Photo by Sue Weaver
Bottle babies are fun!
Last week, we talked about getting a bottle baby kid or lamb. Here are a few more things to consider before you do.
1. Decide if you’ll keep your baby in the house or barn.
If he lives in the barn, he’ll need a safe pen in a draft-free area and a friend to keep him company. If you don’t have a second lamb or kid to be his pal, a gentle ewe or doe might work, but only if she doesn’t push him around; if she does, pen her by him so he can see and be comforted by her presence but not be used as a punching bag.
Nature designed kids and lambs to a take a lot of cold, but drafts can kill them. If you can feel a draft, make pen walls of solid material or windproof what you have by reinforcing them with a sturdy tarp. Bed the pen deeply using fluffy straw, not sawdust or wood chips, which can cause respiratory problems for newborn babes.
If your baby seems cold, don’t use a heat lamp to warm him up. Heat lamps cause many fires every year. Instead, dress your baby in a kid coat or lambie jammies. They’re cute and much safer than heat lamps.
Keeping your baby inside the house is easier. You won’t have to walk to the barn for midnight feedings. And if you place him where he can see people and pets moving about, he won’t need a bunkmate of his own kind. The kitchen is a good spot, though Mom and Dad kept us in the living room so they could enjoy us all the time. We had separate quarters at first because Uzzi is a month older than me and he was much bigger, but I’m tough, so we soon moved into the same large crate. Besides using dog crates for bottle-baby housing, people use baby playpens, dog exercise pens and even huge Rubbermaid tubs. Bed them with thick, comfy, easy-to-launder bedding, like blankets or thick, fluffy towels. And don’t place bottle baby’s indoor home in a draft.
2. Find a food source.
We need food! Kids and lambs can interchangeably drink fresh or frozen sheep or goat milk, or even fresh cow milk. Milk replacers are an option but never buy the kind that supposedly works for every species, buy a product specially made to feed a lamb or kid. Read the label. Good replacers are always made of milk products not soy.
Commercial milk replacers work for some babies, but they sometimes cause others to bloat. For that reason, many experienced shepherds and goat-keepers mix their own milk replacers. These work! We’ll show you how to feed them next week.
Lamb and Kid Milk Replacer No. 1: Take 1 gallon of whole milk. Pour out 1 quart, and replace it with half-and-half. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of live-culture yogurt to one feeding per day.
Lamb and Kid Milk Replacer No. 2: To 1 gallon of whole milk, add one 12-ounce can evaporated milk (not sweetened, condensed milk) and 1 cup of live-culture buttermilk.