Goat Care

Links:
All About Nigerian Dwarf Goats
Nutritional Requirements for Goats (feed, minerals, parasites)
Fiasco Farm This website has a lot of information (goat care, health, & husbandry)
Easy Dairy Goat Conformation
Dairy Goat Production 

The 5 Freedoms of Dairy Goat Well-being
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Doe – adult female
Doeling – baby female
Buck – adult male
Buckling – baby male
Wether – castrated male
Kid – baby goat
Sire – father
Dam – mother
Freshen – to begin making milk

Goats are herd animals and need at least one buddy to live with. Two or three goats is a good number to start with, does and wethers make great pets. If you’re just starting out bucks are not a good option, they can be nice, but they typically don’t make very good pets due to their odor and behavior, particularly during rut, they really should be housed separately from does except for breeding.

Transporting Goats: The best way we’ve found to transport goats is in a dog crate. We like to lay bedding on the bottom to absorb any messes they make and provides a comfortable place to lay down. A large crate can fit an adult Nigerian or a couple of kids together comfortably.

Deworming:
It is not recommended to deworm goats on a schedule, but rather individual goats as needed, based on symptoms. The reason for this is to avoid parasite resistance to dewormers. A healthy goat should not need to be dewormed and this should be the goal. If parasites are suspected a fecal sample can be taken and a test run to find out if it is necessary and which dewormer you should use. See the links below for more detailed information:
American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control 
Dewormer chart for goats

Hooves: We trim hooves every 8 weeks, more frequent trimming makes the task easier, depending on the goat and the rate their hooves grow you may need to trim more or less frequently. Goats hooves continually grow and need to be trimmed to a proper length for the longevity and comfort. Hoof trimming is something you can learn to do on your own, it helps if you have someone to show you in person your first few times. Click on the photo below for a link to more hoof trimming info:

hoof trimming Goat Hoof Trimming Made Easy
Hoof Trimming Tool Recommendations to Make the Job Easier

Castration: The Most Humane Way to Wether Goats and Tips for Success “the greatest predictor of wethers (and bucks) developing urinary calculi is diet and water consumption.”

Feeding Wethers/Bucks: If you plan to have wethers as pets you should be aware of urinary calculi. Urinary calculi (or stones) can develop in the bladder potentially causing blockage that prevents the flow of urine, this is mainly a problem for wethers and bucks, does do not have this issue. It’s very important to feed a properly balanced diet. Their diet should be lots of hay, browse, very little grain if any. The calcium and phosphorous in the feed should be balanced at 2 to 1 (twice as much calcium as phosphorous). Check your feed and mineral labels for the calcium to phosphorus ratio. And don’t forget access to plenty of fresh clean water, warm water during cold weather is also good. For more info about urinary calculi check out the following links:

URINARY CALCULI IN GOATS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Urinary Calculi – Jennifer Maas, DVM

Determining hay and forage to feed your goats.

Quality Feed: a well fed goat will be less susceptible to parasites and illness, with proper nutrition your goats will thrive and be the most productive. A clean source of water must be available at all times. Water consumption is also important for avoiding urinary calculi in wethers. During cold winter months consider offering your goats warm water to drink, it will help increase water intake, and the goats really seem to enjoy it.

image137-e1435122239980.jpgOur goats are free to go out and browse but we always provide hay free choice. Find the best feed in your area that is available, I always look for horse quality hay. We feed our does second or third cut orchard grass and alfalfa mix, Chaffhaye, and grain in addition to browse. Our bucks get the same hay as the does and browse, except during rut when they need higher nutrients, we will sometimes add grain to their diet. You need hay feeders that keep your goats food clean and off the ground, this reduces waste and minimizes the risk of parasites being picked up if they were to eat soiled hay. Be prepared for hay waste, you might be surprised that goats can actually be pretty picky about their hay, goats are browsers and like a variety of food they may pick out their favorite parts and leave the rest or pull it on the ground.

Depending on your location you need to watch out for certain plants the are poisonous, for example, rhododendrons, azaleas, Japanese yew are very poisonous to goats.

Final Wsnwcb Toxic Booklet Cover 1 The Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board has good information and photos of toxic plants to watch out for, click this link to view the online PDF booklet.

Poisonous Plants List

Poisonous Plants of the Pacific Northwest

Minerals should be available free choice, minerals are important for good health and productivity. We like Sweetlix Meatmaker goat minerals the goats really love it. Make sure the minerals you get are specifically formulated for goats, not sheep and goats (goats need more copper at levels that could be toxic to sheep, sheep minerals are too low in copper). Ideally you want to feed a loose mineral, rather than a block. You might want to check with your local vet to find out if additional minerals would be necessary, some areas are more deficient in certain minerals and additional supplements may be necessary.

Vaccinations: we vaccinate our goats with CD&T vaccination annually, does are vaccinated one month prior to kidding so they can pass immunity to their kids and then kids are vaccinated around weaning age, about 8 weeks, and again 3-4 weeks later. CD&T protects them against tetanus and enterotoxemia (overeating disease).  More CD&T info. 

Occasionally the CD&T vaccination will leave a lump or develop an abscess. We normally give injections just behind the elbow down low over the ribs as shown in the video below, this location can help with drainage if an abscess were to form:

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Browsing higher up off the ground helps avoid injesting parasites.
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This leanto was built off of our existing shop which has been a nice shelter for our goats.

Shelter/Fencing: Keep pens and fences in good repair, if you don’t, you will probably find your goats where they don’t belong. Fences should be properly installed and stretched tight so goats can’t climb over or under. Shelter from the elements, doesn’t have to be fancy, a three sided shelter with as much space as you are able to provide to protect the goats from wind and rain. You can use bedding like straw for the floor. Shelves, platforms, or spools are a good idea and allow your goats to get up off the ground. Use as much of your property as possible, spread out the goats and avoid overcrowding. Our fences are no climb horse fencing, 4 ft high with 2″x 4″ openings, it keeps even the smallest kids from squeezing out. A hot wire is also a good idea to keep your goats from standing and rubbing on your fence. Also remember, the fence should keep your goats in, and predators out.

Nigerian Dwarf Buck

This buck is showing off his amazing beard, beware in the fall, bucks will urinate on their beards and can get pretty stinky during rut!

Grooming: Goats are normally pretty clean animals and do not stink (except for bucks who are very stinky, particularly during rut). A good brushing is really all that is needed and goats usually love being brushed. Bathing isn’t really necessary except if you plan to show and will be clipping your goats. Goats like rubbing and scratching on things, but if they seem especially itchy it’s possible they could have external parasites, like lice, which should be treated. The lice that infect goats is species specific, so don’t worry about it transferring to people.

There are certain diseases to be aware of and avoid when purchasing goats, we test our herd annually, through WADDL, our vet comes and does blood draws on every adult goat and sends them to a lab. View latest test results. As much as it may seem like a nice idea to purchase/rescue a goat at a livestock auction, sadly you may be at a high risk of purchasing a sick animal, or one that has been exposed to life threatening and highly contagious chronic and potentially deadly illness. If you have goats already you would want to be extremely careful, new animals with unknown health status should be quarantined and tested before introduction to your herd or land as they can contaminate your goats and property for a long time and are best avoided.

I recommend finding a vet if you don’t already have one. Not all veterinarians see goats/livestock regularly, so it’s good to locate a livestock vet and have an established relationship with a goat vet before you have an emergency.

Books I’ve read and recommend:

Holistic Goat Care: A Comprehensive Guide to Raising Healthy Animals, Preventing Common Ailments, and Troubleshooting Problems 

Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats

Your Goats A Kids Guide To Raising and Showing (technically a kids guide but it’s straightforward and has good info on goat care and I think it’s a good read for all ages)

Learning opportunities:

Northwest Oregon Dairy Goat Annual Conference I’ve attended their annual conference several times, so many great classes and knowledgeable teachers, there’s something for everyone.

This is a very informative course and you can become a Certified Dairy Goat Producer with free online training from the American Institute for Goat Research. The training is free the certificate upon successful completion is optional, $25. About the course: https://go.adga.org/2nmfD7i Sign up Here: https://go.adga.org/2njvDqO

Four Day Goat Academy Another fun learning opportunity, I attended this class in 2017 and really enjoyed my time at Pholia Farm.