Goats are an adorable farm animal-both playful and energetic. Their milk has also become popular and is used to create everything from cheese and yogurt to hand soap. However, to obtain the milk for these products, it is important to successfully wean the baby goats from their mother first.
A baby goat should gradually be weaned from its mother once they reach two to three times their birth weight and around two to four months of age. This will ensure that both the babies and the mothers are happy and healthy, and ready for this important transition.
Weaning a baby goat requires patience and a gentle hand. Learning when the right time is and introducing them to solid foods can lower the stress level for both the mother goats and their kids as they transition into adulthood. Take a look below for tips on when to know when baby goats are ready for weaning, how to prepare, and some things to look out for after they are weaned.
Preparing to Wean a Baby Goat from Its Mother
Before you begin to wean your baby goats, go through the following checklist to make sure they are healthy and ready to be separated from their mothers.
How Should Solid Food Be Introduced?
Unlike humans, baby goats can be introduced to solid food as early as one week. Goats are natural nibblers, so once you notice baby goats chewing on things, offer them bits of alfalfa. This will help them get used to solid food and is preparation for more substantial solid food.
From that point, if you have been keeping track of their weight and notice they have been steadily and healthily increasing toward the goal of twice their birth weight (usually reached around two months), start giving them goat kid starter food.
They may start off by eating only a little of this solid food, but they will eat more over time. As they do, they will be drinking less milk, which will make their eventual weaning much easier and less stressful for everyone!
When Should You Wean a Baby Goat?
There are many different opinions on this, and to a certain extent, it does depend on the goat kid. However, there are generally accepted rules that cover all goats:
- 1First, do not wean them too early (for example, at two weeks). This can cause both health and behavioral issues in the baby goats due to stress. Their bodies and their brains simply are not ready to be separated from their mothers that soon.
- 2Second (and this is where recording their birth weight comes into play), do your best to delay weaning until they have reached 2 to 2.5 times their birth weight. This may come at different times for different goats.
With that in mind, if you go by age instead of weight, baby goats are typically able to handle being fully weaned at two to three months old, though they will wean themselves around four months old.
Should Baby Goats Be Separated from their Mothers?
Probably the most difficult part of weaning is the separation of the kids from their mothers once they’ve reached a proper weight. They will cry very intensely for a couple of days but living in completely separate pens is necessary for successful weaning.
Once they are in separate pens, there are two options. You can either:
- 1Completely cut off the milk and just feed them solid food or
- 2Still allow them times to meet up with their mothers for milk, and slowly decrease the number of times until they have stopped completely
Neither way is better than the other and depends on your individual circumstances, but the important thing is keeping them separate during that weaning process.
Keep in mind that even when the kid has been completely weaned off of milk, you should keep them separate from their mother for a while longer because there is the potential for them to revert back to nursing if the mother is still producing milk.
Once the mother is no longer producing milk, it is fine to reintroduce them and keep them in the same pens again.
Whats Next After Weaning a Baby Goat from Its Mother?
Once you have weaned your baby goats, the job is still not complete. There are things to look out for, and you still need to provide for your goats to make sure they remain healthy.
Things to Look Out For
You should keep an eye on the following:
Things to Provide
Once the baby goats are weaned, the two most important things you can do for your goats are:
Having and weaning baby goats is a big task but one that can be undertaken and done successfully with the right tools and knowledge under your belt. Be prepared, be observant, and make sure your goat kid is getting the proper nourishment so they can survive and thrive during the weaning process.
Do not become discouraged and give up when they show distress over being separated from their mothers—it will pass and can be done in a way that works best for you and your goats! Most importantly, be sure to observe and note any physical changes, including the good ones. Enjoy watching your baby goats grow and thrive!