Hand rearing 'Hansies' - orphaned Angora kids
By Dr Mackie Hobson BSc(Agric),BVSc

Thursday, 15th September 2016

Hand rearing ‘hansies’ is unfortunately often part of Angora goat farming. Hand feeding is expensive in time and money so farmers will often first try fostering these orphaned kids with ewes that have lost their kids by various methods.

If a kid is found in the veld or lands it is usually weak and dehydrated. These kids are sometimes unable to suckle and need to be tubed. It is a good idea to first tube these kids with an oral rehydration fluid (such as Lectade or Replensol ) before  giving them milk.

Importance of colostrum

Ideally, the Angora kid must have received colostrum to improve its chances of survival. If the kid does not receive this colostrum it often dies after a few days on a milk replacer and a large rubbery milk curd can be found  in its gut.

  • Colostrum is rich in energy and protein. It has a mild laxative effect to move the foetal dung and to prevent the formation of a hard, rubbery clot of milk in the stomach.
  • Colostrum also carries disease-fighting antibodies produced by the ewe. These antibodies give the kid short-term protection against gut and bowel infections until it is able to build up its own resistance. If the ewe has been properly vaccinated, her antibodies will protect the kid from clostridia until it is vaccinated.

It is a good idea if possible to milk out ewes that have lost their kids in this first 48 hours. This ‘bank’ of colostrum can be kept frozen for up to 2 years. When this is frozen colostrum is thawed for use do so in lukewarm water (

 A kid that has already suckled for at least a day does not need colostrum.

Artificial colostrum

If colostrum is not available a mixture can be made with:

  • 600 ml of fresh cows' milk
  • One beaten egg yolk
  • One table spoon of glucose (if unavailable, use sugar)
  • One very small teaspoon (3 ml) of cod liver oil (or castor oil)

Mix well and divide the mixture into 4 equal feeds for the first day's feeding. Divide it into six equal feeds instead of four if the kid is small or weak.

Bottle feeding kids

If we watch a kid and ewe together we will see the ewe basically allows the kid to drink a little , then she makes the kid stop so kids nurse often, but not for an extended period of time.  Hence, when we bottle feed very large quantities of milk, we are allowing the kid to drink more than he would if he were “on” his mother.  Overfeeding is often one of the most common causes of ‘hansie’ deaths.

 Angora ewes' milk is about the same strength as cows' milk, which contains about 4% fat and 8% solids-not-fat. So, if using calf milk replacer for kids, make it up at the same rate as for calves. Rather use proper milk replacer such as ‘Biolam’.

Do not water-down cows' milk.

When to feed and how much?

Remember that more kids die from overfeeding than underfeeding. Overfeeding can cause scouring. The milk should be at body temperature for the first 4 days and thereafter this is less important.

A rough idea is to feed about 50ml per kg weight of kid 3-4 times a day (example for a 4kg kid feed 200ml 3-4x a day)

All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned each day to prevent the spread of gut infections.


Day 1: Always feed colostrum. 100- 150ml per feeding, 4 times a day

Day 2-3: Colostrum (if available) or mix with milk replacer.  100-150ml per feeding,  4 times a day.

Day 3-14:  150-250ml per feeding, up to 4 times a day.

2 weeks to 2 months:  milk replacer 200-300ml per feeding, up to 3 times a day.

2 to 2 1/2 months: milk replacer 200-300ml 2 times a day.

Then start weaning by lowering the amount of milk per feeding by about 50ml per day

Example of Milk replacer:

Biolam: Mix 1 part powder with 4 parts water. Feed 50ml mixed milk per kg body mass 3-4 times a day.

 Always feed a goat kid in a fashion that makes them hold their head up, similar to how they reach up to the udder when drinking from the ewe as this helps ensure milk does not enter their lungs.

Once the bottle is in the kid’s mouth, gently flick the tail.  The ewe does this to get the kid under her and then continues licking the tail, while the kid is sucking.  This encourages the kid to suck more. 



What to do if kids have diarrhoea?


Scouring should be countered by reducing the amount of feed and following the following guidelines before resorting to antibiotics.

  • Take the kid off milk for at least 12 hours and give it hydration support such as:


Lectade: Mix sachet A+B in 2 litres of water

Feed 150-200 ml of the Lectade® solution twice to four times daily as required. The solution should be fed at the animal’s body temperature using a feeding bottle and teat or stomach tube.



Replensol: Dissolve contents in 4.5 litres lukewarm water. Feed 100-250ml every 4 hours




  • Ensure that you mix a probiotic with the milk such as:

 Protrexin  (1g a day with milk replacer)







 Biorem (1g a day with milk replace)



  • Get a faecal sample checked to ensure there is no parasitic cause (especially coccidiosis)

At all times make sure that kids have access to fresh water.

When can I add a lick?

Goats learn to eat hay by example so a hansie kid will eat lucern hay better if he is near other kids/goats that eat hay.  Milk feeding should be combined ideally with access to pasture and water and even kids at a week will start nibbling at pasture.

If you wish, a small amount of concentrate feed and good hay can be provided from two weeks of age. It is not necessary to feed concentrates if adequate pasture is available.


Raising orphaned kids is expensive and time-consuming and is most successful when those involved have a passion for the job.


Dr Mackie Hobson



J.Clarke et al. Dept Agriculture Victoria

Mary Humphrey. Bottle feeding goat kids



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