raising meat kids on dairy does

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I'm going to raise my first meat kids this year. In past years, I've separated my kids from my does shortly after birth and bottle-raised them, but I'm thinking that I might get better gains if I leave the kids with their mom during the day. What has been your experience in this matter?

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), January 20, 2002


Of course I do things differently, but I love having some nursing boys around. We call them udder-emptiers. We leave them on their mom for 24 hours, at that time we put them in a pen in the milk room. When their mom comes into be milked we let them out of their pen and help them up to nurse. The mom is buzy eating so she doesn't talk or smell them. Soon they will nurse anything with teats hanging down, and since you are taking them to the milk they are nice and tame. They are great for those first fresheners smaller teats, and you can also keep them on milk for 10 months, the moms can't wean the kids since they don't see them, which gives us winter meat. We have also tried just taking their Mom to the pen each day and letting them nurse, but our girls hate their babies, unless they are in the barn with them all the time. The udder emptyier kids are dangerous to have around if they can get out! It can ruin your morning to come out with a show in 5 hours, and the udders are empty! Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), January 21, 2002.

Yes, I get way better gains if the buck kids are left on their moms. Since I stopped showing, I leave all buck kids on except those that I have thoughts of selling as bucks. I keep more does than I really need, so I seldom need or miss the milk. Does with buck kids on are still milked out twice a day and the extra milk is used in the house or fed to hogs or calves or rabbit does with litters. That way I keep the does in milk, even if I don't notice that they are weaning the kids. If I suddenly have more need for milk for customers, I either sell the kids or pen them together in the evening so I have full udders in the morning.

-- diane (gardiacaprines@yahoo.com), January 21, 2002.

Vicky, that does sound like an intriguing method, but with only two milking does and no room for a pen in my milk room I'm not sure it's workable. I'll have to think on that one.

Bernice, do you start milking the does twice a day right from the start or do you also leave the kids with the dams for a day or two?

I've always done this one way or the other (the kids wean off the does, or I milk from the get-go). I had too much milk and too little time this past summer and would like to find a way to put the milk in my freezer as meat. (Actually, I ended up trading goat milk for chickens, to a friend who used it as pig food so I guess, in a podunk sort of way, my milk did end up in the freezer as meat. However, I'd like to opt for a more direct approach!)

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), January 25, 2002.

I leave all my meat kids on their dams. I could never eat a bottle raised kid, that thought I was his mother, and they also grow very fast on the dams, a lot faster than the bottle kids. They are ready to butcher by two or three months old.

You will still need to milk the does twice a day. Sometimes the kids empty just one siode of the udder, and you also need to be monitoring the udder health on a daily basis. Also- disbud the meat kids. It doesn't seem necessary, but those little horns are hard on the dam's udder. I don't castrate meat kids that will be butchered at three months old or less. The stress would set them back, the testicles help them pack on more meat somehow, and it all seems to make for a more vigorous, fast growing kid. Besides, I don't like castrating, so why do it if they are going to be butchered young. If you'll be keeping yours longer, you may want to castrate.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@itss.net), January 26, 2002.

Rebekah, I have one relative who will not speak to me (and hasn't for over 5 years) because I ate a lamb she bottle-raised! I have never had a problem doing this, but it was brought home to me under no uncertain terms by this relative that some people can't deal with this!!

-- Sheryl in Me (radams@sacoriver.net), January 26, 2002.

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