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....
I witnessed his death. He was perfectly fine!!!! Then he laid down for a while. I went out to check on him after about an hour and he would not and could not stand. The first goat I found in the morning, had died during the night. This one died right in front of me. When I walked up to him he was looking at me and chewing his cud. When I noticed he would not get up I went to help him. He was limp from his mid section down. I carried him about 100 feet towards my husband and he was dead within 5 minutes. I could feel his body seizing. He was fighting for breath. His pulse remained for a couple minutes after his breathing stopped. It seemed to me that his airway must have been restricted. Honestly, it seemed like his body was being paralyzed from the back to the front. My first guess was possible allergic reaction, (alaphylactic shock?) Could that happen? I do not beleive there is anything toxic on our property that the goats are sensitive to. If he did get a hold of a poisonous plant would it have killed him that fast? We did go have him banded that morning? This happened Saturday evening. What about CAE? If these kids had it and they ecountered some type of stress could that have killed them in this way so fast? I am thinking if this is what it was whatever was causing the first kids scours was the stress that may have triggered his death. Then the banding could have been the thing that triggered this ones death. The only reason I even think possible CAE is they both died. I tried all I could to do right in caring for them. I just know that there is a nuerological component to CAE in the kids. I am just trying to figure out what I did wrong or if this whole thing has been totally out of my control.
I am just so sad. I have wanted goats for years and finally jumped in and lost both of them with in 8 days, just shortly after getting them. I wish I knew what happened.
I'm going to apologize in advance if this post sounds harsh. I don't want to offend you but I think some things just need to be said and then move on. I'm sure you thought you were doing the right thing and in no way do I think you did anything on purpose that caused the death of the two kids. The first thing to do when you have one animal die without knowing the cause is to call the vet and have him/her examine the second animal. For those that have been caring for a variety of creatures for years....home diagnosis and treatment are probably fine. But when you get an animal and know nothing about it, the best way to learn is to understand what happened. While we can all guess, based on your information...we are still just guessing.
I used to have a goat dairy herd and have just recently gotten back into dairy goats. Unfortunately I have forgotten a lot of what I knew decades ago...but that long unused knowledge is starting to come back. Hopefully, some of the information below will be helpful.
Buck kids are often free or very cheap after the Easter market because they have no value. They are passed off as pets but the reality is they make awful pets through no fault of theirs. An unneutered buck goat is likely to be aggressive as an adult. While some people think this is just awful, it should be remembered that an unneutered animal of any species is a breeding animal first and foremost...no matter what the human wants it to be. We don't keep bulls or stallions as beloved children's pets and bucks and rams are no different. Those hormones control behavior and part of that behavior is often aggression.
Buck goats urinate on themselves and you during breeding season which is early fall to late winter. Having does around will actually reduce the behavior instead of increase it. This behavior makes the goat's head, neck and chest crusty and horribly smelly with urine...which causes the entire barn to smell. It is normal breeding behavior and a direct result of a failure to castrate a buck. If you get buck kids you should have them castrated immediately to insure they are pets as adults instead of unwanted. Adult bucks have almost no value and suffer at the hands of uncaring and irresponsible owners who think the goat is somehow going to understand they should stop acting like a breeding animal, even thought they were never castrated.
Now to the health issues. Goats are extremely suceptable to parasites and about 90% of goats dying before old age are the result of parasites. Goat kids usually die of coccidia...which will not be treated using ivermectin. Symptoms include diarrhea, anemia and weakness and ultimately death within a few days. As they get older they then can become sick with other internal parasites, if they were exposed earlier, however you will need to have a fecal sample tested to determine which medication is indicated. Just giving them a wormer without knowing what you are treating is hit or miss at best. As it is now, the goat area 'may' be contaminated if the reason for the goat deaths was a parasite infection. This could be an issue for any other goats you bring in and house in the same area.
A serious problem with parasite infestations in goats is the damage that is done to the gut...if the goat survives the accute stage. The goat often is wormed and the parasites are then gone but the damage to the gut is so bad that they cannot absorb neutrients. They tend to be very thin for a long time even with special feeds and good nursing care. These goats usually finally die, no matter how hard you work to fix them as the initial damage cannot be overcome. I cannot express strongly enough how critical it is to know exactly what parasites you are treating and then aggessively treat them. My experience with goats over the years has taught me that you cannot waste any time trying to diagnose a parasite problem without a fecal exam as the internal damage happens quickly.
Goats also have serious problems with pneumonia....more so than other farm animals. In this case they don't usually get diarrhea. They will 'maybe' go off feed and just slowly get weaker and die. They may or may not cough and show classic symptoms. They will likely run a fever. Pneumonia problems are much more prevelent during damp and humid weather or when goats are not housed in draft free quarters. They cannot cope with drafty housing and do not handle getting wet very well either. The best housing is dry, draft free but not closed up where humidity and amonia combine and are breathed in by the goat.
While I do understand that you wanted to get a couple of goats to learn more, as harsh as this sounds, you really didn't learn anything from the experience. I'm not saying you didn't want to learn. I'm saying that with all the reading and the good advice, you still do not really know what killed the two kids. So you have symptoms that you can't put a cause to. You gave them medicine which may or may not have been the correct treatment...and you will never know. I can't stress enough that the best way to learn in this situation is to call the vet. Later, as you begin to feel comfortable with your animals you will be able to try your hand at home diagnosis. But right now, you don't have enough knowledge to do that and since we are not there and don't have the diagnostic info, all we are doing is guessing...which is also not a good thing.
I can say that if you decide to do this again get a stool sample and have it tested the moment the kids arrive. That way you have a base line to work with. If you do a stool sample you will know if the kids need to be wormed before symptoms start as in the case of coccidia, once you see symptoms you could already be looking at a life threatening health problem.
You can feed a kid a dairy ration or a specific goat grain mixture from your feed mill. However, the best way to insure that the babies are getting everything they need would be to feed them a complete ration for horses. These would be Trimph Complete or Trotter or another similar product. I know this sounds odd and I wouldn't be passing this info on but it came from the best goat source possible. Dr. Mary Smith from Cornell University. These complete feeds should be fed to any debilitated or sick goat and should probably be considered for either all or part of any goat feeding program. I have changed my feeding program for all my rescue goats to the complete feed plus cracked corn. My two milking does get an 18% diary goat ration that my feed mill mixes special and I also add the complete to that.
I know this expereince must have been very traumatic for you but I do hope you will consider starting over. Goats are wonderful creatures and the perfect hobby farm dairy animal. You aren't the only one that has ever made a mistake....and I am speaking from personal first hand experience. You just have to learn from it and move on.
Thank you for your long thought out reply. I do not feel you were the least bit harsh in any way. I like straight forward information. I totally agree that in the end I basically have no idea what happened. I do feel like I learned quite a bit. I will just need to be careful of my next purchase. These kids were not next to free by any means, I paid the going rate around here with no discount at all. Yea the does usually go for $ 40-50 more.
Daisies, do you belong to any goat forum? There are several good ones. I strongly recommend joining a couple. get to know the folks on them, they can recommend good vets for your area, and you then have hundreds of accumulated years of experience to draw from.
"Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we will all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy."
Dumbledore to Harry Potter, Goblet of Fire.
I am looking at a couple.forums on goats. I've decided to hold off for now. In the future I will start over, first I need to learn more. The main thing is that I am totally convinced we don't have.much time left before ALL tshtf so maybe it worked out best this way. I was wanting to have a jump start into this beforehand, oh well.
One other thing... you bought them at "the Amish barn".. is that a sale barn? PLEASE, don't buy stock at a sale barn, unless you know what you're doing, can treat and nurse ill animals through serious health problems, AND can afford to lose them anyway.
Every disease on earth ends up in those barns, and they are often the place where reputable breeders sell their culls. We personally don't sell sick animals to anyone, but we DO sell an occasional heifer calf through the local sale which we won't put our farm name or papers on for some reason. But most people aren't that ethical, and you'd be shocked at the lengths many will go to in order to get an animal through the sale (treating with pain meds, stimulants or other "old horse traders' tricks" to make them look healthy and alert)
When you decide to start again, buy from a reputable private breeder. Yes, it will cost a little more (you don't need to buy top dollar registered stock) but it will be worth every penny.
If you want to have milkers, you really need to buy from a herd which is CAE and Johnes free, or at least have the animals you are purchasing tested. Raising your own milk and meat is NOT cheap... saving a few bucks in the beginning often ends up costing hundreds (or thousands) in the end, and that doesn't even take into account the emotional toll of losing animals.
Daisies, IMO, you should read those books, and then see if you can find someone local who has been breeding goats for a long time and has healthy, well-cared-for stock to be your mentor. Then get an older doe, as someone suggested above, and maybe a doe kid with her. It is difficult to learn everything you need to know about keeping any kind of animals from books alone -- the eye of an experienced person is worth it's weight in gold.
Behold, these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him.
I raise goats have for over 20 years. nope I don't give goats corn. nope just isn't done. but I do give them goat grain that is for goats.
I give them their shots, and I never skimp on their way. grains should not be left out as a free graze, not ever.
and if a goat is a male he can do well, with out grain. believe it or not. they will do fine on pasture hay. but the females do need goat grain to help with with their milk producing. and they need alfalfa hay. i feed third cut , only to my gals.
you must worm them also. I worm every 3 months, using ivomec, from 1 week to 6 months gets 1 cc.
the yearlings get 4 ccs. the adults 6 to7 ccs, depending on size. all goats get BO SE. new borns get 1 cc, shortly after birth. adults get 5 ccs, every 45 to 60 days.
I also give other vitamins to them. it is important that they are kept i ngod shape for best milk production. I take al lbabies at birth. and hand raise them. I milk mama, and then feed the babies moms milk. at abotu 8 weeks I start to wean the babies, then at 10 weeks they are weened and I am still milking mama. I have a couple I have milked 2 years before breeding back.
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