All About Colostrum

Goat colostrum management is very important to the health of your baby goat kids. Without proper management in this area, all other health measures will be almost useless.

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Colostrum for Goat Kids

First milking colostrum, in comparison to mature milk, is very rich in many components.  Some of these components include Immunoglobulins, (IgGs) (which are responsible for passive transfer of antibodies) growth hormones (which are responsible for development of the gastrointestinal tract)  and relaxin (which has a direct impact on the development of the reproductive system).

Since the intestines of the newborn kid can only absorb Immunoglobulins for the first 12 hrs after birth, it is important to get the newborn kid to ingest as much good quality colostrum as possible. In fact, these 12 hrs may be the most important hours that you spend with the goat during its lifetime!

When and how much colostrum should a baby goat kid get? 

The quantity, quality and timing given will directly influence the future productivity of your goat. Ideally each kid goat should receive 750-1000 mL of colostrum by the time they are 12 hrs old.  Typically feedings are given in 3 even intervals beginning as early as 1/2 hr after birth. If a kid goat does not consume the full amount during each feeding, it may be helpful to try smaller feedings more frequently. Some research on dairy cow calves has suggested that adequate intake can lead to earlier breeding age.  This is due in part to earlier development of the reproductive system but also due to fewer infections such as pneumonia.

Below is a chart showing the composition of colostrum, transition milk and mature milk.  This chart compares the values of cow colostrum.  The values of goat colostrum will vary, but the trend would be the same.

Three Sources of Colostrum
For Your Baby Goat

  1. From the Nanny Goat: 
    Newborn kids could be fed from the doe but this is becoming less common as producers are increasingly trying to prevent the transmission of disease from doe to kid (primarily Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis Virus (CAEV)).  Pasteurizing the doe's colostrum is an option but is not commonly done.
  2.  From the Cow (bovine): 
    Cow colostrum may be used as a substitute to goat colostrum.  Proper care must be taken to store prior to use. Colostrum should be stored in clean containers and can be frozen until it is needed. When using warm water to thaw colostrum, use water that is no hotter than 120 degrees F to avoid damaging components of the colostrum, negatively affecting the quality.  Talk to some of your local dairy cow farmers, and see if you can work out a mutually beneficial arrangement.
  3. Powdered Colostrum: 
    This is an option that is increasing in popularity. It is heat treated to ensure it is free of disease and is dried to allow for longer storage times. Even if powdered colostrum is not your main source it may be good to have some on hand so that you are guaranteed a source of quality colostrum at all times. We like to have several bags of powdered colostrum on hand at all times, such as this one, available on Amazon.  You can probably get it other places as well - Farmers Farmacy (online), your local vet, and your local farm store should supply it as well. 


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