GENERAL CARE OF THE GOAT
Goats are animals who like company, which is why they are so affectionate towards most other animals and people. Good quality water and a mineral salt should be provided at all times. We prefer the hard brown mineral salt block with cobalt, and not the softer range blocks. Normally alfalfa or grass/alfalfa hay is all that is required for food if the goat is growing or for a doe producing milk. Grass hay is adequate for an adult goat that is not breeding; this also helps to prevent obesity in pet goats. A goat will consume 2?3% of their body’s weight daily in food. It should be noted that although alfalfa is a good nutritional hay, male goats should not be on this higher calcium/higher protein diet; urolithiasis and a urinary blockage can occur. We have a separate handout on urolithiasis, also called water belly in cattle, and testing the urine’s pH if you have goats on alfalfa and/or on a feedlot type of a diet.
If you have a female goat, or doe, you can breed her when she’s 70#, or about one year old. Angora goats are bred at two years of age. Goats usually start breeding in October and end in February. The gestation is around 150 days. Over feeding a doe in pregnancy can cause dystocia and other problems when kidding. Two months before kidding is expected, change the hay from alfalfa to grass hay. No calcium supplementation or hay cubes should be fed during this time. The doe should not be milked during this dry period. During the last six weeks of pregnancy start to feed a small amount of grain daily, starting with a cupful and work up slowly to 1/2# per day. Always split into two or more feedings the daily grain ration. Thirty days before kidding give a tetanus and enterotoxemia vaccination to the doe. Two weeks before the expected birthing, slowly increase the grain up to 2# per milking doe daily till parturition. If milking for your own use, 1# grain per 3# milk obtained is suggested or 1/2 ? 3/4 # grain per 1 quart milk. You can feed up to 3# of grain or supplement per day. After kidding the alfalfa hay is again recommended. Always strive to feed more hay than grain to prevent intestinal problems and enterotoxemia. For goats not being milked grain is an option and usually grain is not needed; we recommend a minimal amount of grain for all pet goats. If you should have a goat that has been on grain and/or a digestive upset and is not eating, please take their temperature and call us regarding the problem and thiamine injections.
Pseudopregnancy, or cloudburst, is a fairly uncommon phenomenon that can occur. The doe appears pregnant, shows signs of labor and even breaks water, but no kids appear. To confirm that there are no problems a veterinary examination may be indicated. Parturition, or kidding, is fairly rapid and usually there are no problems. The vulva and pelvis may seem loose a couple of weeks before kidding. The mammary glands swell up to a month before parturition, with colostrum being produced during the last week. Up to four hours of abdominal discomfort may be observed before the 1/4 ? 1 hour of labor and rupture of the water sac is noticed. Multiple kids of two to three are common. Any labor pains over 1 hour or mild pains over 6 hours suggests the need to call a veterinarian. The placenta(s) should pass within 8 hours, and a small brownish vaginal discharge may occur for 2 weeks afterwards.
After the kids are born, dip the navel in an iodine solution. An injection of Vitamin A & D, oral good bacteria and/or an antibiotic injection may also be advised. Possibly tetanus antitoxin may be indicated if the doe has not been vaccinated within the last few months. Be sure the kids nurse within 4?6 hours at the latest. If a milk supplement is required, and goat replacer cannot be found, use a lamb milk replacer and not a cow replacer. Feed at 1 pint per 10# split into two feedings daily. Hay and a small amount of creep feed can be available the first week after kidding, but should not be the only food available. The kids need milk or a milk replacer for a few months. Do not feed over a cupful of grain until weaning. We prefer not to see over 1/4 ? 1/3 of a diet as grain or supplement in weanlings. Any grain increase in a goat should be done gradually over a 2-3 week period.
Weaning usually takes place between 5?8 weeks on the average. Kids can become sexually active between 2?6 months of age, so it’s advisable to separate the sexes by 2 months of age. Castration is normally done after 1 week of age up to 1 month old, with tetanus antitoxin sometimes also given. Dehorning, or debudding, usually occurs at the same time. If kept intact, a buck will smell during the breeding season. For closely confined goats we recommend a fence opening less than the 2″x4″ mesh that is used to keep out predators in a 1/2 acre or so paddock; use a fence smaller than 2″ or smaller to prevent broken legs in kids when they try to climb the fence. For all new goats to the premises we recommend the CAE test (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis), a non-treatable disease. When selling or transferring livestock in our state, all animals need a bill of sale and a call to the brand inspector. If you purchase a goat keep the bill of sale in your goat health record file; if this goat is later sold and/or you plan to slaughter you will need such documentation in Colorado. All of the premises where livestock are kept are to be registered with the USDA; www.aphis.usda.gov/
Vaccinations for enterotoxemia (2, 4 or 7 way) and tetanus should begin at 4-8 weeks of age, repeated at 8-12 weeks of age and then yearly. Orf, or sore mouth vaccine, Corneybacterium and/or other vaccines may be indicated if there is a problem in the herd. The vaccine for Corneybacterium may interfere with the test, if you desire to do a blood test later for this very commonly found bacteria. Testing for tuberculosis and brucellosis is recommended if the milk is given away outside the home. Milk being sold is regulated under the same milk ordinances as cow milk. Milking dairy goats for human consumption requires a tuberculosis test every 3 years. Other problems, such as arthritis problems in a herd, periodic deworming, foot care, abscesses, etc. can be discussed with a veterinarian. We recommend yearly deworming and periodic group fecal tests of the stool. Yearly deworming does not remove the coccidia, tapeworms and other parasites that may infect a herd. A periodic check of the stool 3-4 months after deworming will help indicate if your worming program is adequate. It should be noted that all goat species are classified as food animals, according to the USDA rules. The care for a pygmy pet goat is no different than a Boer meat goat; although milking goats do have some other nutritional concerns.
With the concern for scrapie, interstate travel with goats requires one to use official ear tag. An official metal tag in the ear, the dewlap (wattle) or the chest is required in order to obtain an interstate health certificate. The older methods of using tattoos are not recognized anymore (2012, FDA); as FYI the health certificates and the Scrapie program are two different programs. Farms that breed goats for sale or show need to apply for these individual Scrapie farm tags through the state department of agriculture; these tags are one of the two official metal tags available. If you are traveling and showing Sannen goats, and/or other breeds with no ears, we recommend these show goats have a microchip implant, a neck chain with that RFID’s number, and after 2012 a permanent metal tag for interstate travel. We highly recommend that all premises where goats are bred or sold to obtain the free scrapie tags from the USDA; these tags are used as an official identification number for each animal. When we have to do a health certificates we prefer these tags to already be in place versus the metal tags we are required to place in animals if there are no scrapie tags. For interstate travel ALL goats are required to have these metal identification tags; if they are not in place with the first exam or blood draw for a health certificate we are required to place in the metal “bright tags” for identification. For breeding goats we also recommend the CAE and Johnes tests, plus the tuberculosis and brucellosis test if the does will have their milk being used or sold for human consumption.
The Staff at the Nelson Road Veterinary Clinic
Goat Diet Comparisons
Product Ranch-Way Purina Purina
#1 #2 #3
Protein 20.0 % 18.0 18.0
Fat 4.0 % 2.0 3.0
Fiber 15.0 % 20.0 8.0
Calcium 0.75-1.25 % 0.9-1.4 0.75-1.45
Phosphorus 0.5 % 0.5 0.6
Salt 0.5-1.5 % 0.4-0.8 0.3-0.8
Vitamin A 3,750 IU/# 7,500 4,000 IU/#
Vitamin D3 – – 750 IU/#
Vitamin E 200 IU/# 50 30
Copper 20 ppm 20-25 20-25
Selenium 0.1 ppm 0.3 0.6
Zinc 75 ppm – –
Monensin decoquinate – –
* Coccidiostats should not be fed to waterfowl
As a general rule, feed 1% or less of the BW a day as supplements or grain (<1# for 100# goat)
If feeding a creep feed, the opening to the green pasture or creep feed should be 5″ w x 12″ high
First 4 Ingredients
#1 = Ranch-Way Boer Meat Goat = processed grain by-products,
plant protein products, roughage products, grain products
(not more than 0.7% CP is from NPN).
#2 = Purina Nobel Pre-Con Starter =
#3 = Purina Dairy Parlor = grain products, processed grain by-
products, plant protein products, molasses products.
Goat Diet Recommendations
Maintenance Pregnancy Pregnancy in
Early Additional needs Winter
110#/50kg 110#/50kg 95-100#
DMI – – – 1.86#
TDN 1.46# 2.04# 2.04 + 0.87# 1.19#
ME, Mcal 2.38 gm 3.34 3.34 + 1.42 grams –
Protein 91 gm 102 102 + 82 grams –
Calcium 4 gm 5 5 + 2 3.13 grams
Phosphorus 2.8 gm 3.5 3.5 + 1.4 2.19 grams
Salt – – – –
Vitamin A 1800 IU 2500 2500 + 1100 IU –
The above requirements are from Merck, except for the winter requirements are from the University of Alabama Extension Service.
For each Kg of milk @ 3% fat add 0.74# of TDN, 1.21 Mcal, 64 gm of protein, 2 gm of calcium, 1.4 gm phosphorus and 3800 IU of vitamin A
For each Kg of milk @ 6% fat add 0.8# of TDN, 1.31 Mcal, 90 gm of protein, 3 gm of calcium, 2.1 gm of phosphorus and 3800 IU of vitamin A
For wool (Angora) for each 4 kg of wool add 34 gm of TDN, 0.12 Mcal and 17 gm of protein
For 8 kg of wool add 66 gm of TDN, 0.24 Mcal and 34 gm of protein
TDN = total digestible nutrients
ME = Mcal
Merck Manual, 2008
* Coccidiostats should not be fed to waterfowl
Meat Goat Diet Requirements
Late Pregnancy Lactation Creep Feed
130# BW 110#
DMI 3.97 # 4.14# –
TDN 2.45# 4.5# –
Protein 0.45# 0.41# 16%
Calcium 6.03 gm 7.61 gm –
Phosphorus 4.22 gm 5.33 gm –
1 kg = 2.2#
** for 4.5# of milk/day at 3.6% fat and 3.3% protein. By feeding 2.6# of quality hay and 2# of 16% goat ration this will usually be adequate for a lactating ewe.
Also see our Purchasing Hay for livestock in our website