Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goat Keeping 101 reference


We raise animals as caring way, using medication when needed, and aim for hardy animals; however, we do not raise goats organically. Dairy goats are a man-selectively bred and created type of goat. They do not exist in the wild, so we do not take a hand's off approach in management.

If you're looking to raise a somewhat organic based goat, make sure you buy your breeding stock from folks raising animals the way you aim to raise them in the same climate and area you will raise your herd.
Before you decide on goats, I suggest reading a few blogs I've written.
Goats are Not easy. Actually, of all livestock, they are, by far, the most difficult to raise well.

Our care:
We feel the areas of most importance are GREAT nutrition, proper mineral balance and WELL managed Parasite prevention. If you address these 3 things correctly in YOUR herd, you will have fewer issues. 

We Bottle Raise most kids on Raw milk until 4-6 months old. They receive 60 ounces a day once they are 2 weeks old until weaning. They are not raised with the adults. This makes for friendly, but well grown kids. Dam raised kids, for us, are not friendly enough to be in our herd and are not kids we would want to offer to buyers for a future milking doe or an easy to handle buck.

We never use milk replacer – use ONLY goat's or whole cow's milk when feeding bottle kids - if using raw, make sure it is from a disease free (CAE, Johne's and CL) goat or cow (Johnes, for one). There are other disease, but there are none as prevelant. TEST your herd for CAE. Test for other things based on risk level.

Our Goats free range on our brush covered farm. While they do not like grass, they love tops of weeds, leaves, brush and briars! We feed a 16% Goat Ration. You cannot have a doe in milk and keep a body condition that is healthy without grain. They cannot be grass based as a general rule. This link will give you more information. You need a high protein grain for kids and does in milk, especially. Kids receive a 16% Pellet like Noble Goat. Dry does get minimal grain. Never be skimpy on feed or hay quality. They can't have Moldy, subpar hay. The bucks receive grain year round. This link speaks to buck care, which is more complex than you might think. More grain is fed during rut. We top dress Wethers and bucks grain with Ammonium Chlorida to prevent Urinary stones. Read why here. Remember access to high quality hay 24/7 is important for YOUR WHOLE HERD. Alfalfa is ideal.

Our does keep a body condition score of 3, usually. You can watch this video to learn more about healthy weights in your herd. We let the does have all the grain they wish to eat for about 15 minutes for morning and then the same for evening milking. They get around 4-5lbs of grain a day. This means, at our farm, each gallon of milk produced, including hay costs, runs about $3 per gallon. Time, meds, purchase costs and housing costs not included.

We offer a loose, high quality mineral. We usually use Cargill Right Now Onyx. Your area is probably deficient in copper and/or selenium. Check your soils maps through the AG office. Sheep cannot have copper, so make sure it isn't a mineral labeled for sheep. Goats really need more Selenium and Copper than most soils provide. We give BO-SE for Selenium and Copper Bolusfor copper twice a year. This is very important.

We keep growing kids from age 4-6 weeks until 6 months on a coccidia prevention program (dimethox or Baycox). Untreated, high cocci loads cause internal damage and the goats often never recover totally. Read more here.
We give kids about 3 cups of grain twice a day paired with milk and hay until 6 months, wean from milk at six months and continue on grain and hay. As dry yearlings, they can be on hay only if you are able to feed exceptional hay.

I like to breed does as yearlings, so they freshen at two. It is fine to breed them to kid as yearlings if they are 80-100lbs at breeding. Remember they need to continue to grow through pregnancy. You need to be able to provide enough grain and free choice hay so that the growing kids and also handle a pregnancy. A Helpful Prekidding guide is here.

We only worm as needed based on the Famacha Chart. We use chemical wormers. Herbal wormers haven't been effective in our experience in our area. We use Cydectin Injectable. We find Safeguard is useless. Always repeat ten days after first worming to break the life cycle of the parasite. Please click here for a list of wormers, the doseage and more

We allow our does to free range, but if you keep a large dry lot with good shelter, clean bedding and good fence, this will work, as well. You will need to provide free choice, high quality hay year round. You will generally see fewer parasites on dry lot management feeding off the ground and with clean feed pens, but I like the herd to be able to be out and roam about.

Goats MUST have good shelter from rain and wind. They HATE rain. They need to be able to stay out of mud as one huge issue in dairy goats and all goat breeds is hoof infections / hoof rot.

We disbud all kids born here. You want an experienced person to disbud. Do not assume a vet knows how to do this correctly. Most are done between 3-7 days of age. Do not use a full size calf iron. We apply the iron with light pressure in a rocking motion for 10 seconds on does, 18 on bucks. Disbudding is vital to goats that do not get stuck in fence, fit into a milking stanchion, have a high resale value and do not harm their people or herdmates. Read more here.

We tested for CAE for 3 years straight, and we now test occassionally and by request if very current results are desired. All animals here are tested negative or negative by parentage. We use Biotracking lab. CAE is NOT something you want passing through your does onto your kids. Testing is important. These links tell you much more on testing and then on CAE and what is means and does.

We personally do not test for CL and Johnes because of the difficulty in knowing if the tests are accurate. They give breeders and buyers a false sense of security, but we do allow buyers to test at their expense before purchase (cost isn't especially high). We have taken great pains to purchase from well managed herds and have good bio-security at the farm to minimalize the risks of both diseases, which cannot be managed. Testing Labs are link here. Information on CL is found here.

We do not currently test for G6S, the genetic mutation found in Nubians. The testing is cost prohibitive for our whole herd with some research that makes us feel more questions need answered before we put faith in the testing, but have had buyers test bucks from us, and we have only had normal results. We haven't had an affected kid born here. Read more about it here. Any buyer is welcome to test any kid before a purchase at their cost.

We sell only registered Does and Bucks. We sell only American Saanens or Purebred Nubians or American British Guernseys (once ADGA lets them in the herdbooks). We do not sell perfect animals, as no one does, but we do sell animals that can have the potential to be quality milkers and perform in the show ring. We take part in the ADGA's Linear Appraisal Program when we can. Read more about it here. This gives a score to each doe or buck to let us and the buyers know how each animal officially stacks up to the ideal goat. The perfect goat. It is a great tool to know what you're buying, breeding and where the strong and weak areas in the goat are found. The ideal ranges for scores found on an LA sheet can be looked at here. Understanding all the awards, marks, scores and symbols on a pedigree can be sorted out on this link. Having registered animals gives you a lot of control and knowledge. It isn't just a piece of paper. It lets you know so much about the animal's history, the strong and weak points of the parentage, the milk production possibilities and so much more. Breeding good animals without knowing the history behind them and having anon-partial accoutability with DHIR/LA and more is unlikely.

We milk does twice a day for 8 to 10 months a year. We do not breed every doe every year. Milking the doe is really important. They are dairy goats. Use them for their purpose.

Other issues we have dealt with that you may encounter will be linked to below:


The best Overview on Dairy goat Care from Birth to Kidding
The best extensive guides for goat care online are 8 Pages of Links on Dairy Goat Info's Health Section here and Saanendoah Here
For a Great "Purchase" List, Click here
Another nice overview is Here

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LUCAS FARM

Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27




"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington