The Bottle Feeding Experiment (and a question)

Discussion in 'Goat Management' started by groovyoldlady, Jun 5, 2018.

  1. groovyoldlady

    groovyoldlady Goat Crazy!

    Jul 21, 2011
    Central Maine
    So, we have pulled all our dairy kids to bottle feed for the past several years. However, when we go to show them, they are always smaller than the other goats in their class.

    Part of this is because we breed late. This year I had the last set of kids May 12 while many of my goat friends kid in February.

    But I think part of it is the way we were bottle feeding. I took the umpteen million "how to feed a baby goat" schedules out there and came up with my own. I fed more ounces than some recommended and less than others.

    But this year, we're doing it differently. I'm still following my old schedule for how often we feed them. But instead of giving out a certain number of ounces, we let them eat until their bellies feel full. And wow...the growth difference is phenomenal! I can't BELIEVE how much larger and thrifty looking my LaMancha does are. They look fabulous!

    However, the LaManchas are always starving. Topaz can frantically down a 20 ounce bottle in a matter of seconds and then is frantically looking for more. Usually we have her and her sister (Ebony is larger and more laid back) eat their 20 ounce bottles and then we have to tether them to the fence so they don't grab other bottles from other kids or run off with them. Then, once they've settled down a little, we usually let them have another half a bottle or so.

    Everyone is eating hay and yard nibbles and browse and they're all drinking water. They look hale and hearty and even slightly tubby. The Munchies were born May 1. Right now they get milk 3 times a day. We'll be going to 2 bottles a day this weekend.

    Do those of you who feed milk more freely start to set limits at some point on the amount per feeding? They usually seem fine once we separate them and give them time for their stomach to signal their brain that they ate.
  2. ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    I didn't do more than 20 ounces per bottle. But I did 3 bottles for longer.
    groovyoldlady likes this.

  3. Goat_Scout

    Goat_Scout Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2017
    Before this year, I always let my bottle babies drink as much as they wanted per feeding (4x a day the first 2 weeks, then switched to 3x time a day). I have never had trouble with overeating. Even when I would move down to 2 (and even 1) bottles a day, I still let them drink until they were done.

    This year, I had 4 (one was orphaned at 5 weeks, but then after 3 weeks on the bottle she decided to switch back to nursing on a goat, so now I just have 3) bottle babies. Per the breeder I got the 3 bucklings from, I let them drink free choice from a homemade lambar, 12 hours a day. Two of them are growing very well and looking phenomenal, while another one looks fine but still needs to catch up in size (though I think that is mostly due to the fact that he was half the size of the others when born). They were drinking 3+ gallons a day, but then a week or two ago I started limiting them to only 2 1/2 gallons per day, I just couldn't keep up with the demand... Little piggies. So now they each get about 3/4 a gallon per day. Their birth dates range from April 1st to April 12th. I don't plan on giving any less milk until they're weaned.
    groovyoldlady likes this.
  4. lottsagoats1

    lottsagoats1 Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2014
    Middle Maine
    I have always filled a 20 ounce bottle for each kid and let them drink their fill. I feed 4 times a day, from day 1. I have never had a problem with them over eating, floppy kid, bloat, nothing but healthy, growthy kids. My bucklings are so well grown that the dealer pays me more for them when/if I have surplus bucklings to sell. My bottle kids are as well grown as the dam raised ones.
    groovyoldlady likes this.
  5. goatblessings

    goatblessings Fair-Haven Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2015
    Southwest Ohio
    I too do bottles up to 20 ounces. I have some that think they are still starving, but after a little they will go to the creep feed and hay. I've noticed better growth with bottles than a lambar - I guess it's because I'm noticing how much each kid is getting per feeding, and I don't have lots of kids. I feed 4x a day, down to 3x at one month, 2x a day at 3 months and wean between 4-5 months.
    groovyoldlady and Goat_Scout like this.
  6. wifeof1

    wifeof1 Well-Known Member

    Mar 17, 2016
    Boulevard, CA
    I also bucket feed, and have found the kids were quite a bit bigger than the dam fed. But I go thru Gallons of milk. I see some milk goiters here and there but the weight gain is worth the trade off. I also feed them full fat cow milk. At 8 weeks I feed 3 times a day. At 10 week, 2 times a day.
    I'm very happy with this system.
  7. Goats Rock

    Goats Rock Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    NE Ohio
    Try using a nipple with a slightly smaller hole. They will have to work just a little harder and it may satisfy their need to suck. (Kind of like a pacifier with a human baby).
    wifeof1 and Maureen Harmon like this.