Basic Goat Care & Links
Note: Rule of thumb... You need to educate and find out what is best for you and your herd. There is no "right" way but instead research and find out about your area and what is best for you and your herds needs. Try and seek out a farm in your area and ask if they would be able to provide you with information. Perhaps you can offer your help or trade in exchange for their experienced advice.
Goats are quite hardy and resilient animals, but there are a lot of things to think about to keep them the healthiest possible....
Shelter: Goats need a draft free place to be protected from rain and wind (or snow), but also with proper ventilation. Tightly enclosed housing can lead to health issues. For safety they should be closed in a building at night to avoid predators. Goats do not favor rain so a run in shelter is a good idea as well. We feel fresh air and outside time is important even in the coldest of winters so preparing places for them to be outside and protected is key.
Hay: Free choice quality 2nd or 3rd cut hay or pasture should be available. Goats are browsers not grazers. They prefer woody vegetation to grass. Hay will need to fed from a feeder as if it is on the ground goats won't eat it. Please make sure that there are no poisonous plants in the vicinity that they are browsing. Do not introduce them to lush vegetation on empty stomachs as they may eat too much. They can be great weeders but do require other things to keep them healthy.
Water: Fresh clean water should always be available and is key to optimum health. Checking water to be sure it is clean as goats are very picky when it comes to water. Be sure they have a heated bucket in Winter if you live in a area where the water would freeze.
Feed: We feed our goats New Country Organics Goat feed which is a mixture grains including whole oats, barley, corn, and we top dress with black oil sunflower seeds. When available we feed bale alfalfa to our does. Alfalfa pellets and Lespedeza pellets are used as well. Any changes in diet must be made gradually so as not to upset their rumens.
Mineral Supplement: Free choice loose minerals designed for goats is a great way to make sure they are getting all of the proper nutrients that may not be in their feed or hay. Just make sure that is a kind that is loose, not a block. Goats do not do well with the mineral blocks since it is difficult for them to consume enough. We currently are using Sweetlix Meatmaker Goat Minerals and Thorvin Kelp. We also give Copper Bolus 2-3x a year and give Selenium gel or injection as needed. We feel that our area is lacking in these minerals and the additional amount is needed. Both Copper and Selenium in excess can be toxic so please consult a local goat vet or mentor before use. Minerals can be put out in separate containers to allow the goats "free choice" of all available.
Baking Soda: Goats should have free choice baking soda if feed a grain diet . This helps alkalize all of the roughage that they consume. It can help prevent bloat and release gases in the rumen. I dont see them use it often but like to know it is there should they want it. Be sure this is in a container off to the side away from the minerals and supplements. They will seek it out id they are in need.
Ammonium Chloride: All boys should be fed ammonium chloride to reduce chances of urinary calculi if being fed grain. Ammonium Chloride is present in many brands of Goat Pellets and some other feeds. You can also purchase the plain ammonium chloride through caprine supply companies and apply it directly to their food.
Hoof trimming: All animals should have their hooves trimmed about every 1-3 months depending on their environment and genetics. Remember to check your animal frequently so their hooves don’t get rotten and uneven which can lead to major problems. I have seen really sad cases of neglect in hooves! We actually trim our goats hoofs every month or maybe 2 months. Large rocks and rock piles can help the goats to keep their hoofs trimmed down some.
Deworming: We now do a test and treat program. We send our fecal samples to MidAmerica Agricultural Research every 4-6 months and treat only when needed. Any vet can do a fecal check but should check for both worms and coccidia. Many goats are building a resistance to wormers by the underdosing wormers and over worming. Worming can upset the usual balance in a goats rumen system. Wormers will not kill coccidia (a sulfa based drug is needed for that) and not every wormer will kill every worm which is why it is best to know what and if you need to treat. We have begun to use Lespedeza Pellets for coccidia prevention and the kids are weaned with it. Please remember what is good for some herds in some areas may not be for you so it is best to contact a local mentor or goat farmer for advice.
Land of Havilah Farm~Holistic Herd Health Practices and Links https://landofhavilahfarm.com/loh/
Fir Meadow Herbals~Supplemments https://www.firmeadowllc.com/
Fiasco Farm ~ Goat Information Health and Husbandry https://fiascofarm.com/
Thrifty Homesteader ~ Goat, Farm and Homesteading Information https://thriftyhomesteader.com/
New Country Organics ~Supplements and Feed http://www.newcountryorganics.com/
Sunflower Farm Creamery ~Goat Milk Information http://www.sunflowerfarm.info/
Breezy Pond Farm https://www.facebook.com/breezypond/
MidAmerica Ag Research for all your fecal checks http://www.midamericaagresearch.net/
Dean Family Farm ~carries New Country Organics product and all your farm needs https://www.facebook.com/TheDeanFamilyFarm/
ADGA The American Dairy Goat Association was organized in 1904 to collect, record and preserve the pedigrees of dairy goats and to provide genetic, management and related services to dairy goat breeders
Basic information http://adga.org/category/adga-basics/