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Colostrum is the Key to Raising Healthy Goat Kids and Lambs

Ensuring that goat kids and lambs receive adequate colostrum at birth is crucial to giving them a strong and healthy beginning.

Shivangi Rai
The antibodies found in colostrum are absorbed whole by the kids and lambs through the lining of the stomach. (Image Courtesy- Canva)
The antibodies found in colostrum are absorbed whole by the kids and lambs through the lining of the stomach. (Image Courtesy- Canva)

The first milk, called colostrum is super important for baby lambs and goats. It gives them special antibodies that help protect them when they're born.

These little ones don't have any antibodies of their own when they're born, so they rely on their mom's colostrum to keep them healthy for the first two months of their lives.

The protection from colostrum actually starts even before the babies are born. The moms (does and ewes) need to be vaccinated and eat the right food so they can make these antibodies.

Certain minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc are really important for moms to have a strong immune system. Baby animals get some copper from their moms before they're born, and that's crucial for them.

The pregnant animals need to be on the farm for at least two weeks before giving birth. That's because they need time to make the right antibodies for the specific place where they'll give birth.

How These Antibodies Work?

When baby lambs and goats drink colostrum, they absorb the antibodies from it through their stomach lining. They can do this efficiently only within the first hour after being born. After 12 hours, it gets much harder, and by 24 hours, it's almost impossible. So, if a newborn doesn't get colostrum within the first day of life, their chances of staying healthy are really low.

The most important thing for baby lambs and goats to get these antibodies is to drink enough colostrum. A good rule is to give them 8 to 10 percent of their body weight in colostrum, but it's even better to follow their appetite.

For example, if a baby animal weighs 5 pounds, they should ideally drink about half a pound of colostrum (that's 10 percent of 5 pounds). That's roughly half a pint, which is about the same as one pound.

Usually, this isn't a problem as long as the moms accept their babies and have enough colostrum and teats for all of them. But sometimes, a mom might reject her babies or have more babies than she can feed properly. In those cases, you'll have to feed colostrum to the babies using a bottle or tube to make sure they stay healthy.

It's smart to plan ahead for such situations. You can freeze extra colostrum from healthy older animals (because colostrum quality is better in older moms) to have it ready.

Just be careful not to thaw more than you need because you can't refreeze it once it's thawed. And don't use the microwave to thaw it because that can harm the antibodies. Instead, use warm water to thaw it quickly.

So, to sum it up, colostrum is like a super shield for baby lambs and goats. It protects them for their first couple of months, and they need to drink enough of it within the first day of life. The quality of the colostrum depends on how well the mom was taken care of during her pregnancy, especially in the last few weeks.

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