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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Growth rate and behaviour in separated, partially separated or non-separated kids and the corresponding milk production of their mothers

Sandberg, Eva; Högberg, Madeleine; Winblad Von Walter, Louise; Hydbring-Sandberg, Eva; Forkman, Björn; Dahlborn, Kristina


We address the hypothesis that keeping kids and mothers together would have positive effects on the milk composition of the mother and the behaviour of the kids. Kids were either permanently separated (SEP), daily separated between 7.30 and 15 h (DAY-SEP) or kept with mothers 24 h/d (NON-SEP). The NON-SEP kids were only allowed to suckle one teat. All kids had similar growth rate throughout the study (lactation days 5–70). DAY-SEP kids spent 24% of their time with their mother at both ages. NON-SEP spent only 15% of the time with their mothers at 2 weeks of age and this increased to 28% at 2 months of age. NON-SEP kids showed more hiding behaviour at 2 weeks and SEP were more active alone, at both 2 weeks and 2 months, compared to the other treatments. The mean available milk yield and fat concentration were higher in DAY-SEP goats (2420 g ± 119 g and 4.9 ± 0.1%) compared with NON-SEP goats (2149 ± 79 g and 4.4 ± 0.1%). There were no differences between DAY-SEP and NON-SEP goats in total protein, lactose, or casein concentrations. Based on these data it was estimated that 7.1 kg milk was needed to produce 1 kg semi-hard cheese in DAY-SEP goats and 7.5 kg in NON-SEP goats, respectively. When comparing milk yield and composition between udder halves, the milk yield was, as expected, higher from the machine milked teat than from the suckled one in the NON-SEP goats but there was no difference between right and left udder halves in DAY-SEP goats. Milk fat concentration varied between teats at morning and afternoon milkings in NON-SEP goats, but there was no difference in milk fat between udder-halves in DAY-SEP goats. In conclusion, the kid growth rate was similar in all treatments, however, an altered behaviour was seen in permanently separated kids (SEP). The results show that it is possible to have a high milk yield and fat concentration with one kid together with the dam.


Caprine goat welfare; growth rate; milk production; rearing system

Published in

Journal of Dairy Research
2021, Volume: 88, number: 4, article number: PII S0022029921000789