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  • Writer's pictureConstance Wilmoth

Growing Kids...

So many people inside and outside the goat world feel one way or anther about dam raising or bottle raising kids. Now there are many good reasons to do each. Maybe you do not know the CAE status of your herd and you want to ensure that your kids are CAE free by consuming heat treated milk or colostrum. Or maybe you are an active cheese maker or a family that wants the milk for their own consumption. Then I totally understand bottle feeding.

On the flip side you may not want the milk from the dam or you think that dam raised kids are healthier or maybe it is simply a time constraint. No matter what you choose as long as you are doing the best you can for you and your goats that is all that matters!

The one thing that I hear that really irks me is when I hear the sentiment that bottle feeding is the only way to make the kids friendly. This is simply not true. In my opinion your goat kids can be friendly even if they are dam raised. Yes this may take more of a concerted effort to make your goat kids friendly vs. them associating you with safety and food when they are bottle fed, but it is absolutely possible.

I look at making my dam raised kids friendly not only as my responsibility, but also as an insurance policy for them. As I have discussed many times I believe that a friendly goat is more likely to have a home where they are loved and are part of the family than a wild goat that requires 2 grown men to chase them down each time they need to be handled. This reduces the stress on both the front of the goat and the goat owner and is a win win.

The way I like to make my kids friendly is my handling them on a daily basis. This may be as simple as picking each of them up and petting them just for a minute or so. This helps them to get accustomed to me being part of their life and reduces that flight mode they can go into. On days when I have more time I like to sit in the pen with them and their mothers and this is where the real bonding happens. If you are still and patient long enough the kids will get curious and come up to you. That is when you can start scratching and loving on them so they associate humans with good feelings. If you do this often enough in a young kids life they will become friendly to the point that you can handle them and walk up to them without running. I hope this has helped you in some way and that it can assist you in creating happier and friendlier baby goats on your farm. Hope you are having a great week and Happy Goating!

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