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Theories Of Happy Goat Keeping

-Number One Golden Rule of Goat Ownership-Rotation Wormer Every Single Month!

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I am creating this report of information based on my own stumbling as a beginner goat owner. The information I have collected is from various sources which I will try to sight for your convenience with links to the websites so you can read the whole articles. I'll probably write a book soon. I'd like to learn how to make goat products first, but the book might get ahead of me...lol.

  • Knowledge and Prevention are worth ten pounds of cure and four days of washing a goat's backside with a hose!

 

 

 

  • Milk Goiters seem to be a normal part of growing up. Our first set of babies gave us a fright when half of them developed swollen throats. It seems the thyroid gland swells and is part of the immune system! Who would have guessed.

 

  • Abscesses are something a goat gets because they are usually into the thorns and head butting each other, but, abscesses could be more. I wrote up information on how to lance abscesses and some of the common causes of them. Wood and bacteria seem to go hand in hand. After learning what I have I am highly considering changing our wooden feeders to rubber so they can be bleached.

 

  • At the time I write this it is my second year of being a small herd owner. Our first five goats arrived before the goat shed; our first spring on the farm. (I figured if I bought the goats my hubby would have to build the barn. Sneaky right?) I do recommend having the shed first; and six strands of electric fence hooked to an 18,000 volt charger. (If it doesn't knock you flat, it won't phase a master escape artist!) In March 2010 we experienced the gauntlet of grandparenthood as our fourteen goats delivered the next generation into the world. In the heat of battle, I looked down at a seemingly lifeless infant which was coming around after being born an hour earlier and shunned by its mother because it did not wobble instantly to its feet. After forcing Kero Syrup into the infant's mouth for several hours while standing in front of a heater and leaning on my washer in the laundry room I turned and said to my tired looking hubby, "You know, we work awful hard to save the life of our food." At that point we started laughing because neither one of us ever looked at the small bundles dropping in the hay on an almost daily basis as food. They, to us were, and are, little personalities wrapped in fur on four spring-loaded legs. I have yet to regret taking the day off because my kids are sick. LOL

 

 

       

  Barns and Fences

 

  • Don't go AWOL building a huge fancy goat barn, unless you are going to show, because you'll soon find the herd would rather sleep outside unless it is raining or snowing. Oh, and forget building it at the bottom of the hill where you can easily walk to feed them. Goats instinctively like the highest spot they can reach. Actually small "dog houses" that can hold five goats snuggled up is probably better than the eight by sixteen shed I built. (By accident, I discovered that goats love shelves. I had a set of wooden steps I was using to get on my horse, which really didn't work, so I hung up some fly stickers in the goat barn, got side tracked, as normal, and went up to the barn the next morning to find a goat had claimed the steps. Since then I've added some plywood boxes that I've built "billy buck tough.") The herd loves their shed. They also like pallets, old logs, and even those plastic outdoor toys minus the slides. To keep them from being tipped over, wedge them between two posts. Wire them in place. (If you use rope there is always one goat in the bunch that develops a taste for it.)

 

  • Fencing

    I highly recommend four strands. Five for Pygmies! The bottom line should be no more than six inches off the ground.  Four for Pygmies! Once the herd has learned its lesson the bottom strand can be taken off line to keep you from going nuts weed whacking. (Your out of luck if you're raising pygmies!) Though they are eight dollars, placing a few cut off switches at strategic locations make it a snap to turn lines on and off. You can find which section is shorting this way, too!  Investing in a "short locator" will also keep you from going bonkers when the fence goes down- and it will!  The handheld gadget is a hundred dollars, but, trust me, after you spend three days of your life chasing down a broken insulator you can't even tell is broke, you'll be glad you did.  To cover dips between the fencing and the ground use an old piece of barn wood or pipe, then run a short "fake" line in front of it.  Creeks can present a golden opportunity when summer arrives.  String a piece of mining belt on a chain or some tires across to block the hole.  (They float up and down with the water level.)  Always keep at least one strand of wire live. Goats hear the ticking of the electric and you can be sure they know when it's down!   

  •  PS-Invest in a pair of hand held radios. This will keep you from crawling in and out of fences to plug in the charger. You won't have to do an Alpine yodel across the hillside to tell the better half to turn it on and off, either. 

  • PS- if your goats get loose go to the high ground or your neighbor's fanciest flower beds. Which, by the way, you can be sued for damages if the herd eats them. (Now you know why my electric fence can knock me flat!)  You can tie a bell around the herd leader, but, if you want to sleep at night (and the herd is behind your house) I don't recommend it.

 

  • Fencing-For new goats we have a "shock pen" to teach them that the electric wire means business. Living next to a highway that has claimed three of our cats, I sure don't want my livestock out there. To train new goats, line the four strands of wire with a second fence of mesh wire. Usually, goats jump through the fence when they get shocked. You don't want them to do this. You want them to jump back, and learn to jump back.
     

  • Amusing Fence- If you want to watch a goat "rub itself silly" take chicken wire and firmly ring a tree with it. They literally wear the wire out. So saying, don't use chicken mesh unless you are using it as a backing behind electric wire. While lattice work looks cute, and does block holes, goats find great pleasure in methodically tearing cuteness apart. Along that line, plastic mesh does not work at all. Goats like the taste of plastic.

 

  • Keep a donkey in with your herd. Preferably get a baby or one that has been raised with goats. A donkey not raised with goats may actually attack them if they get to bleating. I had a Jack I wanted to breed to my Jenny and I shudder to think what would have happened to my goat if I had not been present. It became separated from its mother and bawled out. The Jack attacked it, carrying it fifty feet before I could land a piece of 2x4 across his butt. Needless to say he was caught and taken to auction- as he had broken down my fence to get in with the Jenny in the first place. He had also bit both my horses and that was the last straw for this particular Jack. I now have a nice black one who is a very gentle soul. We are expecting his first babies in August.  A donkey will attack and kill dogs and coyotes. If the dogs are introduced by the owner and the donkey is a baby growing up with dogs the chances of a house pet being attacked are slim- but- if your neighbors German Shepherd decides it's going to have fun cornering your goat herd- it's donkey to the rescue!

 

  • Keep in mind if a herd is terrified the members will stack on top of each other and even suffocate their own herd members! (I witnessed this first hand when my goats were attacked by the neighbor's dog during the night.) This is why having a baby box is extremely important! An area inaccessible to the adults is a must and should be sectioned if you have a lot of babies.  Mothers are stupid when it comes to suffocating or stepping on their young. Feeding time is mayhem! Keep youngsters out of the adults way by providing a separate feeding area just for them. And the mothers will hog every kernel of food and do whatever it takes to get into the baby area! You would be amazed what lengths they'll go! Think ahead of the opportunist! I would recommend putting "stall walls" up in the form of skids  to create mini spaces in a large spacious area.  The whole herd can "separate" itself mentally. They seem to be calmer and bicker less if each click has its own niche.
     

 New Goats

  • New goats should be kept out of the herd for three months if purchased from a dealer. I do not recommend buying livestock from a livestock yard, EVER. This is a place people drop off their sick goats and contaminate the soil. If you must purchase from this source keep the stock away from your herd for six months. You will be sorry if you don't! Period.

 

  •  Even when you buy from your best friend you should keep new goats separate. I just made this mistake. A new billy my friend bought  was in the early stage of Sore Mouth. I purchased what I thought were two healthy does I had seen often. Guess what they gave my entire herd! Even if you see the new goats every day separate them from your main herd for a spell- no matter how inconvenient. In good conscience I could not sell any of my goats for months until the stuff cleared. If this had happened during kidding season I could have lost my babies.

 

  • A new goat may not fit into the herd. You must do what is right for the whole herd. If you have a bruiser or one that is being so harassed it won't eat you will have to make a choice to either start a small herd or get it a new home. It will take at least four days for all the head butting to stop so make sure the new goat is up for the beating! If possible introduce more than one- three seems to be a magic number. You can always get rid of the extras once the one you want settles in or keep a couple of goats separate from the herd just for this reason. A pair of nice withers, perhaps, that can mow the lawn and weed whack the fence line? When you intro the withers with the new goat they can distract the herd. Be sure the withers are BIGGER than the does. Smaller withers may get brutalized by a herd of larger does.

 

Unwanted Guests

 

  • Cattle Grubs (warble fly or heel fly) are nasty- double nasty- bee like flies that lay eggs on the hair of an animal. You can read all about them on the internet. Below are some sites that made me cringe at the little boogers life-cycle. Spray dog flea spray on the legs of animals and hit the eggs with corn oil or baby oil then peel them off with a bot comb.  Bot Flies are just as disgusting and lay eggs on legs and underbellies if they get the chance.

 

  • A discharge from the nose that is not from normal sweating could be an upper respiratory infection that could need an antibiotic. It could be too much dust or an exposure to mold. If there is crusty stuff around the outside of his nostrils which is kind of brown in color, it may be nose bots. The recommended fix for this to inject 1cc per 110 pounds of 1% Ivermectin Injectible given orally. Under the skin burns and the goats react like they have been stung by a million bees. Sneezing may also be a symptom of the pests.

  • Suspect worms. Worms kill. Like calves, a goat's world is plagued with bacteria and worms even before its feet hit the ground. Goats should be wormed as soon as your veterinarian recommends it and wormed every month without fail. I use Safeguard and have had good results until I put the herd out in a two acre pasture. For three months of this summer in '09 I have been plagued with goats getting diarrhea. I took a fecal specimen into my vet and it was polluted with round worms! It was so bad that she recommended injecting Noromectin (ivermectin) to the whole herd using the cow dosage.  If you do use this, stand back because the goat's reaction is quite- how to put it- like a kid throwing a fit. It must sting because they bawl and dance around for a few minutes, then, they are okay. The first time I saw this I freaked because the vet failed to mention the reaction. I gave the injection on a hillside and the goat- and I- went for a tumble. Now, I tie the goat on a flat location. Do not go above the dosage is what the vet sternly told me. Personally, I think I might use this once a year during the height of the worm season because it does kill all worms, but, it's rough on the goat and soft-hearted "Mamma" owner. Since had another vet tell me to use it orally and it works. It is the only thing that kills "Ninja" worm which is picked up from deer and goes to the brain. Vet recommended worming the deer population with crumbled wormer, too. Put it in corn. I haven't gone to this length yet.

 I continued to have problems, though. A friend of mine bumped into a Nubian breeder who might have stumbled across an explanation for my current dilemma. She stated the wormer was based on goats kept in highly clean labs, not goats kept  in fields that are exposed to mud, muck, and rodent pooh - including woodchucks, skunks and rabbits! Now the light bulb went on! Figuratively speaking. The source of my problem!

 

        To combat; she recommended 8 cc of Safeguard goat wormer, rotating my fields and putting lime down where they hang out most of the time, especially around the watering trough. I have also been told diemetric red earth is good for worms and even humans can ingest it. It can be used on the ground safely during kidding season. (That said, I've had a problem with my cat and dog with worms.  Guess what likes to visit the watering trough?) I am in the midst of the battle, and shall report back with the results. I will state that I gave 8cc of wormer to two goats two days ago- that have had diarrhea for five days and both seem to be clearing up. The best way to know what type of worms you are dealing with is a microscope. You may want to worm every three weeks during the summer, too.

 

        An update. I now rotate my wormers. I also found that when using Safeguard to repeat the dose four days later at half the dosage. Worm thirty days later with a different wormer. The Zimermctin Gold horse wormer idea works on tape worms which  I have yet to find a tape wormer for a goat. I used 1cc per 100lbs of body weight. I mix some yogurt in so I can see they did not spit out the clear gel. (Best used in the Spring to catch tapeworms.) Also I use the in feed pellets.

 

        Update to the Tapeworm: At Goat Ladies website I found the following advise and verifiable pictures. I am ordering the and hope to get some results.


        "Enter the use of Valbazen (I use it at the rate of 1cc/10lbs goat weight) and this is an oral anthelmintic (dewormer) only.

        Do NOT use on pregnant does or suspected pregnant does. Is very effective against most stomach worms, liver fluke  and tapeworms as well as lungworm." Go to her sight HERE to see her results.

        Personally I would not recommend a low dosage feed daily because this creates the chance for Super Worms as they develop a resistance over time.

 

        Wormers then include:

             Safeguard- great for pregnant does and new babies. Infants should get .5cc two days after they are born and

                              another dose of 1cc after they are two weeks old. If they are big kids it is safe to double this- 10

                              plus lbs.

              Ivermectin Drench- use for mites and lice on pregnant does. I'd rather use the injection Ivermectin, but, the

                               reaction is so startling I don't want the stress put on a pregnant doe, myself.

                               It does treat worms, too.

             Injection Ivermection (Noromectin is the same thing and cheaper.) Suppose to kill everything.

                                1cc per 110lbs. Goats react like they had been stung by a thousand bees so be ready. I am

                                using it orally as the vet recommended.

                               Studies are finding that worms are becoming resistant to this drug. Rotation is key.

             One Dosage Feed thru- This one means feeding each individual goat.

             Zimermectin Gold- nowhere on the package does it say goat. Use at your discretion.

                               1 cc to 100lbs of body weight.

             Quest- Another horse wormer that absolutely kills mites and lice!

                        Do not- repeat- do not use it on a pregnant animal- ever!

                         A mare will abort her fetus and the same problems will occur for a goat and all the mayhem

                        that comes with it. I would recommend this for withers and animals not intended for breeding.

                        1cc to 100lbs.

                        External use on mite infested ears, behind hooves and under leg pits should not exceed dosage

                        so mix it with hand lotion and use gloves- unless you suspect you have worms. LOL

                        Follow with an oral dosage in 2 weeks  to really nail the bugs! (Nowhere on the package does it

                        say goat so use this advise at your own discretion.)

 

            

  • Keep bedding area clean. If pooh goes in the mouth you can bet, round two of the worms is not far behind. Lime bedding area and put down fresh bedding over this. Goats seem to like rocky ledges. Capitalize on this by providing  high spots in the barn that are easy to clean. Like heavy plastic kids toys that are very firmly wired to the walls. You can wash these down with bleach and move them around. You can even leave them outside and let the rain do the job!

 

  •  As a side note you might be interested in  wormer for yourself. Check Out Humans VS Parasites .

    I am firmly convinced many illnesses are being caused or aggravated by these pests.

    Of course, the medical society does not want you to hear this. (We are above worms, right?) The money they make on monthly prescriptions for depression meds must be ungodly! Let's face it, we are mammals. When our animal's coats are rough and they are acting fatigued or depressed what's the first thing we suspect? Duh, right? {Actually, on our farm, we give our goats Prozac and a chair and I tell them their problems are being caused by a bullying billy. By the way, that will be ten rounds of  cheese or your first born twin as payment for this session. (I apologize for that, Lord. That was not funny.)}

     

            Adding to this, people in the farming community should also receive a tetanus shot more often than the average computer  geek. I've been told we "field goats" of humanity should receive a shot every three years!

     

 

  

 

 

                

 

           Every goat is different and you will find yourself varying in what works and how quick it works.

                  The main things to remember are:

                       Deworm! OR/AND Rotate your pastures every four months- leaving the first one empty for a year.

                       Watch the pooh. You don't want to step in it and you don't want it to change consistency.

                       Keep sick goats off the ground in a bed of hay.

                       Make changes in feed slowly, including moving to new fields. Offer hay for a few days.

                       Keep the good bacteria in the digestive tract.

                       Have what you need on hand. Even if you don't use it- someone you know will.

 

Sore Mouth-Goatworld.com

                   Mauldin

                   Goat Nutrition

                   Goat-link

Contagious to Humans too!

Staph-  Tennessee Meat Goats

External Parasites- Goat Wisdom

Goat Health

Langston University