Thursday, January 26, 2012

Goat Care (Part 1)

So I am going to attempt to cover what I do in caring for my goats..
Its part conventional, natural and common sense....
At least I hope so!
I have also included a few baby pics..
First up is Ms Robin!
She is a bottle baby BUT thats her momma!
Even though she hasnt nursed for several weeks she likes her.

First up on goat care is nutrition....
 We will start with Hay/Pasture.. Right now its winter there is very little if any pasture left on our little place here.So we are supplying all their hay served daily...I feed a weedy/grassy mix. I feel that is best for goats and closest to their most natural diet.. My hay guy delivers one 1200lb 6X6 round bale which he places on its side for me on the hay tarp.Then we peel it off and haul with the wheel barrow..They get about 2 large wheel barrow full daily in the winter time. I go through at the most a bale a month and it drops in the summer.  I average about 20 bales a year.. Dropped my hay bale by 2/3rds when I switched from square bales to round.. That's for 14 babies,3 youngsters and 6 adults.This hay I get has no chemicals on it.. No fertilizers or pesticides.. Only thing he does is lime it, then bales whatever grows that year.. My goats give him a big hardy thumbs up!

They do not eat that much hay daily But we keep hay racks full..When its cold they eat on it almost constantly..At night while they are eating their grains I flip the hay around so they eat on it at night too..
 This is my panel hay rack. Simply a smaller piece of panel hung on the wall of the barn Securely then filled with hay.... Spring/Summer time I keep a little hay available mostly to avoid bloat.

This is my other hay rack.. Its the cage to one of those tanks that they haul things like feed molasses or fish oil in.. I simply unbolted the top slide the tank out and took a few other little things out and I had a hay rack.. I can add a top to it and put it outside if needed.. Cold/wet weather its in the barn... As you can see its a great place to hide your head in.... They will eat holes in the hay ... I come along and fluff it then there is a new place to eat... This is making a wall of the babies pen right now so they have hay all the time. 

You need lots of hay rack space so those goats lower on the totem pole don't get pushed away from the rack and then you have hungry goats and then other problems..Plenty of space means there is always another place to eat if some one gets over bearing and bossy... I have about 20ft all together of hay rack head space. That's for all the goats I have right now..

So why a hay rack??? Goats are very well known for their ability to waste hay! They will eat it, paw it to death, sleep in it, then promptly poo and pee in it... Then its nasty and they are not eating THAT stuff!.. IF they do eat it you are likely to start a parasite cycle.. So to reduce waste and help break a parasite cycle get their hay up off the ground or where they cant poo & pee in it... 
 Cutie break...
Ms Rachel.... She is quite adventurous.. 

On to Minerals....
Most anywhere you go you are going to be deficient in some sort of mineral..
Goats are highly susceptible to Copper deficiency..As you can see in this pic the bare tail tip and the reddish colored hair both signs of Copper deficiency..  I have been treating Copper deficiency with Copasure  for a few years. You kind of have to experiment to see how much they need.. I go by the cow/calf dose per pound on the package to start with, some will need more.. Copasure is Copper Oxide needles that embed in stomach and slowly leach off copper.. Copasure however is expensive and then you have to break open capsules and refill..
 Copper sulfate is much more cost effective BUT is more easily overdosed and dangerous.. However that is the type of copper in most minerals..  I am still working on using the Copper sulfate.. I currently use Sweet Lics Meat maker Goat mineral. It has around 1800ppm of Copper available in it.. It helps with the copper deficiency but is not quite enough.. Goats need copper to fight off parasites. If  a goat is having difficulties with parasites it may need copper supplemented. 

 Then there is Selenium Deficiency.. Its a hard one.. Because if you overdose there is NOTHING you can do except give supportive therapy and pray it works.. But at the same time its responsible for a whole lot of stuff.. Tangled kids, birthing issues, recurring pneumonia, folded hooves in kids, severe difference in kid size.... I had several of these things happening in my herd when  I figured out they were having trouble. At the time the mineral I could find with the most Selenium was like 2-3 ppm. That is not enough if you are in a deficient area.. The Sweet Lics I use has 50 ppm.. I am hoping to have to give less and less BoSe shots the more I use this mineral.. A good simple link for Mineral deficiencies is Lots of easily understood advice... Selenium always needs to be given with Vit E....
 I leave minerals out free choice and if I think they need more I sprinkle a little over their feed. I also put out trace mineral salt blocks and a protein block..
  Now for Grains OR Concentrates as some people  call them....
 For years I fed a 16% Dairy cattle feed.. Usually mixing either some oats or BOSS(Black Oil Sunflower Seeds) in with it. They did okay but this year I tried to go Non GMO... So I am feeding a mix of Steam crimped oats, Alfalfa Pellets and Wheat Mids.. Its a slightly lower percentage of protein but they are doing well on it.. But they dont like the alfalfa pellets.. However they LOVE Rabbit pellets.. Guess what the main ingredient is on our rabbit pellets??? You got it Alfalfa meal!!! So I have been adding it to the feed mix.. It has a few vitamins and minerals added to it but nothing that will be to much for goats.. ALWAYS read Labels!! Right now my mix is 1 part alfalfa(till this bag is gone) 1 Part wheat mids, 1 part Rabbit pellets and 3 parts Steamed crimped oats. All are a NON-GMO.. I feed youngsters(6 months and up) about 1lb a day, pregnant does 2-3lbs a day, milkers 2-3lbs a day plus 1lb for every 2-3 lbs of milk they produce and babies get a little bit each day till they really start eating it..  I leave it in a bucket in their pen to nibble at all day.. By a month old they are usually eating a couple of tablespoons each.   Hay they usually start with in the first week at least nibbling at it. Some on tried to tell me that rumens aren't active till they are 8 weeks old.. Um Don't think so You can hear those bellies working if they are getting enough to eat on hay too.!!. Mine usually are eating hay on a regular basis by 2 weeks old  If its available to them they will taste it and start eating it much sooner. Especially if left with mom or where they can see other goats.
 I will cover deworming, pasture rotation and natural alternatives next blog post.... I will try not to go to long between postings! Things are starting to get into more of routine now that the sick babies are doing better and the new ones have settled in.. Some are almost old enough to drop to one less bottle a day! YEAH!!

Lamentations 3:24
The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him.


Savories of Life said...

I do not have goats but this was very interesting. I live in Mo too. Come over!

V.L. Locey said...

Great tips for new goatherders and those of us who have had goats for awhile!

Brenda said...

Great post! It's always interesting to read how someone else is caring for their goats.

Anonymous said...

I already know this info. since I help raise goats with my parent's.



matty said...

I love hearing how other folks raise their goats! I always learn something, don't you?? The one thing I wish we could stop in our stable is the hay wasting. There is so much of that, isn't there?? We only have problems with the bucks being bullies over the hay!

Can't wait to see what we learn tomorrow!

I adore the babies, by the way! Sooooo pretty!

Blondee said...

Informative post! Brought me back to when I was a girl and we raised goats. :)