Note to readers, attached is the complete final report for FNE94-055.
The dairy goats represented no problems in handling, since our farm is relatively large and has facilities for other species, however our fencing was insufficiently high and had to be improved.
Our hope had been to graft the lambs onto the dairy goats and this was marginally successful, but of the six goats, only three could be said to be enthusiastic foster mothers; the forth was marginal and the last two we milked in the parlor with the sheep, then fed the goats milk out of buckets to the lambs. Our sense was that where the goats were willing to be nursed, the lambs were brighter, but we detected no difference in weight gain between the lambs that received goats milk from the mother goat and those which received it from the bucket. There is a marginal labor benefit in having the lambs grafted onto the foster goat, but that mother then can only raise two lambs. With bucket feeding, four to five lambs was easily manageable.
The study was not comprehensive enough to track rate of weight gain for each group, since the differences reflected more the individual lamb’s growth and not the methodology. It would be important to see if the lambs in either group gained weight faster, but we noticed no difference in our small samples and none at the end of the study.
The methodology is successful, but depends upon finding good goats with adequate milk and receptive attributes to adopting lambs and/or being milked with sheep. There were no noticeable health problems whatsoever in the lambs, but it is important to be cognizant of health problems that might be introduced when bringing new animals, and especially new species onto the farm. We vaccinated the goats as we did with the sheep and experienced no health problems.