The goat kids are eight weeks old now. They are fun, loving, and growing fast! Little Monster can no longer pick them up, which I’m sure they’re thrilled about! They are like little puppy dogs who always want affection. They cry when we leave their pen if we haven’t played with them enough. They cry when we’re outside in the yard but not paying attention to them. They run up to the gate when we approach. They follow us around while we move around the pen. Felicity, the one who at a week old was the more affectionate one, is now the one who is more interested in food. Although she does still love to be near us and loves to be pet. Matilda is now the cuddly one. She loves to sit in my lap and chew her cud.
I thought I’d give a brief overview of our time with them so far.
At two-days-old we brought them home. We had been feeding them a combination of goat milk replacer, from here on out referred to as formula, and goat milk. We have since switched to formula and cow’s milk. For the first few days I fed them five bottles a day. At a week they were drinking four bottles a day. And at two weeks I dropped them down to three bottles a day.
Around 2 weeks they started nibbling on grass, but they weren’t ingesting anything. At 3 1/2 weeks I noticed they were finally ingesting it, so I started giving them peanut hay. We also disbudded them at 3 weeks. Or rather, I took them back to my breeder friend and she disbudded them. For all the fuss that is made about that process, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Did they cry? Yes. But it wasn’t any worse than the cries they let out from the barn when they want their bottles. The worst part may have been the smell of burning hair in my car on the way home.
At about 5 weeks I introduced sweet grain. Less than a handful per goat. They took a couple days to get into it, but now they get excited when they see me with the grain bucket and devour it. About this time they also practically stopped the incessant nibbling on our fingers and clothes they had been doing.
At 6 weeks I started leaving them out of the barn for increased amounts of time. We have so many birds of prey around here – hawks, turkey vultures, bald eagles – that I was too nervous before about leaving them unattended. At first I would just leave them out of the barn while we were outside in another part of the yard. Now they stay outside for most of the day while we’re home. I can still keep an ear out because the weather has been so nice that we’ve left the windows open for over a week now. Of course they sleep in the barn each night and will continue to do so forever because we also have coyotes that live in our woods.
Last week, at 7 weeks, Hubby took down the temporary fence that had divided the pen into a smaller area for them. He said that when he took it down the goats followed the perimeter of that temporary fence for at least ten minutes before finally crossing over into new territory. They are loving having all that fresh grass that hasn’t been trampled on and chewed at already! It makes me want to do rotational grazing!! But now is not the time to set that up. Maybe this spring.
Now at 8 weeks, as we are approaching induction day for baby Skywalker, I’m starting to make a plan for weaning them from the bottle. Their third daily bottle has already been cut in half. I will probably drop that one completely next week. I’ll drop the afternoon bottle next. My plan is to have them down to one bottle by the beginning of December, when they’ll be 2 1/2 months. I’m not sure when I’ll wean them completely, but they are already eating solids so well that I feel confident they will be receiving enough nutrients from roughage and grain by 3 months old. They do love to eat!
I’m looking forward to watching them grow more as time goes on. My girls love to help take care of them, from filling the hay feeder, taking them grain, feeding their bottles, and wasting lots of water as I try to refresh their bucket everyday! It is a learning experience for us all.