I have been working on a quick reference pamphlet to send off with goats I sell in hopes that it will help new goat owners get off on the right foot.
I want something short, simple, and easy to read. Most everything is available online and I am not trying to rewrite it all here. Any suggestions?
Congratulations on your purchase of a Hammock Haven goat. We want your new baby to grow up to be everything we know he or she can be! We have heard it said that a great goat is 20% genetics, 80% management. Here are a few tips to get you off on the right foot.
Feeding:We have all heard that goats will eat anything. Whoever said that has never had goats! Goats are browsers like deer not grazers like sheep. You cannot throw them out on pasture and expect them to flourish.
The biggest contributor to your goat’s diet is forage, AKA Hay. The veterinarians at Auburn University taught me early that if there is one place to spend extra money, it is on the hay. Consider it this way, if you feed poor quality hay, you need to make up for the extra calories and nutrients in more grain and supplements, which cost money. If you start out with a high quality hay, they will not need as much supplementation.
Types of Hay
Legume Hay: Your dairy goat will do best on legume hay: alfalfa, perennial peanut, or clover. You may have to look outside your neighborhood to find these varieties, but it is worth it.
Grass Hay: If you feed grass hay, you will need to supplement with a form of legume hay such as alfalfa pellets or Chaffhaye.
Rye Grass: I would say this is their favorite kind of grass hay.
Bermuda: My goats generally do not prefer this but will eat it in a pinch.
Fescue: Do not feed this hay. It is not good for them and especially causes trouble for pregnant goats.
Other: Mine love a weedy mix of rye and Bahia.
I use both square and round bales. Round bales can be more cost effective, just be sure they are kept under cover so they do not mold. I like to wrap a cattle panel around mine so the goats don’t play in it. Be sure that all hay is not moldy.
Mold will kill a goat! A note on feeding kids: Kids are programmed to have rapid growth in the first several months of life. It is important to capitalize on these high-growth months for your goat to reach her full potential. They should gain a minimum 10 pounds a month.
Grain: All of our goats get a 16% protein goat ration. The amounts are going to be based on your goat’s body condition and the quality of forage they have. Brand, pellet vs. sweet, it’s really up to you. Your local feed store is usually more affordable than Tractor Supply.
Milkers: 2-4 pounds a day based on body condition and milk production.
Kids: 1-2 pounds a day.
Bucks: 1-2 pounds a day when growing or in rut. You can back off some on grown bucks not in rut.
Pregnant doelings: These girls are still growing themselves and need the calories to support their growth and the growth of their kids.
Dry does: Grain as needed based on body condition.
Pregnant does: Continue to grain while milking. Back off as milk production drops. Increase again in the last 30 days of pregnancy.
Do not let your goat get into the grain, especially the chicken feed. They WILL eat themselves TO DEATH!!! Alfalfa Pellets: These are great to have around for some extra calories, treats, or to supplement grass hay. They are not a replacement for long fiber hay, but I always have a bag around.
Beet Pulp: This will put weight on underweight does. I usually just give it to bucks in rut to help keep them in condition.
Minerals: Again, this is what works for your farm. I always use a loose mineral not a block. Goats cannot get enough from a block before they give up trying. I have used several brands, but like the Caprine Supply minerals best. Fresh minerals should be available at all times. They will get picky and stop eating them if they’ve been left out too long.
Baking Soda: I offer baking soda once a week alongside the minerals to help them regulate the acid in their rumens.
Parasite Control: If you have a goat, you have worms. Some worm load is normal. It is important that you assess your goat’s condition on very frequent basis. Assess body and coat condition daily. Check to be sure eyelids are pink at least weekly. To learn how to do this, search up FAMACHA Score. There are many great tutorials and videos online.
When in doubt, bring a fecal sample to your vet. Most vets will do this for around $15.
Parasites are especially bad in warm wet weather. Check condition often. Utilize dry lots and rotational grazing when possible.
Types of Parasites:Round worms: These are arguably the most dangerous, especially Barber Pole worm. Effective wormers to treat this are Ivermectin, Moxidectin (Quest horse gel or Cydectin sheep drench), and Valbazen. Do not use Valbazen in pregnant does! Give wormers, even injectable wormers, orally for goats.
Tape Worms: If you see segments in their poop, they have tape worms. This is common in kids. It can be treated with Equimax Horse wormer or Valbazen. Do not use Valbazen in pregnant does!
Coccidia: This is the biggest killer of kids. Even if they do not have a symptomatic case, the buggers are causing damage to the gut and robbing your baby of nutrients. I feed all my kids medicated feed up to 4-5 months. Do not feed medicated feed to your milking does.
*****You MUST treat your kids for coccidia for them to reach their full potential!****
Every 6 weeks, do a preventative treatment of Baycox (I buy this on Horseprerace.com) or Dimethox.
Active cases, treat immediately with Baycox or Dimethox. The kid will usually have dark green or black diarrhea.
Lice: These little blood suckers can be tough on kids. Part fur and check skin frequently. If you see white nits or lice, dust with Sevin dust and comb through. A flea comb will remove most of them. If it’s warm, you can clip the fur so lice don’t have a place to hide. Clean and dust bedding as well.
Mites: Mites require an injection of Ivermectin.
Shelter & FencingShelter doesn’t need to be fancy. It needs to be dry and to block the wind. Goats HATE to be wet.
You will need a good woven wire or cattle panel fence. Barbed wire is dangerous and will not contain a goat. Electric fencing is best used in conjunction with a good fence.
Medications & Other Links
I am not going reinvent the wheel here. You will need a well-stocked goat medicine cabinet. Lists of medications, and their uses are available online.
I highly recommend you read Fiascofarm.com in its entirely. She has done a great job documenting every facet of goat care.
There are several Facebook groups for goat care. I like Goat Health and Care.
Tennesseemeatgoats.com has a lot of good articles. They generally have very a very aggressive treatment strategy.
You will also need a good veterinarian. This can be a challenge because most vets know very little about small ruminants. Start looking for one, ASAP!