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When to stop bottles

828 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  TDG-Farms
I have been going back and reading posts on here about when people stop bottle feeding. I was wondering if people could reply with some reasons. Do you stop because they are being sold? You run out of milk? You turn them loose on the pasture? Cost? They have reached a certain weight?

Our kids (ranging in age from 3 months to 1 1/2 months) all eat grain, are provided with a mineral mix, good alfalfa and spend a few hours a day on the pasture. They are on different bottle schedules based on their age.

When I feed them a bottle, there little bellies just get so fat! Is it good to do a small bottle (4-8 ounces) so they are still getting the vitamins and minerals for a longer period of time? A goat left with his mom would nurse for a long period of time but he probably wouldn't still be drinking a lot when he is 4 months old and nursing - right or wrong?

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here is the break down on feeding milk to babies.

Some like to keep em on for as long as they can. I have seen 1 year old + kids still nursing. I seriously do not suggest this. Not only is it hard on the mom and her poor teats, but there is no good reason to keep em on say past 4-6 months at most. Longer then I like but if you are milking the mom and just dont need the extra milk, then an older kid helping is always nice. Some will say its natural to keep the kids on this long but its not. For the most part, a Doe will start walking away from nursing kids by the 4th month.

The standard is to ween around the end of the 3rd month. There are a few good reasons to do so. A kid of this age has been eating solids along with the milk for at least a month if not two. Their stomachs are ready for straight solids and they no longer need the milk. Often times after this age they actually start to get the runs more often then not due to the consumption of milk. Also by this age the kids, if their are more then one can be taking everything their mom is producing and they start to turn the udder into a punching bag trying to get the milk to let down. Nothing like ruining a show quality udder by keeping kids on to long. If you are bottle feeding then this isnt an issue. For those that are milking you can do a little test. If you have been giving grain to the kids as well and they are gusto for the grain as the milk, do a side by side and see which one they want the most. More often then not, at least here, they go after the grain. Or at the very least hit the milk for a few quick sucks and then go straight to the grain.

And then there are those who ween as early as 1 month. All I can say is, this is a terrible idea and stunts the kids growth. We have a few buyers who are picking up their boys a week to 10 days earlier then the 3 month mark and that even makes me uncomfortable.

For me, I dont even start thinking about weening until the 3 month mark. I like to start to cut back and am finished weening by 3 1/2 to 4 months. Depending upon milk supply.
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When to stop the milk. That is a good question and people have a wide variety of ideas on the subject.

I strongly believe you should stop feeding milk on a Sunday. Saturday or Monday is ok depending on whether you have twins or not.

I have seen people take the baby off of milk on Thursday and to me this is just irresponsible.

Not that I'm an expert. I've only done it once. But Sunday worked well for me. No problems.
When to ween the kids has a great number of answers. Numbers of factors play a part in all the different answers. If these are Packgoat kids the bottle feeding is done not only for the nutritional values to the kids but also as an aid in bonding these kids to their human leader or leaders. Since every goat is different sometimes you may need to bottle feed some kids a little longer for the bonding process or a little longer because they might not be eating enough grain, hay, etc. All goats are different. I personally bottle feed all my Packgoat kids until at least 4 months. If I am selling these kids at 4 months I will recommend that their new human leaders continue their bottle feeding for another few weeks for the "New" bonding to the new human leader. Normally at 4 months I'm only giving them one bottle a day, but I will recommend that the new leaders feed the same quantity but in 2 feeding 12 hours apart. This to help the kids adjust to their new surroundings with less stress. I have a kid right now that should only be receiving 2 bottles a day but he is a little more stand offish than I would like so he is receiving the 2 a day quantity but in 4 feeding. He's coming around nicely.
If you are raising market goats (for meat) or dairy goats, I know people that wean them as early as 2 months if they are eating good. Others at 3 months. We also raise market Boer goats and have gone to a natural weaning process, where we do not separate the doe from her kids unless they are physically wearing her down. We let the doe choose when the kids are weaned. We find this far superior to separating them.
Hope this helps, Happy Trails, Dwite
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LOL I like Charlie's advice the best!!!
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