Our Privacy/Cookie Policy contains detailed information about the types of cookies & related technology on our site, and some ways to opt out. By using the site, you agree to the uses of cookies and other technology as outlined in our Policy, and to our Terms of Use.


How to Get Newborn Goats to Nurse

i Michael Buckner/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

After delivery, newborn goats, called kids, rise up on wobbly legs in the search for their first taste of mother’s milk. This first milk, full of colostrum, is essential to getting a newborn off to a healthy start. Sometimes, due to illness, premature birth or other factors, newborn kids struggle to nurse, and human intervention is necessary.

Weak Kid Syndrome

Weak kid syndrome is a condition that refers to newborns who are unable to stand or nurse. Without human intervention, these kids are likely to die. If the newborn is unable to stand, try assisting them into the standing position. If they are unable to remain in the standing position, you need to milk your mother doe and feed a small amount of the colostrum to the kid by bottle-feeding. If the kid continues to appear weak and lethargic after receiving some colostrum, consult your veterinarian immediately.

A Little Confusion

Some newborn kids are just a little confused and unable to find momma’s udders and teats. If your kid is standing, guide her to the teats for feeding. Squeeze a small amount of milk out from a teat for the kids to smell and taste. Often this is enough for the misguided kid to learn where milk comes from.

Enlarged Udders

Often times, especially when the mother doe has large udders and teats, a newborn kid is unable to position his mouth to nurse. In this case, you will need to manually milk your doe to reduce the teat size and enable the kid to nurse. If this is the first feeding, collect this rich colostrum milk and offer it to the newborn kid through bottle-feeding.

Bottle and Tube Feeding

If, despite your best efforts, a newborn kid will not nurse, bottle- or tube-feeding is necessary. Weak kids often do not have enough energy to nurse. To check a kid's sucking ability, squirt some milk onto your finger and place it in the kid’s mouth. If the kid is too weak to suck, tube feeding is necessary. For bottle-feeding, milk your goat, strain the milk and place it into bottles. Offer the bottle to the newborn kid with a few squirts in the mouth and let her feed on small amounts about five times a day. If bottle-feeding is not successful and your kid is not nursing, consult a veterinarian before trying to tube-feed for the first time. Tube-feeding involves pushing a tube down your kid’s throat and into the stomach.