I am going to share what I have dealt with for the past week and also ask questions. I am really hoping anyone with any knowledge would please share with me your advice. I'd greatly appreciate it!
I have for a long time wanted to start with some goats and eventually, after learning about the animal go on to having a dairy goat. Not a huge production just a few for our own family needs.
So a few weeks ago we purchased two kids from the amish barn. I had been reading up on how to care for them but obviously not enough! I told the guy we know nothing and what do we need to know. He didn't really say much at all. I asked about what they eat, and he said they eat anything at all.
We take these two kids home, they told us they were 3months old. I give them some cracked corn as they want it(in a bucket with constant access) and they have access to pasture all the time expect over night when they are secured in their house.
13 days later I go out to let them out of their house for the day and one is dead.
I then frantically begin researching to find out what happened to him and how can I make sure the other one is okay. I have since learned so much. Apparently it could have been a number of different things.
Before burying him we did cut into him to see if we could see any indication of worms. We couldn't find anything but also may not have known exactly where to look. I did worm the other goat with equine invermectin(sp?). This was done on Fri 5/4. This is what was suggested to me by another goat owner. We did this just to make sure it was not worms. He acted like we would if we had WAY too much alcohol. This lasted for about 24 hours then he was fine. I guess I may have given him too much or he had a reaction to the wormer.
I also purchased the CDT vaccine but wanted to make sure he is healthy before giving it to him. So he was fine Sunday 5/6 and Mon. Then on Tues he has diahrea. I give him pepto bismal, another suggestion form this goat owner I know. His diarhea is gone on Wed. He is even acting better. Today he is fine.
I am worried he will get lonely. How could I tell? We do have chickens and four big dogs. I go get him anytime I am outside working and let him hang our near us. Is it possible he will do fine if he is around us alot? Or is it necesarry to have another goat for him?
I am thinking it should be safe now to give him the vaccine, CDT? Should I wait a little longer?
I have come to the conclusion that I was likely giving too much grain and the diarhea is what killed the first goat. He did have diarhea for about 2.5 days before death. I didn't really think anything of it at the time. I think this because when the second one got diarhea I took away the grain.
If he is not wethered will he be okay if he is the only goat we have? I have been told that as long as he is not near a female he will not go into rut. He is nubian and I would like to keep him intact for future breeding if we can keep him alive. However, I do not want him acting 'bucky' either.
My dh and I are thinking, if possible, we should just keep this one and when we are succesful with him for a matter of months we will then expand to getting more.
I guess this is all for now. Thanks for any input you may be able to share.
Oh, boy... where to start! First, GET A GOOD BOOK! Immediately! Hopefully some of our goat owning members (I have cattle- owned goats when I was a teen and never liked them THAT well, so don't have them now) will chime in with recommendations. You can go to the FiascoFarm website and get a lot of really good info, and Hoegger's Supply also has good info. I suspect both sell books.
Second... PLEASE wether him, or sell him and get a doe! Intact male animals are simply not for beginners... they can be dangerous (and I don't care if a female is around or not... that only makes them worse) even with experienced handlers, but most beginners ruin them, usually by spoiling. They require consistent, firm handling at *all* times, and even then, most will end up aggressive.
Corn is a poor grain for a growing animal, in general... it's an "energy" food, so is good for adding weight on one who is thin, but is very low in protein, so doesn't promote growth. Free choice grain is NEVER a good idea- almost any livestock species WILL eat themselves to death. That also means you need to keep any grain stocks out of reach, preferably in a locked room. All it takes is one time for one to get out into the grain, and you'll have a dead goat (or calf, or horse)
Goats really are flock animals... they aren't happy alone. Worse, a lone buck will likely attempt to turn YOU into his "flock", including potentially sexually imprinting on you, for lack of other options. A wether *might* manage to make friends with the dogs if they're desperate enough, but that means you'd have to trust the dogs! Dogs and goats often don't mix (guardian breeds, and dogs which are raised with livestock and taught young to not chase them are the exception)
I'd wait another week or so to vaccinate, given the stresses you've described. But cut back on the grain, and please see if you can find a grain which is designed for growing goats, and feed ONLY the recommended amount. I'm guessing a 3 month old Nubian buckling probably needs 1/2 cup or so daily.
Goats are browsing animals. That means they prefer brush and coarse hay to lush grass... it's what they're designed to eat. Regular worming is a MUST for people in warm climates, especially when the goats are confined to one pasture where they will constantly reinfect with parasites.
However, I suspect what killed your other goat may be enterotoxemia- "overeating disease", or basically, a clostridium based disease which happens when they get too much carbohydrates. Corn is pretty much pure carbs.
What dose ivermectin did you use? It's pretty hard to overdose with it, but I'm sure it can be done! You can find almost any info on the 'net if you look- including the correct dose of ivermec for a goat, based on body weight.
Personally, I'd sell this one, and start reading a lot, and start over with an older doe in a few months when you have a better understanding of what's required. OR, turn this one into a wether (maybe get the guy who sold it to you to do it? Most farmers do their own, and it's not difficult) and keep him as a pet and a "learning experience", while looking for another goat to keep him company in a bit.
You might want to contact your local Cooperative Extension folks- they may have some good basic info, especially for 4-H kids, which would be very useful. They also might know of a couple good breeders who would be happy to help a newbie... there are almost always some folks around who are more than willing to help out, especially if it means keeping animals from dying.
Also, you simply can't ignore signs like scours (diarrhea). It MAY not be a major disaster, but it can be a sign of anything from a severe worm load to a toxic indigestion. At the very least, get a thermometer and learn what normal vital signs are (temp, heart rate, respiration rate). If they are drastically different from normal, the animal is stressed. Then you have to figure out what is causing the stress.
I don't mean to sound harsh here... almost everyone who has had animals has messed up. We lost a lamb (despite reading a ton about raising meat lambs... we're dairy farmers, not shepherds) to urinary calculi. However, as bad as we felt about that, we were more than a little surprised when we went to check the second "wether" and discovered the breeder had accidently sold us a ewe! (we felt a little less dumb then!) LOL!
I have found and read the entire Fiascofarm website. It is very informative for a beginner. I read that before we lost the first goat. I will get a book. So far the internet has given me tons of info.
Yes, the intention with this goat is to learn all we can about the animal before we get more. I just didn't know if he would be okay alone. I guess we will find out.
The farmer did tell me to bring him back out and if he has not been whethered he will do it for us. Apparently he did do several when they were first born. I am taking him back out this weekend to be checked and done if not. So apparently the idea of him not going into rut or acting 'bucky' without a female around is non-sense?
I have removed all feed and allow this goat to browse on our underbrush and grass on our property. The plan is to rotate him from area to area daily so he is not in the same area daily. This is what we have been doing. I will pick uyp some goat feed and allow him only the amount for his weight daily, although I am leary of that. Is that really necessary? What I was doing was keeping the corn near their water with them at all times, even at night. This is why I have come to the cinclusion that overeating is what killed the first one and I am very lucky we didn't lose both of them at the same time. I have since just given water and graze on the brush.
Obviously, I learned the hard way about the scours. That is why I reacted immediately when this one started in with it. I had no idea how bad it is for them until the other one died. It would have been nice for the farmer to tell me to be careful not to give too much grain, I had no idea.
Thank you for the recommendation to contact our local Cooperative Extension. I will do this asap.
I guess I will need to do more research. At this point my next main question is how often should I worm this guy for preventative measures?
At his age, it's likely he DOES need some grain, depending on what your "grass and underbrush" contains. This is where "the eye of the master" is as important as any computer program... hands on (and I mean that literally) figuring what their condition is is vital. Running your hands over their ribs and spine... you should be able to JUST feel their ribs, but their "short ribs" (the small bones that stick out sort of like a "shelf" in front of the hip bone, but in back of the long ribs) shouldn't feel sharp and distinct. If they do, he's too thin. If you can't feel them individually at all- he's too fat! "slick and shiny" is generally healthy... if a haircoat stands out and is fuzzy (once the baby coat is gone, and less so, but not completely, in the winter coat- our animals, even in winter coat, GLOW) or harsh, they are either lacking nutrients or are wormy (and worms, of course, "steal" calories and vitamins from them, along with actually sucking their blood and causing anemia)
On the worming, lacking a fecal exam, I'd worm him again in 10 days (checking on the dosage... weigh him by standing on a bathroom scale with and without the goat if you don't have any other way). Then twice a year *should* be enough, unless he shows signs of parasites... there is info out there about checking for that with eyelid color, etc. Our young horses and heifers (the only animals I have which are really susceptible to parasites) are wormed before going on pasture in the spring, and again after the first hard frost in the fall.
Talk you your Co-op Extension folks about rotating wormers... resistance is a very real problem, and it's showing up in the "'mectins" now, too.
As far as being "bucky", etc... he's going to act like a buck goat no matter what. He may not get as stinky and go through all the buck rituals (peeing on himself, etc) if there are no does around, but no matter what, unless he's wethered, he WILL have the testosterone in his system, and all it would take is a whiff of eau de doe on the wind (and you'd be amazed at how far scent can carry!) and he'd react. Still, I'm more concerned with normal "buck" behavior, which involves butting, shoving and in general, being anything from a dominant nuisance to an outright danger. The power behind their "head butts" is something you have to see or experience to believe. We had friends who bought a new registered (read:$$$$) ram for their sheep flock. They turned him out with the flock which had a 2 year old ram (this was a yearling). They KILLED EACH OTHER- both had fractured skulls!! Granted, they were fighting over the ewes, but that's the kind of strength and power you're talking about, and testosterone is a powerful chemical!
Yeah, it would have been nice for them to give you some info, but unfortunately, many don't really care, and many more may not even realize what they know... they've just raised them all their life, and they don't realize that it's NOT "common knowledge".
You should be able to tell if you've got a buckling or a wether at this age- reach underneath and feel around! If they banded them as babies, he won't even have a scrotum, or just sort of a small, residual bump or bunch under there. If they used a "bloodless castrator" (which pinches the blood vessels but doesn't cut the scrotum) he would have a scrotum, but it would be essentially empty. If he's a buck, he's going to have two obvious testicles (at least, he SHOULD have two- there are rare ones who don't have both descend, or it's possible that someone messed up while using a Burdizzo crimper (the bloodless castrator mentioned above)
Absolutely, a wether is going to be the best "version" to learn Goat 101 on... they can actually make pretty decent pets.
You should be able to feel that they HAVE a spine, but it shouldn't feel "sharp"... looking at them from behind, it shouldn't be a sharp, "upside down V" shape OR a flat, round "O" shape (the body/ribs, including the spine). Basically the same as the ribs... there should be a bit of flesh over it, but not padded to the point where you wonder if they HAVE a skeleton under there! LOL!
As far as the feed, you can feed a little more if they're thin; less if they're getting fat. The most important thing is to make ANY changes gradually... if you get a goat who hasn't ever had grain, you don't put them on the full amount right away, even if they are really thin. You start slow and increase it every other day until you're at the full amount in a week or two. Cutting grain isn't as crucial, although with a doe in milk, cutting them from a pound or two a day to nothing may drop them in milk quite drastically. But increases should be done slowly....
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