Thanks for posting this, very helpful :)

    After getting this little buck from Vicki, I quickly found I'm all about dam raising lol. I don't get into the bottle feeding stuff. Thankfully, one of our does, recently tested CAE negative took him for me, so she fed him. He is now seperate from her and comes in when she is to be fed her grain on the stand and runs in and puts his front knees up on the stand the milks her for me hah! But I have cut out his morning milking recently and in the evening feeding, I milk one side out, so he just gets 1/4 of her production now.

    This brings up a question. Do y'all think it is better to wean all at once, or gradually like that?