Yesterday I had the Never B4 pleasure of feeding newborn Nubian Goats – out of beer bottles! I think it’s safe to safe that all parties involved, kids and humans alike, loved the experience.
Thanks goes to Dave for suggesting this Never B4 idea (and for taking the pics & video you'll see here). Actually, his suggestion was to visit Olde Oak Farms to watch them make their delicious mozzarella cheese (which we happened to be eating the night he thought of the Never B4 idea). Unfortunately, as Jen Maeverde, the co-owner of the Olde Oaks Farm quickly pointed out, it wasn’t the right time to make the cheese. The goats were in kidding season so the heavy cheese-making period was still a few weeks off.
When Jen heard about my search for a Never B4 experience, she kindly offered up a selection of other things she thought I may not have done B4 – cleaning a barn, bailing hay or hand-feeding feeding Nubian kids from beer bottles.
Jen was right. They would ALL be Never B4s for me and I went to the farm with Dave with an open mind to try any one of them, or all of them. I won’t lie though, when we got to the farm and Jen paired me up with her apprentice Arlene to feed the newborn kids, I was relieved and thrilled at the same time.
The farm was alive with the bleating of goats, the does in the back barn, the bucks in a separate barn of their own to the right of the ladies and in a smaller barn near the front of the farm were the kids. Six of the long-eared cuties were huddled under a heat lamp in a small hay covered pen, bleating madly for some food.
Arlene quickly took me to a work-station in a small wooden building to prepare the milk for feeding. All the kids were very young, the oldest were 4 days old and the youngest were 4 hours old. Their mom’s colostrum (the mother’s first milk) would be their steady diet because they needed all the nutrients they could get.
Because the goats will be milked later to make the farm's amazing cheeses, it was important to keep the bacteria levels low. That was the primary reason why the babies were hand fed. Feeding off their mother’s teats, I learned, introduced the babies to bacteria that they may not be able to fight. Also, hand feeding allowed the goats to bond with the humans which would help the milking process in the future.
The reason for the beer bottles was because they were healthier than plastic, they were recyclable, they could be heated in a double boiler and they were plentiful, as the staff liked to enjoy a good beer after a long day of working the farm.
When the milk was heated to 104 degrees, we carried the bottles over to the bleating babies, climbed into the pen with them and they took over from there. Arlene focused on the two youngest ones and I fed any that came to me.
Before I could get settled on the pen floor, the hungriest of them was climbing up my thighs to get to the bottle. Once they latched on they were peaceful little angels and I could sneak a pet of their droopy ears.
If they let go for a minute though, another kid was right there at the nipple to take the place.
Did I say adorable, yet?
Dave and I were so enamored with the kids we forgot to snap any pics of the mom’s, but if you can find plenty of photos of Nubian goats here.
I'd like to thank Jen, Arlene and Dave for so warmly welcoming us to the Farm. For more information on Olde Oaks Farm, their lovely Nubian goats or their products, click here.
What do you think of these droopy-eared kids? Post a comment with your thoughts or post a suggestion for future Never B4’s. And, if you’ve done a recent Never B4 of your own, let me know because I'd love to interview about it.