Why Do We Raise Goats?
What To Expect When You Visit
Breeding & Kidding
Here is some helpful information from our experiences with our herd. Experience it the #1 teacher, trial and error. You will learn so much about goats from experience that you will soon be an expert. Kidding is the best part of goat ownership, it is such a joy to see these little miracles bouncing around in the sunlight and it makes all the work well worth the effort.
You should deworm all your does about one month before they kid, the added stress of kidding can make them more susceptible to worms and you don't want to deworm her shortly after she kids because the kids will be getting it in their milk. When your doe is pregnant, the kids do the majority of their growing in the last month and a half of pregnancy. You will need to feed your doe very well with grain and good quality hay (even in the summer months). Make sure there is plenty of fresh clean water available to her at all times, after all, water ='s milk. For example, we had a doe during the summer that was shy and wouldn't come into the barn to eat with the rest of the does, instead, she would stay out and graze. When she kidded, the kid was extreamly small. When we decided to wean the kid (Move the mother out of the pen, not the kid(s). Kids are under less stress and take weaning so much better if you move the mother. Don't take it's mother away and change it's whole environment or you will likely have a kid with scours due to stress. It is also a good idea to give the kids probiotics at the time of weaning.) we rebred the doe and the next time she kidded in the winter months but she was in a different barn where she would eat grain and hay and no pasture was available at that time. The kids were huge. See, trial and error.
A good buck will do his job and do it well. If you have a good buck you will be able to tell the exact day your doe was bred, her tail will be very sticky and look dirty. One time, we had a 2 year old buck that when he would breed a doe, he would only do his job one time and then he was done. This often resulted in the doe only having one kid and sometimes rarely maybe two kids. There were several does that he didn't get bred at all in a 45 day period. Needless to say, this buck didn't stay long. A good buck will loose a lot of weight when he is in with the does and he will seldom ever sleep or eat, he will have one thing on his mind and will stay on-top of things literally. Some people say that does having triplets or quads is all on the does side, but it takes two to tango. Yes, the doe has to release the eggs, but your buck has to be there to fertilize them in order to have multiple births.
We also use wireless video/audio cameras in our kidding pens. This will save you a lot of time, you can check on your doe day or night just by turning on the monitor. Don't be afraid to help your doe if you feel something isn't right when she begins to kid. Sometimes the kids can be too large for the doe to push out on her own, or backwards, don't be afraid to help pull the kids out. Only pull when the doe is pushing, don't work against each other. If the doe starts into labor and her water breaks but nothing else happens, the kids may have died in the birth cannal, you will need to pull them out or seek professional help immediately. Normally kids are born very quickly within an hour of the water breaking. If the kids are dead inside of her, she may not deliver them at all. If you feel something is wrong your probably right. Always make sure your doe cleans after kidding. This should take place within about 3 hours, no longer than 5 hours of the kids being born. If she does not clean (discharge afterbirth) you will need to consult a vet as soon as possible. Sometimes the doe will eat the afterbirth, if there is no afterbirth look for a bloody spot in the pen where it was laying while she was eating it. Remember, several days after kidding your doe will clean again, this is normal and there will be some bloody discharge, don't panic, this is a good thing. After your doe has kidded, make sure the kids are able to find the teat and make sure that they suck for the first time, if the kid does not feed, they will soon be to weak to suck and die. Some kids are born and suck right away while others seem to have a lot of trouble finding the teat, you may need to help them, a good doe will stand perfectly still and allow you to work with her and her kids realizing that you are helping them. If the doe doesn't do a very good job of drying off the new born kids, you should use a newspaper or cotton cloth and help to dry them off. Get them warm and dry as soon as possible after birth. If the weather is cold, we keep heat lamps on the kids for the first 3-5 days after birth, until the kids have a good start. If your doe should have bloody urine during the last couple of months of pregnancy, check to make sure she has not aborted by feeling her sides for kids, if she has not aborted, you will need to give her some Penicillian G, she likely has a bladder infection, this will not hurt the offspring (bladder infections normally happen between 3 and 5 months of pregnancy, but it is also possible it could happen when your doe is not pregnant). We pen the does up prior to kidding in a pen by themselves so they can have and get used to their kids and form a stong bond before being put back into the herd.
Herd Management & Production
Good herd management practices equals higher herd production. The first thing you must realize is that your management practices will constantly have to change with your herds needs. For example, a dry doe during the cold winter months will need more feed/protein to produce body heat and maintain a healthy animal than a dry doe during the warm summer months. You will constantly have to change the amount of feed/protein that your animal is receiving to match the needs of the animal. If you feed your animals the same amount year round it will ultimately lead to a fat animal that may have problems breeding or being bred, or an undernourished unhealthy animal that will have small weak kids. During the first few months of pregnancy you can slightly increase the amount of feed that your doe is receiving. You will need to greatly increase the amount of feed that your doe is receiving during the last month or month and a half of gestation. During the last month to month and a half is the crucial development stages of the fetus and the does ability to produce enough milk to care for her offspring, thus requiring more feed and protein to sustain these changes.
Here is a little known fact about how to maximize your herd production, your doe has kidded, and now it is time to remove the mother and wean the kids. Your doe will come back into heat within about 7 to 10 days after the kids are removed. When you separate the doe from the kids, be sure to put your buck in with your doe right away so you dont miss the opportunity to rebreed your doe. Sometimes it may take slightly longer than 7 to 10 days but this depends on your management practices and the doe. When the kids are removed from the doe, you need to stop the grain or drastically reduce the amount of grain you are giving her to next to nothing and feed a lower quality hay. Remember, protein increases milk production and the longer she is making milk the longer it will take for her to come back in heat and be rebred. Your doe will need to have pressure on her udder to stop producing milk. If the udder looks like it is ready to burst and is slightly red in color, this is normal, but if the udder is a very dark red color and looks like the color of a very bad sunburn, then you may need to milk the doe every 2 days for about a week to prevent any kind of infection. If you feel the need to milk her, only milk her slightly to keep the pressure on the udder. It will not hurt your doe to keep her bred or with kids at all times. Just keep in mind that a doe that is in constant production is constantly increasing your bottom line. The normal breeding season generally begins in August of each year, however you can breed year round with this method. I know of some people who will leave the lights on at night in the barns trying to get more kids out of their does and when I tell them about the method that we have used for years, they are amazed at how easy it is to keep their animals in production, breeding "out of season". It is rare to have a doe get rebred with her kids still on her but it can happen. Breeding "out of season" will not affect the number of kids that your doe will have. For example, my does that normally produce triplets still product triplets regardless of when they are bred and the same goes for my does that produce twins.
Milk Replacer Recipe For Bottle Babies
- 1 Gallon Whole Vitamin D Milk
- 1 (12 ounce) Can Evaporated Milk
- 1 Cup Buttermilk
Pour about 1/3 of the gallon of whole milk into a bowl and set aside. Pour into gallon container: evaporated milk and buttermilk. Pour milk from bowl back into the gallon container until the container is full again. Shake well and serve warm.
Magic (For Ketosis)
- 1 Cup Molasses
- 1 Cup Corn Oil
- 2 Cups Light Karo Syrup
Mix well and drench with 3 ounces of Magic 3 times a day until doe kids. Then at least one time per week after she kids for three weeks.
- 5 Quarts Warm Water
- 8 Tablespoons Sugar
- 4 Teaspoons Salt
- 1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
Mix well and serve. Give immediately to does after a stressful kidding or goats that are down. After they get a taste for this solution it is not uncommon for them to drink 10 quarts at one time. Also helpful for dehydrated animals.
Often times goat producers will consider offering or using stud services. We do not offer or recommend offering or using stud services. There are several things you need to consider before offering this service or using this service.
First of all, there is a very high potential for disease. You are putting your herd at great risk to all kinds of diseases by exposing your animals to animals from other farms. Some very likely diseases are CL or Soremouth.
Secondly, how good of care will your goat actually be getting? Will they be given the feed, shelter, and water that you think they will? Or, if you are offering this service, you are entrusted with someone's animals, what will happen if the animal that is entrusted in your care becomes ill, injured, or dies while in your care. There is the risk of a potential law suite or vet bills. What if the animal goes through the fence or is lost? There are so many things to consider and the risks just aren't worth the profits.
I know of producers who offer stud services and they have so many herd diseases so they don't mind bringing in goats from other farms because the chances of them getting a disease that they don't already have is very slim. You need to be very careful when bringing a new goat into your herd. We recommend quarantining all new herd additions for no less than 6 months in an isolated area away from the rest of the stock until you are sure they are healthy and disease free or until they are vet tested for diseases. Some people especially those with young children are affraid to have a buck around the farm because of the risk of injury to their children. Often times people with small children will buy a young buckling (bucklings will start breeding between 4 & 6 months of age) and use that buck until he matures around 3 years of age. Bucks usually don't become aggressive or dangerous until they reach maturity at 3 years of age. It is also recommended that you do not play with bucks or tease them. It is best to respect them and if you want to be around them, pet them gently. Playing with bucks and teasing them when they are small will result in a mature buck that will still want to play or seek you out to be played with. They aren't a lot of fun to play with when they reach 400+ pounds and when the buck is playing with you when he reaches that size someone is likely to get hurt. There are many things to consider, just be sure to make the right choice for you and your herd.
Free Choice Minerals
Finding a Vet
If you are going to raise livestock you need to have a Vet. Find a qualified Vet before you need one!!! This was one of our mistakes. We assumed that all vets knew how to treat goats, WRONG!!! When we needed a vet in a hurry, we had to waste time calling about 12 different vets who said that they didn't know much about goats or they only treated equine. If you are going to raise goats, call around and find a vet that knows about caprines and is willing to be on call day or night if you have an emergency. It could save a life.
Ear Tags - Potential Danger!
Ear tags are often a popular form of identification for livestock. However there are potential dangers of using this form of identification as well as drawbacks. We do not, nor have we ever, used ear tags for identification purposes. Our goats are tattooed on the underside of the ear for permanent identification.
Ear tags often fall out or are torn out leaving and unsigtly hole or tear in the ear and they are not considered permanent identification because they can be removed and replaced. We do have several goats that were purchased from another breeder and they had ear tags when we bought them. Recently on of our tagged bucks was butting heads with another buck and I noticed some slight bleeding around the ear tag. This buck was vaccinated earlier with CD/T and the bleeding was minimal so we figured it would heal up and be fine in a few days. And within a few days, it looked fine and there was no cause for alarm. However approximately two weeks after this incident, I noticed that this buck was not himself. He was withdrawn from the herd and made very little effort to eat and did a lot of laying around. I didn't notice anything wrong with him other than the change in his behavior. About two days after the change in his behavior I noticed a tennis ball size lump around the ear tag that was filled with infection. We immediately removed the ear tag which was very difficult to do on a grown buck that was in severe pain. After the ear tag was removed we squeezed out as much of the infection as we could, cleaned the ear with peroxide and sprayed it with iodine. We then gave him Pen G for the infection. If this would have been left unattended, this buck would have died from the infection. After treatment, the next day, the buck was eating and butting heads and acting like his usual self again. Be aware of the dangers and potential risks of using ear tags especially on goats because they are more active and mischeivious than most other livestock.
Worms are probably the #1 killer of goats. Be sure to check your herd often to avoid an infestation. You can deworm the goats that need it by, checking the color of their inside eyelids. The eyelids should be a medium pink to dark red color. If the goat has pale or white eyelids with little or no color, they need to be treated. In some cases of severe anemia due to worms goats may also need B12 injections. Deworming the whole herd when they don't need it, creates problems and not to mention the wasted money on wormers. The parasites build up a resistance to wormers and if you are deworming goats who don't need it, when they do need it, it will not work.
We recommend using Ivomec (Ivermectin) Injectable (for cattle); use 1cc per 75 pounds of body weight, and use it orally, do not inject it or it will be less effective and take longer to work. Worms are also climate specific so you may need to try different wormers to find the one that works best for your herd.
Also, pine trees and pine limbs are a good preventative measure for goats. Feed them pine trees or limbs year round, this will help control parasites. Back in the old days, people had worms because their foods weren't preserved like they are today. They used to eat pine pitch to control worms. Whitetail deer can live with parasites without being affected because they eat pine. A great time to get trees is around Christmas, ask your friends and family for their trees when they are done using them, they stay green for months. Also, if you know of a local pine tree farm (there are several in our area), often they cut trees that are too large for Christmas trees or they prune limbs from them and they will supply you with all the pine trees you can use for free. Make sure you inquire about the type of tree you are feeding to your goats, some trees are poisonous to goats such as Yew and Hemlock. If you suspect your goat has tape worms, they must be treated with a white wormer, such as Safeguard. Tape worms are much harder to kill and will require that you administer 3 times the dose of wormer to kill the tape worms. All goats have a certain amount of worms, controling them is the key factor.
Some people say that dehorning goats is inhumane. Dehorning goats is the most humane thing you can do for you and your herd if you are planning to work with your goats on a daily basis. Goats with horns are dangerous. Walking into a barn full of nannies with horns is like walking into a room full of pitchforks moving all around you. We dehorn all nannies because you work with nannies more than billies, and nannies with horns can easily kill the kids with one wrong move. Does with horns will often result in other goats with broken legs or inflamed knees from getting their legs caught between the horns. If you are planning to work with your goats or spend time with them, dehorning/disbudding is the only way to go. Dehorned does will also be friendlier than the does with horns, it seems to play an important part in their attitude.
We leave horns on the billies for leverage, if a billy desides to attack, you have some way of getting ahold of them and controling them until you are out of harms way. We dehorn all nannies when they are between 2 and 3 weeks old with an iron. If we buy a nanny with developed horns, our vet surgically dehorns them. The price to have them surgically dehorned is very reasonalbe (around $50 for 2 goats). And it isn't too hard on the animals either. The vet gives them a shot to constrict the blood vessels, and then he puts them to sleep, and then he simple cuts them off. The bleeding is minimal and the animals are ready to go home and eat within an hour. After the bandages are removed (about 2 days later) the goat is perfectly fine and doesn't seem to be in any pain. Evenually (within a couple of months) the wounds heal over and you can't even tell that they were dehorned. If you would like to see an example of this, visit the pygmy doe page and look at Rosa and Rachel. These goats were purchased in the spring with horns and the photos were taken approximately 4 months later. You can't even tell.
We dehorn using the Rhinehart X50 dehorning iron. First, the kids are given a shot of Tetanus Antitoxin (fast-acting tetanus - 2.5cc's), then, we use electric clippers to shave the hair around the horn buds. Next, the iron is placed on the horn bud for ten seconds. Then the iron is removed and we use the tip of the iron to knock the black cap off of the horn bud. Then the iron is placed back on the horn bud again for another five seconds. There will be a golden colored ring around the horn bud when it is done correctly. If you only have a half of a ring around the horn bud, apply pressure to the iron where there is no ring until a golden colored ring is formed to ensure the horn bud is completely killed. Please note that over time, the iron will build up ash residue that should be cleaned off with steel wool, this can sometimes cause you to not get that nice golden colored ring around the bud. We repeat this on the second horn bud and then spray the horn buds with Furall. If the kids scratch at the horn buds until they bleed, keep them sprayed with furall until the bleeding stops. Some kids seem to take it better than others but they all are fine in a couple of days. There is no fool-proof method to prevent scurs which are small pieces of horn that will grow even if the goat has been disbudded. Most often if a scur developes, at some point in the goats life when it is butting heads, the scur will break off and will not regrow again. Scurs seem to be more evident in show animals once all the hair is clipped around the head. Scurs that are attached to the skull can be cut back with a pair of side cutters a few weeks before the show. Don't cut them back until you are ready to show because once they are cut they grow even faster. If the scur is not attached to the skull and can be moved around below the skins surface, you can pull it out using a pair of pliers in a twisting motion and it will not grow back again. All dehorners are different, so dehorning times may vary according to the brand and size you purchase. Some dehorners require time to heat back up in between disbudding.
Higher Milk Production In Does
Urinary Calculi (Kidney Stones)
There are several things that you can do to help prevent Urinary Tract Calculi (Kidney Stones). This is a primary problem in bucks and wethers. Does also get kidney stones but because of their wide urinary tract, they are able to pass the stones without incident. We wait as long as possible to castrate our wethers because urinary tract growth is arrested at the time of castration. The earlier a buck is castrated, the greater the potential of urinary calculi. Our bucks are castrated at the time of weaning (8-10 weeks) with a steer bander, not at only a few weeks old as most breeders do.
Urinary Calculi is typically caused by mineral deposits in the goats drinking water, hay that is high in calcium such as alfalfa, or an imbalance in the grain.
Calculi builds up to obstruct the flow of urine and the results are often fatal if left untreated or not treated properly. The symptoms are easy to recognize, the buck will be straining to urinate and crying out in pain sometimes laying on their side and not wanting to get up. Listen to your animals they will tell you when something is wrong. Although, we use preventative measures for urinary calculi, we had our first case a couple years ago in a young buckling that we are raising for a breeder. After consulting with our vet, and telling him our plan of attack, with his aproval, here is what we did: We started to orally drench the young buckling with Ammonium Chloride (this can be purchased at www.thegoatstore.com - Hoegger Supply Company) use 2 teaspoons and mix it with 2 ounces (60 cc's) of water - give twice a day until urine flow is normal, after flow is normal give once a day up to 7 days. If the goat has water belly (bladder is swollen with fluids), only use 2 teaspoons of ammonium chloride mixed with about 10-12cc's of water so the bladder does not rupture. Continue administering as listed above only use small amount of water. Some goats will experience tremors as a result of being treated with the ammonium chloride but this side effect normally stops within an hour after being drenched. Goats are most likely to experience tremors if the ammonium chloride is given on an empty stomach or if they have water belly and less water is being used to drench. When drenching, be sure to only give small amounts at a time and allow the goat to swallow the fluid to avoid forcing fluids into the lungs.
The next step is painful and it will take several people to hold the animal while this is done so have plenty of help available. Use a clean surface and lay the animal on his side and hold him firmly so he cannot move or, sit him like a dog, whichever method is easier to get the penis out of the sheath. Have a very sharp pair of scissors sterilized, latex gloves, and a damp cloth. With the goat laying on his side do not have his back legs streched behind his body or his neck too far forward, this will make the penis harder to get out. You need to get the penis forced out by starting about 4" back and forcing it out until you see the tip and the fizzer (the fizzer is the very narrow tip of the urethra, often seen on mature bucks spinning as they urinate on their front legs) normally the fizzer is what prevents the stones from coming out of the urethra due to its very small opening, often times, it will be almost black looking in color because of the stones preventing blood flow (the skin is dying and it needs to be removed). You will need to hold the fizzer with a damp cloth and cut the fizzer off back as far as you can to allow the stones to come out, this does not effect the reproductive ability of the buck. There will be some slight bleeding for about a half hour. After the fizzer has been removed, you will need to administer long-lasting Penicillin G once a day for 3 days (dose according to weight), also give a shot of tetanus. After we started the drench and removed the fizzer, this young buck was urinating without pain within 16 hours. There are several preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risks of urinary calculi, they include mixing 1 1/2 lbs. of Ammonium Chloride to 25 lbs. of loose free choice minerals we recommend Sweetlix 16:8 Meat Maker Minerals and/or feeding medicated Blue Seal Meat Goat Grow & Finish DC Pellet with ammounium chloride or ADM Goat Power medicated feed. The young buckling that developed the urinary calculi had free choice minerals with ammonium chloride and was also fed the Blue Seal medicated feed, however, the stones were relatively soft and easily broken this could be part of the reason he has recovered so quickly. This buck today typically produces triplet kids with our does and has had no complications since. Since this time, we have preformed this surgery on other peoples goats with a 100% success rate, all have fully recovered quickly and are still alive and healthy today.
A Few Good Ideas
It is a good idea to keep detailed records of your herd, this may come in handy in the future. For example, if you have a sick goat, it is a good idea to keep a health record and write down the date, medication given, amount, and why. You may need to refer to this in the future if you have another goat that becomes ill with the same symptoms. It is also a good idea to have a wellness pen somewhere away from the healthy stock until the animal is well enough to go back out with the herd. Also, a wellness pen will save you the time of trying to catch the animal you are trying to treat. Believe me, they know when you want them. All we have to do to empty a barn in a hurry is walk in with latex gloves on and there wont be a goat to be found.
When building a barn, build it larger than you need, remember as your goats get bred and kid there will be more mouths to feed and they will need more room for bedding. If your animals have several acres available for pasture, during the summer months, give them a little bit of grain every evening to ensure that they will be bedded down in the barn at night and not somewhere where predators may lurk. This will also help you to see your stock to check for any injuries or illnesses.
It is also a good idea to vaccinate your herd with Bar Vac CD/T - 2cc per animal regardless of weight. Administer first dose then redose 21-30 days later, then anually after that. CD/T will protect your goats against overeating disease as well as vaccinate them for tetanus for a whole year just incase they happen to get a cut or injury. Do not give CD/T to show animals where it is visable, some animals will experience and injection sight reaction which will cause a lump that will remain for several months. Also, if you find the need to use Synergized Insecticide on your herd, some animals will experience significant hair loss as a reaction to this product, do not use it on show animals. Goats are more prone to lice or mites during the winter months.
It is also a good idea to have a goats water located outside of the barn somewhere will they will have to walk to get it. This will keep it cleaner longer.
It is a good idea to have a quarantine pen away from the rest of your animals to keep new goats in when you're building your herd. New additions to the herd should be quarantined for several months before being released into the herd to help ensure that they are disease free and healthy. Or, goats that are being shown should be quarantined after each show. Shows are a great place to pick up diseased or illnesses such as sore mouth, CL, pinkeye, Coccidiosis, lice, mange mites, ringworm, etc. If we are around other livestock, when we return home, our shoes are taken off in the vehicle and left there until they are disinfected, our clothing is put directly into the wash, and we shower immediately. Then, our shoes are disinfected and the vehicle is disinfected. We also have certain clothing and shoes that are worn to the barn and no where else to help ensure that our herd is protected. The more animals you have, the more cautious you have to be because of the investment that you have to protect.
Hoof trimming is probably the single most important thing that you will need to do with your goats, it is also the worst part of goat ownership. Proper trimming of the hoof is something that books and videos can't help you with, this only comes from experience. The more you trim, the better you will be at it. It is an aquired skill that takes lots of practice. When you begin to trim hooves, your goat may experience some slight bleeding and discomfort if you get them too short, be sure to have tetanus on hand incase bleeding occurs or vaccinate your animals with CD/T. You will need to stop trimming at the first sign of pinkness to prevent bleeding. Sometimes, you will have to trim a hoof over a several week period to get it correct without causing bleeding, only trimming a little at a time once or twice a week until it is correct. On hooves that are maintained, only trim excess growth with your trimmers shortening them a little at a time. If there is any sign of hoof rot, apply Hoof 'N Heel to the hoof to premote healing. On hooves that are not properly maintained, you may need to trim a little at a time over a several month period to get it corrected. If you have a goat that is walking incorrectly on its feet, trim the hoof wrong to begin with, trimming it the same way the goat is walking on it, then over time, straighten the cuts you are making until it is correct again. Most of the time, on hooves that are overgrown, the goat will walk on the heel and the heel will be curved under. Trim the heel first, taking more off of the heel than the toe, then gradually over time trim off the toe until it is level and straight with the heel and goat can stand with it flat on the ground.
Not trimming hooves can cripple a goat permanently. For Example, I am always willing to help and offer my experience to others when they need it. One day, I had a local man call me with a goat problem. He had a 2 year old doe that was limping and he didn't know why, so I traveled to his house to see if I could help. When I arrived right away, I noticed the doe was limping because of its hooves. This was by far the worst case of not trimming that I had ever seen. The front hooves were completely curled under and protruded towards the front of the doe sticking out approximately 10 inches. I was surprised that the doe was still able to walk at all. I went back home and gathered up my hoof trimmers, tree pruners, hoof pick, and Hoof 'N Heel. The hooves were so overgrown that I began by trimming off a good 8 inches with my tree pruners. I than began to trim with my hoof trimmers until I got the feet straight although they were still a little long. Because this was a young doe and her bones were still growing during the time that she was neglected, she was permanently crippled. Her front legs were arched like a rainbow because the bones grew that way from not walking properly. This is a prime example of why it is so important to keep up with trimming. Some trimming is better than none at all. Even if it is done incorrectly, it will cause less damage than not trimming at all.
Laminitis (Goats Walking On Knees)
Most goat breeders are unaware of what Laminitis is as well as the symptoms, although many goat producers are affected by this disease they dont know what it is or how to treat it. Laminitis is commonly found in horses, and is basically the same in goats. It is most common in the boer goat breed because of the pressure to produce meat and the intake of feed. Laminitis is the inflammation of the ankles (lamellar tissues) which is caused by consuming large amounts of protein on a daily basis.
My experience with this disease was a few years ago. I had five young doelings that I was raising for breeders and they had a creep feeder where they could eat grain and hay at their leisure without having to compete for feed with the mature does. With the first doeling, I noticed that she would walk out to graze with her mother, once they reached the spot in which to graze, she would eat on her front knees while her back legs were standing upright. From time-to-time she would walk on her knees to get to a different area to graze. At first, I just thought this was cute and she was lazy. As time went on, she used her front knees more often. We trimmed her hoofs, and made sure there was nothing between the toes that would be causing her to walk on her knees, but yet she continued to spend a great deal of time using her front knees instead of her feet. We finally decided that maybe it was something genetic wrong with her since there was no logical reason for her to be doing this, so we sent her for slaughter. Then, it wasnt but about a week later and another one to the young doelings started doing the same thing. At this point, we realized that we had a major problem. This little doeling was "our little pet" so sending her for meat was out of the question. We took her to see our vet. After checking her, our vet said that it was Laminitis. He said that her ankles were inflamed, that was why she was walking on her knees. If the knee joints would have been inflamed she wouldnt be putting pressure on them, he also said that it wasnt CAE (Caprine Arthritis). I had never even heard of Laminitis at this point and was not satisfied with the answer he gave us. We had him do extensive blood tests, testing for everything from A-Z and sending all the blood work to the state lab. We thought that maybe it was caprine arthritis or something drastic. The tests were all done at the Harrisburg State lab and everything came back negative. Our vet told us that Laminitis generally happens to young animals who are fed high amounts of grain and protein to pressure them to gain weight such as boer goats. It is also common when feeding a molasses based feed such as horse feed or sweet feed. After all the test results came back negative we decided to listen to the vet. We took out the creep feeder. Stopped giving the goats grain and replaced it with a Sweetlix protein and mineral block which is the correct balance of protein and minerals that a goat needs. And we fed them as much hay as they wanted. Within a couple of weeks the problem was corrected and we havent ever had this problem since.
Of course, the kids only get a creep feeder now until they reach about 2 months of age. I have talked to several goat producers since this experience and some of them have told me that they had kids with the same symptoms and they just assumed it was Caprine Arthritis and then I realized that this is not just an isolated incident but there are several other people who have had this happen and are unaware of this condition and how to treat it. Laminitis is the onset of Foundering, it is not contagious and can not be transmitted from one animal to another, it is simply a feed imbalance, and can be easily dealt with by restricting the feed intake. Our little pet doe (Buttons) that we took to the vet is now one of our brood does and has never had any problems since.
Things Every Goat Owner Should Keep On Hand
Here are some things that every goat owner should have. It is a good idea to have a cheap tool box or kit with some basic kidding items in it, you may not have time to gather up the things you need when a doe is in labor.
Pet Goat Owners:
Breeding Goat Owners:
Bottle Feeding Kids
Bottle feeding kids is not recommended unless it is necessary for the kid to survive, such as if the mother dies shortly after giving birth or becomes too ill to care for the kid, or if the mother refuses to accept the kids. Bottle feeding requires a lot of time and a total commitment to the kid. It is best to feed the kid at the same time of day during each feeding. Feeding often, will produce much better results and a much healthier kid. It is best to use a milk replacer designed specifically for goats such as Land-O-Lakes, Ultra 24, or real goats milk. DO NOT USE SAV-A-KID! The Sav-A-Kid product will kill goat kids. Goat kids have different needs than other animals. Lamb milk replacer is too high in fat and calf milk replacer is too low in protein for goat kids. If you are using a powdered milk replacer, make sure that each time before you fill the bottle with milk, you stir the mixture very well. Some powdered milk replacers will have sediment settle in the bottom of the container. This means that the mixture is not correct and will often cause diarrhea in young kids.
If milk replacer is not available, you can make your own by mixing: 1 gallon of whole milk, 1 can evaporated milk, and 1 cup of buttermilk (Take the gallon of milk, pour out about 1/3 and set aside.) Pour into the gallon container 1 can evaporated milk and 1 cup buttermilk. Then pour the rest of the milk that you set aside in to the gallon container until full. Shake and serve warm. Using this recipe, you can raise a healthy kid without ever switching to powdered milk replacer. Or, this works great if the local feed store is closed and you dont have any milk replacer on hand. Make sure that bottles and nipples are thoroughly cleaned before each use. If you have kids that you are supplementing with a bottle because the doe is not producing enough milk, only feed them what they will readily eat. The amounts will vary each time you offer them a bottle depending on how much milk the doe is producing. Refer to the charts below for feeding amounts.
Boer Goat Kid Feeding Chart
|Day 1||Colostrum||4-6 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 2||Colostrum||5-7 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 3||Milk Replacer||6-8 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 4-9||Milk Replacer||9-11 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 10-20||Milk Replacer||15 oz.||3 times a day|
|Day 21- Weaning||Milk Replacer||20 oz.||3 times a day|
Pygmy Goat Kid Feeding Chart
|Day 1||Colostrum||2-3 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 2||Colostrum||3-4 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 3-9||Milk Replacer||4-5 oz.||4 times a day|
|Day 10-20||Milk Replacer||5-6 oz.||3 times a day|
|Day 21- Weaning||Milk Replacer||7-8 oz.||3 times a day|
***Please keep in mind, the above charts are for reference only. Different size and gender kids will eat different amounts. Depending on the size and growth potential of the kid you are feeding you may need to adjust the above amounts accordingly. If diarrhea occurs as a result of over feeding, decrease the amount of milk you are feeding until diarrhea has stopped.
***Colostrum is mothers first milk. Colostrum needs to be fed the first 2 days after birth because it contains antibodies, sugars, fats, and vitamins essential to insure that kids get off to a healthy start. You can buy powdered colostrum or if you have a doe that is a heavy milker, put some in a container and freeze it for future use. If the doe has died shortly after giving birth, milk the colostrum from her to use for the orphan kids.
Sometimes it is difficult to get kids started on a bottle. The younger the kid, the easier it is to get them started on a bottle. Kids are ready to eat when you put your finger in their mouth and they begin to suck it. Cover their eyes with your one hand and put the nipple in their mouth with your other hand. Covering their eyes simulates the natural darkness that they experience while standing under their mother and often times when the eyes are covered, they readily accept the bottle. After they have been on a bottle for a few days, they will accept it without having to cover their eyes.
Kids will cry when they are hungry and stop sucking when they are full, don't force them to eat. Between day 21 and weaning age, kids will seem to want more milk than you are feeding them. Do not feed them more milk during this time. Your goal at this time is to leave the kid feeling somewhat hungry so they will begin to eat hay, grass, and grain. The goal you are working towards is gradually weaning them so they will be solely dependent on hay, grass, grain, and water, filling them up on milk will hinder this process. Weaning age is between 8 and 10 weeks of age. It is best to wean kids gradually. For example, instead of feeding 3 times a day go to 2 times a day, then 1 time a day, until they are weaned from the bottle. You can also fill the bottle with water while you are weaning them and then stop the bottle all together.
Weak Kids & Tube Feeding:
Selecting A Fence
Selecting a fence that best suites your needs and the needs of your livestock is one of the single most important decisions that you will have to make for your herd. Keep in mind when you are selecting a type of fence, not only will you be trying to keep your goats in but you will also have to consider what types of predators are in your area and how to keep them out. Afterall, the welfare of your goats depends on your decision and how you protect them. The small investment that you make in a fence is protecting the large investment that you have in your livestock, dont select a fence just because it is cheap, think about how effective it will be.
Woven wire fences are not a good idea if your goats have horns. Often times goats with horns or collars will get caught in the woven wire fence and the results can sometimes be fatal. If using woven wire fence, it is recommended that you have electric fence ran on the outside and inside of the woven wire to keep goats from getting caught in it and predators away from the fence.
Wooden fences often leads to goats finding a way out and are generally not a good idea for mischievous goats. Dont select a fence that a predator can easily climb over or have anything setting close to the perimeter of the fence that will allow a predator easy access.
For our fencing we selected 6 strands of electric fence placed close together on metal T-posts. If you are using an electric fence, make sure you buy a heavy duty fencer that will produce plenty of punch when something gets close to it. There is also a handy little tool that you can purchase at Tractor Supply Store for around $20. It is a light that hangs on the electric fence wire and flashes if the fence is not working properly. It is well worth the money to alert you when something isnt working right. Be sure to select a fence that is high enough so nothing can jump over the fence. If you are still concerned about predators, you can also place a radio in the barn and leave it on all the time. Wild animals will not come to the sound of human voices.
Poisonous Plants To Goats
Selecting The Proper Goat For Your Needs
There are many things to consider when selecting a goat. First you have to decide if you are looking to purchase a show goat, breeding stock, or pet.
When selecting a show goat, here are a few things you may want to look for: *straight back *check to see if the goat stands flat on its feet with legs straight underneth it *select a goat that will meet the size requirements for the class you are wanting to participate in *consider the parents and genetic characteristics of the goat *look for lenght and meat content *don't select a show animal soley based on color.
If you are selecting breeding stock you will want to consider: *age of the goat-select a goat that is young enough to give you many years of production *udders in does (in my experience the number of teats does not affect the ability to raise health kids) look for does that have high milk production and do not have a fat or flattened teat that young kids will be unable to suck *also look for teats that leak, if the teat is leaking, valuable feed for the young kids is being wasted *don't buy a doe that has mastitis (we haven't ever had a case of mastitis in our herd) *don't buy breeding stock from an auction (most animals with problems go to an auction, and if they don't have problems, they are exposed to other animals with problems and diseases at an auction house) *look at musceling and genetic traits *one myth is that a goat that is natural polled is not fertal, in my experience, I have several natural polled goats and they are some of the most fertal animals I own producing twins and triplets every 7-8 months *select a buck that has two testicals, it has been known to happen that some are born with only one greatly decreasing their breeding ability *select a buck that shows interest in the does, most good bucks will show an interest at a very early age *when breeding a doe or buck be sure if the first results are disappointing, give them a second chance and breed them again, often times the second time will produce better results.
If you are selecting a pet, choose a goat that has a personality suitable to you and one that you are able to maintain and properly care for.
Do's & Don'ts For Show Goats
Do - Select a goat that has a straight back and is square on its feet with a nice overall appearance.
Do - Select a goat that has good muscle tone and condition. A good foundation will make it easier to build on.
Do - Select a goat that is dehorned or disbudded. Most shows are now requiring animals to be dehorned for show and you don't want to purchase a goat and find out later that the rules have been changed and your goat is ineligible for show.
Do - Make sure that the breeder is enrolled in the State Scrapie Tag Program. Shows are now requiring most show animals to be Scrapie Tagged regardless if they are tattooed or registered. Even though the State program does not require animals to be tagged if they are tattooed or permanently identified, or registered from the farm they were born, or if it is a castrated male, individual shows are requiring them to be tagged for show. You don't want to purchase a goat and not be able to show it because you can not get a tag for it.
Do - If your show goat is dehorned or disbudded, sometimes a Scur will appear. Scurs are small pieces of horn that will continue to grow even though the animal has been dehorned. Feel the scur to see if it is attached to the skull of the animal or if it will move freely under the skin. If the scur moves, remove the scur with a pair of pliers by twisting it off as soon as the growth is noticed (this should be done to a scur less than 1/2"). If the scur is larger than 1/2" or attached, it can be cut back with a pair of side cutters, the area will bleed and should be sprayed with Furall and also the animal should be given antibiotics as a preventative measure to protect against infection. Scurs are very noticeable in the show ring when the animal is clipped and makes for an unsightly appearance.
Do - Clip your goats entire body for show and square up the tail.
Do - Before showing your goat, have several of your friends or other family members feed and pet your goat so it will get used to being handled by someone other than you. This will prevent goats that act wild in the show ring.
Do - Exercise your goat above its normal daily activity. Some people do this by having a herd dog chase the goat in a round pen with the dog on the outside of the pen. Some kids will teach their goats to run along beside their bikes while they are riding. Anything extra will help build muscle.
Do - Work with the animal prior to the show. Practice setting up the animal and squaring up the legs. Legs should not be placed to far in front or behind the animal but should be straight and square under the animals body. Practice leading the goat and making it go where you want it to, not where it wants to go.
Do - About one month before the show start adding a little bit of corn or some extra protein to the animals diet. This will put a nice thin layer of fat over the muscle that can be seen but not felt and it will finish the animal nicely in time for show. Change the diet very gradually to prevent upsetting the rumen.
Do - Keep good eye contact with the judge and pay attention.
Do - Keep the animal set up at all times even if you have already been placed in the category. Sometimes judges will change their minds about the placement of animals and you could still move up in the category.
Don't - Use a lead in the show ring. Using a lead does not allow you to have complete control over the animal. Use a show collar.
Don't - Clip your goat too short. Leave a little bit of hair so that the skin is covered. A little lenght to the hair will make the animal appear to have more depth and definition.
Don't - Pen up the goat prior to show. Animals that are restricted will loose muscle tone which will be replaced by fat. Animals need exercise to produce muscle. Limited exercise will lead to underdeveloped muscles and a poorly conditioned goat.
Don't - Step overtop of the animal in the show ring. Don't lay your hands on the animal other than to set it up.