Saanen milk goats were crossed with South African Indigenous goats to evaluate productivity, milk production and disease incidence, and to assess their suitability for milk production by small-scale farmers and households in developing areas. Goat kids were separated from their mothers at one week of age, and were kept in groups of 10 in pens with slatted floors. They were fed one litre of milk per day in two feeding periods, and had access to a total mixed ration. A mean annual goat kid mortality of 29% was observed over a period of three years. No effect of breed, gender or of multiple births was apparent. Most goat kid deaths were a result of coccidiosis and pneumonia. Two categories were discerned: kids that died soon after being born; and kids that died from coccidiosis and its complications, at about two to four months of age. In most cases, when pneumonia was diagnosed as the cause of death, it was a complication arising from the debilitating effects of earlier coccidiosis. Other relatively less important disease conditions that affected the goat kids included: rotavirus, orf and limb fractures.