As small ruminant browsers, goats need fresh water, quality alfalfa & grass hay, minerals and, ideally, access to some browse. All of our goats receive an alfalfa and grass hay mix. In this area, I sometimes see hay for sale that people call "goat hay" insinuating that goats can eat any junky hay with weeds or whatever in the mix. That is not the case. Much like horses, goats need hay free of foxtail, baled dry, not moldy, musty or dusty. They also don't do well on clover. Straight grass or an alfalfa-grass mix is best.
Water: In cold weather, we add apple cider vinegar (ACV) to their water. This is the raw and unfiltered cloudy stuff, not clear vinegar, and we offer it in hot water multiple times a day in cold weather. They love it piping hot. Like hotter than you or I would probably like it! We call this their tea. Really, it’s more like cider. In super hot weather, we include electrolytes in their water. Water is extremely important for does in milk as they are producing pounds and pounds of excellent milk for us, but water is also important to bucks. Our bucks also enjoy the ACV in their water. It is important for bucks to stay hydrated to help prevent urinary calculi issues, which can be fatal.
Supplements: Our goats receive free-choice loose minerals with salt, kelp, ZinPro40 and baking soda. Does and kids receive some extra supplements at birth, but generally the above are the supplements that we provide.
Dewormer: We top dress (add to their feed) an herbal dewormer. We also give this to goat kids, see below. I like the Land of Havilah dewormer, but there are others as well. We work to keep the parasite load down through pasture maintenance, composting manure and soiled bedding daily.
Grain: Does receive about a cup of a grain/seed mix that includes regular oats, alfalfa pellets, beet pulp pellets and black oiled sunflower seeds (BOSS) mixed in with a 17% protein goat feed mix. For does, we offer chaffehaye—a fermented alfalfa that I liken to sauerkraut. Bucks are fed a cup daily of a similar grain mix as the does, but for them it also contains ammonium chloride, which is the most important ingredient in ensuring urinary tract health and preventing urinary calculi.
Browse: Access to other types of browse is important. Many types of broadleaf plants are preferred over "mowing your lawn" for you, which they won't do. Our goats LOVE dandelions, burdock, pig weed, smartweed, mare's tail, lamb's quarter, sunflowers, trees (oh, the poor trees), multiflora rose, etc. Ours have clearly expressed that they do not eat Queen Anne's lace, foxtail, motherwort or several other weeds.
Mental Health: Goats need mental stimulation. Browsing provides some of that, but this can also take the form of large rocks, stumps or other obstacles in their living area. They will play on these, but, in nice weather, they’ll make good use of them for their long naps and where you will see them peacefully chewing their cud.
Treats: Finally, our goats love a variety of fruit and vegetable peels as well as herbs. In the winter, when we tend to eat more citrus fruits, we wash and then save all of our citrus peels. We cut them into small pieces, dry them in a warm oven (careful not to let them dry too slowly and mold). The goats just love them. Apples, garlic and banana peels are also enjoyed, plus they're good for them. There are plenty of resources that can guide you as to what a goat should not eat, but generally the list of what they can eat is much longer than that which could harm them. When in doubt, do your research or consult your vet, but variety in your goat’s diet can help them live a happy and healthy life.
Our kids are dam raised and weaned after they are 8-weeks old. We give an herbal dewormer at least three times per week starting at two weeks. They receive their CDT (4 weeks of age) vaccination to avoid Tetnus and Enterotoxemia. The second booster is given about 4 weeks later. A lump may appear at the injection site. This is nothing to worry about and will go away.
Our kids are disbudded within the first week of life (within a few days for bucklings). Scurs are very common but they break off and can be trimmed.
Most of our bucklings will be banded by 8-weeks of age. The band takes about 3-6 weeks to fall off. Wethers are excellent companions and pets. We will not keep a buckling intact and sell it to you unless it is a buckling that we would also consider buying back for our breeding program in the future. So, we will always be extremely selective about which bucklings will carry our herd name.
All of our goats are handled daily.
ADGA registered kids will be tattooed at 8 weeks.
Hoof trimming is done roughly once a month. We will trim your goat's hooves before they leave our farm and show you exactly how we do it.
The two largest concerns for goat kids are coccidia and pneumonia. Coccidia is always present in the gut in low numbers, but can easily get out of control in moist and dirty environments. Pneumonia can flare up when kids are stressed from extreme temperature or diet changes. When there are unexpected sudden drops in temperature, provide a dry stall or shelter and regularly remove manure and urine-soaked bedding and replace it with dry, clean bedding.
Signs of illness include kids who suddenly go off feed, act lethargic or listless. Another sign is fever or low temp: normal temp is between 101.5 and 103.5 degrees, as well as a runny nose, persistent cough or diarrhea
If you’re concerned about the health of a goat of any age, please contact your vet.