What to Feed Orphaned Baby Goats

orphaned baby goats

With the loss of its default source of nutrition (its mother), what to feed orphaned baby goats becomes a topic of extreme importance. I recently lost a nanny goat which had just given birth to three kids. I had to quickly get out of mourning to figure out how to go about taking care of the orphaned kids she left behind. With some luck, I was able to come across some helpful guides on the internet, which I thought to compile.

The best stuff to feed orphaned baby goats with include:

  • Milk/Colostrum replacement
  • Fruit
  • Warm water
  • Grains

If not carefully administered, however, what you feed your orphaned baby goats with can become a major source of problems to them. In this article, we’ll be looking at how and when these items should be fed to the kids. Let’s look at a breakdown of the nutritional requirements of an orphaned baby goat.

Feeding Requirements of Orphaned Baby Goats

Right after Birth

You need to be present immediately after your baby goat is born, so the baby goat can imprint on you and get familiar with you.

The umbilical cord is to break on it’s own naturally. You are only to trim it when it’s longer than four inches. To trim the cord, use a sterilized pair of scissors, after which you clean the surface of the cord with iodine to prevent the invasion of diseases. Allow the stub to fall off on it own.

First Feeding

The first feeding of your orphaned baby goat should be done within the first two hours of birth.

You are to first feed your orphaned baby goat colostrum substitute since the mother is not available to provide the natural one. Some commercial products serving as colostrum replacement are available in your local stores. Even though, there have been negative reports of disease increment from using them.

In other to avoid this, you have an alternative to make your own. You can achieve this with the ingredients provided below:

  • 3 cups of milk
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 teaspoon cod liver oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

All the ingredients are to be mixed together in right proportion and fed to the orphaned baby goat immediately.

The new born kid should be given 4 ounce of colostrum three times a day. The colostrum should be given to them 6-8 hours apart.

Note: The colostrum substitute will not have the necessary antibodies that the original one from the mother will have, but it’s best to be given to the kids since there is no other better option.

What to Feed Orphaned Baby Goats: Feeding Techniques

There are two basic feeding techniques you can use for your orphaned baby goats. They include bottle feeding and pan feeding.

Benefits of Each Technique

1. Bottle feeding:
  • Is more natural for the kids, since it’s has same texture with the mother’s nipple.
  • It’s easier to monitor their consumption as over feeding/under feeding is bad for them.
  • It saves cost since you don’t need much milk like when using a pan.
2. Pan feeding: 
  • Pans are easier than using bottle. You can just pour the milk and allow the kids to lean and fill themselves.

Note: First time feeders will need to hold the babies in the crook of their elbow and open the kid’s mouth and place the nipple inside as the kids might not know how to use it in the first place.

It’s usually difficult for the kids to switch/change when they are already adapted to one of the techniques.

Feeding Frequency by Age and Introducing Solid Foods

Make steady provision of fresh warm water for the kids. It’s also advisable to give the kids quality hay and kid starter in between milk feedings.

When the orphaned baby goats are up to one week of age, you can start giving them small amounts of grain. This helps in the development of the goats’ rumen. Don’t overfeed the orphaned baby goats with hay as it can cause bloating and digestive problems.

You can also give them fruits but in very small quantities, so as to help them get used to solid foods. It is said to be better to feed your kids that are less than two weeks old 3-4 times per day.

Slowly reduce the amount of milk you give to your orphaned baby goats until they start eating like other adult goats.

By one week you should notice the kids nibbling on grasses, leaves, hay, sticks and other objects. By the second week, your orphaned baby goats will consume about twelve ounces at each feeding.

Watch your orphaned baby goats closely and observe their growth rate and general behavior. Be sure to give them just enough milk and feed to keep them healthy. Don’t give them so much milk, so they will not be satiated on milk alone. Giving the animal too much milk can lead the baby goat to having a kind of diarrhea called scours.

Use of a Stomach Tube

A stomach tube is a flexible plastic tube, it’s small and it’s used in administering fluid or drug to a weak kid. It serves same purpose as a catheter.

You will consider using a stomach tube for an orphaned goat that is very weak and cannot suck like the others. You can find this stomach tubes from sheep or lamb houses and from your local feed supply store. You’re advised to have a stomach tube always readily available in case of emergency or unforeseen circumstances.

How to Use a Stomach Tube

Insertion of this stomach tube is done by slowly and gently pushing the tube down the baby goat’s throat. The kid will often swallow the tube as you are pushing it further into its stomach, thereby helping the tube get to its stomach faster.

Attach the syringe of colostrum at the upper end of the tube as soon as you’re sure it has reached the orphaned baby goats stomach. Depression of the syringe plunger slowly helps to discharge the colostrum directly into the stomach of the baby goat.

Note: Be very sure that the tube has gotten into the kids stomach before you administer the colostrum. This is to prevent the colostrum being administered from getting into the lungs and causing further problems for the orphaned baby goat.

Raising Baby Goats on the Bottle: What You Should Know


It is very important to keep everything clean while feeding orphaned baby goats. Keep the environment as clean as possible. Dirty environment and feeding utensils expose baby goats to diseases, causes them to fall I’ll and can even lead them to death. Their immune systems are yet to be properly developed at this stage of their life.

Always wash their feeding bottles and nipples every single time you make use of it. Don’t also feed them overstayed milk. Feed them fresh one.

Avoid Over-Feeding

Over feeding of baby goats is very dangerous to their health. These baby goats’ stomachs are usually very sensitive. I already mentioned above how that overfeeding causes them to have a kind of diarrhea called Scours.

Use of Electrolytes

You need to be very observant to know when your baby goat has been overfed. Sometimes they might even end up with scours. The level of attention you give them determines if you’ll notice this in time.

When you have noticed that your goat is having scours due to overfeeding, you’ll need to stop feeding them more milk and start feeding them electrolyte in place of milk. You can restart feeding them the milk again only when you are sure the scours has cleared. If you notice the scours was caused by overfeeding, then you will need to cut down on the amount of feeding you give to the baby goats.

If you’re not careful enough, the same health issue can occur a second time.

Move Them Out Quickly

Goats are herd animals and so you should consider moving them out as quickly as you can. They are also social animal. You are to move them out to relate with it other goats. Other goats will help teach them the basics of being goats since their mother is not there to do that for them.

They will cry and always follow you when they are not moved out quickly because they will think you are their herd.


You have to be very observant to know when some changes occur in your orphaned baby goats. Be on the lookout for the symptoms of floppy kid syndrome (hypotonia). Contact a vet as soon as you can.


Separate the orphaned baby goats from the disturbances of other goats for a few days. If you have a gentle doe with kids, you can keep the orphaned baby goats with her. Also be sure the doe accepts the orphaned baby goats before leaving them with her. Because in some cases, the does reject the orphaned baby goats for the fact they are not from her.

Make the housing for the orphaned baby goats comfortable and even place soft bedding inside the house for them. Make adequate ventilation available for them and keep them safe from predators.


It is always much easier to raise orphaned baby goats by grafting their to another doe (if available). If you have another doe that can be of help in raising the orphaned baby goats, it’ll be a very good option to consider. Actually, it’s easier for you than raising the orphaned baby goat by yourself. It can also save you time and cost of milk.

Don’t give a doe more than three kids to care for. You can give the orphaned goats to a doe that lost the kids or has only one kid. If the doe accepts the orphaned kids, then leave them with her.

If the doe choose not to accept the orphaned baby goats from another doe, you can only force her to allow the new kids drink her milk, but don’t leave the kids with doe that is not willing to accept them. They might end up getting the orphaned baby goats injured.

Keep Kids Warm

The orphaned baby goats need to be kept warm. You can put it in an enclosed box or pen. Pad the box with and old blanket and also add a heat lamp for them especially when the weather is not pleasing at all.

Don’t also over heat them to avoid raising their body temperature as this can be tragic for to their health.

In some cases, the orphaned baby goat might be very cold after birth and sometimes drop lifeless. In this case, you’ll need to submerge the baby goat inside a water of about 105°F. Put the whole body of the kid inside the water leaving out just its nose. After the kid is revived, bring it out and dry with a towel.

Give the orphaned baby goat glucose solution using a stomach tube because the kid needs this glucose to regain its strength. Also, give the kid colostrum still using the stomach tube. After which you can put the kid inside the box described earlier. You’re to watch the kids closely.

Other Ways You Can Care For Your Orphaned Baby Goats:


Horns are not very essential when it’s a domesticated goat since they can use it to hurt themselves or even get stuck somewhere. Removing the orphaned baby goats horn helps keep them safe.

You will need the services of a veterinarian especially if you are not very sure on how to dis-bud your orphaned baby goats. Inappropriate/wrong removal of their buds would lead to serious harm.

Horn bud removal should be done when the orphaned baby goats are around one week of age, because if they should become older, it becomes more difficult to remove.

 There is an iron used for dis-budding the kids. This iron is heated to a high temperature and used to burn the horn buds to become inactive.

Good Medical Attention

Your orphaned baby goats will need regular and quality medical attention and evaluation. You can bring in a veterinarian who will often come to check up your kids.

Your vet already knows what to do and how to do it. This will go a long way in helping your orphaned baby goats stay very healthy.

They will tell you how to deworm your kids, the necessary vitamins and minerals to use for them, and several other things.


I’ve carefully put down everything here to satisfy your quest on what to feed orphaned baby goats. I also went ahead to talk about other things to do to make you have a full grown and productive goat even in the absence of its mother.

Go ahead and follow these guidelines to feed and care for your orphaned baby goat. You can also go ahead to drop any others tips on feeding orphaned goats in the comments section.

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