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           We just received a young nanny that was pregnant, had her two weeks and she had the kid a billy. My question is I have tried the hay but they don't eat it would rather lay on it so what kind of hay does everyone use? The hay I bought was from a big feed store and it was coastal hay, I also bought a fifty pound bag of Purina goat feed and a bag of loose minerals. I have a fifty pound bag of cracked corn that I keep for the chickens and give the goats a small handful mixed in the goat feed everyday. They are let out into our huge fenced in yard that is full of leaves that we have piled up to burn, they eat the leaves and wander eating anything green that is still up. I have tried carrots, leaves from the broccoli plants I was growing they won't eat any of these things so the rabbits get these green leaves and carrots. They are not thin, I bought a goat that had been fixed as a companion for the pregnant nanny here are some pictures of the goats.

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Here is a picture of all three goats the white and black one is nine months old, bought her from a lady that had made her a pet like a dog. She has been fixed but couldn't understand why this woman called her a he she and her name is Madeline. She is really a very sweet goat will follow you every where.  Ellen from Georgia

An alfalfa and grass mix is a good type of hay for goats, especially ones lactating. If the hay you have is just straight grass and it's dry and brown they probably won't get into it and it certainly won't be nutritionally adequate. I'd seek out mom and pop feed stores in your area and ask for a good legume and grass mix of hay. It could be timothy and clover or a weedy orchard grass and alfalfa mix. 30% legume to 70% grass is a good ratio. If all else fails, get some Chaffhaye (fermented alfalfa silage) or some alfalfa pellets and feed a couple of cups to the doe with her grain ration.

And now that you're a goat owner, call them does and bucks (doelings and bucklings for kids)! It's sort of frowned upon in goat circles to call them nannies and billies. :)

Good luck with your new herd! You're going to love them!

What type of hay was she eating at her previous home? You are going to want to feed her the same and then slowly transition her over. Since she is lactating I would slowly switch her to alfalfa which has higher protein and calcium for milk production.

I agree with Meg, does in milk benefit from at least some legume hay in their diet. Here we feed orchard grass free-choice, and mix of orchard and alfalfa to pregnant/lactating does, and growing kids. Just be sure to always transition to a new feed slowly, especially when introducing legumes to the diet, to avoid upsetting the rumen, or inciting bloat.

I agree, it does seem a little odd that the previous owner says the goat was 'fixed', but calls her a he-she. Most goats are only 'fixed' if they've had difficulty kidding, and were spayed during a c-section, as the surgery itself is quite expensive. Has Madeline ever freshened (had kids)? Was she surgically 'fixed'? If not, the he-she statement actually leads me to think that this doe (if she appears physically female externally) was either born a freemartin, a sterile female at birth (see here for a more detailed explanation of freemartins: http://www.vgl.ucdavis.edu/services/freemartin-goat.php) or a genetic intersex - more common in polled (naturally hornless) goats, but can occur in non-polled animals as well. Either way, these animals are usually excellent companion animals for other goats, functionally much the same as a wether. Good luck with your adorable little herd.

By the way, if you don't intend to breed the buckling, you'll will need to castrate him, or separate him from his mother, before he is old enough to reproduce. 

            Thanks Meg, and Clare for all the good information will look for the legume hay tomorrow when I go out for chicken feed. Madeline is hornless the owner called her weather and when I got her she was eight month old and wasn't ever freshened, she had been living the bucks in this woman's herd. I will have to separate him form his mother because I'm not going to castrate him. Isn't that when he is four months old? The goats had been living in the woods when the pregnant one Kay was given to us, they wanted to kill her and eat her but she was too far along so they gave her away. What about the goat feed doesn't it have enough vitamins and minerals in the feed should I give them the feed twice a day or three times a day? I have been giving them the feed twice a day and hay in the morning then they wander in the big yard eating leaves and what ever green is growing. 

Grain/pellet should only make up a small percentage of their daily feed intake. Hay or browse needs to make up the majority of it. They can't survive on grain/pellet alone as you risk acidosis which can be fatal. 

                Rachel they do browse every day for at least three to four hours, I need to find the hay they will eat because the first bale I bought they won't eat but a very small amount of it. They browse on leaves and even pull the Magnolia leaves down off of the tree, I did have some Timothy hay I fed them but it is all gone now. I will try the smaller feed stores tomorrow and look for some more Timothy hay also. Thanks for the information.

That makes sense, as Madeline is hornless, I am now highly suspicious that she was likely born a sterile 'polled-intersex'.

When a buck becomes fertile can vary somewhat by breed, and from individual to individual. Some figure out their 'job' more quickly than others. I raise Nigerian Dwarf goats, and they can be quite precocious. Physiologically, bucks can be fertile , and capable of settling a doe at 6-8 weeks of age. I pull my boys at 5 weeks, usually because by that age they're pestering all their sisters in the kid pen anyway ;) 

I agree with Rachel regarding grain. Grain is considered to be a 'hot' rich feed, and should be more of a supplement, than the core of the diet. Except in pregnant/lactating goats, grain really isn't necessary. Goats can have as much grass hay and browse as they're willing to eat (just be aware that some plants, like rhododendron, or bracken fern, are toxic to goats). The long stem fiber provided from hay and browse is very important for healthy rumen function, and grain provides little to no fiber at all.

Offering a little grain/pelleted feed twice a day is fine, especially if trying to improve or maintain body condition, but if they start getting fat, or have loose stool, grain is the first thing to cut down/out. Also know that any pelleted feed acts like 'grain' in the rumen, because it lacks fiber, so if you're offering alfalfa pellets, rather than long stem alfalfa hay, keep that in mind. You may need to decrease their grain ration to accommodate the increase in alfalfa pellet. 

If you've ever made beer, or wine, or any fermented foods, you know that the most critical aspect to success is to maintain the right balance of bacteria (and/or yeasts) for healthy fermentation. I usually tell others that goats, or any ruminant in fact, are essentially wine barrels on legs. If you add too much of the wrong thing, the fermentation can be 'upset', and the entire contents of the barrel can turn sour. That's what rumen acidosis in goats, and it is most frequently caused by too much of a good thing (especially grain, fresh clover, or too much alfalfa pellet or hay), or switching one feed type to another too fast. Any time you adjust a diet in a goat, it's always import to transition slowly so you don't turn that barrel sour, and make the goat ill. Acidosis can become life-threatening, quite quickly, so prevention is always preferred to having to treat a goat for it.

The mineral you're feeding though, is not optional. Even if you're feeding grain, goats have high requirements for selenium and copper in their diet, and the majority of this is supplied by your loose mineral. 

Hope that helps, and enjoy your lovely goaties!

    Thanks Clare it helped me under stand more about the goats, I will find the right hay tomorrow and I think letting them browse all afternoon helps. Do the goats stop nursing at five weeks? Won't the Mother stop the nursing and does the buckling start eating then?

Natural weaning age, for dam-raised kids, is quite variable. You certainly want your buckling to be eating solid feeds before stopping nursing. Usually they start picking at hay in the first couple of weeks, but may not be eating enough on their own until they are at least six weeks old. Kids that are left on their dams will sometimes still choose to nurse, at least a little, when they're over a year old, but many does won't put up with that, and will kick them off much sooner.

Babies that are bottle raised are typically kept on some milk until they are somewhere between 8-16 weeks of age, although some will 'self-wean' a little earlier. If you have any question about whether he will be eating enough, before separating him from his dam, you could try getting him used to a bottle. Then you could supplement him with an occasional bottle feeding. 

That said, you can leave him on his mother until he's closer to weaning age (usually 8-12 weeks of age), but that depends entirely on him, and his behavior. If he's mounting his mother (and can reach ;) ), I wouldn't risk it, personally, or might only allow supervised feedings a couple of times a day, with him separated from his dam when you can't watch him.

Ellen, thanks for sparking such a great discussion—and Clare, Rachel, and Meg, thanks for the excellent advice!



Jennifer said:

Ellen, thanks for sparking such a great discussion—and Clare, Rachel, and Meg, thanks for the excellent advice!

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