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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I pray that you never have to do it…but just in case you need help with a newborn kid that has been chilled – wet and very exposed to harsh winter temperatures, unresponsive (or nearly so), I am repeating a post that may help you:

Reviving A Chilled Newborn Goat Kid

Best wishes with your kidding season!

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As the fog lifted this morning I enjoyed the beauty, the quiet, and the cool air.  It (the cool air) did not last long, but I am still purposely treasuring summer, despite the drought and the heat.  Winter will be on its way before we know it. 

I mentioned drought because, as you can see in the photo, between the sidewalk and the trench to the right of it (not quite filled in yet from our well installation last spring), there is no grass, and what is available is brown. 

The goats are struggling to find grass to graze on. 

The goats are on hay, which is important to their well-being.  A good alfalfa blend is fed twice a day on our farm during times when pasture is scarce. 

I also feed minerals from a bag, but a truly top-notch mineral for a goat is browse.  Goats are browsers in their natural habitats (mountains and hill-sides).  A large shrub or tree, a deep-rooted plant, supplies an immense value of natural minerals to a goat.

I made a track around the farm this morning, slicing off branches from various trees such as apple, maple, and spruce. 

The goats had a feast, one that was healthy-as-it-could-be.

Fall is a great time to gather up leaves for goats.  Have you seen a goat chase after a leaf? Sometimes they catch them as they drift down from a tree, before the leaf has been able to float to the ground.  It really is an entertaining sight.  Exercise, fun, and minerals combined into one great escapade!

When feeding browse, be aware that certain plants, especially ornamental yard plants, are highly poisonous to a goat.  A good reference point is the list of edible and poisonous plants at the Fiasco Farm website.

Enjoy your goating…or even if you don’t have goats, I hope you enjoyed a few tidbits on raising goats!

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Reviving Chilled Newborn Goat

I have a method for reviving a very chilled newborn goat (kid).

Sharing of my method is not intended to replace veterinary advice.

Planning the breeding of a goat to ensure kidding occurs during warmer weather is optimal, but sometimes the best laid plans do not fall into place.   A dam may become confused with twins, triplets, or she simply may lose interest (or never gain it with a newborn).  What that being said, there is a necessity for knowing how to revive a very chilled newborn goat kid.

Facts first:

  • Normal goat temperature is 102-104
  • A newborn kid will not retain its own body heat until it has nutrition in its digestive system (colostrum)
  • A newborn goat kid must receive sufficient colostrum within the first 4 hours of their life (to retain body heat, get their digestive system working, immunities built, and to protect from health problems that can occur within their first few days or weeks)
  • A very chilled goat kid cannot, and will not, nurse.  Do not attempt to drip liquids down their throat.  If they are very chilled, to the point they cannot nurse, the liquids will more than likely reach their lungs and drowning can occur, or pneumonia will set in very rapidly.

A thermometer is the best method for taking a goat’s temperature, however, inserting your finger in a newborn’s mouth, touching the back of their tongue area, is a very good indicator of the kid’s temperature.

When a chilled newborn kid is found, depending upon how cold they are, how wet they are, and if they have had any colostrum, they may exhibit signs of near-death such as extreme legarthy, slow respiration, drawing of the head to the left, or a weak heartbeat.  In all of these cases, run, don’t walk, to begin reviving the kid.  Minutes are left in the newborn’s life!

My method:

  • Place the kid in a sink of water (as close to normal goat body temperature as possible).  Keep the newborn’s nose and mouth out of the water.  Maintain the water as close to temperature as possible.  If the kid is very chilled you may find the water cools down quickly.
  • Maple, corn syrup, or molasses.  I keep a bottle of maple or corn syrup in a cabinet next to the sink.  As I hold the kid in the water, I pour a couple of teaspoons of syrup into a small bowl.  I dip my finger into the syrup and rub a small amount into the kid’s cheeks.  Repeat several times.
  • As the kid’s body temperature nears a safe level they will begin to jerk or shiver.  Until the kid begins to do either, their body temperature is probably not climbing.
  • Once the kid is more alert (temperature nearer to normal) I pull them from the warm water, quickly wrap them in a dry towel, and begin drying their coat with a hand held hair dryer.  Caution, light massage is a good thing, but never be overly rough with towel rubbing, etc…, kids can only take so much when they are already exhausted.  When drying the coat, to avoid burning the skin, do not hold the dryer too close, or in one position.  Use sweeping movements.  I try to gently massage with one hand, while holder the dryer with another.
  • Once the kid is dry their body temperature has probably increased greatly.  They should be more alert, but will likely still be showing signs of impending death.  At this point I administer liquids through injection.  Using a 20 gauge needle, 1/2″, I begin injecting Dextrose (use the 5% solution, and/or the Dextrose solution manufactured specifically for injections), SQ (under their skin), in the area between the shoulder blades.  Pinch the skin to form a “tent” and inject just under the skin.  The kid can survive off of the SC liquid for several hours.  I normally inject 3 ML Dextrose, repeat, until a “hump” has raised between the shoulder blades.  Within 15-20 minutes you will notice the hump going down.  This means the body is absorbing the liquid, a very good thing.  If the kid has not revived fully, revive this process as new fluids are needed.  The kid’s body will absorb all of the liquids it needs via the injected liquids.  I also keep Lactated Ringers on hand (a bag of saline IV solution purchased from the vet).  In extreme cases, I will rotate my injections between Dextrose and Lactated Ringers.  Keep the kid wrapped in a dry towel, and make sure they are in a warm location.
  • Again, do not try to force liquids down the kid.  They will develop pneumonia, and they cannot nurse (or swallow properly) until their body functions resume to a normal level.  Once the kid is hydrated and their body temperature is normal they genrally want to nurse.

Revival of a chilled kid is a gradual process.  Do not expect results in 5 minutes.

Once you have had to do the process several times, you begin to notice the heartbeat (just by touch), respiration (by watching the nose and chest), and how the kid looks in the eyes as you go through the revival process.  Goats have what looks like an angry, not bright, look to their eyes when they are not well.

One last note, always keep frozen colostrum on hand.  You never know when you will need it this type of emergency.

If you need help with anything I have said here, please let me know!

Do not forget to talk to the kid as you work with them.  They respond to voice.  Goats give up easily when they do not feel well…your voice may just be enough reassurance to help them cross the bridge to a healthy long life!

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