How best to care for bottle babies in the winter?

BarnOwl

Loving the herd life
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
101
Reaction score
111
Points
133
Location
Southeast Tennessee
So, I never thought I'd have bottle babies unless it was an emergency situation, and I certainly never thought I'd have bottle babies in the winter, but we fell in love with and put deposits down on two Nigerian dwarf bucklings that will come to us at the age of three weeks. What were we thinking, lol?

I’ve never had bottle babies so I would be grateful for advice on acclimating them to the winter weather. We live in southeast Tennessee; it rarely snows but is somewhat cold. Average highs and lows in December 51/30F, January 49/28F, Feb 54/31. Occasionally we will have nights in the 20s and teens in the coldest part of the winter.

In particular, I was wondering

1. Can the kids spend the night in an unheated attached garage and go outside to run-in shed with an attached pen during the days?
* Would they need a heat-lamp at night if they were in the garage?
* Would they need a heat lamp in the run-in shed during the days?

Heat lamps make me nervous, and I prefer not to use them, but the one at Premier1 seems pretty good…albeit somewhat pricey.

2. At what age can the kids live outside full-time in a calf hut or run-in shed? The run-in shed is partially closed in front, and there would be deep straw bedding and hay bales along the sides. I could run an extension cord and add a heat-lamp if necessary.

Thank you in advance!
 

Alaskan

Herd Master
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
3,977
Reaction score
8,737
Points
453
Location
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
I have had goats kid in the winter.

But... this is what I have had and done:


I once bought 2 kids that were still kind of small when winter hit. Since they were new to the herd, every night I would put both into a small hay lined watertrough with a weighted grate on top (so they couldn't get out and no one/nothing could get in). The water trough meant there were no drafts, the wire top meant there was lots of ventilation.

They snuggled together and were fine.

I have had does kid on the winter... it is usually just a problem RIGHT at the kidding since they are wet. After they are fully dry, they usually do fine.

One set though, were a bit small and were birthed in a particularly cold part of the winter. For them I made a warming box. A large box, filled with hay. The back wall of the box had a heating pad that was duct taped into a freezer ziplock.

When the kids were cold they would snuggle in the box.

Way safer than a heat lamp.

My older sister lives in far northern Minnesota. She has no heat. When her kids are born too soon, or it is just too cold,she brings them into the house with her. She brings them outside to the doe for feedings,then back into the house to warm up. But.... she gets to -30F and such horrors.
 

Alaskan

Herd Master
Joined
May 9, 2017
Messages
3,977
Reaction score
8,737
Points
453
Location
Kenai Peninsula, Alaska
Oh.... and are you going to keep them as bucks? Or castrate?


We would usually castrate at around 4 weeks. I greatly prefer to cut out the testicles over banding. Recovery is faster, and looks to be less pain over-all.
 

BarnOwl

Loving the herd life
Joined
May 16, 2020
Messages
101
Reaction score
111
Points
133
Location
Southeast Tennessee
Thanks for the info! Both the water trough and the heated box sound like they'd work great. I have some hope now that I won't need a heat lamp. I'm giving the breeder a break from my questions, but soon I will ask him what kind of environment the kids are used to.

We're going to keep them as bucks and hope to breed our does when they're old enough. I actually found the bucklings when I was searching for a breeder who might be willing to stud out a buck. I just decided it was easier to have my own bucks.
 

OneFineAcre

Herd Master
Joined
Dec 28, 2012
Messages
9,087
Reaction score
10,091
Points
623
Location
Zebulon, NC
Make sure they are actually on the bottle when you get them. If they have been nursing their mother and the plan is to switch them to a bottle, that can be very difficult to do.
As long as they have a full belly and a dry place out of the wind, they will be fine in the winter.
 
Top