In the village where I live, there are several dairy goat farmers. They are currently disposing of many of their kids (males and rejects) due to high feed (dry milk) costs and low meat prices. I was thinking of utilizing this resource by putting the kids on a rotational grazing/browsing scheme to raise for meat - it seems like an obvious (relatively) low-investment starting project.
I've been reading posts on this forum related to grazing/browsing goats, and can't find any reasons why kids shouldn't be enjoying this type of set-up (given they get a constant variety of plants, grasses and browse). Does anyone here have experience with raising kids without their mothers? How long do they have to bottle feed for? What could be a good alternative to store-bought powdered milk? Do kids require anything else in their diet than plants and minerals (e.g. grains)?
At the moment, this project is only thought to be a seasonal venture, so I'm not thinking about winter feed or permanent housing (yet) - just having them out on pasture. Hoping for replies!
They really need milk to grow properly. My kids get milk until 6 months of age but I have weaned males at 4.5 months if they are uncastrated. If they are fairly young they will not manage on just browsings and grass.
It would be smart to look at the cost of milk/milk replaced for the first part of their lives and costs until they are ready for the meat market.
Hopefully you could find some farmers doing it, so you can get more information and maybe heritage food USA could help with marking or some other assistance.
I have raised baby goats and it is easy to get over your head once you have them. I recommend electric fencing, albeit mobile. Plan your system well!
Kivazip.com is a good crowd sourced funding organization for farmers.
Kids can be weaned from milk at 8-10 weeks old but are much healthier and grow much faster fed milk thru at least 4-5 months old. They also need a teacher to learn what to eat an when as far as the foraging goes... A older wether or better a doe with her own kids to follow around. They need watched closely for internal parasites being orphaned makes them more susceptible. I have been told that regular grocery store full fat cows milk is fine/better to feed than powdered milk, but have no experience with it personally... Minerals free choice and close monitoring very important!
You won't need grain. You ARE going to have to think of a shelter to get them out of the weather. Have they been wethered (castrated)? How old are they? They can be weaned at 3 months if wethered. I dam raise, so don't have to worry about bottle feeding. Some ppl prefer bottle babies, so we start giving a bottle a day at a few days old. The older they are, the harder it is to get them to accept a bottle. If they haven't been wethered yet, do it between 2 and 3 months old. That testosterone really adds weight, and if selling as pets, they will be less likely to get stones. Annie's right,you'll have to think about minerals. Go for chelated, they can only utilize about 20% of the ones from stone. Don't waste your money. Some areas are lacking some of the minerals in the soil. You may have to replace them. Talk to your extension agent.
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