Date of Birth: 26/03/2018

Gender: Male

Gotcha Day: 31/03/2018

Breed: Saanen Goat

One of our volunteers had worked in a goat dairy farm nearby and wanted to go pay the farmers a visit. It was supposed to be a short check in to say hi but we got a whole tour. The farmer led us into the nursery and she was very proud to show us their baby goats, who are called kids (that’s not where the word  ‘kid’ came from to describe children, though). She explained that they kept only the female kids in order to replace their mothers and the males are sold to the knacker for €3 when they are 3 days old. This is very similar to what happens to calves on dairy farms except that a doe (female goat) gives milk until she dies of exhaustion on site. Dairy cows, on the other hand, are sent to slaughter once their milk production starts to go down and are then sold as beef. Goats aren’t sent to slaughter because they are essentially worthless and very rarely eaten in the West. 

The feeding system for the kids is a large machine with a big cistern of (chemical) milk powder on top and a hose for water on the bottom. The powder gets mixed in with the water and is delivered via lots of teats that the babies need to suckle on. It’s sort of like a self-service except there aren’t enough teats for the number of kids so it is only the strongest ones who fight for and have access to the liquid. The weaker ones don’t even make it to the teats and just perish. The farmer explained that they would often find dead goats as flat as pancakes who had been trampled on by the heavier, stronger goats who had been drinking the formula.

 There were two very young baby goats underneath a heat lamp, they had been born too late. All the other kids are born around the same time and are removed from their mothers an hour later. One of them was a male who was destined for the knacker and a female who was a day younger than him. They were being bottle fed twice a day. Baby goats need to be fed at least 6 and preferably 8 times a day. The fact they ate so little meant they had very bad diarrhea. The farmer asked us if we wanted them and there was no way in hell we could have ever said no. 

It took us a day to figure a few things out like finding a place for them to sleep and buying all the necessary gear for feeding and taking care of tiny little goats. 

For lack of a better place, they stayed in the dining room where we increased the heat to 28°C. We gave them hot water bottles which we changed frequently to make sure they were always warm. At first, they stayed in a second-hand baby playpen but they soon transitioned out of it and into the comfortable baskets alongside their canine siblings. We fed them at least 6 times a day and brought them to the vet frequently for check-ups. It was very hard to take care of them. They were very weak and had many health issues.

It must be said that vets, at least those in the region, hardly know anything about goats. Students of veterinary school have seen the few class hours on goats removed due to the fact that hardly anyone cares enough to bring goats to vets since they are not worth much so it would be a loss to bother treating them. Fortunately for us, we were introduced to Lies De Flou*, a young woman from Belgium who has devoted her life to saving all the male baby goats from one goat dairy farm. She was truly an invaluable help and counselled us frequently via telephone. Without her guidance, Zephyr and Rhea would have probably died.  

A few weeks later when we allowed him to go outside, we noticed that Zephyr was walking with bent knees. It turned out he had arthritis. He got shots for 2 weeks because, if left untreated, the consequences are that they can no longer walk, they end up sort of crawling on their knees. 

Zephyr is very keen on Rhea, his step-sister. These two got into a lot of mischiefs, they would jump on the sofas and eat the house plants. They lived inside for multiple months but were also allowed outside with us. From the very beginning, they have been used to wearing a collar and they also walk on a leash like dogs. Not surprising since they’ve spent so much time with actual dogs.  

We tried to introduce them to the goat herd little by little but they were never really accepted as part of the group. For a long time they spent the daytime with the goat herd but slept in a stall in the stable because they were not welcome in the loafing shed where the others rest. Nowadays they are fully accepted into the goat herd, day and night, which is a lot less work for us as we don’t have to move them back and forth every day. They sometimes venture out on their own, though, to Fristi and Sand‘s field for example. 

*Lies spends her days saving, healing and caring for bucklings whom she puts up for adoption. At the end of her long days, she follows evening classes to become a veterinarian. If you wish to support Lies or wish to adopt a buck check out this page


Although the common belief is that no animals are killed in order to make milk or cheese, that could not be further from the truth. Eventually, every animal dies long before their time. Please don’t support these cruel industries and ditch dairy in favour of plant-based alternatives.