Raising a Bottle Goat
Many of my followers are familiar and wonderful supporters of Lucky, the littlest of Tater's triplets. I thought I would share some of his story and updates about him on the blog today, and try to explain what it's like to have a "bottle baby" goat.
When Lucky was born, he was a little bit over two pounds. Nigerian Dwarf goat kids should be about four pounds, which is what Lucky's sisters weighed in at. Mom Tater cleaned all three kids off and helped them to stand, and his sisters nursed eagerly. Lucky seemed confused and disinterested in nursing, despite his mother's eager nudges.
It is extremely important that newborn baby goats get plenty of colostrum from their mother in the first twenty-four hours of life, so we helped him nurse with his mother and made sure that his sisters were not preventing him from getting food. We watched him stand on wobbly legs in the corner of the goat stall, all pointy bones with one ear that just didn't work and a jutting overbite. He would take a few halting steps while his sisters bounced around him, and then come to a wavering halt.
By the end of his first day we were almost ready to give up on Lucky. We'd had our previous experience with Sammy, who we nursed for a week but he did not make it. We tried feeding Lucky a bottle, but he showed little interest in nursing. We set him up in a laundry basket next to our bed and hoped for the best.
The next morning, Lucky was all about nursing. He eagerly drank a third of a bottle of kid milk formula, and wandered around for a few minutes before returning to napping.
Over the course of the next week Lucky went everywhere with me. He needed to nurse frequently at that point, and so he had to come with me to work in order to be fed at 9, 12, and 3pm. He became a small celebrity, napping under desks and being encouraged in every new hop and jump by everyone in the office.
At the beginning of the week we didn't even name him, we were so concerned that he wouldn't make it. He remained tiny, under three pounds, but was more and more interested in bouncing around and doing "goaty" things. He went to our family 4th of July cookout and quietly nursed, and he was a huge hit at the annual Open House at my job. And, thankfully, he started sleeping through the night and not needing a midnight feeding in addition to his 4-6 feedings throughout the day.
Once Lucky was ten days old, we had a visit from the vet. We decided not to dehorn him when we dehorned his sisters, since was still small and weak and I was concerned about the effect of the anesthesia on him. We did have the vet look him over and she proclaimed him healthy and likely to live a full and happy life. So, we named him Lucky.
Lucky started spending his days in with the rest of the goats and only sleeping inside at night, and now he's fully integrated with the herd. He only needs to nurse three times a day now and does so with gusto. When he's not snuggling with us, he's rambunctiously running around with his sisters and cousins, head-butting our other buckling Whitaker and flirting with the doelings.
Lucky is a truly treasured member of our herd. I have never been as bonded with a goat as with him. When I head out to the barn in the morning, all I have to do is call his name and he jumps from the sleeping pile of goats and runs over to me. He certainly is aptly named, and we hope he'll continue to brighten the days at our farm for many years.