Bottle Feeding baby pygmy's... ready to cry!

glockgalJune 1, 2010

We just got two baby pygmy goats yesterday morning and I cannot get them to take a bottle. One is about three weeks and will drink from a bowl so that we can work with. The other is younger, around 2 weeks and like her friend, even when I force the nipple in her mouth she will at most get down an ounce and that is it. The entire time she will chew, buck her head, even let out cries. I tried whole cow's milk with light kayro (3 tablespoons per gallon).........called the people we got them from and she insisted that I should be using a replacer or canned goats milk so I sent the hubby to the store. Got home, tried the canned goats milk, same thing. The man's wife really made me feel as if I were doing something wrong and I could lose the little one, I could just cry. I have watched countless videos and read so many web sites I can't see straight. All say I may have to fight with them for a few days but WHY do they not want the milk? You would think once I force the nipple in they would at least suck or act as if they want the milk rather than buck like a wild horse! The breeder recommended a regular baby bottle. When that wasn't working I thought maybe a pritchard teat... same thing, they hated it too. Neither want to lick the nipple, even with milk dripping slowly from it. I have tried syrup on the nipple, no dice. Please tell me what I am doing wrong. I feel like I'm trying to wrestle little steers!

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

this is going to sound crazy but we too had a little goat who would not bottle feed or drink from a pan and we used a rubber glove. we filled it with the milkreplacer tied the end off and poked a small hoel in one of the fingers. and she took to it. i think maybe the glove was softer then a bottle nipple and after she was a little larger we were able to change to a bottle. it get alittle messy and you'll need many gloves but it saved our little goat. i wish you luck.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 11:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

What works for stubborn calves (my mother just told me):
1. take 2 spoons of salt in hand and rub its mouth inside with salt - that will cause sucking reflexes to overcome anxiety and other emotions that are in the way.

2. Do raise its head up. Some animals are "sippers" - they need more control over the amount they suck in. Lower the bucket so the animal's head and downward.

Again, my mother used these techniques on calves.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 6:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Before you let it dehydrate, you may have to tube feed it. Call your vet and ask.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 10:25AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littledog(z7 OK)

The people you got these goats from sound like complete jerks. At two and three weeks old, it was THEIR responsibility to make sure the kids were trained to take a bottle before they sold them and it's crappy of them to try and "blame" you if they don't. I wouldn't bother asking them for anymore "advice". Try to locate someone in your area who has dairy goats; contact A regular dairy goat breeder is going to be experienced at bottle raising kids and can hopefully be a great mentor.

Call around at your local feed stores for a "Pritchard Teat". It's a small, soft red nipple on a hard plastic yellow ring that screws onto a pop bottle. You'll have to poke a hole in the end of the bottle for the milk to come out. If worse comes to worse,you can order them online from Jeffers. A regular baby bottle nipple is not shaped correctly for a goat, you'll want to use something longer and shaped like a goat teat. The glove finger suggestion can work in a pinch until you can get a Pritchard teat. Remember,only a tiny hole; milk shouldn't pour out when you tip the end. No amount of comforting or salt rubbed in it's mouth is going to overcome it's anxiety and instinct to struggle if the animal thinks it's drowning. ;^)

Do not put karo in the milk. Goats don't need extra sugar; if anything, you can add a touch of melted butter or olive oil, (Sheep and goat milk is higher fat, not sugar), but seriously, goats will do just fine on plain old grocery store whole milk -not skim, not 2%, not powdered. While they will do the best on fresh goat's milk, they'll actually grow better and have fewer digestive upsets on plain cow's milk than they will on specially formulated powdered milk replacer. They certainly don't have to have canned goat's milk; that stuff is so crazy expensive, I'm surprised anyone can afford it, altthough the "breeder" suggesting that you buy it tells me they probably haven't bottle fed a kid before. (Really, the more I think about it,the more annoying they seem to be; don't even bother with these people again)

When my DD gets home, we'll get some pictures so you can a better idea of how to teach a kid to take a bottle.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 3:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Shame on those breeders for sending these young kids who aren't bottle trained to a newby who hasn't bottle raised kids before! Giving the benefit of the doubt I'm assuming the mother died. Ditch that buyers advice like littledog said.

I mostly agree with littledog, with the exception of the Karo Syrup. The Karo Syrup will buy you time-maybe a day if you are lucky-by giving the little ones energy to keep them alive until you can acclimate them to the bottle. Maybe try an eyedropper to start them...but the eyedropper trick will not sustain them for long-they must get on the bottle soon as it's been 3 days already. You can cut the syrup with some milk if it's too thick, the point being he syrup is for quick energy.

If they havn't eaten by now, definately tube feed them. Find an experienced breeder nearby who can help you.

I agree 100% in using the whole cows milk or goats milk. You will have less problems.

An ounce is better than nothing. Keep trying to bottle them. You can try to mimic the does belly by putting the bottle under your knee, or shielding the their eyes with the palm of your hand. Temperature of the milk is very important in newborns, may make a difference in these older kids too.

Be consistent. Keep trying. These little ones will get weak quickly without nourishment, they are probably well on their way unless you've gotten some milk in them. Act quickly!

Please keep us updated!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Also, I just remembered, when we tried first time nipple/bottle feeding, we were sticking the nipple too far into its mouth, and it did not work. When we tried to stick it just a little bit, it worked like a charm. Also, it may help to wet the nipple in milk a bit.

I assume, you tested the nipple by squeezing it and making sure milk is flowing, right?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

hi all..... Let me give you an update. First of all, thank you for all the advice. I stated in my original post that I had tried the pritchard teat and that the milk does drip from the nipple so neither of those are the problem. Today was better but still not like the videos I have watched on the internet. I am managing to get them to drink about 2 ounces every 2-3 hours. They don't suck it down in a blink of an eye like I see on the videos but it IS getting in there. I stroke their necks, I tickle the base of their tails, I hold the bottle correctly. I will say they are WAY more comfortable with us and will suckle my shirt, bop me for a milk let down (LOL), climb all over me, and not freak out when I pick them up. I added a little more corn syrup to the milk and I really didn't see a difference with them in wanting it badly. I AM putting the entire nipple in their mouths. Their lips are almost to the cap so maybe THAT is the problem! Although with a baby bottle I can't/don't do that due to the shape of course. I will try backing out the nipple and see if their suck better. The older one is now taking the bottle better than the younger one. She will make sucking noises but still seems to be chewing the nipple. They both drink water from a bowl and I have watched both of them drink milk out of a bowl. Maybe it's a combination of me putting the nipple too far in and a poor schedule? The couple we got the goats from are elderly, he more so than she. She was just rude and I had originally thought of taking them to her and let her show me seeing as I was OBVIOUSLY doing something so horribly wrong. Makes me angry just thinking about it honestly. Anywho... They play, they pee, and their little berries are still normal so we aren't exactly on death's door here. I do wonder though.... they don't call for me at night to eat. Is that normal? Thanks so much to everyone for their advice!

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 9:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littledog(z7 OK)

"I am managing to get them to drink about 2 ounces every 2-3 hours."

I have to say I admire your dedication; You must be exhausted. I think the problem may be too much food. No, really. They are still digesting the milk from breakfast and here you come with second breakfast, then brunch, then lunch. ;^)

Try cutting them back to no more than 4 feedings all day spaced about 4 hours apart and then give them as much as they want.

We raise Alpines and Lamanchas, (about 8 to 12 pounds at birth) and after the first 48 hours they're given as much milk as they can drink twice a day. That comes to about 1 liter twice a day for the first month, working up to 1 and 1/2 liters by two months old. This spring, someone gave us a Nigerian Dwarf that was the smallest of quints; the breeder prefers to dam raise her kids, and this guy was so little, he couldn't reach the faucet. Anyway, he's now five weeks old and we put him on a three times a day, all you can eat routine. He takes about 20 ounces over the course of the day, but he also has access to hay and some of my best garden plants. ;^)

These kids you have are two and three weeks old, probably already accustomed to nursing off their dam, so the bottle is foreign, and weird and just-not-Mom. There's a learning curve with teaching one that is imprinted on it's Mom. But it sounds like you're doing a great job getting them imprinted to you.

If you get a chance to watch a kid nurse it's dam, it will get a big mouthful of teat, at least an inch and a half, so I doubt you're putting too much nipple in. Something we've found with the Pritchard teats is that when you snip the end off, milk has a tendency to dribble (if not outright stream) when it's first tipped; you can hold your finger over the "air hole" on the plastic ring to prevent that, or allow the goat to start sucking on the empty teat before you tip the bottle so they can get milk. That also mimics the way Mom does it; the milk lets down after the kid stimulates the udder (by punching) and the teat (by mouthing it).

One other thing; I'd leave the Karo out of the milk; the extra sugar is hard on the bacteria in their gut that is actually digesting the milk. The main reason people use extra sugar or corn syrup is because it has a laxative effect. I'd just put them on whole cow's milk, but if you notice they are getting constipated (which hardly ever happens), you can add a 1/4 teaspoon of melted butter or olive oil to their bottle. Extra fat they can handle.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:05AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

You are right! I AM exhausted! I thought maybe a poor schedule could be to blame but the people we got them from told me to give them 2-3 ounces every 2-3 hours which they frankly just will not take. I was getting a half ounce to an ounce in them that often and when I told the woman that she flipped out and as I stated previously, told me I was doing it wrong. She acted like I was an idiot to be giving them cow's milk and stated "I don't know what you are doing" just DRIPPING with sarcasm. When I told her that everything i had read said to not use milk replacer and that whole cow's milk was best she said "Well who is telling you this because we've always used milk replacer when we've had one to bottle feed". I will try putting my finger over that darned little hole when I tip up the bottle. They don't lick the nipple at all yet no matter if it's got milk on it or not. They pull their heads way back like "NO! Not that thing! Get it away from me!" so I still have to hold their little heads and shove the bottle in. I'm surprised they still like me at all! I also read that when training them to take a bottle you can hold a feeding or two so that they are really hungry the first time and that may help. So this morning they should be really hungry. I did go to the ADGA web site and found one breeder that was within an hour of me. If they don't eat well for me this morning I am going to give the people at NC Promised Land (Nigerian dairy goats) a call and PRAY they are nice people and willing to help me!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 6:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

ok... I'm starting to lose my cool now. I got up this morning, all ready to feed them, knowing they were hungry because they hadn't eaten since yesterday evening. Welp, both of them acted as if I was killing them, neither of them wanted to take the bottle and fought me harder than they did yesterday. I'm at my wits end. We got these guys on Monday, it is now Thursday and I don't know what else to do. I am tired, frustrated and flat out MAD now. I will call the lady that is an HOUR away from me and pray she is willing to help. I'd drive out there with the girls and let her show me how to do it if she will let me. I don't know what else to do and don't have the energy to keep this up!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 7:41AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

UPDATE---- on my way to NC Promised Land. Mrs. Harrell has got to be the nicest, most helpful lady I've ever spoken to! She didn't even hesitate when I told her the story, just "How far are you from me" and "Bring them down, I'll do whatever it takes to help you". I cried, lol. So I've loaded up Izzy and Pipp and we are on our way hopefully, to salvation!

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littledog(z7 OK)

WONDERFUL NEWS! And what a great, unscripted testimonial for the Promised Land Nigerians.

Puts me in mind of that verse: "be not forgetful to entertain strangers..." Let us know how it went.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 12:43PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ahhhh home! With two fat bellies! Mrs. Harrell is an ANGEL! I learned more from her in the first 5 minutes of meeting her than two days of hem hawing with the breeders of my babies. I did find out that Pipp couldn't possibly be full pygmy as she has a half white body (Which is really totally fine, they are just pets. But that does show me that the breeders have no idea what they are talking about, period). Mrs. Harrell looked at my bottles and nipples and said they were all fine. She had me throw out my rolled oats and let me know that alfalfa hay was ok (But not ideal) for the girls but if I ever got a boy it had to go. She gave me a big bag full of what she feeds and the label off her bag and told me where to get it (The girls thought it was yummy by the way). Then she looked at me, rubbed Izzy's horn bud's and said.... "These have to go, that's a safety issue". So she told me we'd take care of that after the girls ate. She went inside and brought out two full mountain dew bottles, one with a pritchard teat and took Izzy from me. (She also inspected the girls and said they were lucky I was so persistent because they looked to be ok and not literally starving, lol).She sat down on her steps and sat Izzy beside her with her butt to the back of the step. Gently she wrapped an arm around Izzy, pulling her into her side and squeezed on each side of her mouth, pushing the lips forward to accept the nipple. It went right in but Izzy seemed to be having issues with the nipple. Mrs. Harrell stopped and said she thought she had just the trick. She disappeared inside and returned with a lambs teat (A red rubber one) and switched out the nipples. She put the nipple in Izzy's mouth and Izzy began to suck, still half chewing but better. Mrs. Harrell pulled the nipple forward slowly as if she might take it away and Izzy went NUTS! All of a sudden it was on like Donkey Kong! Izzy sucked down about 6 ounces in a wink of an eye and was fat as a little tick! Pipp followed the same procedure and then fell asleep, standing up, with the nipple in her mouth, lol. After that, and tears of joy from me, I followed Mrs. Harrell back to her little barn and she gave both the girls a shot. She said they had to get a tetanus before they could be disbudded and she didn't have it by itself so she just plain out vaccinated them for me! She stuck Pipp in the little box, shaved her head (She didn't cry or struggle, what a good little girl!), and I stepped out and BOOM, finished. She handed me Pipp with two round holes and a yellow head, lol. Izzy went next and now they have matching little heads (Ouch!). We put the girls back in their big crate and talked and talked. She gave me the mountain dew bottles with the lambs nipples FULL of goats milk from her goats. THEN as if she hadn't done enough already, she went inside and brought back out TWO FULL GALLONS of her goats milk! This woman had no intention of asking me for one red cent! All I had on me was 15 measly dollars and knowing I owed her a CRAPLOAD more than that, I humbly handed her 10 bucks (I needed the 5 for gas, remember she was an hour and a half away, lol, squeezed her neck, and told her that no words could express my gratitude. I will be returning to NC Promised Land with the girls for their next round of vaccines and wormings, etc... She gave me the number of a lady more local to me to purchase milk from if I didn't want to put them on cow's milk (Which she said would work just fine). I also offered to tag along to shows with her when I can so that I can help her however she needs it. I have shown dogs over half of my life and I know how horribly difficult it can be to venture to a show ALONE with even TWO dogs! When I return to see Mrs. Harrell I'll bring a sufficient amount of moolah with me for her trouble. This woman is unbelievable, her heart as pure as they come and a gorgeous little herd of Nigerians to boot. Thank you to everyone that so graciously helped out a newbie and stranger. My only concern is that of my girls, Izzy and Pipp.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 1:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hope everything worked out OK. But, just out of curiosity, why would you buy a two week old animal of any kind let alone without knowing if could eat/survive or not? then complain about the seller being irresponsible??? sounds like a classic example of where two fools met. Maybe I just have a different way of looking at things???


    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 4:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Goats take some experience......if you've never had goats before, you would tend to trust someone who supposedly raises them and says they'd do fine on a bottle. The lady who helped so much is more common of a real breeder who actually cares about her line of animals. It sounds to me the other party cared more about getting paid for two warm bodies and acted in a totally irresponsible manner. No way with any animal would I turn a deaf ear on someone who takes them home and then has problems. Everyone has to start somewhere with animal husbandry. The best way to do it, is to have someone around who has done the dance before and can ease you into it and you can fall back on. In this case a lot of it was technique, and that can't always be found in a book. That doesn't make anyone a fool.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 8:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thank you calliope, I appreciate that. Dave, although I don't totally agree with you, I don't totally disagree either. As a breeder and exhibitor of various breeds of dogs for over 17 years, I am a firm believer that any breeder worth a grain of salt should educate and be forever responsible for something they brought into this world. So yes, I will complain about that breeder, you betcha. Seeing as I know nothing of goats and none of my research led me to believe that a kid could not be bottle fed (In fact, much literature available online makes it seem as with persistence, you WILL eventually win). When I asked the question "At what age do you let your kids go?" and the breeder replies "Oh they can go anytime, you just need to bottle feed them" I took their word for it. THAT is where I would agree that I was foolish. Yet I had no reason NOT to believe them. I guess I figured, I've tube fed, bottle fed, removed dew claws, you name it with puppies, how hard could bottle feeding a goat be? Well lesson learned and thankfully, no thanks to the breeders, not at the expense of Izzy and Pipp. I have no intention of breeding goats, ever. My husband wanted a pet and through my research discovered that a lone goat was a lonely goat so we purchased two and took the breeders at their word. Had I known there was an entire goat world that was quite similar to the dog world of breeding and showing, I'd have spent the extra money and purchased from a reputable breeder, a pet quality animal. Unfortunately I assumed that goats were just farm animals, nothing more and nothing less and for that, my ignorance bit me in the you know where and we all know where assuming gets you. SO yes, Dave, I do share the blame. However, sad to say, rather than offering advice or help, you sound very much like the breeder of my two babies. Not a very good way to help out a newbie, set a good example, or look after the breed. Just my honest opinion. So now that that has been addressed, I will give you an update on Izzy and Pipp! As I warmed up this evenings bottles I said a little prayer. I first took Pipp out to the porch steps and assumed the position and inserted the nipple just as Marie had shown me. Pipp did MUCH better and with a break in between took 5-6 ounces. She still hasn't quite got it down yet but the experience and end result was much more pleasant for the both of us! I returned Pipp and took Izzy to the porch steps, again assuming the position and inserting the nipple into her little mouth. Oh My Goodness! It was like Izzy had an ON switch! She ate for Marie but BOY did she get the hang of it this evening. That little bitty baby sucked down a good 8 ounces, maybe 9 faster than I could say Hungry?! If she were a tick she'd pop! We have had the best evening. We have ran, and jumped, and played! Our story is being published in the National Pygmy Goat Association Magazine and their member newsletter along with a picture of us and the girls. I did not name the breeder, nor will I. I just emailed the area director to tell her how wonderful Mrs. Harrell is as she is a member of that organization, in hopes she would receive some sort of honor or award. The director asked if she could publish our story along with a profile of Marie Harrell of NC Promised Land and I feel it is important to get our story out there as this I am sure this type of misfortune happens to many newbies. Mrs. Marie Harrell is also being nominated for the National Pygmy Goat Association's Volunteer of the Year Award for 2010 :-D

    Bookmark   June 3, 2010 at 10:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I've been following your postings with great interest, and some trepidation. So very, very happy that you found someone helpful and all your persistence and care are paying off. Those are two lucky little goats!
Sometimes there is no substitute for experience, and I do not think it "sounds like a classic example of when two fools met." There may have been one fool, but it wasn't you!
When we got chickens, I had read, studied up on breeds, prepared everything I could, and still, if it hadn't been for Velvet Sparrow's advice, I would have lost my chickens.
Is there any way we can all vote for Mrs. Harrell as volunteer of the year for the association? As you said, she is what a breeder should be.
Enjoy your new pets. I love to think of you and your husband gamboling with them in the evening!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 11:20AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hello and thank you marlingardener! I am happy to report that both girls are doing wonderfully this morning and have had a hearty breakfast of fresh goats milk from their bottles! I am unsure as of yet how to go about voting for Mrs. Harrell for Volunteer of the Year but for those of you who wish to ensure a vote for her, please feel free to contact Maggie Leman at as she is the Area Director who will be nominating Mrs. Harrell and publishing our story. I am so very happy to have found the wonderful people on this board who have given such support and fantastic advice. I am truly grateful!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 12:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
littledog(z7 OK)

I love a happy ending. :^)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2010 at 12:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's wonderful you found such a good breeder to help you! I'm so happy you are letting the goat-world know just how caring of a breeder they are, too! This is what most serious breeders are like. Others, well, they just care about the green $.

Good luck with those little one!


    Bookmark   June 5, 2010 at 7:57PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love a happy ending too! What a nice woman to help you like that without thought to financial compensation. You don't find a whole lot of people like that anymore, in any arena. Glad that your girls are doing well.
I also don't think you should beat yourself up over being a newbie and trusting those people. I think that even with the shakey start, these animals have found a fabulous home with someone who cares enough to go the extra mile to find a solution. I know the dedication it took to try to feed those critters every few hours. You did good and I'm so glad to hear that you want others to recognize that nice lady's efforts. Lori

    Bookmark   June 7, 2010 at 12:17AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Raw Milk
Where Can I find Raw milk in western washington?
mean Turkey
My tom hates my daughter and all little kids is there...
Guinea Fowl, what do you think of them?
I'd love to hear about your experiences w/these pretty...
Urgent:Help in Raising Chicks
A healthy mother hen died while it was trying to hatch...
Dakshin Thyagarajan
Making a little money on the farm?
I realize that much of an enterprises success depends...
Sponsored Products
Ambrosia 4-Bottle Wall/Ceiling Wine Rack - A109W
$119.99 | Hayneedle
Leaf Design Cast Iron Bottle Candelabra
Classic Hostess
Cloud bottles napkin (set/4)
Origin Crafts
Lights Up | Lucy Pendant Light
$266.00 | YLighting
Crosley Alexandria Expandable Bar Cabinet - KF40001ABK
$450.00 | Hayneedle
Private Reserve 8-Bottle Wine Cellar
$159.00 | FRONTGATE
Picnic Time Chairs Georgia Tech Navy Sports Chair with Digital Logo
$99.95 | Home Depot
GreenBottle-shaped Glass Body White Fabric Shade Table Lamp
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™