If a newborn goat's mother dies after giving birth or is otherwise unable to care for her newborn, you must act quickly to save the kid's life. Caring for an abandoned newborn goat involves a lot of work for several weeks, but you'll have a good chance of success if the kid is otherwise healthy. The kid needs a warm, draft-free environment; if you're bottle-feeding, keep the kid inside the house for a few days to make it easier on you.
The Importance of Colostrum
If the newborn was not able to suckle off his mother at all, it's critical that you administer colostrum, that crucial "first milk" full of protective antibodies. A newborn must receive colostrum within his first 24 hours. If your vet can't provide you with fresh or frozen goat colostrum, you can substitute bovine colostrum, which is generally available at farm supply stores. The University of Maryland Extension website recommends at least 3 ounces of colostrum per pound of the kid's body weight, divided into a few feedings over the first 24 hours.
Find a Foster Mom
After ensuring that the kid consumes colostrum, try to find him a foster mother. If you keep several does and have others with kids, you might persuade one of the mothers to take on another baby. If the doe just kidded, don gloves and rub the placenta of her kid all over the abandoned kid. If the strange kid smells just like her own, she's more likely to accept him and allow nursing. If there's no placenta available, place a menthol nasal product in the doe's nose and on all of the kids' heads, tails and abdomens. That could fool the doe into thinking the newborn is hers.
Goat Milk Replacer
If no doe is available, you'll have to bottle-feed the kid. Feed your kid milk replacer that's designed specifically for caprines. You'll have to mix a fresh batch every day based on the product specifications. Dr. Cleon V. Kimberling of the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital recommends bottle-feeding a half-cup to three-quarters of a cup four times a day for the first three days. From the fourth day to the second week, increase the amount of milk replacer to 1 cup or 1 1/4 cups, but the kid needs only three feedings daily. From the ages of 2 weeks to 6 weeks on, feed 2 cups to 2 1/4 cups twice daily. From age 6 weeks to 8 weeks, increase the amount to 2 1/3 to 3 cups twice a day. After 8 weeks, most kids have weaned if they have reached a minimum weight of 20 pounds. Worm your kid just before he's finally weaned.
Starting Solid Foods
By the end of the kid's first week of life, you can introduce small amounts of grass hay or alfalfa. By the age of 10 days, introduce the kid to a starter feed that's 18 percent to 20 percent protein. If the weather is good, the kid can start sampling pasture at the age of 4 weeks. The kid should have access to fresh water at all times.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.