How we care for our goats 101
Feeding Program: Our goats get different feed based on whether they are pregnant, dry (not in milk), yearlings, kids (baby goats) or under weight. Everyone gets fresh water and free choice hay daily along with a mix of minerals: Kelp, Yeast, Basic loose mineral mix (SE 90 with copper), Black oil sunflower seeds, and free choice Baking soda. Everyone gets about a cup per day of a mixture of: MOB (Molasses/Oats/Barley), Alfalfa pellets, whole peas, and Calf Manna. We feed Chaffehaye (www.chaffehaye.com) at the ratio of 1 lb per 50 lbs of body weight. If the goat is under weight or producing high volumes of milk it may get another 1/2 lb of Chaffehaye per day. We watch our animals health and weight closely by both visually observing them and also putting our hands on them to feel muscle mass and make sure they are not loosing body condition. You have to touch your goats if you want to maintain good body condition vs waiting until you can visually see their weight loss....than it's a catch up game and usually costs more money and time to get them back to where you want them to be..at least that's what we believe here from our own personal experience.
We get most of our feed from Rietdyk's Milling company located at 512 Carty Rd in Ridgefield Wa. 360-887-8874
They are the closest supplier of our Chaffehaye and even though the drive is not short, they are a family run business that produces a very wonderful array of fresh grains for our goats. Our favorite grain mix base is the 'Dairy Blend' and the goats absolutely love it. We than add to that mix all the extras our goats love and make our own blend to meet our goat's specific needs. Susie is the main gal at the front desk and is pleasant and friendly to work with. I give this feed store a 10 for what they supply and how they supply it.
We purchase from 2 different places: PBS Animal Health (www.pbsanimalhealth.com), and Jeffers (www.jefferspet.com). PBS sells the Monoject Blood Collection tubes (Red top/10ml box of 100) we use for blood draws along with the needles and plastic tube needle holders. We have our favorite products that we get from each supplier and are sure you will develop your own favorites as well based on your farm needs. By ordering online at these two places, we get the best prices for making bulk purchases on the items we use all year long.
A typical healthy delivery should happen between day 143 and 153 from breeding. We separate our pregnant does 7 days prior to delivery (or prior to day 143) to protect the unborn kids and give the Dam time to rest away from the herd before kidding. We try to be home for every delivery to ensure no kids are lost, and so far that has been a success. Many does have needed assistance during kidding so we make it a point to be available the final 14 days of gestation. After the kids birth, we dip their navel cords in Iodine and get them a bottle of their own mother's colostrum. Since we love friendly babies and our primary goal is milk production, we separate the babies from moms right away. Kids are given a bottle 3-4x per day for the first few days and than 3x per day for 2 weeks...than down to 2x per day until weaning at 12 weeks. Often times the kids will be sold with in a few days of birth. We find this program works well for us and keep the Dam's milk production up from the beginning instead of going from nursing kids every few hours to 2x per day milkings.
After the doe has finished kidding, she gets a bucket of warm water with a little molasses in it, fresh hay, and a little grain. We come back to check after a couple hours or so to see if she has passed her placenta. After the doe has passed her placenta, we move her to a clean, freshly-bedded stall and clean the other stall right away.
Basic Health Care:
We Test annually for CAE, Johnes, Brucella and CL through WADDL in Pullman WA (Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab, www.waddl.vetmed.edu). This cost about $25 per goat for the whole panel and is worth every penny. We have maintained a negative herd ever since our herd began. While some breeders may see the purpose in keeping animals that are positive for some diseases it is not something we ever have been or ever will be comfortable with. New animals are put in quarantine until they have been tested and shown to be disease/illness free.
When we want to test for Pregnancy, those samples are sent to Biotracking Inc. (www.biotracking.com 1150 Alturas Dr Ste. 105 Moscow, Id 83843 Ph #: 208-882-9736) The pregnancy tests are $6.50 per goat and the CAE tests are $4.00 per goat. We typically have the CAE portion covered by using WADDL full panel but since the fee is so small we will usually check both boxes when submitting the sample for pregnancy. You can't ever be too cautious when it comes to the health of your herd.
We believe that fresh water and clean stalls is not an option. Our motto is, If you wouldn't drink the water yourself, don't expect your animals to either. We rinse our water buckets out every 2 or 3 days to remove any gunky build up....We like to see our flooring, stalls mats, etc…so, that means old hay, feed, poo is racked out weekly to keep the environment as clean as possible.
Buck kids are disbudded around 7 days old while some doe kids can wait until 14 days, depending on the horn growth. Males who will be wethers are banded between 8 & 12 weeks of age to give the urinary tract plenty of time to develop. This is important to remember.
Vaccines: We give 2 ml's of CDT at 4 weeks followed by a booster shot 30 days later for kids and 2 ml’s annually for adults. This vaccine is important to be given just before spring is in full bloom since it protects goats from over eaters disease. Most all feed stores carry CDT for about $10 for 20 ml's. If the Pregnant does receive their annual CDT 6 weeks prior to kidding then the kids will receive some of the vaccine from their Dam and be fine to not receive their first does until 12 weeks of age followed by a booster 30 days later. This is recommended by our vet since he does not believe the earlier (4/8 wks) doses of CDT are able to be properly absorbed by that young of a kid.
We also give 1 ml of BoSe at 24 hours old and 1 ml again annually. If a goat is sick or a buck is in a long season of Rut we will give a BoSe booster shot. BoSe must be purchased through a vet and cost around $25 for a 100Ml bottle.
We typically deworm our goats 4 times yearly with chemical dewormers. We use Ivomectin, Valbazen and sometimes Safe-Guard. We repeat the dosing in 21 days, to prevent re-infestation. If a goat has not one sign of a worm infestation we will skip their treatment. For the ones who will show signs, we collect a stool sample and drop it off at the vet to know exactly which worm we're dealing with. Unless this is done, it is very difficult to completely eradicate the problem since not all wormers kill all worms. We trim hooves every 2 months in general but does in milk seem to need it more like every month. We clean stalls weekly; using a mix of pine shavings and straw depending on the season. In the winter months, the shavings help absorb the wetness better so we add that below the straw bedding. We have plenty of pasture for our goats to roam during the day and they are well enclosed as night to be protected from predators, mainly coyotes.
Here's my personal list of things I always keep on hand...it's not exhausted but it's the basics I think any breeder needs if they own more than just a goat or two. Note: When I say 'store' I mean most local feed stores OR at the online stores I've listed above under Medical Suppliers. Most items are less expensive online but watch out for shipping since that will sometimes put the price higher than the local feed store cost. Having these items on hand and having a vet to call for a guideline has saved my goats time and time again over the years. It does cost a lot to keep the shelf stocked, but when you think of one goat being purchased for $300-$700 than the supplies seem well worth the investment to keep the goats alive and healthy. Especially if you own 10 or more goats since at that point calling out a vet for every need is probably not a feasible option.
---- Thiamine (straight Vit B which comes from a vet, NOT B complex which you get from the store!! For possible goat polio, given 2x per year unless a goat is showing signs of thiamine deficiency, than they get much more in a short window of time, check with your vet for directions in that case)
----- Calcium gel from a vet (for milk fever aka Hypoglycemia)
------Probiotics paste (Store)
-------Banamine (from a vet, for severe inflammation and pain)
-------A syringe full of thawed Colostrum (why not)
-------Propalyne Glycol (to induce appetite, from store)
--------Red Cell (iron from store)
-------Bio sponge paste (from a vet, in case the goat ingested something poisonous
-------BoSe (from vet)
-------CDT (From feed store, annual vaccine)
---Antibiotics: Nuflor (vet), LA 200 (store), Pen G (store) Each one is used based on the illness so I keep them all in stock.
----------Frankincense (doTerra essential oil) because anyone, including animals, who gets sick, get's Franked... :)
------------Anesthesia paste (from vet, in case it is in sever pain or has to have emergency surgery)
---------Wound Coat (anesthetic spray for basic wounds, from store)
------Wormers: Valbazen, Safeguard, Ivermectin (all from store)...again, all are used for diff worms and situations so all are kept stocked.
----------Copper Bolus (given every 6 months, from store)
------- a drenching gun and tube to get fluids in
----- rubber gloves
----Disbudding iron and disbudding box
-----------Banding gun and rubber bands for males
---------Plenty of syringes and blood drawing needles
--------bucket of fresh water
---and last but NOT least: A Simple Pulse milk machine (www.simplepulse.net)! Very inexpensive and Very necessary on any small dairy farm!!!
We will occasionally offer a buck for servicing does in standing heats. The fee will not include overnight stays as we do not want to encourage this in an effort to keep our herd healthy and free of illness. It will be listed on the bucks ‘header’ with it’s name and will often be a buck that is currently for sale. This is a service that we typically only offer to an owner who has previously purchased a doe from us. It's quite frankly a hassle when a doe won't settle and we may end up entertaining the same breeding 2-4x taking up countless hours of time for a very small fee. We see this as a courtesy we can offer based on our availability through out the year.
DHI Milk testing Info:
We are set up to do our milk testing through Washington Dairy Herd Improvement Association. Kathy Sackman has been outstanding to help us understand the paper work and make sure our tests are submitted correctly. This is our 3rd consecutive year of participating in this great service.
Contact Kathy her at: email@example.com by email or 1-360-755-0375 by phone to get set up on milk testing. This is a valuable way to know what's in your milk and have online records to show your herds production. While the paper work can seem very confusing at first, I would encourage you to not give up and to remember that after you submit samples enough it really does become like second nature to fill out the needed information.
After you've contacted Kathy (or whoever you choose based on your state) than you'll want to turn in an application with ADGA which you can find by copying this link: http://adga.org/performance-programs/production-testing/. This is a two step process: Setting up where you'll send the samples to for testing (your local DHI), and than paying the fees and turning in the application with ADGA so your milk tests can be recorded under the goat you have on test. Contact Penny with ADGA at: firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions on the second end of the process.
If you get stuck and can't reach Kathy with DHI or Penny with ADGA please send me an email at email@example.com and I'd be happy to try and help. I'm no expert but I know having help can make the difference between someone testing and someone not testing. We, as breeders, need to support each other whenever possible to succeed as a community.
ADGA Linear Appraisal:
Each year we have a judge representing the American Dairy Goat Association (www.adga.org) come out and judge our herd. Applications must be submitted by 1/31 to ensure you'll make the schedule.
Copy this link to read up on it more: http://adga.org/performance-programs/linear-appraisal/ or Contact Penny with ADGA at: firstname.lastname@example.org. She handles all LA questions and is very helpful when trying to figure out what's what.