Photo by Sue Weaver
Dimitri snoozes in our bottle-baby crib. (Isn't he precious?)
Mom has bottle baby fever, but don't send her get well cards! It means she's waiting for a bottle baby to be born. His name will be Milo.
Remember Mom's New Year’s resolution to write a freebie ebook about raising a pet dairy goat wether to give to anyone who wants one? Milo's coming here to star in the book. He'll pose for pictures showing how to raise and train a bottle baby, and one of our untrained wethers will pose for the grownup shots.
Milo's parents-to-be are part of the Ozark Jewels dairy herd. They're Nubians like me and Uzzi. In fact, we might be related! It depends on which doe has a cute, red boy. Mom wants a red goat this time because we black goats are harder to photograph.
Mom already has the bottle baby’s crib set up in the living room. It's a big, wire dog crate with a top that swings open as well as a door in the front. That way, until Milo gets big enough to jump out, the top stays open for easy access. She beds the crib with lots of fluffy blankets and towels because those are easy to launder and keep clean. She also uses small bungee cords to fasten bowls in two corners. One bowl is for water; the other is for chopped hay. Bottle babies sometimes make “beans” in them (I know because I was a bottle baby, too), then Mom has to take them out and wash and refill them. But some babies begin drinking and eating as young as 2 weeks old, so it's good to have them in place from the start.
Maybe you would like to get a bottle baby, too? This time of year, many goat and sheep breeders sell bottle babies or give them away for free. They're usually orphans, but some are triplets or quadruplets and their goat moms can only make milk for two. If you don't have other goats and sheep, it's better to get two babies instead of one. Goats and sheep are social species and aren't happy by themselves. If you get two, they'll grow up buds like Uzzi and me!
A good way to find a bottle baby is to call or visit shepherds and goat farmers and tell them you're looking for a bottle lamb or kid. And tell your veterinarian and county-extension agent, then they can call you if they hear of a baby up for grabs. You could also post wanted ads on bulletin boards at feed and farm stores, in veterinary offices, and on Craigslist, too.
While you're waiting for baby to be born, collect the stuff you'll need, like a big crate, a human-baby playpen or a collapsible exercise pen for dogs, bedding (fluffy straw for a pen in the barn or pieces of blankets and old towels for a crib in the house), bottles and nipples, and something to feed your kid or lamb. Stay tuned, we'll talk more about this next week!
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