Most of the goat keepers we know separate kids from mama pretty early on, and then bottle feed the kids. This really does socialise them well, but for us, it’s an unkind break.
We do have our goatlings dehorned – I maintain that it would be best to leave the horns on BUT you have got to be ready to spend a lot of time working with that goat. We have a lovely young British Alpine who was left with her horns by way of an oversight . She was then left to get along with life with the herd, but sadly became quite difficult and aggressive and is now a problem – I’m hoping to try to rehabilitate her, so maybe that will be a good blog post – but here’s the thing, if you leave the horns on, please, do it intentionally and know that you need to work with that goat like mad to keep her friendly and on side.
So at around three days, they are dehorned, and then they go back to Mama and we leave that whole situation alone for a few weeks. Hopefully there is more than one kid – whether from the same or different Mamas – and what we do after a few weeks is, we settle those little ones down in a nursery at night. After then have a good suck around dusk, we tuck them in together in their own little place, and leave Mama to sleep in peace.
First thing, we milk. OK, I’m a push over so I don’t actually milk the mothers out, I leave a little snippet for breakfast. Either way, during the course of the day, the udder fills nicely and by lunch time, you can be sure Junior will be full and snoozy as per normal.
We will keep this going for some months. We don’t get quite so much milk, but hey, it’s still a very good deal. And the plus is, we find our goats are strong and resistant – they don’t have vaccinations or any prophylactic medicines – and their milk yield is great, they are good mothers – since they remember being mothered – and their family groups are strong, so they are happy, together goats.
We love to see the extended family work out its own dynamic – sisters, aunts, cousins – goats are clever and social, so for us, it is worth missing out on a pint or two of milk, to keep the family together.