Forty-nine and 58 Damascus goats were used in each of two trials, respectively. Goats were randomly allocated 2 days post-partum to twin-suckling (TS), singlesuckling (SS) and no-suckling (NS) kids treatments. In trial 1, artificially reared kids were divided into two groups fed either on ewe-milk (25·8% fat, 24·2% protein) or on calf-milk (15% fat, 22·5% protein) replacer. In trial 2, all artificially reared kids were fed on ewe-milk replacer. The ewe- and calf-milk replacers were reconstituted in the ratio of 1 part powder to 5 or 4 parts (by weight) of water, respectively.
Separation of kids from their dams reduced total milk yield (means of two trials) until weaning (TS 194, SS 176, NS 121 kg/goat) and from weaning to 90 days of lactation (TS 95, SS 89, NS 70 kg/goat). On the other hand, separation of kids increased marketable milk yield until weaning (TS 68, SS 99, NS 121 kg/goat). Marketable milk during the period 3–90 days post-partum was similar for NS and SS goats (TS 163, SS 188, NS 191 kg/goat). Goats suckling two kids suffered greater weight losses (TS 78, SS 44, NS 6 g/day). Goats suckling two males produced more milk until weaning than all other twin sets. Differences in concentrate intake between group means of TS and SS were smaller compared with the NS group (TS 2·26, SS 2·08, NS 1·86 kg/goat per day).
There were no differences in weaning weight and weight gain from birth to weaning between kids reared on milk replacers. However, four kids on the calf-milk replacer died and two more were excluded from the data because of severe scouring. Single suckling kids gained more weight until weaning than TS and those reared artificially (AR) on ewe-milk replacer (SS 11·1, TS 9·1, AR 9·3 kg/kid). Furthermore, males consumed more milk than females (males 74, females 64 kg/kid) and SS more than TS kids (SS 75, TS 63 kg/kid).
It is concluded that SS and NS treatments increase commercial milk yields compared with the TS goats, but NS should not be recommended because of an adverse effect on pre- and post-weaning lactation performance.