Hand-Raising an Orphan Goat

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The right supplies and the right attitude are all you need to hand-raise a healthy orphaned goat. This is not all that different from raising orphaned puppies and kittens. Mammals share basic needs that must be met. Meet those needs, and you'll reach your goal.

Orphans

Baby and pygmy goats become orphaned for a variety of reasons. A pregnant goat may deliver a litter of triplets and will need help because she can't nourish all three. A baby goat may become injured and need special care, such as Snowflake from Florida who was facing euthanasia because her father accidentally kicked her and broke her femur. When the young daughter of the farmer who had the goats couldn't bear the idea of the baby goat being put down, she convinced her dad to bring "Flakes" to a local animal rescue that normally only takes in dogs and cats.

Nutrition

The University of Maryland recommends baby goats get their fair share of colostrum -- a high-calorie, nutritional product lactating mothers produce -- during the first 24 hours of life. If for some reason baby goats have not been able to feed from their mothers in those critical hours, they will need colostrum replacement products available at farm and feed supply stores. At three days old, baby goats are bottle-fed four times a day with goats' milk or suitable replacement product. When baby goats are about ten days old, they are offered palatable goat feed such as goat pellets soaked in milk, grass and hay. As with all animals, goats should always be provided fresh drinking water.

Feeding

Patty Palmer runs the rescue organization where Flakes was brought, but she raised Flakes at her home. Palmer learned raising the specifics of raising little goats as she brought up Flakes. In the beginning, when Flakes was only two weeks old, she bottle-fed Flakes every two hours, then every four hours. Flakes gradually began grazing for grass but still enjoyed bottled goat milk from time to time. Flakes gained weight according to schedule, weighing about 30 pounds when she reached ten weeks. When her femur was fully healed, she was adopted out to a loving family where she could live on a farm with other goats. Baby goats may also require vitamins, supplements and minerals to thrive.

Socializing

Palmer says that socializing Flakes was a big problem. The baby goat seemed to think she was a dog because she insisted on sleeping on the bed with Palmer and, in general, fitted herself into the pack of resident dogs; eating with and playing with them. Palmer advises against treating a baby goat like a pet unless she will live in the home like a dog. Also Flakes was not reliably housebroken, and began to eat the drywall in the house. You may consider a solid, outdoor shelter for your goat if you plan to settle her in a farm someday.

Photo Credits

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Author

Michelle A. Rivera is the author of many books and articles. She attended the University of Missouri Animal Cruelty School and is certified with the Florida Animal Control Association. She is the executive director of her own nonprofit, Animals 101, Inc. Rivera is an animal-assisted therapist, humane educator, former shelter manager, rescue volunteer coordinator, dog trainer and veterinary technician.