- ALFALFA: Dairy goats require high quality alfalfa to support milk production, especially if you’re trying to avoid feeding a lot of grain. Alfalfa provides lots of fiber, calcium, protein, and other essential vitamins/minerals. I use Chaffhaye alfalfa for my herd.
- GRAIN: I currently feed whole barley to milkers on the milk stand. Grain is most commonly used to provide easily digestible carbohydrates; added protein is frequently added to balance poor pastures. If you are feeding dairy quality alfalfa, no one but milkers needs grain. If not using dairy-quality alfalfa, I would supplement pasture/grass hay with a higher protein grain/sweet feed.
- Bucks and wethers should NOT be fed grain without free access to ammonium chloride (AC), mineral mixes containing AC, or Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV).
- HAY-choose a nice, soft feeling, sweet smelling, leafy (not a lot of stems) green grass hay, they will waste coarser hay. I prefer coastal bermuda or very high quality fescue hay. Even if feeding alfalfa, it is a good idea to keep grass hay/pasture available free choice to keep the goats busy and to promote good rumen health with lots of fiber.
- MINERALS-feed “free choice” meaning the goats always has access to it. (Although I have used Manna Pro® goat minerals and/or Herdlife™ Billy Block trace mineral blocks in the past, the best mineral for your money is Southern States Top Choice Goat Mineral. This is the mineral mix I currently use) Both Southern States and Manna Pro® goat minerals contain ammonium chloride, a must for bucks and wethers. Kelp Meal is also a good mineral supplement.
- Copper, a necessary mineral for goats and cattle, is toxic to sheep. Therefore, if keeping sheep with your goats, feed a sheep mineral such as Southern States Sheep Mineral with Zinpro and supplement the goats with additional copper.
- BAKING SODA-feed when making feed changes to help prevent bloat. (Buy 15 lb bag from the grocery store)
- MINERAL & SODA 2 COMPARTMENT FEEDER
- WATER BUCKETS-Two flat back water buckets about 8 qt. size is ideal for 2 goats; for more goats, get 5 gallon flat back buckets.
- HAY FEEDER-a hay rack, bucket or bunk to feed their hay off the ground. Do not use a hay net as the goats can hang themselves in it.
- BEDDING-a bag of pine shavings for bedding in spring, summer, & fall. STRAW (or dropped hay) in winter to put over shavings too.
- HOOF TRIMMER-a small pair made for goats or small pruning shears. THIS is not optional! You need to provide your goats with proper hoof care from the start or they will get hoof rot or deformed hooves which are very difficult to fix!
- DEWORMER-you will need to deworm your goats shortly after bringing them home since the stress of moving will cause them to shed more parasites. Find one labeled for goats or contact your vet about other dewormers that can be used “off label” and the proper goat dosage.
- I use herbal dewormers because the parasites do not develop resistance to it like they do to chemicals. Although I have used Hoegger’s herbal wormer and toner and Molly’s Herbals in the past, due to rising prices, I am now using a Homemade Herbal Dewormer mix along with Garlic Barrier garlic juice.
- Copper bolus supplementation (Copasure (more expensive) brand from Jeffers and Ultracruz (what I use) from Amazon.com) also greatly reduces worms, among other benefits.
Every AM & PM:
- Check on herd, note any odd behavior
- Feed alfalfa (2%-2.5% body weight of Chaffhaye daily for goats)
- Feed grain (only milkers if also feeding alfalfa) (feed at a rate of up to 1% body weight daily for does and adult bucks; feed milkers an additional 1 lb of grain daily for every 2-3 lbs milk produced; feed kids up to 1.5% body weight daily.)
- Minerals (free choice)
- 1 flake (or more depending on herd numbers) mixed grass hay (enough to keep them munching for 20 minutes)
- Bucket fresh water (warm water in winter), I put a small amount (1/2 cup per 5 gallons) apple cider vinegar in each water bucket to keep algae from growing and to promote overall health.
- (In winter you can add a pinch of kelp meal for iodine to their feed; their mineral needs are higher in winter)
Daily chores for healthy goats:
Rake under hay rack/bag at least once per day to remove soiled hay so they don’t eat it, but you can remove any wet spots and use the rest for bedding in winter.
Rake & “fluff” bedding in house daily, remove any wet spots
Once per week, change all bedding, sprinkle barn lime, baking soda, Sweet PDZ, or Stall Dry in any wet spots and then put in new bedding.
Once per week or anytime goat berries get in water bucket, wash bucket with warm, soapy water, let dry in sun
Clean mineral feeders whenever they get soiled
Rake outside pen as needed.
Health Care Goats need:
Regular Hoof trimming: I recommend monthly when they are under 6 months, then every other month until they are 1 year, then 4X a year (once per season).
Regular Deworming: Administer dewormer according to label instructions. Administer copper bolus at the rate of 1g per 22lbs, every 5-6 months. Examine your goats regularly to check for signs of parasites (scruffy coat (not smooth & shiny), pale gums & eyelids, pot belly with easy to feel ribs, coughing, etc.) Act immediately if you notice any of these. Worms multiply fast and affect some goats more than others especially in wet, warm conditions.
Vaccinations: We choose not to vaccinate unless absolutely necessary. If you decide to, you can give CD/T every year, sometimes another booster in that year if CD is suspected or a Tetanus booster if your goat gets a deep puncture wound.
Lice Control: Diatomaceous Earth works well, other products are also available.
When you start preparing to breed, you will need to ask your vet about BoSe shots, extra CD/T boosters (if you decide to vaccinate) and when it is safe to give these before, during or after pregnancy, etc.
Moving to a new home is stressful for the first few days. Be quiet and move slowly and talk to the goats to reduce stress. Watch carefully for health problems, which develop when a goat is stressed since goats naturally shed more parasite eggs when stressed and are more susceptible to disease. Keep up with their deworming schedule. Loose manure or very foul smelling manure could mean a coccidia problem. Any goat that seems depressed (not just napping), doesn’t want to eat, isn’t chewing their cud at all, strains when urinating or defecating, grinds their teeth (sign of pain, usually they do when lying down) or lies down and refuses to get up is sick to eat, drink, etc., contact your vet immediately. 99% of the time goats are healthy and the transition take only a few days for them to love their new home so don’t be overly anxious, just watch them to see what their normal behavior is and watch for changes. Most times goats are very subtle showing signs of illness so it’s important to watch for the little things to treat the early enough.