Facility Preparation for Weaning:
Weaning can be very stressful on the kids, resulting in outbreaks of coccidiosis and other diseases. This is also a time when your fences and pens are tested. It is important to start thinking about weaning well in advance of the actual date. The first step is to make sure you have a pasture or holding pens ready for the kids when they are weaned. This will include examination of the fences, water system, and feeding facilities.
Weaning pens need to have very good quality fencing or the kids will get out and find their dam. Weaning pens are an area where 4-by-4 woven wire may be justified. It is critical that gates be very low to the ground. The pens need good shelter that is well-bedded before weaning. A water source that is clean and low enough for the kids to access is also important. Some livestock water troughs are too high for young kids to utilize. Make sure your drinking height is no more than 12 inches for weaned kids. Concrete blocks can be placed next to the tank if necessary to reduce the drinking height. Also be aware that kids may fall into tanks. If the tank is deep, you may also want to place a block inside to allow a kid to climb out if it falls in.
Feeding is another issue. Kids need to be familiar with the feeding system they will be using after weaning. If you are using a creep feeder, be sure to have room to move it into the weaning pen. This will get the kids eating faster than if you change methods. A few days to a week after weaning, you can switch to a different type of feeder with fewer problems. Kids will also eat well from the type of feeder you use for the does if you are feeding them. If you are not able to use the creep feeder, the does’ feeder is a good alternative for the weaned kids.
If possible, move kids and their dams into the pens you will use for weaning a few weeks before weaning. This allows the kids to be more familiar with the surroundings and can help reduce stress. Clean shelters very well before moving kids into them for weaning in order to reduce exposure of the kids to diseases.
If you did not castrate your buck kids, it is a good idea to have two pens available and separate your buck and doe kids after weaning. This will reduce the chance of unwanted breeding and allow the two groups to be fed more closely to their nutritional requirements. It will also prevent the buck kids from chasing the does, allowing for better adjustment and growth rates.