Terminology: Buck/billy: a male goat
Doe/nanny: female goat
Kid: is a baby goat
Wether: castrated Buck
Rut: buck in “heat”
Rumen: goat stomach, vat, where all the digestive action is.
Cud: food brought back up and chewed again A few facts:
*Goats are herd animals...they do best with a goat companion.
*Bucks can and will breed between 2-4 months depending on breed
*Does can get pregnant as young as 3 months old, never keep her with a buck
*Goats are Browsers not grazers. This means they thrive on trees, vines, leaves, bush and brier, like deer. They will graze, but this is not their natural food and will not provide the variety they need unless you plant purposely for them.
*Goats poop and pee ALL THE TIME..and if it touches their hay or feed dishes, this can cause issues..goats wont eat hay they soiled, and its not good if they did...their feet step on poop berries..then step in food transferring worms and/or eggs in their food source and back in their system...HAY and FEED dishes..need to be off the ground and kept clean
General Care: First let me say...GOATS DO NOT EAT ANYTHING, NOR SHOULD THEY...this is a myth. Goats need a balance diet...they are not garbage eaters...buy horse quality when buying hay and alfalfa..
It surprises me how many times I go out and pick up strings and plastic junk from my goats pen..how it gets there I will never know lol...but please be aware..goats feel with their lips..they are curious creatures..take a look around their area..pick up empty bags, jugs, strings, paper, used syringes that fall out of our pocket ( I know, but it happens), remove or fix broken feeders, water dishes, check for wires on the ground or sticking out from gates and so forth, rake up poop berries often..Look over their area like your Mother in Law is coming and she wants to see everything lol !! Keeping the goats area clean helps keep them healthy and safe.. Hoof trims should be done every 1-2 months..some need more often while other can go longer between. Learn the need of your herd.
Health Checks should be done monthly. Brush them out well looking for lice, lumps, bumps and boo boos. It's a good time for one on one. Its a good idea to watch your buck pee. Look to see if they are peeing a strong steady stream, if not, see our Urinary calculi file ASAP...Although this needs to be done often, (I check every time I have my hands on them) its a good time to check lower inner eye lids for color, are they deep pink to red or pale? I like to take temps every so often as well...lets me get to know what each goats “normal” temp is for them so if they act well I know. 101.5-102.5 is normal range, but some run lower while other higher...make notes so you know in times of need. NOTE: A Sub temp is an emergency situation! Call a vet ASAP and start warming the goat up. Housing should be a safe draft free dry place for them to get out of the rain and wind. It should be kept clean and dry. Bedding can be pine chips, straw, horse bed pellets or clean, mold free hay. Always nice to add elevated areas to get off the cold wet ground..some choose pallets and buckets..its also a good way to used leaky water troughs, just place on side or upside down. Always be sure any that can be turned over is secured well. Think Toddler proof : )
Breeding: Kids can and do breed as young as 2 1/2-3 months old NEVER HOUSE BUCKS WITH KID DOES!! This can end badly. Its better for Bucks to have their own pen until breeding time comes. Bucks should have a companion, either another buck or wether. Please read our Choosing a buck file.
Water: Goats can be picky about their water and dehydration is serious. Be diligent in keeping water source clean and fresh, scrubbing containers daily.
Hay should be offered free choice when natural browse is not available. ALWAYS offer hay off the ground...Hay should be free of mold, should not have bugs or stickers..weedy hay is fine..goats love a variety of weeds...make sure its not night shade or other plants that maybe harmful.
Alfalfa source. Whether you feed Alfalfa pellets, hay or chaffhaye, feed it every day to all goats..even bucks. It helps bring calcium to their diet. This is very important. Buck Need alfalfa too...i cant tell you how many times I hear some one say, “I was told alfalfa is not good for bucks” This is not true. They do need alfalfa to help prevent Urinary Calculi. There is a Urinary calculi file, be sure to read it...but for now...YES..feed alfalfa to all your goats. Again...buy horse quality...don’t let some one sell you “ goat/cow quality” junk. ALWAYS make food changes slowly..over a weeks time at least...
Grain source. Not everyone needs grain. Bucks, Wethers and Does out of service do not need the extra calories as long as they are in good condition. For kids: a quality 14-16% protein pellet/seed mix 2 times a day... Does in milk or bred: 14% pellet or seed mix 2 times a day. Buck in service would benefit from a 14 % pellet or seed mix once a day. I do not ever recommend sweet feed. Its high in molasses and much like feeding your human kids sugary cereal. If we need to feed. Choose quality. And always feed in Feeders OFF the ground. CORN a small amount of cracked corn is ok if you feel they need extra calories..but do not over feed corn. Corn is pretty empty of nutrients and offer little in the goats diet. Over feeding corn can cause Acidosis or cause ruminal shut down. Never feed whole corn as its too hard on their teeth.
Loose minerals are needed out free choice..find a loose mineral for goats or cows..should have at least 1500 PPMs of copper in it. Do not buy multi species or sheep minerals...it will never have enough copper. DO not use blocks..they are high in salts and hard on their teeth and tongue. Other few foods some like to add: please note: when adding things to your goats feed, do not replace part of the feed, instead add it additionally so not to “dilute” the pellet feed. For ex: if I feed one cup of feed to my Doe, I would add maybe a ¼ cup BOSS...so now she has 1 ¼ cup of feed.
BOSS, Black oil Sun flower seeds...a good source of fat and selenium...add ¼ cup per goat based on size.
Kelp, a sea weed that offers many healthy benefits, Calcium, Copper, Dietary Sodium, Fiber, Folate, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Pantothenic Acid, Riboflavin, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Zinc feed this some what free choice...what I mean is..dished out portion per head and offer in feeders fro them to grab and go. Maybe ¼oz per 50# is recommended or 2% of ration. This can be top dressed to assure each gets their portion. Feeding free choice is often needed when we can feed each goat separately “Cattle, sheep and goats tend to self-regulate free-choice consumption of Thorvin to levels consistent with recommended rates. In some cases, animals will consume larger than normal quantities, but this binge typically only lasts 30-60 days, depending on the animal's mineral status. If higher consumption continues beyond 60 days, mix Thorvin with salt, one-to-one, to reduce intake, and consult your nutritionist. When feeding Thorvin free-choice, provide one covered mineral feeder for every 25-30 cows and every 40-50 sheep or goats. Also make sure animals have access to salt and clean water.”
EVOO ( Ex. Virgin olive oil) is great to add fat in a thin goat...EVOO is good food. Drizzle just a little over pellet source to add needed fat
ACV ( Apple cider vinegar) is a wonderful food for our goats. Add it to one water source..I like to add about a cup or 2 to our 5 gallon buckets..my goats are used to it and love it. Some will drink from the jar while I pour it....but if they are new to ACV go slow..increase over a time..ACV has many wonderful benefits..Rich in enzymes & potassium;Support a healthy immune system,Promotes digestion & ph Balance,Helps remove body sludge toxins plus they love the taste and drink more fluids...win win.
Im sure there are other foods people add...always ADD not replace and go slow..know portions needed..read labels and don’t follow the crowed..just because farmer Jones does it does not mean its ok...always ask some one you trust in the matter.
Having a few meds or herbs/oils on hand can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency. We have a file on medicines and the doses. Take a few minutes to read through “the medicine Box” file to see what you need to have on hand NOW and what you can add as needed. Knowing each and everyone of you goats is key to knowing when they are not well, or missing..we do a head count several times a day. If one is not with the herd, I go looking to see why.. Something is not right? a goat off to himself, head down, tail tucked, off feed, dirty bum, dull eyes, coarse dull coat, runny eyes, snotty nose, Hunched appearance coughing..pulling head to one side, circling, eye twitching, back legs weak, left side of belly is HUGE and hard..laying on side, cant get up, swollen face/chin...not chewing a cud... ALWAYS start with a temp..101.5-103.5 is normal range, AGAIN,low temps are serious. Call your vet asap and start warming the goat up..DO NOT WAIT...check lower inner eye lids for color..you want deep pink to red color..pale lids mean anemia. High temp means infection, low temp can mean ruminal problems..but sometimes can mean silent pneumonia...assess the whole picture...Many times by the time we see a goat ill they are far past help...knowing each herd member and when they are not acting right can mean the difference between life and death...spend time with your herd. Know the signs. Raising goats is a challenging experience...but rewarding...Our FB sight is here to help you in your journey...ask questions, emergency situations or share in happy moments ...But you also need a vet..one who will work with you and help you care for your goats and get you the meds you may need. Vets wont always agree with advice given by goat owners..trust your gut!