All of my females that are dam raised and left with their moms for at least 6 months are much larger and healthier than those that are:
- Separated from their moms at weaning (usually 7 – 8 weeks if they are eating hay and grain) ;
- Rejected by the mom and bottle raised;
- Bottle raised due to multiple births;
- Bought/sold as bottle babies
On the flip side, doelings that are left with their mom “may” be more aloof/skittish with humans and harder to handle. Of course, this all depends on the personality of each doeling. I have 1 of the 4 that are currently still on their mom that is a stage 2 clinger with both me and her dam! It’s actually amazing how goats have such different personalities…. I’m starting to realize why people become vegans!
In both nursing pictures above, both sets of doeling twins are 6 months old. You will notice that the udders are no longer large on the dams… we don’t milk the does, and the doelings don’t rely on the milk anymore as food so the does are drying up a bit. This is more of an exercise in closeness to the mom than anything.
Note how large the doelings are! They still butt the udder to get Mom to drop her milk… I can’t imagine how painful that would be but the moms are stoic.
It’s also extremely funny to watch the imperceptible signal between the twins to go for the nursing at the same time. It’s like: “ATTACK”! At 6 months old they wind up lifting Mom’s rear end high in the air as they go in and under!
What about the bucklings you ask?
I separate bucklings from their dams at 8 weeks old due to the possibility of them trying to breed. This is generally the age I see them start to “unsheath”. This means their wee wee starts to come out when they get excited around a female. They will mimic breeding behavior at a very young age (within a few days of being born actually) but it does not become an issue until they start unsheathing. Harmless behavior is snorting at the does and trying to mount.
Because of the buckling’s potential fertility, they miss out on the close nursing bond between mom and daughters. This is an excellent opportunity, however, to give the buckling a bottle to give them their fix. This then bonds the buckling to humans and makes them much easier to handle as they grow older. I generally offer them a bottle once per day until they are 12 weeks old.
In summary: watching a doe nursing 6 – 8 month old kids is truly a beautiful thing to behold. It gives me warm and fuzzy feelings that these kids have started life without a care in the world and can experience the closeness and love with their moms for an extended period of time.
Now on to evaluating Vegan cookbooks!