Artificial rearing of goat kids aids in prevention of disease

Artificially rearing goat kids can help prevent the spread of caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) and other diseases.

Artificial rearing of goat kids can be used to break disease cycles. Certain diseases, such as caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE) and Johne’s disease, are spread by infected goat colostrum (the doe’s first milk), by milk, and by fecal contamination of sucked teats. Successful hand rearing requires that you stick to a few fundamental rules. A dry, clean, well-drained area with shelter is essential. As with all intensively reared animals, good ventilation is important, and any drafts should be eliminated. Clean bedding, feeders and waterers help to ensure kids remain healthy.

A successful birth and a good start to the future productive life of a goat kid depend upon how well you care for the doe during the pre-kidding period, and on the kid’s weight at birth. It is most important for kids to receive colostrum during the first 24 hours of life. When using artificial rearing as an aid for preventing disease, the kid must not be allowed to nurse its mother. The colostrum should be collected from healthy animals and heated to 135oF for 1 hour. This colostrum can then be stored in the freezer and thawed when needed. Colostrum should not be kept frozen for more than 12 months, and should never be thawed using a microwave. It should be thawed using a hot water bath. After the initial feeding of colostrum, pasteurized milk (heated to 165oF for 15 seconds) or a good quality kid or lamb milk replacer should be fed.

Bottles are useful for small numbers of kids, but are too labor-intensive for large-scale rearing. A lamb bar with multiple nipples is useful for feeding large numbers of kids, but care must be taken to assure that very young animals get enough to eat, and the larger animals do not over consume as this may lead to digestive problems and potential death. Feeding milk at temperatures around 40oF will help to insure that over eating does not occur.

Kids will begin to eat solid feed as early as two weeks of age. At this time it is important to give them good quality hay and a high quality concentrate feed. Only feed as much grain as the animals will eat in a short time as uneaten feed will quickly become contaminated. Kids can be weaned at 6 weeks of age if they have reached a weight of 30 pounds and are eating dry between 1 and 1.25 pounds of grain daily.

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