Breeding Goats

If you are breeding goats for milk production think very carefully about the future of the kids born from this mating. Unless they are to be replacements for your own herd or are already booked, they may have to be put down. At the moment there is a surplus of goats, and it can be difficult to sell even well bred, disbudded female kids. All the responsible goat societies suggest that male kids should not be given away as pets. Unless you want to rear them for meat or know someone who will take them for humane rearing and slaughter, then it is far kinder to have them put down as soon after birth as possible.

Please do not unload your responsibility by sending them to the market. Kids are often bought on impulse, and sometimes by children who have no idea how to care for them, resulting in a miserable existence for the kid. Meat dealers may buy and transport them for many miles, the kids sometimes passing through other markets before they are eventually slaughtered. This slaughter is not always done in a humane way using pre-stunning.


Care of Young Kids

Young kids require milk feeding for at least three months, ideally with goat's milk, or reconstituted powdered milk made for kids or calves. Lamb's milk can be used, but being unnecessarily rich, it can be diluted a little more. Kids are normally fed with a bottle and lamb teat, but can be taught to use a 'lamb bar' type feeder. Bucket feeding of milk is not usually satisfactory. At least three bottles a day are fed, gradually increasing the quantity until the kid is having about three pints a day at 2 or 3 weeks of age. They must also have access to good quality clean hay fed from a rack, not a hay net, and possibly, grazing or browsing. A goat coarse feed concentrate can be offered from about 4 weeks of age, and the amount fed will gradually increase as the milk feeds are reduced as the kid grows. Clean water should always be on offer. A number of wild plants and weeds are enjoyed by goats, but many ornamental shrubs, especially evergreens, are poisonous.

Kids need shelter from the rain and wind and must always be housed or be able to get undercover. They should never be tethered as they are in constant danger of becoming entangled, strangled or otherwise injured. If goat-proof fencing cannot be provided, it is preferable to keep kids in a roomy shed and take them out when supervised.

It is strongly recommended that, because they are herd animals, kids should never be kept alone, but always reared in pairs, or with a lamb of a similar age. If a kid is sharing land with adult goats or sheep, they should be wormed first at about 6 weeks of age. If a kid has loose droppings, or is in any way ill, it is advisable to go straight to a vet rather than trying home remedies first.

Many kids will develop horns and these can be very dangerous, especially when kids are handled by children, therefore horned kids should not be bought as pets. If the kid is under one week old, the horn buds can be removed to prevent growth. This bisbudding has, by law, to be performed by a vet, who will also advise if the horn removal is possible in an older kid. He will also advise on castration of a male kid, although if the kid is under one week, a rubber ring, such as is used for lambs, can be applied by a skilled layman. Uncastrated male goats should never be kept as pets, and only a few of the very best are required for breeding. When approaching 6 months, a male kid will begin to emit an unpleasant smell and become more aggressive and difficult. Adult males can grow to the size of a small pony and become very dangerous. Castrated males do not have these disadvantages, but usually grow larger than females.

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