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Dam Raised, Bottle Raised, Trough Raised, & Pulling Kids

Dam Raised, Bottle Raised, Trough Raised, & Pulling Kids at different times

First, let me say we have always been very strong supporters of “nature's way” wanting our does to dam raise their kids. This allows us to see how good of a mother they are which is very important to us.
I never thought there would be a time where we would even consider “pulling” ( taking the kid at birth from mom) a kid. I do remember asking "Rolls" why she pulled all her kids, she gave a great answer that was very informative. Our family likes to glean from others and looking at all ways of doing things. Having the ability to try things to see if it works for us is not only beneficial to us but to many others. We are an education farm and like to share all our experiences. What works for one farm may not work for another. I'd like to share some of our observations and the pro's and con's of the different things we've tried. Please keep in mind these are OUR EXPERIENCES and OBSERVATIONS.

There are many that have years of experience in the pulling of kids and we have just started this, so bare with us as we explore this method.:)

Dam Raised-
Dam raised- Many advantages! You do not need to worry about the doe kidding if you aren't there to “pull” the kid. The beauty of a doe kidding and cleaning and nurturing her kid is truly touching. There is also the flexibility of milking. If you are sick or need to be away for a day there is no worry about the doe getting engorged and having issues, the kids take care of that. You get to see how well the mom is doing as far as mothering skills and if she can keep up with more than 2 offspring. For those does that regularly have 3 and 4 kids, a doe that can keep up is a good sign!

Now for the disadvantages. Because a kid nurse for 15-30 seconds at a time these “sips” do not allow for the bag to fill well or the teats. This can be particularly difficult in establishing udder development and capacity on those first fresheners. When starting to milk your doe and the kids are separated, usually overnight, there is lots of hollering. LOL This however does subside rather quickly. One of the more difficult issues is when to start milking. Some start as early as a few days but most start at 2 weeks, some 3, some 6. This is usually for smaller breeds. Many with Standard size goats will not milk until minimum of 4 weeks. Separating kids and weaning can be difficult. A separate shelter and fencing is required.


Kid behavior- We have always had wonderfully friendly goats that were dam raised. Some take a few weeks and only want their mom and eventually (usually 3 weeks) they want human attention. We are a large family so there are lots of people with the kids all the time. For many, they simply do not have the luxury of someone full time and it has been our experience that most kids that are only handled once or twice a day (usually because of working conditions do not allow for more time) are not nearly as friendly. We have seen more people have to chase and snag their baby goats than not. If the kids do not come running up to people than they may not be as friendly as the breeder thinks. Of course there is a difference with kids and strangers. What we watch for is do they go up to the breeder or does the breeder need to run around after them. This is an indicator of how much time is spent with the kids. Although this can also be individual temperament.
Unfortunately many goat kids that are not handled much become skitsy, once skitsy the goat may never get any better. The older the kid is the worse the chances are. We acquired a buck at 8 months of age, due to health issues of the breeder the kids from that year were not handled at all. We wanted the buck for his genetics, he was the son of a goat we had tied to get 1 ½ years earlier and we were too late. He is still skitsy at almost 2 years. This has posed some issues as rounding him up for breeding is a challenge. He is sweet, not a mean bone in his body, just not wanting to be touched...ever.
Kids grown up- Adult goats... all of ours have been friendly and even those that were sold as adults adapted very well to their new homes. The new owners always call and are pleasantly surprised at how well the goats adapted and how friendly they are. Friendly but not obnoxious or all over you.

Some other interesting observations-our bucklings tend to befriend humans much faster than our doelings. Single births tend to be very bondy with their dam and have taken MUCH longer to befriend humans. There again, the exception being bucklings. We have seen this with our Nigies and our Lamanchas. Our Kikos however have been complete opposite. Doelings very friendly right away, bucklings very reserved.

Bottle Raised, Trough Raised
Bottle Raised, Trough Raised- Our first experience with bottle raising was Feb 2014 when we acquired the MOST adorable 2 day old Lamancha buckling! Bottle feeding went great and without a hitch. The breeder sells off all bucklings at birth if possible, based on her dairy needs she feels no need to raise up bucklings. The buck is now 8 months old. He was raised on COWS milk not goats milk. We had none to spare. No issues whatsoever with the cows milk. He is a friendly buck but has GOOD manners. I will say he is not much different than any of our other bucks, but we are buck LOVERS here and dote on our bucks. They all get a lot of attention.

We also acquired several animals this year that were trough raised. We had never seen this method before. We were acquainted with the lambar bucket but not trough. We thought this was genius! We were blessed to have breeders show us how they trained their kids to the trough.
  1. they allow the mom to kid and nurse for 3 days
  2. after 3 days they slowly train the kid with their finger into the bowl
  3. once they get it the kids get pulled and go with other kids
  4. the breeders pour gallons of milk into the trough and the kids suck it up!
  5. Then they take warm water and the kids clean their mouth and take water in
We couldn't believe this! No lambar, no bottles! Simple! The kids coming from this kind of rearing were by far the absolute sweetest friendliest goats we had ever seen. Not obnoxious either.
Over the course of this year we ended up“baby-sitting a 3 year old goat for a month... this goat had a long travel to our house and we were total strangers...she never skipped a beat. The friendliest sweetest 140 lb goat I'd ever been around. No issues even with milking her. When she finally made it to her permanent home she never stressed, adapted well to the family and again never skipped a beat. The family has very small children and they adore her. Their dam raised “friendly” nigie is not nearly as affectionate or sweet as the big girl. Very interesting.

We acquired a 4 year old Nubian, raised the trough way... the doe adapted to us as though she has lived here her whole life. Loves bear hugs and kisses and walks perfectly with us and is a complete joy.
The young does that we acquired in June were the best goats we had ever owned! We were seeing a real trend with the trough raising!

We had a client waiting on a doeling. The request was trough raise please. The lady has trough raised ALL her kids for years. We decided to give it a try. Thankfully we had the support of those with experience to walk us through. We were quite nervous. The lady also said if we were not comfortable with it she was fine if we opted to dam raise as we do spend so much time with the kids.
Well, we gave it a try! This is what we found.

We opted to pull at birth and NOT go through the trauma of days on mom then pulling. The doe was a first freshener.

Disadvantages- the most disappointing birth ever. I guess it was a real letdown. We love watching the mom clean and nurture and the kid finding the teat for the first time and then hopping around. It is a goat breeders adrenalin high I guess! LOL It was very sad. We were there and helped pull out a big single BUCK! Really!? He was whisked away to the house. My daughter took care of the kid and I stayed with the doe, of course waiting for a second kid that never came. There was no joy.

My daughter and I were immediately so turned off by this we thought nope...never again. BUT that is where the disadvantage ends really. After about a week that seemed rather insignificant. I think that was more about me and how I felt then anything. I got over it and so did my daughter.

Now for the advantages- Starting out we were unhappy as stated, but we milked out mom and fed the kid right away. Being a buckling, as bucklings are never so bright as doelings at birth LOL it took some real work getting him to take a bottle. He lived in the house for 3 days. Mom never saw him and heard him once, perked her head up and hollered once. Honestly I thought this process would be traumatic for the doe but it did not appear to stress her at all. After a few days on the bottle we worked with the nipple in a bowl, he learned to suck up the milk through the nipple in the bowl, then we removed the nipple and he was “trough” fed. We started out for the first 3 days of every 4 hours, then skipping overnight (11pm-7 am) gradually we moved to 4x day, then 3x day and at 6 weeks 2x day.

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As far as the doe- this is where we see the big difference. We only milked 2x day, it was recommended 3x for the first week but we didn't have time for 3x day. The doe is heavy milk lines so has the capability for great output but as first fresheners go it can be less than desirable as far as output. This doe in particular had very small teats. We noticed how this method allowed those teats to fill as the udder filled, expanding those teats and they are so much easier to work with. The doe milks 3 cups am and 2-3 cups pm. So she yields 1 and a quarter qts to 1 and a half quarts daily. We noticed weather and water intake affects her amount. This is very good for a first freshener. We also notice that her bag is really not full, we think this may be because she had a single. We have noticed over the years does that udders were not “expanded” had singles. Does that had nice full udders had twins or triplets. Time will tell.

We have been pleased thus far at the affects on the FF udder and teats. She does not know her kid so no crying at any point, nor the kid.

The kid is friendlier than dam raised kids and is very confident. LOL He looks gorgeous too. The client, although waiting on a doe decided she wanted him if we don't retain him.

It took awhile but what I realized is that the adrenaline rush and “joy” is short lived but the pulled kid has had many benefits. I also got to see that my idea of a momma traumatized was not an issue. It may be for a doe that has kidded before and understands what is happening but for our first time and it being a first freshener there were NO indicators of distress for kid or doe. Our LGD however did get distressed as he is present at every kidding and cannot stand to be separated from kidding or kids. We ended up bringing him in the house for a few days to “care” for the kid.

It is a very hard thing to explain but the trough raised kids are friendlier. It is a different kind of friendly than our dam raised kids. What we are seeing is a LONG term difference in the goats. We become the priority, the goats are not obnoxious but always come up and are very much dog like. They follow us, they are better behaved, easier to do anything with, easier to lead train, hoof trim, examine etc. Yet they are not all up in our business. We have always been big advocates for dam raised kids and we know dam raised kids can be very friendly but I can say there is a real difference, just very difficult to explain. Those that come to our farm always fall in love with the goats that were trough raised, there is just something about them.

Our experiment will continue as we are going to try and pull kids this year. We are ok if we miss a kidding and don't get to but we really want to try. We are looking forward to having all our babies together. This really helps when there is a single. We mostly want to do this for first fresheners.

Our first round of goats are all together so we will see if it ends up being too much.

The down side is we ABSOLUTELY need to be here to milk , no just putting kids on them when we are going to be late etc. That is a biggy because being able to take one day off a week and leaving kids on is NICE! It gives that day of rest so needed!

Our other option of course is to pull kids after mom's are with them for a few days. We will play that one by ear.

So there ya have it- early on in this adventure but liking it so far. We will see what the year brings us!
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