Goat Kid Milk Replacer 101

Posted by Brandon Back, Thu, May 17, 2018

How to Select a Milk Replacer for Your Baby Goats 

Milk replacer is vital to keeping your goat kids healthy and growing; however, selecting and feeding the right milk replacer can be a daunting task. But with the right background information, you can feel confident that you’re choosing what’s best for your goats.

What type of milk replacer should I look for?

You will want to choose a milk replacer that closely resembles doe’s milk. Look for one that is specially formulated for goats. Multispecies milk replacers are available, but not all of them will fit your goat’s nutritional needs. The right milk replacer will provide an optimal blend of energy (carbohydrates and fat), protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Which ingredients are most important on the label?

  1. Crude Protein and Crude Fat
    • Crude protein and fat are the most important nutrients for the growth and development of goat kids. The guaranteed analysis on the milk replacer label will include a breakdown of these nutrients. Crude protein is listed first, followed by crude fat. For example, a 26:20 goat milk replacer will contain 26 percent crude protein and 20 percent crude fat.
    • Protein sources in all-milk milk replacers include whey products and derivatives, skim milk, casein, and sodium or calcium caseinate. Typical fat sources include whole milkfat, lard, choice white grease, and soy, palm, or coconut oil. Milk fat, lard, and lesser amounts of palm or coconut oil are the best fat sources.
  2. Crude Fiber
    • Crude fiber usually indicates the protein source. If the crude fiber is above 0.15 percent, it indicates there may be a plant-based protein source in addition to the milk-derived proteins. Consider a milk-derived protein source, which most closely mimics a doe’s natural milk.
  3. Other Ingredients
    • Other ingredients include vitamin and mineral supplements, preservatives, and flavors. You’ll want a milk replacer with trace minerals and B-complex vitamins because they are important for your baby goats’ growth. Some milk replacers also include probiotics to support the digestive system.

How Much Milk Replacer Should I Buy?

Keeping your milk replacer fresh is important. Since goat milk replacers come in different-size packages, choose a size by the number of goat kids you’re expecting. Read the feeding directions to estimate how much milk replacer you will need.

Feeding: What Do I Need to Know?

Feed milk replacer 24–48 hours after birth, once colostrum feedings are complete. Milk replacer will be your goat kid’s primary source of nutrition until weaning.

Feed milk replacer by bottle or pail three times per day from two to 10 days of age. Smaller, more frequent feedings can help increase digestibility and minimize digestive upset. You can increase the total volume fed on day 11 through weaning.

Most milk replacer packaging contains detailed feeding instructions. They should be easy to understand and outline feeding through the weaning phase.

Mixing and Feeding Tips:

  • Measure milk replacer powder by weight with a hanging scale
  • Always mix until the powder dissolves completely
  • For large batches, add the powder before adding the warm water (110° Fahrenheit), then add enough water to bring the mixture to volume
  • Follow the package directions regarding the recommended mixing temperature
  • Do not mix new milk replacer with product that has been sitting out unrefrigerated
  • Feed milk replacer at your kids’ body temperature (90°–100° Fahrenheit)
  • Wash your bottles and nipples in hot, soapy water and rinse well after every feeding
  • Let equipment dry thoroughly between feedings
  • Throw out nipples with cracks or worn holes

Following these instructions and tips will help keep your baby goats healthy and growing.