Questions for goat owners!
I have been doing a lot of research online, but figured it couldn't hurt to ask here to. Not sure if any of you are goat experts but here goes!
As some of you may know one of my mares had to be put down, leaving with us her five day old colt (who is now ten days old). We were able to purchase a Alpine doe in milk that day as well as get some milk extras from the neighbors, to feed the colt. We will be picking up two more Alpine does this evening. The little stinker will not take just milk replacer so we have been hurled into goat ownership.
I am a first time goat owner SO...
I have been reading online and there is a lot of controversy regarding feeding goats grain. The neighbors who have goats feed all you can eat rye and oats while on the milk stand. For lack of knowing what else to do we went with what this goat was on at her previous home and picked up a bag of Purinas dairy goat feed. She was fed 1 cup AM along with 1 cup sunflower seeds. I now feed her 1 cup of each but twice daily as she is on the milk stand twice daily. (I also think that she is on the thin side and could use the extra? More on that later.)
Question 1) I notice that there were various pelleted type goat feeds available as well. I NEVER feed the horses sweet feed, the Purina feed we purchased IS a sweet feed, someone else suggested Omolene 300 was good for goats, which is actually preferred for goats? Pellets or sweet feed?
Question 2) How much! That seems to be the biggest question. Some say not to feed grain at all, others say free choice while on the stand, some say a few cups, some say a pound a day, the bag suggest that she could eat two pounds per day.
(OF course, change, increase or decrease feeds slowly)
Question 3) The hay we feed to the horses has some alfalfa in it. Would it be best just to locate the goats their own solid alfalfa hay or can I get away with offering crushed alfalfa cubes or pellets with our current hay? Part B) How much alfalfa cubes/pellets?
Question 4) Once the colt is no longer in need of the milk we will be using the goats milk ourselves. So what do you do for de-worming? I haven't really looked into it yet but I would assume the normal "Safeguard" or "Ivermectin" de-wormers that I've seen advertised are not to be given while we plan to drink the milk? Is there an herbal de-wormer I could get or is goat de-worming not as big a production as say de-worming a horse?
Question 5) Our goat came with a very un-even udder. She had one four week old kid just weaned when we picked her up, the owners said that was why. From what I read online mastitis is a big concern. What are the early warning signs to watch for? We get maybe a cup from the one side and 4-5 cups from the full side at each milking. It is harder to get the milk to start coming out of the smaller side. Thoughts?
Question 6) Last question. I'm sure I'll come up with more though! She looks thin to me. I haven't spent a great deal of time assessing a goats weight before but she is very boney. She is thiner than the neighbors goats and I've always thought they looked a touch thin. What would I do to get weight on her without making her sick somehow?
Edit to add another question: Collar or halter? Or neither? Again with the horses but I never make them wear "a handle" and in reference to smaller things, foals and miniature horses halters would be a no-no lest someone get caught and hung. Wouldn't that be a concern with a goat also?
Weight-she appears underweight. Dairy animals in general tend to direct their energy to milk production and thus their weight suffers to maintain milk production. In her case, I'm seeing balding over her hip joints, hollowness and lack of muscle tone. She will need more groceries than normal to get her back up to a healthy weight. Also, you are trying to nurse a foal from her milk. That's more demand than her wrangling put on her. You need to take that into consideration and keep her production up by providing quality feed and supplements. Don't cut corners. Get her weight up and production up. This comes from enough feed (volume) and quality. Quality pelleted feeds are at least balanced for her needs. Make sure you choose one formulated for dairy goats. What your local stores stock or can order in will limit what you have access to. Hay should be provided in addition to pelleted feeds. There should be enough hay to keep her munching most of the day.
Collar, possibly. But preference would be for neither unless it's necessary for you to catch her. They can get caught up on things and strangle or other accidents happen.
I'd also add calf manna to her feed.
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We have goats to use for roping practice (cheaper to keep than cattle year-round and just as hardy xD) and one that we use for therapy, and all of them are Whethers, so I can't answer any of your questions as far as milking goes, but I might be of some help.
We feed out goats sweet feed, but not alone. As of right now we're using a local mix so I really dont know what it's equivalent would be, but it is specially formed for goats, not horses. You should never feed a goat horse sweet feed because of the high sugar content and different types of nutrients that are fine for a horse but can be ill wishing for a ruminent. Generally I think you're supposed to look for a goat sweet feed that has less than 7.5% molasses content. Your feed should also have ammonium chloride in it somewhere, as thats needed by a goat's body to function well. Most feeds atleast in our area seem to have it, so you shouldnt have a huge problem with that.
Along with sweet feed, we find that our goats just need a little bit 'extra' to keep them healthy. We mix our feed with sunflower seeds and alfalfa pellets, as well as handful of Calf Manna. This makes for a fairly well balanced diet, though occasionally one goat will need a different mix.
As for how much to feed...well, that can be tricky. Depending on how much the colt is drinking, she may need a higher amount of feed than the average goat. We feed each of ours two cups of feed twice a day, and thats including the supplimental additives that I mentioned. We pair that with a flake to a flake and a half of hay each, and they all keep a good weight year round even when we're using them.
I personally think it would be fine if you were to just feed the hay that you give your horses and add cubes or pellets. The amount really just depends on how much hay your giving and the what percentage of it is alfalfa. What is your hay mixed with? Our hay is 2/3 timothy 1/3 alfalfa, so we feed a small scoop of alfalfa pellets with their meal.
I do think that your doe is skinny. You shouldnt be able to see her bones so easily and I'd like to see a good 20 pounds on her atleast, especially while lactating. However, I've never rehabilitated a goat so I'm going to leave that question to someone else to answer.
As for the halter or collar, thats your choice. Goats are extremely limber though, and you need to make sure that it is well fitted if you leave it on so that they can't catch a hoof in it. They're also notorious for trying to fit themselves into things that they CANT fit in, so I'd get a breakaway if you did leave one on. We leave it off of the goats unless they're out, just because its safer.
Well I raised show goats for FFA, and I should definitely be able to help you with my knowledge. :)
Question #1: I fed my goats Honors Intimidator. My big Houston goat was so spoiled, I fed him the Lindner's goat feed, which was $20 a bag. The other stuff I fed was around $16 a bag. You're basically paying for protein. I'd feed a feed with a min. of 16% protein. My feed was always pelleted, I didn't even know they made a sweet feed for goats.
Question #2: My goats ate 3 lbs per 100 lb body weight a day. If they weighed 30 pounds, 1 lb, 65 lbs, 2 lbs, and if they weighed 100 lbs, 3 lbs of feed a day. You could feed it all at once, or break it into a couple different feedings, such as if she weighed 100 pounds, she'd get 1 1/2 pounds in the morning, and the same in the evening.
Question #3: My breeder fed his mama goats hay, but I fed mine alfalfa. They were given a nice handful 2-3 times a week. A handful in the morning, and a handful in the evening. I always worked with them every day in the run for atleast an hour, so they got an hour of grazing time in each day as well.
Question #4: I wormed with the SafeGuard goat wormer, tried every 28 days. I have a bad memory though, so sometimes they'd get it later than they should have. Mine were wethers, so I'm not sure of the worming for dairy goats. I know my breeder did worm his mamas with ivermectin and another wormer, even while they were nursing so I'm not sure if it's such a big deal.
Question #5: Kids seem to prefer one teat over the other, so that may be why the milking is off-balanced. Signs of mastitis are swelling, discoloration, or any lumps or anything on the udder. Check the milk to see if it changes color or texture/thickness, and the taste. Low-grade mastitis may be present if the milk tastes sour. Here's a website that may be able to help you out some more in case you are worried. To me, right now, it looks like she has no issue.
Question #6: Dairy animals of any breed, especially cows, always look emaciated compared to the meat breeds. Take the Jersey cow for example. I personally think they look disgusting, as if they're about to fall over and die from starvation. It's just how their body develops, and is actually desired in dairy conformation judging. I never had a problem with my goats gaining weight, but then again I raised the boer goats that is the most desired goat for meat because of their weight threshold. With a steady diet of pellets and alfalfa/hay, and free-range grass, I wouldn't worry about her looking thin. That's just how some breeds are, really nothing we can do to change it.
A nubian dairy goat:
Compared to a Boer doe:
As for the collar, I always use a dog collar. On goats we used collars, and on lambs we used rope halter just because they were so tall. You can either use a dog collar, or a show collar, which is metal with a piece of plastic tubing to hold on to. Your local feed store may have them in stock for the show kids.
Hopefully I covered everything you needed to know! If you have any other questions, I'll help you out as much as I can :)
Fias Co Farm- Dairy goats, Cheesemaking
This is a link to a goat dairy. The lady who owns it has posted unbelievable amounts of information on here that has never steered me wrong.
Just a warning also. Feeding sweet feed for horses to goats can lead to serious bloat and death. Ive seen it more than once and personally will not take the chance. Always use something designed for goats.
For our goats we give them half a cup of day of grain and the rest is grass. Alot of the worming and vaccinations you can get yourself and some of them will tell you if you can or cannot give it to them while they are milking. Oh and we also feed our goats pellets and there is a wormer we get that goes in their water and also a pellet type of dewormer for them as well . Alpines are really nice goats, we got alpines and nubians ! Oh and we also use goat collars they sell them at the supply store , but it's basically just like a dog collar , just make sure it's not to tight .
As for the ammonium chloride, I added less than a handful to full bucket of water and it dissolved. Ammonium chloride is used to help prevent kidney stones, which can afflict goats. It is more prevalent in bucks and wethers, and I don't believe you need to supplement it with does. If you want to be sure, Lindner's does have ammonium chloride already in their feed.
We actually fed MoorFat, made by Moorman's I believe. We would add a scoop to each feed, and it put the weight on fast. Some goats find it disgusting, though, so they may not eat it.
She definately needs more than 1 cup of feed if you are wanting more milk for your foal. We raise boer goats, our does in milk get at least 2 pounds of feed a day. We feed sweet feed to our does (although i'd prefer pelleted), our bucks get pellets. They are on pasture 24/7 and in the winter when we are kidding they have free choice grass hay and we feed a small amount of alfalfa twice a day to the does. Black Oil Sunflower seeds will help her coat improve and will also help increase her milk production. She should have a good loose mineral available to her as well.
Make sure you feed her in an area your colt can't get to if they are pastured together. Some goat feeds have rumensin in them and an kill a horse.
You can use ivermectin horse dewormer, give her 3 times the dose for her body weight and try to give it when her belly isn't full of feed. I have not had any luck with safeguard at all, but it depends on the area you are in if there is a worm resistance or not. Molly's makes an herbal dewormer that you can put in their feed once a week or just drench them with it. Check her eyelids, just pull down the bottom of her lid so you can see the color on the inside. If its dark pink she probably doesn't need dewormer, if its lighter in color or white she definately needs it.
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