First and foremost develop a good relationship with a local veterinarian that has some specialization in small ruminant animals (sheep and goats). Also, you’ll likely need a variety of Hay King contacts so you can get hay when you need it. More on hay later. This article is how we currently do things here at Emma Wilder Farm. It seems to work well for us, however you may not have similar results so please do your own research. Bear in mind I’m not a veterinarian and have been doing this for 7 years. As such, I don’t consider myself an expert and I’m not sure there is one in this business. There’s great breeders who provide great results, listen to them. When possible buy stock from them, yes it’s expensive.
Pregnant Female Dairy Goats
Vimco vaccine (anti-mastitis vaccine shot for dairy goats) – given 5 weeks before kidding with a second vaccination given 3 weeks after the initial dose (2 weeks before kidding). Currently ships from Premier 1 Supplies and comes next day or 2nd day air on ice packs to keep it cold. Once you have it on hand, keep it refrigerated. We used it last year with much success. Our does were mastitis free and had less staph bumps on the udder than the previous year.
CDT vaccine (2cc) – shot given 5 weeks before kidding. This helps to pass along protection to the kids.
BoSe shot (requires vet prescription) 2.5 cc/100 lbs given 4 weeks prior to kidding. And to weak kids if needed (.5 cc).
Copper Bolus (4 gram capsule) – given orally every 6 months or so for adults
CDT vaccine injection under skin (2 cc) – given every 6 months for adults.
Deworming Adult Goats
For adults Dectomax and Cydectin can be given together to defeat a variety of worms including barber pole worms. Dectomax by injection at a rate of 1 cc per 55 lbs subcu. Cydectin is given orally 6cc per 100 lbs. Consult your veterinarian before worming a pregnant doe. Also, bear in mind if it’s necessary to administer a dewormer to a lactating doe, there will likely be a withdrawal period where the milk cannot be consumed. Most recently a veterinarian literally told me he had no advice to give regarding deworming goats. Some of his clients don’t deworm and the goats are fine, others deworm every 3 weeks and the goats keep dying from worms. Here we don’t deworm unless it’s necessary and would not perform often due to worms developing immunity to these dewormers. We observe appearance and behavior while performing FAMACHA checks regularly. Good nutrition, a diet high in copper, and access to minerals will often keep your goats in good health.
For Goat Kids
CDT vaccine shot at 4 weeks and again at 8 weeks
Calf Pro Medicated liquid (coccidia prevention beginning at 5 days of age) – give once daily and stir into milk. Discontinue when kids begin eating dry feed. Dry feed for kids should be medicated goat feed (coccidia preventative). This medicated dry goat feed can continue until 5 or 6 months of age.
*1 ml Calf Pro per 10 lbs of kid weight on average until they eat dry feed.
Valbazen (a dewormer added in milk) – given at 30 days and 60 days at .75 cc per kid.
*Monitor frequently for appearance, strength, and eyelids (FAMACHA). Have a veterinarian perform a fecal for wormload if you are concerned.
Copper Bolus (2 gram capsule) – given orally at 3 months of age.
Disbud kids at 3-8 days after they are born or when you can feel the little horn bud, but never later than 10 days of age. If you’ve never done it before, have someone come and do it so you can learn. Make sure and give bucklings a double dose and create the figure 8 on both sides. Research the way the horn grows so you make the second burn in the correct direction. Some diagrams online have it backwards.
We give grain, hay, alfalfa hay, mineral, and provide a salt block. Here’s the mixture I normally feed my herd.
*If this mix is for females only you can add a bag of cracked corn.
I feed this same mixture to my bucks but at a lesser amount than does due to bucks being more susceptible to urinary calculi. Some farmers also use shredded beet pulp to help balance the nutrition of the feed, for the same reasons alfalfa is recommended. To learn more about this you should research ‘phosphorus to calcium ratio’ and ‘how much protein in feed for lactating does’.
Hay and Alfalfa
There can be a shortage of hay in the spring before the first cut of the summer is available. This also drives prices up. So buy hay in fall and winter. By the end of the year you need a 5 month supply of hay on hand to safely make it to the first cut of the following year. If you only have a small herd of goats I recommend square bales. They are much easier to handle and much less likely to have hidden mold lurking on their interior like the large round bales. Hay should be abundant during summer months and easily obtainable. Bahia hay seems to be a favorite around here and it’s kept available 24/7 to our herd. You’ll also need a supply of alfalfa from someone local. My local feed store sells a bag of chopped alfalfa for $22 that I really like. There’s also a local horseman that gets an 18 wheeler load of alfalfa from out west. He sells some bales for $25 a square if available. There’s also ‘peanut hay’ if you can find it. It’s a decent alternative to alfalfa, or so I’ve read. I use the alfalfa hay as a supplement. I feed it about every 3 days to help ensure balanced nutrition. There’s also alfalfa pellet in my feed mixture.
Minerals and Salt
A salt block should be kept available at all times. Tractor Supply sells a Himalayan salt block on a rope that is excellent. Just keep in mind if you hang it on a metal fence it will rust the fence. I screwed a hanger into a post and hang it from there. It will last a month or more before a new one is needed. Also, put out Purina goat mineral every day or two as weather conditions allow. See video below to view the salt block and goat mineral.
Only put out enough that’s consumed in a day or two because humid air (here in the humid southern US) will bind with the mineral and make it hard. If the mineral gets wet enough it gains a consistency similar to dried cement. So we only put out enough for a day. The adult pregnant females really go through it. I prefer Purina when it comes to the goat mineral because it has a flavor that they seem to like, thus they consume more of it than other brands I’ve tried.
Feel free to drop your opinions or questions in the comment section below.