Monday, August 31, 2015

What I Know About Goat Keeping...Thus Far

L-R: Tessie, Nub and Lilly
In 20+ years of goat keeping I have learned a few things and forgot most of them.
This is what I remember thus far:

Disclaimer: This is for information purposes only and is how I treat my goats and is not intended to treat or diagnose your goats where you live. Consult a local Veterinarian.


1.) Provide fresh clean water and add a little apple cider vinegar if possible. (1 cup per 30 gallons of water) A floating tank deicer is well worth the money in the winter time.

2.) Provide shelter so the goats can get out of the rain that is well drained and protected from the prevailing wind in winter time. Something with a wooden floor that can keep them off the wet ground is a big plus. Hay that is allowed to accumulate on the ground where spend their time is a big minus. 

3.) Keep a loose mineral/salt blend available free choice. The following works pretty well... Thus far.


1 pint food grade Diatomaceous Earth or Bentonite Clay
2 pints fine or extra fine Pink Himalayan salt or plain salt.

Optional Add:
About 3 ounces garlic powder (in hot weather)
About 3 ounces vitamin C powder (year round)

Keep this available at all times in something they can keep their feet out of, like an automatic dog feeder. This works well for all the other livestock that the goats may be pastured with.

4.) Allow goats to forage or graze freely.  Any changes to a goat's diet should be made gradually. Provide high quality horse hay (2-5 pounds per day per goat) in the Wintertime along with 1 pint per goat whole corn per day, if it's non- GMO, or 2 pint corn (non- GMO), Multi species non- GMO pellets, alfalfa/oat pellets or alfalfa/timothy pellets per day twice daily, divided. A trough that they can keep their feet out of works well for this. They don't need to stand in a wet area while they eat or sleep.

Note: It takes more energy for them to stay warm in the winter time (they need more feed) when the weather is cold and wet than clear and dry.

Pasture: If the soil pH is right the goats will provide the fertilizer. Here in North Alabama (above I-20) if there is excessive broomsage grass growing in the pasture, applying 2 ton per acre of lime is a good rule of thumb without a soil test. Local Farmers co-op's are a good place to start to find a lime spreader or to have it done for you. Ideally, Fall is the best time of year to have it spread so that the lime will work its way into the soil in time for Spring BUT anytime that the lime can be spread so that it can reach the soil (late winter/early spring when the grass is short) on a non windy day right before a gentle rain would be great.

Knowledge is power, and knowledge about where any bought hay comes is a plus. If any odd sort of plants spring up like a little low growing yellow waxy leaved plant (genetically modified rapeseed, I've been told) or a wicked, sawbladed leaf plant shows up in the pasture or yard or by the side of the road with a pretty purple flower at the top (thistle I've been told) removing it toot-sweet will be highly worth the effort.

5.) Check goats daily. If one seems a little "off" check it out. Keep Goat Nutri-Drench, Ivermectin, liquid anti-diarrhea medicine, red-cell, citric acid, injectable Vitamin B12, Collidal Silver and mineral oil on hand. Goats should have a healthy pink color to their inner eyelids when you pull down on them. I like to give all the livestock a dose of ivermectin in early Spring, during Full moon phase, to prevent
any potential lice/skin issues.

6.) Clear kids nose when they are born and dip navels in iodine solution. Give mom a tetanus toxid vaccination within 24 hours after she gives birth. Keep does and kids in together for at least 3 days. Keep them in a confined pasture for at least 30 days until the kids can keep up with mom. Do breeding when does will give birth in early spring. Disbud kids at about 1 month of age. I like to have it done when the signs are in the feet. 

7.) Have castration done at 6 months of age in males. Signs in the feet. Give males a jelly sandwich with about a teaspoon of vitamin c powder 3 days in a row occasionally.

8.) Avoid giving goats products labeled for deer.

9.) "Where there's breath there's hope." for a goat that is sick. (The Vitamin B12 injections work well for this at the onset if they look like they may not be well.  If 1000 type give 3 cc 1 time then again on the third day or if 5,000 type give 1cc then again on the third day,  IM, for large adult goats like the Nubians. This also helps to build their blood if they are anemic. If they get down and can no longer eat or drink on their own don't make them suffer to long but always look for a Miracle.

10.) Keep a guard animal that is compatible in stable fencing with the goats. Field fencing, the type with the squares, and an inner strand of electric fence wire that is run about 12"-18" off the ground on the inside (where the goats are) can help to keep them from climbing on it (the field fence). Goats are easily entertained by a pile of old
cement blocks or anything they can jump around on. The cement blocks, re- crete (concrete), bricks or rock pile can also keep their hoofs in shape.