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.