How to Get the Kid on the Bottle
If you do decide to stick with bottle feeding you might have to work with him to get him to suck on the bottle. What I do is sit down on a chair. Rest the baby’s stomach over my left leg — baby’s front legs draped over my right leg and baby’s back legs hanging down on the left side of my left leg. Put my left arm around the back of the baby and cup my hand under the muzzle, holding the baby’s head still and firm. Then I hold the bottle with my right hand and gently squeeze the bottle so milk comes out. He’s not going to like the bottle nipple compared to his dam’s teat so you have to be patient and persistent.
How we bottle feed and wean our bottle-fed kids (2003/2004)
With our kids, from 2 weeks to 6 weeks of age we have them on 16 ounces morning and evening, and they have free access to water and hay. We want them a little on the hungry side so they will begin to eat hay. I have observed 2.5 week old kids eating hay, and already starting to chew their little cuds.
On the 6th week, we begin decreasing the morning and evening feeding down to 1.5 cups morning and 1.5 cups evening. Usually I’ll do this very gradually. Like 2 cups in the morning, then 1 3/4 cups at night, then 1 3/4 cups the next morning, then 1 1/2 cups at night, then 1 1/2 cups for the next week or so.
Then about halfway through week seven, we start decreasing again. 1 1/2 cups in the morning, 1 1/4 cups at night. 1 1/4 cups the next morning, 1 cup that night. 1 cup the next morning, 3/4 cup that night. 3/4 cup next morning, 1/2 cup at night. 1/2 cup next morning, 1/4 that night. Then maybe 1/4 cup each feeding the next day, then we just stop the bottles altogether so weaning occurs at about 8 – 9 weeks of age.
I don’t know how old your kids are, but if they are 8 weeks old I would probably start right away by giving them only 2 cups morning and evening so they will get hungrier and start eating hay to get their rumen going (if it isn’t already). I’d probably stick to 2 cups morning/night for a week or so, making sure they are eating hay and drinking water, then the next week I’d start decreasing and wean them off the bottle within another week.
This is how we have weaned our kids when we pulled the kids and bottle fed.
Now (2005) we have had our does tested for CAE, and allow the dams to raise their kids. This is still in the experimental stage. The dam raised doelings (Moselle and Zoë) are a bit skittish, but we are working with them. We are thinking about giving the next set of kids one bottle a day, and letting them stay on their dams the rest of the day.
How we bottle feed and wean our bottle-fed kids (2006)
We did not bottle feed any kids in 2005. In 2006, Brooklyn passed away 20 hours after kidding from hypocalcemia. She gave us triplet doelings. We were able to place one doeling the day after she was born, as one of my neighbors has wanted one of our “spotty” doelings since she found out how spotted Dallas and Bambi were. The remaining doelings are named Little Brooke and Mocha.
We have changed our ideas about bottle feeding. If the kid is a buckling, and will be reserved for the freezer, we will wean him at about 8-9 weeks of age. This is the destiny of most of our male kids, as we do not have many purebred animals in our herd. However, if the kid is a doeling, we will keep her on the bottle until she is six months of age to give her a good head start in life as a milker. We start the kids out slowly at birth, with four feedings, at 6am, 10am, 2pm and 6pm. 1/2 to one cup at each feeding the first few days. At about a week we go to 3x day feedings, giving them about 1 cups at each feeding for a total of 3 cups daily. At two weeks we move to 2 cups morning, 1 cup noon and 2 cups evening. We continue this amount until they are three months old. We then go to 2x day feedings, 2 cups at each feeding. We continue 1 quart each day until they are six months old.
We have two other doelings from this year’s batch. Starburst, Dallas’ singleton doeling and Cocoa, Moselle’s doeling kid. Cocoa has been interested in and friendly toward me since birth. Starburst is less friendly, but she loves scratches. I am spending time with the four doelings the days I am able to, scratching and talking to them.