Baby Goat Care Timeline
After months of learning and preparing, your baby goats have finally arrived!
There are things that you need to do and think about after your babies have arrived. We have a baby goat care timeline that shows when each should be done. Things that are included are Vaccinations, disbudding, tattooing, when to give first solid food, when the babies should be weaned and when the males should be castrated. These are all things that you will have to do and make decisions about within the first few months of your baby goat’s life. You will also need to know when each of these things should take place. Here I will explain each and give you the timeline that we use.
Baby Goat Care Timeline
Physical and Eating check – Newborn
From the very start you should be checking to make sure there are no problems physically with your baby goat. Once they are up and moving, they should be trying to eat, watch to make sure they are getting a good latch on the doe’s udder and that the doe is letting them.
Vaccinations – 30 Days
CD&T is an annual goat vaccine that protects against diseases caused by Clostridial bacteria. CD&T is a 3-way vaccine that includes a tetanus toxoid. This tetanus toxoid provides long-term protection from tetanus bacteria.
This vaccine is an injection that is given subcutaneously under the skin. You will need a syringe with an 18 to 20-gauge needle. The skin at the injection site is pulled up, the needle is held parallel to the goat’s body then pushed through the skin.
When the vaccine is given to your baby goat depends on whether the mother was given the vaccine within 30 days prior to giving birth. If the mother has been vaccinated before birth, the kids are vaccinated at 30 days. If the doe has not had the vaccine within 30 days of giving birth the kid will need to be given the vaccine at 3 days and 30 days of age.
Disbudding (Optional) 3 Days – 1 month
Disbudding is the removal of the tiny buds that develop where the goat’s horn will be. The removal of the horn buds is done by burning them with a hot iron, so that the growth will not continue. Disbudding can be done by you or your vet, but for the first time you should have someone experienced present and able to teach you how to remove them safely. Disbudding is optional, it is up to you or your buyer if the procedure is necessary. Disbudding can take place starting at 3 days old depending on when the baby goats’ buds have developed. Every breed and goat are different, in my experience meat goats and bucks tend to develop theirs earlier.
If you have a baby goat with registered parents, they must have tattoos if you plan on registering them as well. Tattooing of baby goats is done inside the ears except for the Lamancha breed, they are tattooed on their tail webs. Tattooing is used as a form of identification for registered goats. One ear has the registries’ letter to represent the year combined with a number representing the order your baby goat was born that year. The other ear has the breeders four letter of number Identification.
Tattooing can be done when you are ready, but it must be done before your baby goat is ready to go to a new home. If you plan on keeping your baby goat it can wait until 6 months of age. Many breeders choose to tattoo their babies the same day disbudding is taking place.
First food – 1 week- 1 month
Baby goats that are mother raised have access to hay, water, grain, and loose minerals every day. These babies are more likely to follow their mothers lead when it comes to eating solid foods. When a baby goat is bottle fed, they may not come in contact with other food sources right away.
Weaning – 8-10 weeks
Your baby goat is now old enough to be separated from its mother, I like to do this gradually. Start by letting the mother out of the pen for a while to graze while the baby stays in the pen. Increase the amount of time they spend apart, then move them to separate pens. For the kids that are going to be sold we like to start the process around 7 weeks, if the baby is doing well eating solids at this time. The goal is to separate mother and baby with as little stress as possible.
Castration – 8-12 Weeks
Male goats can start breeding as early as 3 months depending on the breed. The decision for a male to be used as a breeder or a wether should be made while they are still young. There are different methods used to castrate a baby goat, but banding is the most used. Banding is when a thick rubber ring (made for this purpose, that can be found at a farm store) is placed around the scrotum near the body. This is done to prevent blood flow and cause the scrotum to shrivel and fall off in time. The banding method is a bloodless, non-invasive method that should be done while the goat is still young.
If your baby goat has registered parents it is also able to be registered with that goat registry. This can take place at any time. If you are planning on selling your goats as registered the application should be filled out and sent in before the baby leaves your care. All goats can that are able to be registered can be with or without a membership. Keep records once the kid is born so that you can accurately fill out the application. We purchased a goat with the application filled out but not sent in by the breeder . When we sent the paperwork in some of the information did not match the goat’s already registered twin. This was an easy fix, and showed how important recording keeping from the very beginning is.
Sale 8 – 10 weeks
Even though baby goats are cute, and we would like to keep them all, it is inevitable that one day you will sell a few of them to others. Your baby goat should be able to go to its new home starting at 8 weeks of age. When the time comes make sure you have a happy, healthy baby goat to give to your buyer. Keep a folder with your records, registration papers, a bill of sale and any extra information you would like to provide for them.
The birth of your baby goats is the start of the many things that will need to be done within the first few months of its life. Vaccinations, disbudding, castration and the sale of your babies are things that you will need to remember on your baby goat care timeline. The end goal is healthy happy goats to continue your herd or to be reputable additions to others.