Posts Tagged ‘goat care’

sarah are you kidding www..anniesgoathill.comAre you kidding? No, we are not having kids. We are designing a cover…finally!

I have hired the excellent services of Jennifer Smith, talented owner and operator of Eco-Office Gals.

I am thrilled to be at the stage of final formatting of this book, and to have someone with fresh (and trained) eyes helping me with cover design.

This means that I get the book out to you…and yes, I have a growing waiting list, and, I can roll forward on my next books — a devotional, a children’s fiction book which brings fun things to the farm, and a future 2nd edition of Annie’s All About Goats.

As Sarah, the lovely gal pictured above, would say, “Mehhh! Mehhh!” Move forward!

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The youth fiction book that I am writing is coming together nicely.

I am falling in love with the main characters, Delilah and Jasper, two young Nubian goats.

I never dreamed I would write fiction, much less a book intended for children. Before I started the book I found myself thinking about all of the goats that we have raised, all of the kids, and how I have loved farm animals from a very young age, as as far back as I can remember. At that point it became clear to me that I needed to tell my story.

The book is fiction, but it contains a lot of learning tips that children can pick up on, scenes from my own experiences, and it contains fun chapters where a child can wander  through the thoughts and antics of a very young goat.

With only a small story or two that I am still pondering on adding, I’ve begun editing the book.

I will soon announce a deadline. I am excited to place this adventure in the delighted hands of a child. I can see myself as a youth wearing the pages of the book out. My dream is to give that gift to another.

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Chameaqua – Snubian Dairy Goat

I fed the last bottle of the season today.  This is always a bittersweet day on our farm.  And it also reminds me that I promised a bottle feeding article!

There are several cautions that I want to give regarding bottle feeding.  First, never over feed a kid goat.  In the case of newborn and young goats,  love (through heavy feedings) can kill.  Secondly, if you are not feeding goat milk to the kid, select a well-balanced milk replacer.  The milk replacer label must state that it can be fed to kid goats, and the replacer must contain copper (a very necessary mineral to a goat) .   When mixing the milk replacer carefully follow the package instructions, it is much better to add slightly less replacer to the warm water than it is too much (too rich formula).  Be consistent with your measurements each and every feeding.

In the past we fed our newborn and young goats until their bellies felt full, and until they began “playing with the nipple” (showing a lack of interest, indicating fullness).  We fed up to 20 ounces per bottle, 3 times a day, to the kids that were at least several weeks old.  The bottle fed goats became sick more often than the dam fed goats.  We now feel that the problems we were experiencing were due to overfeeding, leading to bloat, and leading to the kids not having an interest in hay or grain.

To get an idea of how much to feed a kid goat, watch one nursing on their mother.  The dam allows the kid to nurse but not for long periods of time.  She basically allows the kid to drink a little (almost a “slurp” as we lovingly call it), then she makes the kid stop.  Kids nurse often, but not for an extended period of time.  Hence, when we bottle feed very large quantities of milk, we are allowing the kid to drink more than he would if he were “on” his mother.  Overfeeding leads to deadly bloat, scours, and other over-eating issues.

This is the bottle feeding schedule we follow:

  • Day One – Always feed colostrum! Up to 6 ounces per feeding, every 4 hours.
  • Day Two – Colostrum.  Up to 8 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Day Three – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day (gradually lower the amount of colostrum in the mix).
  • Day Four – Colostrum mixed with goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Next Two Weeks – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 4 times a day.
  • Up to 2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 3 times a day.
  • Up to 2 1/2 months old – Goat milk or milk replacer.  10-12 ounces per feeding, 2 times a day.
  • At 2 1/2 months old begin weaning.  Lower the amount of milk per feeding by about an ounce per day (or two ounces if the kid eats hay very readily).  This encourages the kid to eat more hay and grain, depending upon the bottle less each day.

We wean our kids between 2 1/2 and 3 months old.

From the beginning of a kid’s life, always provide access to good quality hay.  A kid will eat hay better if he is near other kids that eat hay.  Goats learn to eat hay by example (normally from their dam on the day they are born)! We provide a creep feeder.  It is a feeder that allows the kid(s) to enter a feeding area, where they have access to hay, without competition from larger goats.

We offer a very small amount of grain to our kid goats.  Normally, the dairy grain that we feed to the goats that are being milked is also offered to the kid goats.  Again, do NOT overfeed, a small handful (1/4 cup per kid) is plenty.  Encourage hay eating, especially a good quality alfalfa mix.  In colder temperatures, hay is what keeps a goat warm, through digestion (their rumen).

We prefer Pritchard brand nipples.  There are other brands of “lambing” nipples on the market.  The nipple hole in a Pritchard can be cut very small (for a newborn) or larger for a goat several weeks old.  Also, Pritchard’s have a valve ball that helps to control the milk flow and air.

Always feed a goat kid in a fashion that makes them hold their head up, similar to how they reach up to the udder when nursing from their dam.  Following this practice helps ensure milk does not enter their lungs, and helps to prevent bloat as well.

Never force feed a goat kid.  We published an article here:  Colostrum – The Most Important Nutrition In A Kid’s Life, and here, Reviving Chilled Kid Goats (that discusses kid goats unable to nurse).

You may also enjoy reading, Dam Vs. Bottle Raised Kids.

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – where you can Smell and Feed the Goodness!

Note: Adjust the feeding amount for smaller breed goats. The feeding schedule remains the same, but you will need to adjust. On average, our kids ranged from 6-9 pounds at birth.

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Sometimes we need a course on goat psychology…but then, if we understand them tomorrow, we might not understand them the next day.

We moved a handful of goats to the new farm, ahead of the others.

We did not mow the tall grass in their new pasture.  We also knew the cedars and the tree saplings would be a nutrition-filled delicacy for the goats as well.

We chose the thinnest, oldest, and most “needy” of our “girls” for the first move.  I wanted them to experience the fresh new pasture.


We should have known.  No, in fact, we did know but never thought it would happen to our goats.  They did not touch the greenery for the first 3 days.  Each day when we arrived to feed hay, yes, we still supplement (in a lesser quantity), we observed the does getting thinner.

Our determination is that they were 1) stressed because we moved them, 2) spoiled to their old barn and twice-a-day hay feedings.  Of course, they had no idea we moved them from an almost bare lot to something totally alive and healthy!

The good news is they are now eating.

Lesson learned, and shared.  It really is best to not move an overly thin goat, or one that isn’t feeling well to begin with (our goats were not that serious).  Even if you are moving them to better conditions, they are sensitive animals and could become ill from stress alone.

All are happy now!

Annie’s Goat Hill Handcrafted Soaps – Smell and Feed the Goodness

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Goats cannot fend for themselves when they are tethered (collared and tied) to a fence post or tree.

Goats are prey to wild animals, such as coyotes.

If you must tether a goat, only do so when a livestock guard animal is present, and only tether for short periods of time, making sure the goat is supervised.

Always provide shelter and fresh water.  Goats easily “go down” with pneumonia and other diseases when they are exposed to wet and cold conditions with no means to get out of the weather.  Stress is very difficult on goats.

Goats are wonderful weed-eaters, they truly clean up grassy and weed infested areas with gusto…but please, please, please, protect their lives.  Their only defense to prey is to head butt and run.

Please pass the word along – tether responsibly (or not at all).

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Colostrum, the thick, sticky, yellowish “milk” that a dam produces during the first several days after birthing has a huge significance in a newborn goat kid’s life. 

Newborn kids are born with little or no immunity to disease.  Unlike some mammals,  a dam’s immunities are not passed on to their offspring through the placenta.  Once a kid is born it has no protection from the environment, be it susceptibility to the ambient temperature or microbes, until a sufficient amount of colostrum is ingested. 

A newborn kid should receive approximately 10% of its body weight in colostrum the first day of life, ideally in the first 6 to 12 hours of birth. The rule of thumb on our farm is within the first 2-3 hours.  The absorption rate factors of the protective qualities of colostrum drop considerably after the first 6 to 12 hours.

If a doe gives birth and cannot nurse her newborn kid, or if the newborn cannot nurse for any reason, getting colostrum into their system via a bottle is a must.  The best solution is to milk the dam and feed it back to the kid, heat-treating the colostrum if (CAE or other disease prevention) is preferred. 

If the dam cannot be milked, colostrum from another goat from the same farm is optimal.  This  the proper anti-bodies, unique to the farm, are contained in the colostrum.

The next best first-feeding solution is colostrum from a goat from another farm, preferably a nearby area. 

Colostrum is available in powdered form.  I personally do not agree with using it, unless absolutely nothing else is available.  Ready-made colostrum does not provide any life-saving protection from disease, however, it does provide initial nutrition.  I recommend to a goat owner that breeds to keep a frozen bottle of colostrum, or two, in their freezer. 

Please note:  if a newborn kid is chilled, unable to nurse, never attempt a forced feeding.  To ensure the organs in the body are warm enough to function properly, the kid’s internal temperature must fall within the correct range.  I outlined the steps that we take on our farm to assist chilled newborn kids in a blog post here.

Colostrum deprivation is a known condition that results from a lack of colostrum in a newborn kid’s first 6-12 hours of life.  The condition results in a sick newborn, one that does not fight infection well, and one that may not mature properly throughout their life.

Happy kidding and goat-raising!

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Goats require selenium for optimum health.  Unfortunately, soil in much of the United States, and other countries, is deficient in selenium.  When soil is lacking in selenium, so are the grains and hay that are produced from the deficient area. 

What is selenium? Selenium is a trace mineral essential to health, but needed only in small amounts.  Selenium is important to a goat for proper gait, healthy pregnancies, and strong kids that grow well.  Selenium deficiency can lead to White Muscle Disease (commonly –  newborn kids with weak legs) and can affect the immune system as well. 

How can selenium deficiency be prevented?

  1. Check to see if the soil in your area is deficient.  Use as an example only – an older map of selenium status in the United States can be found here.  If you are unsure if your area has a selenium deficiency, ask your county agriculture extension office, a local goat club, or find an online group with members that raise goats in your area. 
  2. If your area is deficient, supplement your goats throughout the year with quality minerals that contain both selenium and vitamin E (and other needed minerals, such as copper). 
  3. An annual injection of selenium may also be needed. 

Can too much selenium be given to a goat? Yes! When injecting a goat with a selenium supplement, follow your veterinary instructions very carefully.  We use an injection called Bo-Se (a combination of selenium and vitamin E).  The prescribed amount is 1 ML per 40 lbs of goat weight.  If a kid is born weak, for example, and the kid weighs 10 lbs, we give an injection of no more than 1/4 ml.  Too much selenium can be toxic! Follow instructions carefully.  Toxicity does not normally occur from feeds containing selenium, but toxicity does occur from injections.  Too much selenium results in the same symptoms as a lack of, and the toxicity normally cannot be reversed.

What are the signs of selenium deficiency? Weak legs.  Kids born dead or too weak to nurse.  Stunted growth.  Poor coats.  Poor gait.  A lack of milk.  Abortions and kids that are resorbed (fetus absorbed by the doe early in pregnancy).  

What do we do on our farm to prevent selenium deficiency? Loose mineral supplementation.  Feed alfalfa mix hay in additional to pasture.  A selenium vaccine is given during gestation, 30-45 days prior to the doe’s due date (assists both the doe and the unborn kid, boosts birthing strength as well).   Supplementing the bucks in a deficient area will also help prevent immune diseases, and will assist with the production of semen. 

As always, be cautious with any injections, supplements or medications.  Follow your veterinarian’s advice.   Educate yourself.  Remember, though, do what works best for your farm and your region! For example, management practices that work in Southern California may not work in Ohio due to a difference in climate, soil, and the overall condition of your animals.

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