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Author Topic: goats feeding lambs?  (Read 4121 times)


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
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goats feeding lambs?
« on: September 05, 2013, 08:14:03 pm »
I remember when I was small, lots of farms seemed to have a goat to feed and mother their pet lambs.

Is this OK, as in is goat's milk suitable for lambs (or as suitable as milk substitute powder, anyway)?

My pet lambs always seem to look poor, despite the best care, ad lib milk, then nuts avaiable once they are big enough to nibble, and so on.  I much prefer the idea of them having a 'mum', even if it is the wrong species - as long as it would be the best thing for the lambs.

Does anyone know about this?

Just planning ahead for next April!


  • Joined Aug 2009
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2013, 08:23:51 pm »
fsmnutter did it this year and ended up with some very big lambs
Our holding has Anglo Nubian and British Toggenburg goats, Gotland sheep, Franconian Geese, Blue Swedish ducks, a whole load of mongrel hens and two semi-feral children.


  • Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2008
  • Avonbridge, Falkirk
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2013, 08:32:48 pm »
In the seventies and eighties nearly every farmer had a couple of nanny goats to feed their lambs. Now, it's easier to open a bag of lamblac than to have to feed and house (and look after) two goats all year round. Lambs really thrive on goats milk, even if you only have enough goats milk to give them half milk and half lamblac it is worth doing.


It's best to not let lambs suckle directly from the goat, for lots of reasons (eg, they damage the goats udder, could pass orf onto the udder, they produce less milk and for a shorter period of time than if you milk them, if a lamb dies, then you might have to milk the goat anyway). That means you have to fit milking into your schedule, and bottle feeding the lambs as well.

You also need to get the goats in milk, and that means they need to kid- so what are you going to with two goat kids who also need to drink milk? Fair enough, a British Saanen or British Toggenburg goat will milk on for two years, so it's only every second year that you get 2 extra goats.

Where are you going to find a stud male? A lot of Goatkeepers now CAE test, and you will only be able to use their male if you too CAE test.

It's a lot to think about Mowhaugh. You're right to start thinking about it now!



  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
    • Facebook
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2013, 08:44:19 pm »
Thatnk you, that is all great advice.  There is no way I could bottle feed lambs (we usually have between 30 and 50, so it would be more than 2 goats!)  I have a neighbour who has goats, who would lend me some once they have had their kids, I think (her idea), but would need to find the time for milking too.  However, if I could then tip that milk straight into the shepherdess feeders, it couldn't take longer than mixing buckets of milk powder, which has to be done at the house for the hot water, then carrying them all up to the steading.

I don't know what breed the goats are, they are white and fairly large and very pretty, approximately how many lambs could a goat provide milk for?

Thanks for the advice!


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: goats feeding lambs?zz
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2013, 09:06:50 pm »
Goats and sheep have their babies at roughly the same time, so it takes about three months before goatkids are weaned...
I always have at least one nanny running through and she provides the extra milk for any bottle lambs (usually not more than two, and none this year after they got e.coli  :( ).
If you are talking 30 to 50 lambs, a couple of goats will not get you very far, and once you have to mix milk powder anyway it makes no sense to then also try and milk as well. In order to stay in milk the nannies will need a good amount of feed too, and it is not encouraged to have them sharing a field with sheep (worms)... (they need a pen/shed, hay at night time even in the middle of summer)
I would advise someone in the following sentiment.... if you want to become a goatkeeper and THEN raise a couple of bottle lambs for the freezer that's great. If you want to reduce your workload by having nannies feeding  (a few) lambs - you won't.


  • Joined Jul 2013
  • Scottish Borders
    • Facebook
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2013, 09:49:18 pm »
OK, thank you Anke, that is very helpful.


  • Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2008
  • Avonbridge, Falkirk
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2013, 10:10:15 pm »
You could certainly use goats milk to tip into the shepherdess feeders. If you are getting it from the neighbour though, you might need to warm it up at least until the lambs are used to colder milk. 1 goat could feed 3-4 lambs without much trouble.

We often rear some orphan lambs on our spare milk, 3 or 4 lambs, but we generally have at least 4 or 5 milkers, and are bottle feeding goat kids as well.



  • Joined Jul 2009
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2013, 12:26:33 pm »
I wouldn't advise sickling lambs on goats though as lambs are very rough on the udders! They can cause black garget.I have reared calves on a goat that had an impossible udder to milk was alright till FM when nothing could be moved,by the end of the year I had a HUGE heifer still suckling off her.She would jump up on a straw bale when she needed relieving and woa betide any other calf that tried to suckle!!!!


  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2013, 01:07:18 pm »
My friend told me once that she had never lost a lamb fed on goats milk, it's the best thing for them if they haven't got a ewe to suckle them. If you can get it, they will certainly thrive on goats milk.
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners


  • Joined Jan 2013
  • banffshire
Re: goats feeding lambs?
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2013, 08:52:06 am »
We have had 1 nanny this year bring on 3 lambs suckling direct and had no problems at all and the are fantastic lambs ...


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