Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why I dam raise kids...

Dam raising (nursing) versus bottle-feeding will probably always be a hot topic for those raising goats. People have many reasons for bottle-feeding - they want to do CAE prevention by feeding the kids pasturized milk, they want all the goat milk for themselves, they think the kids are friendlier when they are bottle raised. I've tried both ways, and I believe hands down dam raising is superior. Here's why -

1. The God factor - I believe the world was formed by an intelligent being, and He decided to feed babies this way. Who am I to mess with what has worked for millenia?

2. Pasturizing may kill some pathogens in milk, but it also kills everything beneficial as well. *I* prefer to drink raw milk for my own health. I believe raw milk is healthiest for goats as well.

3. The milk is cleanest when it comes straight from the source. There is no chance of spoiling in the teat.

4. Milk replacers (ie goat infant formula) are inferior to the real thing, and often cause scours. A baby can drink all the fresh goat milk he needs, but if you over-do milk replacer, he will scour.

5. I *like* sharing my milk with babies - for one, I think they establish better lactations than my hand milking alone. Secondly, when I go on vacation (or if I'm sick, or sick of milking), a baby can take care of the milking for me, so I don't have to impose on someone to do it for me. Of course, I'm not a commercial dairy - a family of 5 has very different needs and does not need to run the backyard herd like a commercial dairy.

6. I have noticed my kids that nursed to contentment grow fast and stay healthier. I even noticed last year that my Nigerian buck who was weaned at the customary 12 weeks did not grow as well or stay as healthy after weaning as his sister who stayed with mom. For this reason, I have begun weight taping kids and will dam raise them to 2.5X their birth weight before weaning.

7. I do not feel the temperments of bottlefed babies are better than dam raised. Spending time with the kids is what makes them tame - being present at their births (or shortly after) and holding them often will make them sweet. Bottlefed babies are constantly underfoot looking for milk, and are more a nuisance. (Look at how often a dam fed baby is under mom's feet - that's how *you* are going to be treated if you bottlefeed!)

Not saying there's never a reason to bottlefeed, but this is the reason I don't make it a practice. There are sound reasons for doing things the old fashioned way. Nothing can take the place of the basics for creating a healthy herd - good food, clean living conditions, and a watchful eye.


Linda said...

I agree! After having my first kids dam raised and then bottle feeding a kid I purchased, yes dam raised is better, hands down! Besides - I can't bring my heart to take the kids away from mom - she so enjoys them! The kids learn to eat and be goats much faster than bottle babies. My dam raised kids are so very friendly because they are handled and loved on from the very beginning. Although, I have to admit, socializing a large amount of kids from a large herd would probably be a challenge!

Linda said...
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Tom Kuettner said...

I agree 200% we are a small dairy and milk 15 to 20 goats. We tried bottle raising the kids and they just aren't as healthy. Our herd is CAE neg and we test 2x's a yr.
we wtill milk 2 x's a day and spend lots of time with the babies. It is just as much work if not more to dam raise this way but we are in a partnership with our animals
We want to give them the absolute best life possible and the start they get from dam raising does that much better than bottle feeding.

What She said...

We decided to dam raise because, as a mom that has breastfed all five of our children, I couldn't imagine someone taking my baby away and feeding him or her a bottle when I so desperately wanted to breastfeed.
It just makes sense, if you believe in Creator God, that everything is created in perfect health. It is when we intervene that health becomes dis-eased.

Our dam raised kids are happy and healthy. some we have that were bottle fed ignore us unless we have food for them. Just goes to show that time and love are what make goats sweet, not food!

Good Goats said...

Hmm, interesting. Everybody definitely has their own opinion.

I've tried dam raising and bottle raising. We dam raise our meat goats and bottle raise our dairy goats. Our bottle fed kids are super healthy, just as healthy as our dam raised kids, and they do not just come to us when we have food. We have bottle raised kids (& adults, now) that are like lap dogs.

Anyway, everybody can have their own opinion ;).

Linda said...

Of course Good Goats! That's what makes the world go round... what if we all thought alike? Would be very boring for sure! LOL

Mama Mercer said...

LOL, I don't deny you'll have bottle babies in your lap. I'm just not so sure that's a "good thing"!!

One of the main reasons for this posting was to explain that there is serious rational in favor of dam raising. I think sometimes it is presented by those in the other camp as if you are getting a superior product in bottle raised kids. I saw a "comparison chart" in the files of one of the yahoo groups I'm on that was CLEARLY biased in favor of bottlefeeding - and was really the catalyst for my post.

I have to agree with Linda and What She - I couldn't feel right about taking kids from their mamas at birth. Though somewhat hypocritically, I don't have a problem buying kids as bottle babies when I really want them! (see coming post)