Bottle babies are not ideal for the newbie goat farmer, and let's face it, it's better to allow the mother to care for her own offspring. We didn't expect this to happen to us so soon. It was in our future plans, like way future, but not 8 days after unloading the goats onto our property.
If you remember, the goats were running free on the entire 10 acres for a week before we caught them. One of the pregnant does went into labor on a Monday morning (while the rest of the herd was lured into the net fence trap) and had twins later that day. Mark was able to find the kids, but the mother was no where in sight. The first kid born was clean and resting. A few feet away, standing up, but not cleaned off from just being born was the other little doeling. Mark waited around for a while to see if their mother would return, but as the day went on, the fear of predators was too great, so he scooped them up and took them to where the herd was safely inside the net fence. We were unsure if they had nursed for the first time, so we bought colostrum and milk replacer and bottles.
The safety reasons were very real. Mark spent that first night on the property - baby goats safely tucked into warm blankets in a box inside the truck as packs of coyotes howled all around the borders of the farm. He was never able to see how close they were to the actual fence, but it was close enough. Yes, the exterior fence is electrified, but the drive of a hungry prey animal can override the danger of getting shocked in the snout Two days later, their mother returned, accepted her first born, but the second one had never formed that first bond and did not go to her. Therefore we became her Maa.
The first week of her life, we toted her up and down the trail in a large cardboard box in the wheelbarrow, and that's how she got her nick-name, Totes. She was less than 5 pounds 36 hours after birth.
Very quickly this little goat bonded with us. She would cry and we would answer - usually with a bottle of warm goat formula or a soothing voice to calm her loneliness of being away from her herd every night. She hung out with the rest of the goats during the day, but because she was dependent on the formula, she had to come home every night with us. So we hung out in the garage with Totes. We watched her grow and thrive and act silly. She climbed on the shop vac, the coolers, and into our laps. She graduated from climbing to jumping. The jump down with a kick out to the side is her favorite. She also loved to put her head in the alfalfa bucket and snort the dust and sneeze and sputter
About three weeks ago Totes had a growth spurt. By this time she had graduated from her cardboard box (that she could escape from) to a hot pink wire dog kennel. We would put her in her kennel for a few hours, come out to feed her and swear she had grown in those few hours. She literally grew overnight. It was amazing to watch this little animal grow so fast.
Her time with the herd was the most beneficial. This is where she learned how to be a real goat. She learned to forage, to play with the other goats, and began to ruminate. When it came time to go home at the end of the day she started to run back to the herd - risking getting stung by the electric net fence just to be with them. It was then we knew that her time in the garage was coming to an end. We did a test run while camping one evening and it worked out very well. Two days later, she was living on the farm full-time with the rest of her herd.
Totes is always happy to see us when we get there in the morning. Of course, it's mostly because we are carrying her daily ration of warm formula, but even that time is coming to an end. It's been decided that our little bottle baby will be weaned on January 1st. She will be 10 weeks and she's a big goat now - more than triple her birth weight. She forages hard, she gets her daily ration of pellets and alfalfa and can drink water. She plays with the other kids, and has found a goat mentor in one of the younger goats. She's doing just fine!
It's been a fun experience and while it wasn't in the plan, I think it worked out very well. By the way, it doesn't take a village to raise a kid up right. It just takes a human with a baby bottle full of warm goat formula. //tr
In 2014 a couple of 40-somethings decided to make a change. The purchase of 10 raw, pine scrub acres along Florida's Nature Coast started it all. This is that story.