Getting weight on an old lady goat? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 01-02-2014, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
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Getting weight on an old lady goat?

I figured I would post here and see if anyone had any new ideas/thoughts for me.
We're getting to the point in the winter where it's REALLY a struggle to keep weight on my old girl [same thing happened last winter, though I caught it faster this year. However, she seems to have lost weight more quickly this year] and, since I care about her, I'm worried!

Basically, the goat in question is turning 11 in April [but she's an OLD 11 - like a horse that acts 35 at 20], is missing at least one molar and a front tooth [I found the molar when she lost it. She had a hard life prior to me so there might be more missing molars - not sure], is an Angora, and is up to date on minerals/worming/hoof care/etc. She's also EXTREMELY arthritic but I feed her a glucosamine/yeast supplement that really seems to help.

She lives with my horse and a younger Alpine-cross wether in a 6 acre pasture full of hills. She's stalled at night during the winter, with the wether. In their stall, I'm doing the layered bedding, or whatever that is, approach - where you pile fresh bedding [hay, in this case] on top of the old so decomposition creates warmth. She LOVES that, it's actually warm-ish and it's probably her favorite thing.

On to food:
I had been feeding, for the pair of goats, 1 flake of local grass hay and a flake of alfalfa every 2 days in a "slow feed hay net" - the kind with 2x2 holes since it actually seems to be perfect for goats to eat normally out of.
However, I'm not sure how much of that she actually eats and how much she just picks at.
I was talking to a lady at the feedstore today and she suggested that I should possibly cut down on the alfalfa since, due to Hazel's missing teeth, she might unable to actually fully digest the hay that she is eating but that the hay she's eating is making her feel too full to eat enough pelleted feed. I'm not sure what I think of that, but it does seem very mildly logical. But at the same time, I'm skeptical.

On the "grain" side:
I don't like to feed grain-grain. I'm a horse person first and, while I know the two are totally different, I really prefer to stick to forage-based "stuff". Not to mention than my tack/feed/storage room is REALLY small [12x5] and feeds that everyone can eat save space!
That being said, in the morning, I had been feeding her about 1/2lb of soaked beet pulp plus 1/3lb rice bran pellets everyday, plus her glucosamine/yeast supplement, about an 1/8 cup flax seed, and MannaPro goat minerals as a topdressing. She rarely finishes her morning meal. She'll eat most of it, but a little is always left.
In the evening, she's been getting a small handful of dry beet pulp, plus about 1/3lb of rice bran - all dry. She always cleans this meal up.

Today though, I had a small epiphany. What if I tie the wether for the evening feeding too [he's tied for breakfast, but I usually let him be loose at dinner], feed her WAY more soaked stuff at dinner [she always seems hungrier in the evening], gave her plenty of time to finish eating, then, once she's done, feed the wether his stuff, etc?
That would give me the ability to start a large batch of food soaking overnight, then just make sure she ate the whole amount by the end of the next day - over multiple feedings.
I WAS able to get nearly a pound of soaked beet pulp+some alfalfa pellets and a smattering of rice bran into her with this method for the evening feeding. She didn't finish it all [got distracted/full by the last 1/2 cup] but she made impressive inroads. Ate more than I've seen her eat in a while.

I'm going to try it tomorrow. I started 1lb of beet pulp, 1lb of alfalfa pellets, and 1/2lb of rice bran soaking for tomorrow. I'm hoping that she might be able to eat all that...we'll see!

The other issue is that she does very very little grazing this time of year. She has plenty of grazing opportunities [blackberries, weeds, leaves] but she spends most of the day laying down, observing life. She has a few spots she LOVES to sit...but she will literally spend the whole day sitting in those same spots without really shifting.
On one hand, I'm thankful she doesn't expend more calories chasing the horse+other goat all over kingdom come, but I wish she were grazing more.
During the spring/summer, grazing isn't an issue for her. It's just right now.

Oh man, this got real long. Obviously I don't care for her one little bit.
HA. That could not be further from the truth. She is the sweetest thing, like a fluffy white ray of sunshine. :)

Thanks for any help/thoughts you might have! I'm pretty much ready to try anything. I would just like to not feel nearly every bone when I pet her [through several inches of hair]. Perfect world, I would LOVE nothing more than to have to put her on a diet...but I don't really see that ever happening.

Last thought - I HAVE considered separating her from the other goat overnight and giving her a bucket of mush for her to finish at will [she would eventually finish probably whatever I gave her, if given enough time], however I worry about her keeping herself warm -alone- overnight. It doesn't get too chilly here, but 25*F is a pretty average nighttime temperature here, this time of year = skinny old goat keeping herself warm??

Fabio - 13 year old Arabian/Lipizzan gelding

Rest peacefully, Lacey.

Last edited by Wallaby; 01-02-2014 at 11:52 PM.
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post #2 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 12:33 AM
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As someone who raised 10 goats for FFA, I may know a thing or two about getting weight on them.

What I used is MoorMan's MoorFat. It's basically powdered fat. Sounds yummy, right? This stuff would make them FAT if I did not exercise my goats enough. They got very fleshy over their ribs very quickly. This might be something you could put her on during the winter. I wouldn't feed it 24/7, as she only seems to have the issues in winter, so it's a good thing to feed as a quick top dressing. She'll probably hate it at first, but all mine eventually got used to it. If you can get this in your area, I highly recommend it!


As for feeding separately, I would definitely continue to do that. I always had to tie my goats(most of the time I had 3 at the same time) while they were eating so none of them would be fatties and finish fast to go steal food.

That's pretty much all I can remember at the moment. It's been a few years since I've showed goats, so the mind is rusty.
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post #3 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 01:12 AM
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If separating them for an evening meal means she's eating more, that's what I would keep going with. And give her all she will eat at those feedings of course.

I would only give her high quality, digestible forage. It is true that tougher, stemmier stuff takes longer for them to digest and makes them feel full so they're not interested in eating as much other stuff, but at the same time, some forage is essential. Just make sure it is soft, leafy grass or alfalfa and avoid anything that's too mature. Pellets would be a good safe way to get highly digestible forage into her if there is a way to make sure she eats it before any other critters hoover them up. Something like cool-cals is generally well tolerated too. It's pure fat, but without an odor and in a form that you could mix into just about anything without most animals noticing at all or going off feed about.

If you're able, a third 'meal' could also be helpful- like horses, you can feed them more and it's better used if you can feed slightly smaller amounts more often. I bet her old joints hurt more in the cold, making her less inclined to get up and down and walk about- probably part of her reduced grazing/browsing. She's a lucky girl to be so cared about!
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post #4 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 03:07 AM
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I assume you have done a fecal? She reminds me of my sweet old girl as she got older.
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post #5 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 08:57 AM
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Have you heard of something called calf manna? I use it for goats who need an extra boost to put on weight. For example, I had a slow grower doe who never touched her grain and ate only hay. But she ate calf manna! A little bit does a lot, since it is a huge amount of protein. You'd only need to separate her for a few minutes for her to finish her measured portion. I've never had a goat turn it down, even the no grain girl, because it is licorice flavored and they think it is a treat.

The mush sounds like a great idea, but yea, separating for the night could be problematic. The few times I've had to completely separate a goat from a buddy/the herd causes them to go bonkers trying to get back! She may not like being alone, plus as you said, they keep each other warm.

I second the fecal too, just to be sure. Make sure they look for coccidia! Yea, coccidiosis is almost always a disease of goats under six months old. But a goat who has a compromised immune system (from age, for example) could have a coccidia bloom to disease causing levels. All goats have coccidia in their gut, just not at a number to cause problems.
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post #6 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 10:23 AM
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I second the calf manna. It's been around a long time and is spendy but well worth it. I use it when I need to .
Another thought here...perhaps a senior horse forage based pellet? I know Fias Co farms feeds a horse Mare and Foal grain formula and I feed a basic horse feed that is higher in fiber content (15%) whenever my girls are not in milk, and it works well along with manna pro goat mineral.
Also, with 5 months of winter here, my girls do not have any pasture or browse and do fine on hays.

While the stemmier hay may make her feel full, I find my girls prefer hay with variety in it and fine leaf hay usually gets wasted. Keep in mind that while her teeth may not be in good shape, her more complicated digestive system should still be able to break things down adequately. That said, a forage based or "pre-cooked" pellet would probably be helpful. Even more so if you soften it.

I own a buck that stayed with a friend who likes bucks and didn't mind the smell. Unfortunately she went rouge on me and started feeding him all kids of cheap junky feeds and hays to the point that he was a bag of bones. He is now re-homed at a different friends farm who has more room that me and I've slowly reworked a new diet for him.
WHile I know this may not fit your philosophy, I find Purina Goat Chow a good feed for boosting weight (in my area) on moms who work too hard to make milk. I've got him on a proper amount of that with timothy alfalfa mixed in and he is gaining weight and feels better despite it being 0 temps here.
Maybe check out feeds formulated for goats in your area, not as a primary source, but as a boost to be used this time of year.

Originally Posted by yooper
I second the fecal too, just to be sure. Make sure they look for coccidia! Yea, coccidiosis is almost always a disease of goats under six months old. But a goat who has a compromised immune system (from age, for example) could have a coccidia bloom to disease causing levels. All goats have coccidia in their gut, just not at a number to cause problems.
Also a good idea. If for no other reason that to rule it out. I've had older girls get a bloom during times of high stress.
You should be able to get a sample in a baggie and drop it off at the vet.

**pictures Wallaby hiding behind a hay bale, waiting for Hazel to poop so she can pounce on the freshest sample available...**
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Last edited by Lockwood; 01-03-2014 at 10:27 AM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks Kayella! Unfortunately it doesn't look like we get that brand out here. :/

Thanks Sharpie! I hadn't even really thought about the hard/softness of the hay I've been using. DUH. haha
The alfalfa I've been getting is the really stemmy kind - she loves to eat all the softer leafy bits but, after about 30 minutes, she'll start eating the much softer grass hay. I do have access to "compressed" bales of alfalfa that are way softer, I just don't buy them due to price [$20 for 30lbs]. However, I think I'll go pick one up and see if it helps at all. Good thinking!

Thanks Yogiwick! I have had fecals done on her in the past but it might do to get another one. She doesn't seem sick at all but that doesn't really mean a whole lot. The main issue is that the goat vet is 20 miles from us which is a huge pain for something that small [we have horse vets and small animals vets galore around here...but no one does farm animals. It's ridiculous.]. Not to mention that my poor car gets terrible gas mileage = a solid $20 of gas. ...I wonder if they would let me mail it in? Poop mail! haha

Thanks Yooper! I had thought that Calf Mann was basically rice bran but, upon further inspection, it really isn't. I'll have to give it a try! If it helps, that will certainly help cut down on my overall feed bill. Hard to believe, but Hazel costs me more to feed than my HORSE.

Thanks Lockwood! <3
Good thinking about the horse senior feed. I was thinking "why doesn't someone make GOAT senior feed? If Hazel were a horse, she would sure be on senior feed." Duuuh, feed Hazel a horse senior feed.
I'll look into that Purina Goat Chow. I had her on Albers Goat-something for a while and that almost seemed to make things worse. However, once does not a pattern make. :)
And I'll try that Calf-Manna.

In optimistic news, Miss Hazel ate fully half of her soaked feed this morning! I was so proud of her! I felt like a huge dork wanting to tell evvvveryone that "OH MY GOSH! Hazel ate SO MUCH FOOD!!!"
Hopefully that trend continues and she eats her full ration this evening!
I poured boiling water over the soaked feed before last night's feeding and this morning's feeding, then fed it before it cooled down..maybe she likes hot food. What a spoiled brat. :)
My old horse likes her food hot too, maybe it's an old lady thing!
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Rest peacefully, Lacey.
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post #8 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 03:16 PM
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Most vet clinics should be able to check for coccidia.
Ok, maybe an exclusive vet would say no, but the basics of a fecal don't change too much because of the animal species (camelids not withstanding) but rather the fecals are set up dependent on what parasite they are looking for.
Even most cat/dog clinics have seen an exotic, bird, or other some such thing, as well as lots of puppy coccidia, and should still be able to check for it. The answer to who will do it is but a phone call.

What you need though is a clean sample apart from Attie's. Hence the hiding and pouncing.
Also, most internal parasites are opportunistic and can get a build up quicker in a goat who is struggling to stay warm through winter.
Remind me again...have you ever de-wormed with an ivermectin product? What about Fenbendazole?(safeguard)
I injections. It's ok, we can work with that.

I can't remember what's in the Albers somethingoranother... but I know what's in nationally know goat feeds and now senior horse diets.
(working on new diets for another friend with 2 super hard keepers)

Last edited by Lockwood; 01-03-2014 at 06:30 PM.
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post #9 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 05:59 PM
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How's her salt intake? Dry hay increases the need for more salt. My goats loved it when I broke chips off the block (no pun intended) rather than them licking it.
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post #10 of 11 Old 01-03-2014, 07:58 PM
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Just a note on those compressed bales (if you're getting the kind that TSC sells anyways), the hay is chopped into very small, fine pieces. I think it would definitely be easy for her to digest, but you absolutely can not put it into a hay net or anything. It will all fall right out. Think lawn-mower grass clippings...that's what they look like. I learned that when I bought two bales for Kenzie, opened it to put it in my hay net, and realized that I needed a tub instead. If it isn't TSC kind though, I have no idea xD

Other than that, I'm useless as far as advice but I sure hope Miss Hazel gets feeling better!

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