These are products that I enjoy keeping on hand to work with my goats. I get 99.99% of my equipment from Jeffers Livestock Supply. They are the best place, I've found, as they have great prices, great products, and are just an all around great place to get almost all your livestock needs.
Feeding and Nutrition
Quality Grain ~ A good quality grain is essential to any person breeding, milking, or raising goats. Choose between a dry (non molasses) or sweet feed. Molasses in large amounts can be detrimental to the health of goats/ruminants, but small amounts have been shown to be beneficial for growth of rumen flora. My personal feed mix is made at the local feed mill as a 'goat feed'. It is oats, corn, a dairy pellet (protein pellet), Vitamin E and Selenium supplement, a mineral mix, and molasses to keep dust down and to keep the supplements in the mix. I had to ask them to reduce molasses. a little molasses is acceptable in a diet most of the time, but large amounts of rapidly digested carbs (sugar) can cause rumen acidosis.
If dam raising and controlling coccidia in the environment is a concern, you can also add Rumensin (monensin) at a rate of 20g/ton to offer medicated feed to does beginning 4-6 weeks before kidding. Rumensin is a coccidistat. When fed to does before kidding it reduces the cocci load in the adults and therefore lowers the amount They shed into the environment for their offspring to pick up. This is less of a problem if you pull all the kids and raise them apart from the adult herd, but we raise boers which are raised along with the main herd. The dairies are put on non-medicated after freshening, the boers are kept on the medicated feed until they wean their kids. WARNING - MONENSIN IS VERY TOXIC TO EQUINES.
ALWAYS FEED ACCORDING TO CONDITION. Slightly underweight animals are healthier than overweight animals. It is NORMAL for does in peak production after kidding to drop weight as their intake cannot match their output in milk. Increase feed quality and possibly quantity accordingly and do a fecal test to see if you have any concerns to deal with. Lactation is the highest demand period of any animal, more so than growing and pregnancy. If your feeding program is working they should lose weight in early lactation, but then gain through mid-late lactation and be a good weight to breed in the fall, and finish gaining through the dry period to be ideal weight at freshening again, to start the yearly weight cycle all over again. If your feeding/worm management is not adequate, you will see condition problems as well as low fertility (lots of singles) if they get pregnant at all. Besides amount of feed, the other major concern is worm load preventing you from being able to put weight on a doe through the lactation. Regular fecals are always suggested. See the 'links' page for a research group that will run fecals for 5.00 each!
Alfalfa Pellets ~ Alfalfa pellets are a great calcium supplement to any goat's diet. Always feed according to condition and sex of goat, however. Feed bucks and dry or early pregnancy does little, while feeding lactating goats alfalfa heavily.
Shredded beet pulp ~ Low rapidly fermented carb energy source and high in fiber. Energy source comes from the fact that this is highly digestible fiber. Acidosis is caused by too much rapidly fermented carbs (grain) in diet. This replaces some of the grain in a diet for a slower digesting energy source which increases rumen and gut health through providing higher fiber as well.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed (BOSS) ~ A wild bird food that is often fed to many livestock species. It is very high in protein and fat, including valueable fatty acids. A little goes a long way.
Quality Alfalfa Hay OR alfalfa pellets ~ Alfalfa hay is a great calcium source for lactating animals. We use alfalfa pellets because there is much less waste in pellets than in hay. We feed this mostly to lactating animals, though it can be a good protein and quality forage food for other animals. We avoid feeding it to pregnant animals because of milk fever issues - reduced calcium intake pre-kidding may help promote proper hormone control to maintain calcium homeostasis. See 'prevention' in the following article for further explanation. (FYI - parturient paresis = milk fever) PARTURIENT PARESIS IN DAIRY CATTLE - MERCK VET MANUAL
See paragraphs below for what we are feeding currently! (updated Jan 2015)
Measuring cup set ~ I use these all the time. I measure feed, vinegar, and meds with these.
Small scale ~ Having a small scale is very handy. You can measure exact amounts of feed and weigh milk output, etc. A larger size scale might even be used to weigh small kids. You don't have to get an expensive scale - Ebay has many table top types tht work great, and Meijers has many hanging scales that work great. I now do DHIR so I also have a DHIR Dairy scale.
Latching Grain Bins ~ LATCHING grain bins are very important. If goats get into feed they will gorge themselves, which will easily result in a loss of some, most, or all your stock. They literally eat themselves to death. While some grain is good for goats and ruminants in general, a rapid change in diet is often deadly.
Molasses or corn syrup ~ Molasses and corn syrup are very important to keep on hand with goats. They are good to keep on hand for ketosis or energy boosts. I have given corn syrup to newborns, either in milk or with a syringe. ALWAYS use sparingly and offer with baking soda.
Troughs ~ I often will feed my non-dairy does and my young goats as a herd. Make sure you have 2-3 or more of the troughs depending on the size of your herd. Cheap kitty litter pans from family dollar stores work excellently, or plastic plantar bases. Fenceline feeders are great and prevent owners from being run over by enthusiastic goats, and keep them from breaking them as well.
Water Troughs ~ Water is, of course, the most important and basic supply to keep goats. You will need at least one good water trough for your goats. The trough should be short enough for babies to reach. Or you can have a tall trough for your adult does, and supply shorter buckets of water to the kid pens, during kidding seasons. Put the trough somewhere where you can use a de-icer in the wintertime, or be able to move it. We use a rubber trough because it is more insulative in the winter time. Moving the through if it's in a muddy area is suggested as goats do not like walking through mud, and anything that decreases their water intake should be eliminated if at all possible.
Water De-Icers ~ In areas where water freezes often, de-icers are important pieces of equipment. Some metal tanks are rendered unusable after they become frozen. If the water doesn't freeze, you don't have to cart buckets of warm water out to your goats 2x a day.
Loose GOAT mineral ~ An essential item. Your goats will have problem after problem without loose, good quality goat minerals. I use Sweetlix meatmaker or magnamilk. Sweetlix is the best mineral in my area.
Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) ~ A very affordable goat health insurance. Just allow your goats 24/7 access to baking soda in either a feeder or a dish in an out of the way spot where it won't be knocked over, or hang from the wall. Helps prevent many stomach problems, like bloat. For small numbers of goats, boxes of baking soda from the store work well. For larger herds, buying in bulk from your feed mill may be a good idea. When asking for it at the feed mill, ask for Sodium Bicarbonate. Put out just a little bit and replenish often - this will keep them from soiling it and wasting it.
Mineral/Baking soda feeders ~ I use Jeffer's 2 sided mineral feeders, which are pretty cheap each. The does have theirs inside the barn to keep it out of the elements, but for the bucks and my isoation and kid pens, I attach a storage tote to the fence by it's bottom using clips. I put small holes in the lid and use zip ties to attach the mineral feeder to the lid of the storage bin, such that the goats reach through the fence, through a hole I made in the bottom of the storage bin to access their minerals. This keeps them out of the elements which causes a lot of waste.
Rubber Buckets ~ While the plastic buckets may be handy to have around, I don't recommend them for giving water. I recommend the rubber buckets, especially when they may become frozen. You can throw them up into the air and allow the ice to shatter as it comes back to the earth. They're pretty darn hard to break.
Plastic FOOD GRADE buckets - you can get these at many local areas that sell bulk foods - your local deli or cake shop (big buckets of frosting smell delicious!) even places like Burger King or McDonalds get things like pickles in 5gal food grade buckets. You can buy them as well at home improvement stores or online, usually. We use these for water as well. They will not hold up to rough handling, but you can be gentle with frozen buckets by swapping out a fresh bucket for a frozen one, and letting the frozen one thaw somewhere warm until the next bucket swap.
Plastic buckets ~ Every once in a while, the Dollar Tree sells 8qt plastic buckets with rope handles. I usually buy a ton. You can never have enough buckets on hand.
Probiotic Paste ~ Probiotics are 'good bacteria' for the gut. Goats are foregut fermentors which means their health depends on the balance of good bacteria as well as bacteria we call 'opportunistic pathogens' - bacteria that are kept in check in a well balanced rumen and are always present, but if the rumen environment changes in their favor, they quickly reproduce and cause severe harm. (Clostridium perfringens is one). Use after antibiotic treatment, which kills many good bacteria, not just the bad ones. Also use when scouring, stressed, before and after kidding, and whenever a goat looks 'off'.
BoSe ~ BoSe is a vitamin E and Selenium supplement given by injection. Selenium and vitamin E are essential for reproductive health and growth. Se and Vit E work together in the metabolism, so giving both is important. Deficient goats have trouble kidding I.E retained placenta/afterbirth, and kids are born 'floppy' (floppy kid syndrome). A lower sperm count in deficient animals has also been observed. Supplementation via shots are given a few times a year in areas where it is necessary - some areas are not Se deficient, and Se CAN be given in excess. Prescription only, however, most vets will be happy to just sell you a bottle. Goat dosage is reccommended at 1cc per 40lbs for adults (2x per year, before breeding and before kidding), 1/2cc for kids at birth (I use 1/4cc for minis at birth) Also available is a product called MuSe, but dosing that is hard for goats as the concentration is too high.
Pig Iron paste ~ Iron is depleted when a goat has a heavy worm infestation, especially barberpole worms (Haemonchus contortus, or HC). After worming a heavily infested animal, a dose of iron paste is suggested, or other iron containing product such as Red Cell. I like the pig iron paste because it's highly available iron and the Dose is 1ml. Repeated dosing is necessary but understand anemia is not just an iron deficiency, it is a red blood cell deficiency. It takes a while for an animal to generate more red blood cells, usually weeks.
'Keto Plus' gel ~ Keto Plus gel is a supplement for Dairy Cows to treat/prevent ketosis or to supply energy during labor or shows. I keep this on hand for does in labor and to supply energy to young kids. I rarely need to give it but having it on hand has been helpful.
CMPK Gel ~ A calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium supplement given to prevent milk fever and supply vital nutrients to laboring does. Made for Dairy cows. Supposedly can burn the throat and put goats off feed - I've never seen signs of this. Any on the skin/hair of you or your goats should be wiped off to keep from burning skin. INJECTIBLE CMPK IS RECCOMENDED FOR TRUE MILK FEVER TREATMENT. Milk fever is a FAILURE OF CALCIUM HOMEOSTASIS, very rarely is it a true 'calcium deficiency'. To learn more, try reading about Parturient paresis/milk fever HERE: MILK FEVER/PARTURIENT PARESIS
Vitamin ADE and B12 gel ~ I give this to animals that are 'off'.
Ammonium Chloride ~ This is essentially a salt that acidifies the urine in male animals, decreasing the probability of deadly bladder stones forming (See Urinary Calculi information HERE and HERE). It is NOT a 'cure all'. While this disease is MOSTLY a management disease (proper feeding of male goats and sheep is essential), it also likely has genetic influence. Personally, we only feed grain to our adult bucks when they go into rut as they often drop weight as they pace the fenceline, begin fighting, and spend most of their time yelling towards the doe pen instead of eating. We also raise our kids on grain as we want our does AND buck kids to reach breeding size by fall. To do this safely, we use a commercial pelleted lamb grower. It is about 18% in protein, and it is already balanced 2:1 in Ca:P ratio as well as contains ammonium chloride so it takes out a lot of the guesswork for us.
Copper bolus ~ Copper given at a dose of 1 gram of copper rods per 22lbs of body weight has been shown to decrease the incidence of Barberpole worms in ruminants simply because the worms do not like the presence of copper where they live - the stomach. While sheep are VERY sensitive to copper and for a long time goats were assumed to be the same, goats actually do not have a known appropriate copper level in their diet and according to the National Academies Press, an upper limit could not be established because they couldn't get the goats to die by feeding them very high copper levels in the feed. Coupled with other issues related to copper deficiency in goats that can cause odd growth of bones and hair and affect reproduction, this is an invaluable asset to a parasite control program, especially because MOST farms have far less than ideal parasite management and are relying far too heavily on chemical control which is failing due to resistance problems, not to mention cost. (See information: SAANENDOAH COPPER LINK ) While there are now 'goat size' copper boluses on the market, I dislike them because dosing is important and the ones available are generally not the right size and not as convenient as I would like - not to mention more expensive to buy this way. Personally, I buy the COPASURE BOLUSES from jeffers and open them all up and dump into an open container so I have loose copper rods. I then use #13 'GOAT' SIZE EMPTY GELATIN CAPSULES to repackage each dose specific to that animal using a small cheap digital gram scale that I bought from Amazon or Ebay to weigh out the dose at 1g per 22lbs body weight (example: GRAM SCALES ON AMAZON). This may seem like a lot of work but I believe it's worth it and we only give copper 2x per year - pre-breeding and pre-kidding. Usually 2 weeks before breeding and 4 weeks before kidding which coincides with other management protocols we institute at the same time (BoSe, hoof trims, estrus synchronization, vaccination etc). Copper rods generally last about 3-4 months in the body, so some producers choose to bolus 3x per year.
Surgical scissors ~ I use this to cut the umbilical if needed - though usually you can just apply some traction and break it.
7% iodine ~ The basic goatkeeper equipment. I use on some 'owies', but mostly it is kept on hand for the kidding season. You must thoroughly spray/dip the umbilical as soon after birth as possible. It causes the umbilical to dry and shrivel, as well as sanitizes it. Reduces the risk of JOINT ILL/NAVEL ILL. I hear now the 7% iodine has become prescription only because it's used during illegal drug production, but it can still be had from your veterinarian though it is pricier than in the past. There are alternative products now available online such as TRIODINE
Unwaxed dental floss ~ I use this to tie off the umbilicals of newborns if needed. I usually just apply gentle traction to cord and it will snap. Does generally will chew umbilicals or simply stand up and this causes the umbilical to be severed.
Rubbing Alcohol ~ Use to sanitize the top of medication bottles that you must go in and out of. Sanitize between every draw from a bottle you would like to keep sterile, and try to minimize the number of needles you put through a septum by using one needle inserted into the bottle to draw all of your doses you need, then put new needles on the syringes you filled - so that only one puncture is made in a bottle septum instead of several. You can also use it to rub down an injection site on the animal as well.
OB leg snare ~ Some prefer these to help get a good grip on a newborn. Personally, I just grab and pull with bare hands. :)
OB Lube ~ POWDERED LUBRICANT. Simply mix with water to create an OB lube increase doe comfort when you need to assist labor. I prefer the powder that mixes with water, as it takes up less space and is easy to use, doesn't go bad etc.
Towels and Rags ~ Used to dry the new kids quickly, especially if you bottle raise all your kids or kid out in the cold. Kids should be dry as fas as possible, especially when the wether is cold. In the summer, this is not as urgent but still very important for sanitation purposes. Just old towels or rags are sufficient.
Uterine Boluses ~ Uterine boluses are big pills that you reinsert into the uterus after an invasive kidding. They reduce/eliminate the chance of a uterine infection. I would also use 5 day penicillin treatment if necessary. I've never used the bolus, or had to give penicillin/tetracycline treatments post kidding. I keep a VERY close eye on the doe's rear end (sniff test, as gross as it sounds).
Colostrum : Heat treated or powdered ~ A kid's first meals MUST always be colostrum. If you dam raise your kids, remove the wax 'plug' in each teat and watch each kid get it's first good meal before you leave the doe's side. A major killer of kids is failure of passive immunity which is extremely important as the kids have zero immunity when born and must acquire antibodies passively from their dam through colostrum, and this ONLY occurs in the first 12-24hrs of life. Colostrum quality can vary but generally, the older a dam is the better her colostrum quality. We personally prioritize the higher quality colostrum to doelings and bucklings of merit, and then use lesser quality colostrum on kids intended to be wethers - though generally, we have more than enough of the higher quality colostrum that everybody gets as good of colostrum as available. If there is none such available, I have succesfully used powdered KAEKO COLOSTRUM. BE SURE TO USE ONLY CAE NEGATIVE COLOSTRUM FROM YOUR OWN DOES OR A HERD YOU TRUST. I HIGHLY suggest heat treating colostrum (135* for 1 hour in a double broiler - too hot will ruin the colostrum so be dilligent) If you get your colostrum from another farm, even if they are tested!! Obviously fresh is ideal, and you will likely have better success with fresh/heat treated colostrum than you will with powdered forms. If you vaccinate, you will want to booster the dams 3-4 weeks prior to kidding to optomize the passive immunity they will impart to their kids through their colostrum to provide protection against those diseases to the kids. (Warning - do not use modified live viral vaccines in pregnant animals. Most goat vaccines are NOT modified live. We use a CDT vaccine - C. perfringens types C and D, and tetanus TOXOID.)
Goat's milk/replacers? ~ If you have it, goat milk is always preferred. I personally start kids on our own colostrum and goat milk multiple feedings (usually at least 4 on day 1, then go down to 3x per day after about 2 days, then down to 2x per day around 4-8 weeks and dependent on our milk supply/milk share demand - we feed more milk when we have more milk available!) During their young life, we come close to free feeding them at every feeding, and we max them out at about 20oz per feeding and allow them to pace themselves until they get up to that amount. We usually offer big kids 8-10oz at first feedings and go from there. Goat kids can also be raised on goat's milk (pasteurized if herd disease history is unknown) or Vitamin D cow's milk milk from the store. High quality, whey protein, species specific replacers CAN be an effective way to raise kids, but I think they must be tempered with proper knowledge in feeding. Please see the Langston study for more information on choosing a replacer and feeding/weaning goat kids: PDF (426 K) That being said, I do NOT believe with the small amounts of feed, and their results would likely result in kids that grow onlybecause they offer high quality feed as soon as they'll start eating it (which we also do), but for the first 2 weeks or so of life it's near to a starvation diet IMO. I'd never feed young kids less than 20% of their body weight (they suggest 10%, which is extremely minimal) and even that is very little. You can reduce milk intake drastically after kids start to eat solid food as their nutrition can be replaced with solid food and still allow for good growth if you do it right, but very young kids will only drink milk and only start nibbling at 2 weeks or so of age. We start putting a lamb grower mixed with alfalfa pellets out at 2 weeks old, along with minerals/baking soda and hay. The less milk you feed, the more solid food and water they will take in. All goats should always be provided with milk until at LEAST 8 WEEKS OF AGE.
Small travel coolers ~ Small travel coolers are handy while you are bottle/bucket raising your kids. Simply build a little holder for it so that the kids cannot tip the cooler over. Then drill holes the same size as that of the bucket feeder around the outside of the cooler. Assemble the cooler in just the same way as the bucket. Now, you have a feeder for all seasons that allows you to fill it up with milk and let them free feed - so you don't have to worry about leaving for a day or going to work! In summer, fill with milk and add a frozen pop bottle or two. Don't worry, kids do just fine in chilled milk if it's warm out and they're a week or more old. If it's cold, fill the cooler with very warm milk. Feeding cold milk will also help them regulate intake, so they don't overeat.
10 nipple bucket feeder with caprine nipples ~ LAMBAR This is a wonderful invention for those of us with more than a few kids to bottle feed a year. You can either buy a few buckets depending on how large your kid crop is, or you can separate the kids into a pens with only 10 kids per pen. You can also make the kids just as sociable by spending time with the kids and by either holding or petting the kids while they eat. Each newborn should still get the bottles of colostrum initially, and I will keep newborns separate for a couple days until they are strong enough to suck the milk up the tubes. Training to the bucket usually takes a day or so, and at first it can help to have a helper to keep everybody arranged. The only problem I've heard of with this method is that kids CAN be less friendly if raised hands off using this method, there is a tendancy to just want to drop the bucket in the holder and then move on, but use this time to interact with the kids and they will be just as friendly.
Pop Bottles ~ Pop bottles are essential when feeding kids. Each kid must get it's first bottle of colostrum, and the only way to do this is to have individual bottles ready for each kid. I will also feed each kid it's first several bottles by hand as well, until they are strong enough to suck the milk up the tubes of the bucket. Some people freeze colostrum in the pop bottles, around 8oz as a ready to thaw feeding for next year.
Extra Caprine Nipples ~ Caprine nipples are an awesome invention. These are the nipples used with the lambar bucket. They can be put easily on the top of a normal pop bottle, or can be used with the 10 nipple bucket feeder. The first feedings can be made with a bottle, and the kid will already be accustomed to the nipples when introduced to the bucket feeder.
Bucket feeder tube cleaner brush ~ The tubes of the caprine feeder must be cleaned thoroughly at least once a week. I rinse the bucket after every feeding. Once a week I add bleach the the mix and allow it to stand for a while with it full of water/bleach/dish soap. Then I rinse everything and scrub the tubes out. The tubes are impossible to clean without the special brush.
Weak Kid Syringe ~ A WEAK KID SYRINGE is very important to keep on hand. A weak kid may not be strong enough to suck, but that does not mean that it cannot survive. Remove the tube from the syringe, and remove the plunger from the syringe. Outside of the kid, hold the tube against the body to make an approximate measure about the distance from the mouth to the stomach, and mark the tube with a marker so you know where you think it will stop. Then insert the tube into the kids mouth, and it will generally swallow the tube - go slow at first. Insert the tube into the kid until you meet gentle resistance - do not force it further. If the tube stops far below the mark you made, you are in the lungs and must start over - putting milk in the lungs will cause it to die. However, if you stop near your mark (on full size kids it is most of the tube length) you should be in the stomach. If the tube is not in the lungs, generally they will not be putting up a fuss. You do not need the plunger of the syringe - you will allow gravity to feed the kid. Attach the 60cc syringe to the end of the tube, and pour some warm colostrum into the syringe. Hold the syringe up. Continue filling the syringe until it's first feeding is completed - A 60cc syringe is 2oz, so you will generally fill it about 4x. This may or may not be successful to restore enough energy to the kid for normal feeding next time, and may need to be repeated. DO NOT feed kids that are hypothermic. Warm them first and once their temp is above around 100*, they can be fed. NEVER feed a weak kids cold colostrum.
Disbudding iron and Accessories ~ Disbudding goats is a personal choice, but I strongly believe that it is best for all ADGA dairy goats to be disbudded. Other breed registries do not have the same stigma against horns, but many homes do not want ADGA dairy goats with horns. I have both the X50 and the X30, both work well on all goats. BE SURE TO USE THE 'GOAT TIP' WHEN USING THE X50. DO NOT use the CALF SIZE ring of the X50 to disbud goats! I personally do not use a kid box as someone made me one and I didn't like it. I sit with the kids facing me and use my legs and other hand to control them.
Castrator ~ There are several ways kids can be castrated. My preferred method is to band, which uses a tool that applies a special band around the scrotum above the testicles. When released, the blood flow to everything below the band is cut off, resulting in the testicles and scrotum to shrivel and fall off. I find they are uncomfortable at first, usually for a few hours but younger animals can be more uncomfortable for longer, as their scrotum is smaller and thus the band is less effective at cutting off circulation than on a more well developed animal. MAKE SURE YOU COUNT TWO TESTES BELOW THE BAND - If you miss a teste, it will usually retreat into the body because it won't have a scrotum to descend into, with the band below it... which means the buckling will be significantly LESS fertile but pregnancies can happen. Also, he will still produce testosterone at a reduced level and can show some buck behaviors if you wanted him as a pet - he will stink and pee on himself and act like a buck to some degree, which is not desireable. There is the crushing method, which crushes the tubes and blood vessels, and causes them to shrivel and not function. I have yet to try this method though it is bloodless - the scrotum stays on the animal but the testes will atrophy with time. The main draw back is that if you fail to do it properly, it is hard to tell and you could have young doelings or does in the same pasture pregnant before you realize the castration was not effective - I suggest you still move the castrates into a separate pen at weaning around 10 weeks of age or less. The final method is cutting, which results in an open wound. The bottom of the scrotum is cut off usually with a scalpel or razorblade, and the testicles are pulled out and cut or pulled out depending on the age. This is the only method used on adult goats, but if you are castrating an adult or older buckling, please allow a vet to do so and with anesthesia. Older animals are at high risk for bleeding and death, whereas young bucklings often do not have developed blood flow. I have seen goats cut as older bucklings (a few months old) and every single one I have seen in person is EXTREMELY uncomfortable for extended periods of time. Please consider pain management during and after, talk to your vet about it. I always encourage castrating young. I use the banding method, as I've seen the results of the cutting method without anesthesia/pain management and do not agree that it is 'more humane' for the older animals especially. Many raisers of lambs and goats will cut when they are just a few days old and claim they show NO adverse effects after the procedure is performed in a quick manner without anesthesia/anesthetic and if that is the case then it is acceptable. PLASTIC CASTRATOR TOOL METAL CASTRATOR TOOL CASTRATING BANDS EMASCULATOME (CRUSHING TOOL)
Tattoo Equipment ~ If you register your goats, they should be tattooed in the ears. (LaManchas are tattooed in the tail webbing). SMALL ANIMAL TATTOO SET We do this at less than a week old at the same time we disbud. You will need the tattoo tool, numbers 0-9, letters A-Z, and green tattoo ink. I also use a cheap soft bristle toothbrush to scrub the ink into the punctures. You may want to purchase extra digits/letters if you have repeating numbers you will need to use. The ear release is not necessary, but isn't harmful either. I find that usually they pull their ear out of the digits fine, or I gently and quickly remove it. I have used both types. Green tattoo ink works the best on all skin pigments, but black also works on light skinned animals. White ink does not work on dark skinned goats, do not waste your time. I use the small tattoo set for young goats (works great on rabbits too!), but have the large clamp just in case I need to do adults, too. Goats are tattooed in BOTH ears. One ear gets your herd sequence that identifies the kid as born on your property, and the other ear gets the individual identification number. For this reason, many people have two sets of tattoo clamps so they can have their herd sequence in one ready to go, and then only have to change the other one for each kid (each kid needs its own sequence).
Handling and Housing
Leashes ~ A basic goat control item. Teach all your goats to walk on a leash at a young age; It doesn't take long and allows them to be transported easily.
Collars ~ A basic goat control item. However, with a collar, they tend to pull you around if they're strong enough. Try a halter with stronger goats. I do not like leaving buckle or snap colloars on goats full time as they can get stuck or hang themselves, and goats with horns in the herd can hook them as well. Plastic chain collars with a break away attachment are the best collars, and can be left on goats 24/7.
Whip ~ A basic goat control item. My goats obey my commands better when I brandish a whip, especially the 'out' command that I use to get them out of the feed/milking section of the barn when I'm out working out there with the door open, lol. This item is NOT to be used severely, merely as a deterrent to behavior. Oftentimes the pure sound of the whip is enough to keep my goats in line. This is also to have handy on walks or cart rides, as it can be used on illegally loose dogs that come up to investigate your goats.
Latches and Snaps ~ Please latch everything that you don't want your goats to get into! Very important. If those latches can be secured further with a spring snap, do so! Especially if the latch is reachable by the goats. They WILL learn how to work the latch, unless the spring snap is used. Use latches that require more than one motion to open, like lift and pull. I use sliding bolt latches on most of my gates and hook-and-eye latches on most doors, though they are either out of reach of the goats or are too 'tight' for them to open. I always install latches on the side that goats cannot access as easily, and/or use a double latch system.
Housing ~ GOATS NEED HOUSING. Just because they are a hardy animal does not mean that they can just be left outside to fend for themselves. They are also far less waterproof that sheep, which have lanolin and a dense layer of wool. They do not need shelter from heat or cold necessarily, it is more along the lines of precipitation and drafts that they need protection from. The housing needs to be sturdy to stand up to the rigors of goats, who will itch themselves and butt each other into the walls of the housing. Any paper or shingles within reach will be taken off and possibly eaten. Wood will be chewed on. I recommend dirt floor. If you use a small shed, wood floor works good too. Be sure to cover the wood floor with an Epoxy garage floor covering, Which will protect it from rotting from soaked in urine. The coating should extend the life of the floor by several YEARS. Put the epoxy coating down in two thick layers. Goats will need thick dry bedding through the winter. Cleanliness is important both with lactating goats to minimize mastitis and dermal staph infections as well as during kidding season to reduce parasites and navel ill. GOOD VENTILATION is very important - a closed in area may be a bit warmer and more comfortable for us, but often leads to pneumonia or build up of ammonia vapor.
Bedding ~ Goats cannot be expected to sleep on pure dirt floor, cement floor (highly unrecommended as goat flooring) or wood in cold temperatures. Baby goats laying on bare floor can easily chill. The goats will quickly become disgusting to not only look at, but to smell. Dairy goats with no bedding will have a disgustingly dirty udder and I wouldn't recommend drinking the milk at all. Dirty conditions will result in poor production, hoof problems, disease spread and many other problems. Goats tend to be fairly clean animals, but they can only be as clean as their housing and management allows. For bedding, I use pine shavings and straw. You can also pick up waste hay for bedding as well. You can keep adding bedding to the top for up to a year, but the higher the density of animals you have, you will want to clean more often otherwise it will become an excruciating chore. Better to do it more often, than make it much harder on yourself to do it once per year. The bedding 'pack' in the winter will actually cause your barn to be warmer in winter as the bedding decomposes in lower levels. AS long as the top layer is dry and ammonia build up is not excessive, it is adequate. Make sure baby goats are born on clean bedding. Do all you can to prevent mud. Dirty and moist floor often results in hoof problems, as well.
Milk stand ~ Wether you ever plan to own dairy goats or not, I highly, highly, highly recommend a fitting stand or milk stand for restraint. I don't know how I ever got along without one! I can easily give shots, examine, trim hooves etc.
Hoof trimmers ~ While many people use garden pruners, I use multi-use shears or sharp hoof trimmers. They don't have that single thick blade that gets in the way. You can often find them in the hardware section of meijers or wherever. They may be called metal shears or whatnot. But they work great. Hooves should be trimmed regularly.
Syringes ~ I prefer the LUER LOCK syringes over the LUER SLIP syringes. Luer lock and luer slip refer to how the needle is held on the syringe. Luer lock syringes must have the needle twisted down onto the syringe and will not come off unless you untwist it - it works great for thick injections to prevent the needle from coming off as you depress the plunger. Luer slip can just be pulled on and off. Use luer lock with all thicker injections, because luer slip under increased pressure will cause the needle to become a projectile! I keep 1cc, 3cc, 6cc, and 12cc syringes on hand in bulk on the farm. They are great for measuring all sorts of things on a farm, not necessarily just injections or blood draws. :)
Needles ~ Most often I am using 20ga needles for liquid injections, which are great for vaccines, vitamin B injections etc. For thicker injections such as antibiotics, I use 18ga needles. For drawing blood and IM injections on adults, I use 1" needles. For sub-q injections or giving IM shots to kids or newborns, I use 1/2" needles. I prefer POLY HUB DISPOSABLE NEEDLES, but sterlizeable ultrasharp multiple use needles can be had as well.
Drenching Syringes ~ DRENCHING SYRINGES/FEEDING SYRINGES are heavy duty syringes that are used to give oral meds. While they can be sterlized and use a special needle attachment for injections, I just use them non-sterile and orally only. I have heavy, nylon syringes with the feeding tube attachment, which is a hollow, bent tube that you insert into the goat's mouth and administer the meds. I have 20ml and 50ml feeding syringes that have been very helpful when needed.
Vitamins and Electrolytes ~ This is a handy VITAMIN POWDER to keep on hand to rehydrate animals by encouraging water intake. Give while treating diarrhea, while traveling, while weaning, and all other stressful times. It is water loving and if you leave an open package to sit it will cake up over time as it absorbs water from the air. You can store it open in a mason jar or similar, with a couple silica packets if you are so inclined, or just use it up fast enough or toss what's left after you use it during stressful times. You can buy a livestock specific powder at your feed store or at the link above. Some people use gatorade which works on the same principle but be careful - gatorade has a lot more sugar in it than the livestock powder and that is not ideal for ruminants. :)
Vet wrap ~ Vet wrap is a bandage that sticks to itself, not needing any other adhesive. It's cheap to keep on hand but can also be purchased locally at about any feed store if needed.
Fortified Vitamin B complex ~ A must have for all goat owners. VIT B COMPLEX It is pretty inexpensive and you can give vitamin B whenever a goat is 'off', going through treatments, during a feed change, when sick, after labor, during digestive upset or if they overeat on feed, to newborns, etc. Usually can be found at most Ag stores locally. While it is not as strong as prescription thiamine, you can also dose it at high rates to treat Polio if needed until you can get Rx thiamine. It's just a good item to have on hand! (Note - Vit B is a water soluble vitamin and whatever the goat does not need will be excreted in it's urine and milk. Milk will appear yellow and urine can appear much brighter yellow/orange. This is NORMAL after treatment with Vit B! :) ) If treating polio, the first several doses should be given by INJECTION, usually Sub-q or the first couple as IM. After the goat is well on it's way to recovery (several days) OR if you're giving Vit B for reasons other than Polio, you can give the dose ORALLY. :)
Anthelmintics (Dewormers) ~ Your goat will need to be dewormed. Goats are wormed whenever necessary, as PART OF AN EFFECTIVE PASTURE MANAGEMENT AND WORM MANAGEMENT PROGRAM. I cannot stress that enough - dewormings should generally not be on a schedule nor should they be your only worm management protocol! You should also practice rotational grazing and pasture management, and copper bolusing (see above) is also proven an effective worm control method. Keeping the feeding and housing areas clean is also very important. Rotational grazing and pasture management will also improve your pasture quality as well as reduce purchased feeds.
The only time we deworm by 'rule' or on a 'schedule' is to does immediately after kidding as well as to young kids. Young kids can take up to 6 months to develop an effective immune response to parasites, and thus when young MUST undergo regular fecals and dewormings as needed. We also practice a strict Coccidia prevention protocol on young kids, and coccidia are NOT controlled by dewormers! (see below). To find out if your goat needs to be dewormed, you should have a fecal ran to determine egg count and what kind of parasites are the problem, evaluate her body condition, fecal consistency, FAMANCHA score, and season. (Worms do not often produce many eggs during the winter as they go dormant - the animals can still have a very high worm count!) There are several kinds of dewormers, and you must find one that works for you. Dewormer resistance is a huge problem in small ruminants and it is caused by improper use and poor management. Drugs with common resistance problems are Safeguard (fenbendazole) and Ivermectin. NOTE: There are even some 'herbal' wormers, but in my opinion, they are not as effective or as safe as chemical wormers. If you use them, they require CONSTANT HIGH DOSES to be effective, and you should always do fecals to make SURE they are working!
DIARRHEA IS NOT ALWAYS THE MAIN SYMPTOM OF WORMS OR COCCIDIA, IT IS POOR GROWTH AND PERFORMANCE! I currently use Ivermectin 1% injectable, Cydectin pour-on (drug name Moxidectin), and Ivermectin Plus (All of these are given ORALLY, off label. Cydectin injectable has proven effective when given as an injectable, BUT it should not be given to goats producing milk for human consumption because of a very long withdrawal period. It can be used in pets, bucks, and kids. Injectables have been known to cause sterile abscesses/knots at injection site). Off brands are cheaper and just as effective. You can also use horse pastes to deworm orally with proper dosing. SOME DEWORMERS HAVE VERY SPECIFIC DOSES FOR SAFETY. SOME SHOULD NOT BE GIVEN TO PREGNANT ANIMALS OR YOUNG KIDS. SOME DEWORMERS ONLY TARGET SPECIFIC PARASITES AND DEWORMING MAY NOT BE EFFECTIVE UNLESS YOU CHOOSE THE CORRECT DEWORMER! PLEASE VISIT THIS LINK FOR CORRECT GOAT DOSAGES AND WORMERS OF CHOICE: DAIRY GOAT INFO FORUM - WORMS/DEWORMERS
Coccidia prevention ~ Informational link: MERCK VET MANUAL: COCCIDIOSIS IN GOATS I believe this to be one of the most important health protocols you can use in your goats to produce healthy, growthy kids that reach breeding size easily by their first fall. Personally, we use a form of coccidia treatment/prevention starting at 3 weeks old and usually stopping when the kids are around 50lbs body weight - but we also use a medicated feed starting at ~2 wks of age and continue using that in a large ration until the doe kids are bred for the season and the bucks are out of rut. (we use a lamb grower feed with lasacosid, but products like deccox work as well). It is important to note that using ONLY a feed is not effective in young kids because they are not eating enough of the solid food to be an effective dose! Young animals NEED other types of prevention for success! When we raised boers that dam raised their kids, we also fed a Rumensin medicated feed to the adults. While adults RARELY SUFFER CLINICALLY FROM COCCIDIA, they DO harbor it, but their immune systems are effective at keeping it from causing harm. However, they are shedding it in their feces into the environment where their suscpetible offspring then pick it up and cannot effectively respond with their neive immune systems. Feeding Rumensin to adults can decrease the number of coccidia shed by the adults, and thus decrease the contamination of the environment. The kids can also have rumensin medicated feed but when very young should recieve several treatments orally with a preventative until they are reating enough of medicated feed to prevent coccidiosis. For drugs often used, see DAIRY GOAT INFO FORUM - COCCIDIA PREVENTION MEDS AND DOSES
Louse Dust ~ Depending on how healthy you keep your goats and how often you transport or purchase goats, you may or may not get lice. I've only had lice twice in several years of goat owning. Sprinkle some PYRETHRIN-TYPE louse dust on all animals, and on their freshly cleaned bedding. See my BIOSECURITY page for information on how to prevent MANY diseases including lice.
BoSe ~ See BoSe in the Feeding and nutrition area.
CD/T Vaccine ~ CD/T This is the general goat vaccine that provides LONG TERM PREVENTION. It protects against Enterotoxemia (overeating disease) types C and D, and tetanus. Does should be vaccinated 3-4 weeks before kidding for improved passive immunity through colostrum from dam to kids. Kids should be vaccinated at 4 and 8 weeks of age, some suggest a booster at 6 months. Enterotoxemia is still largely a MANAGEMENT DISEASE. Improper management or other event that causes severe rumen upset can STILL ALLOW ENTEROTOXEMIA TO OCCUR. This vaccine does HELP especially during an outbreak, but it is not a cure for poor management or other disease that can cause the rumen imbalance. This is an important note for those who say this vaccine doesn't work. NO vaccine works 100% of the time, and especially bacterin type vaccines which are only a part of a proper management protocol. I personally use it as 'cheap insurance 'and try to optimize management to prevent this disease.
Tetanus Antitoxin ~ ANTITOXIN IS NOT A VACCINE. It is purified antibody to the tetanus TOXIN (not to the causative agent of Tetanus, which is Clostridium tetani) and administered as a treatment usually. It is short term protection that is often given after an animal has a pucture wound, or sometimes given at castration to prevent Tetanus in the short term. This can be used as a short-term preventative for goats, only lasting 3 weeks or so, AND is used as a treatment along with antibiotics. The Antitoxin binds the Tetanus toxin which causes the symptoms, and the antibiotics kill the bacteria. Consult with a veterinarian for treatment!
C&D Antitoxin ~ Keep this on hand for treating Enterotoxemia. (NOTE - Fall 2014 and Winter 2015 - C&D antitoxin shortage/backorder! Can be hard to find until the shorage is corrected by manufacturers!) Follow instructions from your vet or an experienced goat person you trust for treatment. ANTITOXIN IS NOT A LONG TERM VACCINE. It is ready made antibodies given as a treatment for an animal that is currently sick. Clostridium perfringens is an opportunistic pathogen that lives in the guts of all goats. When the rumen environment is altered significantly either by over feeding, rapid change in diet, or other sickness that causes rumen disturbance, this pathogen starts growing and producing deadly amounts of it's toxin which causes the symptoms of enterotoxemia.
Kaolin Pectin ~ KAOLIN PECTIN can be purchased online or at most local ag stores as well. An anti-diarrhial given orally. Give whenever you feel necessary, along with probiotics. It is simply a clay that helps firm up the feces in times of simple mechanical diarrhea problems. Diarrhea is often caused by improper feeding or diet change, watch animals with diarrhea very closely to determine it's cause as it is often the first sign of problems.
Scalpels ~ Scalpels can be handy and are inexpensive.
Cotton Balls ~ I keep cotton balls on hand for cleaning injection sites with alcohol, cleaning tattoo sites, cleaning the tops of sterile injection bottles, and for applying medications.
Rubbing Alcohol ~ Used to sanitize instruments/injection sites/tattoo sites/castration sites.
Exam Gloves ~ I use the BLUE NITRILE DISPOSABLE GLOVES, they are decent for lightweight work. They are not sterile. They protect your hands when you are working with abscess contents or with chemicals/drugs you don't want to touch.
Digital Thermometer and coverslips ~ When a goat gets sick, the first thing you'll have to do is take the temperature. This is done in the anus, therefore, you won't want to use your family's thermometer. Buy a small digital thermometer and some coverslips from your local pharmacy, and be sure to write 'GOAT' on it to prevent accidental human use. Thermometers living in the barn can often get damanged due to heat or freezing temps, so keep this in mind. Also, I usually keep a spare or two. I have left thermometers out in the elements and while they still turned on, they were horribly out of range. I usually test the thermometers on a healthy animal as well as the sick animal to make sure that the thermometer is working correctly. :)
Blood Tubes ~ RED TOP BLOOD TUBES not only work well for blood samples, but also for sending abscess contents for culture or milk samples for culture to diagnostic labs. I suggest that everyone with goats has their herd tested for disease - please see the This is done by collecting blood from the jugular of the goat with a regular syringe and needle. To transport you purchase blood tubes with the RED top (no additives). It will be a vacuum tube, so just stick the needle through the rubber stopper, and the blood will be sucked out of the syringe and into the tube. For blood collection, you can also get 'marble top' blood tubes from your vet, which will be red and grey toppers or red and black toppers - those are also acceptable for BLOOD samples. You can also get larger tubes (10ml work good) for milk samples or abscess contents samples to send in for culture. Do NOT USE LAVENDER TOP TUBES - THE ONLY EXCEPTION IS FOR G-6-S GENETIC TESTING IN NUBIANS. Lavender top should not be used for other disease tests or for milk or other cultures. The lavender top indicates there is an additive in the tube (EDTA), that is not appropriate for these applications.
7% Iodine ~ Iodine can also be used on cuts, newborn kid navels, and for some skin irritations. It is often used in teat dips for milking animals as well.
Stainless 8qt stockpot ~ A good milking bucket at the fraction of the cost of others. I bought an 8qt stock pot at the dollar Store for 6.00. Much cheaper than the 50.00 BUCKET FROM HOEGGER SUPPLY . I zip tied split rings to each handle, and use dog walking coupler for the handle (you could also just use a bit of rope with snaps at either end). I've been using this setup for years. We also use an 8 qt and a 12 qt as a double broiler to pasteurize. Put water in the 12 qt and then your milk in the 8 qt and nest them. Use this method to safely heat milk without scorching. Milk should only ever be in contact with sanitary surfaces such as stainless steel and glass.
Strainer and filter inserts ~ You will need to filter your milk for it to taste good. Depending on how many milking does you have, you can either use a MINI STRAINER or A LARGER ONE. For just a few does, you can use a mini filter to filter milk directly into glass jars for storage. You WILL need the FILTER DISCS to go with these!
Clorox Bleach ~ Used in homemade udder/teat dip (www.fiascofarm.com) and to clean some utensils. Can be used to sanitize milking equipment after use at a low concentration. Soak for a minute after washing, then dump and allow to air dry before use.
Udder Balm ~ Use after milking on the does with chapped udders. Also good for sores and even your own chapped hands. I prefer the non-greasy type such as this: CHAP GUARD. I add mint essential oil to mine which helps reduce edema in newly freshened animals.
CMT Kit ~ CALIFORNIA MASTITIS TEST KIT is an essential milker's tool. Detects mastitis in the milk for early treatment. The test solution is a solvent that cause the milk to gel up when there is a high somatic (white blood cell) count in the milk. The detergent reacts with the membranes (lipid bilayer) of white blood cells to cause this. NOTE - goats will have more of a baseline reaction than cows usually. This is because of the way fat globules in milk are produced naturally, and the fact that goats produce more fat than cows, generally. To learn what normal looks like, I suggest testing your healthy animals so you can recognize normal from abnormal if needed. :)
Udder wash ~ For an udder wash, we use 1 gallon cheap plastic buckets. We use about a quart of water, a 'splash' of bleach, and a 'squirt' of regular blue dawn dish soap. Udders should be washed before EVERY milking and your hand should be clean as well. For teat dip, I prefer to use either a teat dip cup or a spray bottle. If a spray bottle, be sure to absolutely saturate the teat and
Teat Dip ~ Applied after milking. Do not rinse. Many products are available, the best are products containing CHLORHEXIDINE or IODINE. Full coverage of the teat and orifice at the end of the teat is essential. You can use a little cup like a dixie cup, or a TEAT DIP APPLICATOR designed for use in dairy, or any spray bottle. If using a spray bottle, be sure to thoroughly coat the entire teat and orifice with the product. This helps reduce incidence of mastitis.
Canning/storage jars ~ You will need an abundance of the glass mason jars and tops. We like the plastic jar lids and 1/2 gallon mason jars to store milk.
ZIPLOC bags for freezing ~ You can freeze milk for use in cooking, soap making, or feeding kids. The fat will separate into globs occassionally, but it will re-combine when warmed and shaken. For easy measuring in soap making, freeze milk in an ice cube tray and put into ziplock bags for storage.
Dairy Utensil soap ~ The main idea with goat's milk is to maintain as clean of conditions as possible. The main reason people are so prejudiced against goat's milk because of 'bad taste' is because of improper handling. Goat's milk does not last as long as cow's milk and must be kept cleaner. Use THIS SOAP on all your equipment after each milking. For economical use, I mix it in a spray bottle and spray down surfaces thoroughly before scrubbing with clean, soft plastic scrub brushes. Do not use metal or harsh scour pads on equipment, as this will create small scratches on the surface that harbor bacteria. Honestly, a mild dish soap works just as well as this dairy soap, I find.
Dairy sanitizer ~ DAIRY SANITIZER is a tasteless, odorless, and inert product (if you allow it to sit for at least 1 minute before milking) that cleans everything used in milking. It must be in contact with the products for a certain time in order for it to be effective, however. I spray it on my utensils directly before use. You can also soak equipment in a very mild bleach solution directly after washing for a few minutes. Dump and allow the equipment to air dry between milkings.
Foaming Acid Wash ~ Used to REMOVE MILK STONE DEPOSITS on milking equipment. Used once every week to prevent buildup and allow for the best quality milk. I mix this by the spray bottle and thoroughly coat surfaces in contact with milk. Milk stone can create areas for bacteria to colonize and lead to unsanitary milk handling. Cleaning utenisils with warm water instead of hot or cold will help, as well as washing soon after every milking.
Dixie Cups ~ Instead of buying a fancy teat dipper, regular 500-for-a-dollar dixie cups can be used and are more sanitary because they are disposable. I prefer paper ones as they are compostable.
Plastic buckets ~ Since the acid wash and dairy soap must be mixed by the quart or gallon or more or be reused, it is often good to have a couple buckets on hand to store the extra in until it is used. You can buy 1/2 gallon or gallon ones for cheap at hardware stores such as Menards, Lowes, or Home Depot usually, in the cleaning supplies section. Alternately, gallon size ice cream buckets work well, too. :)
Milk stand ~ While you CAN free milk your does, chances are they will flip out when you try to milk them without restraint. If you seriously plan to milk day in and day out, building a simple, easy milkstand is a must. Plans can be found at the fiasco farm website : www.fiascofarm.com. I built my stand from these plans and it works beautifully.
Strip Cup ~ The initial streams of milk should be discarded at every milking as they are most likely to harbor any bacteria that may have managed to get into the udder since the last milking. This initial milk can also help diagnose mastitis and it is helpful to use a small metal sieve or STRIP CUP to evaluate these initial streams of milk (NOTE - stainless steel is not needed as this milk is discarded as waste. There are cheaper plastic ones often available locally or online that will work well. Give this 'waste' milk to your barn cats and they will love you! :) ) Simply milk into this cup for the first 2-3 streams per side, and any chunks present will be caught in the mesh as an early indication of mastitis. You can also milk right into a cat dish and use a small stainless cooking sieve to evaluate milk. I rinse the sieve in the leftover udder wash bucket after I'm done milking.
ToDay ~ MASTITIS TREATMENT FOR LACTATING GOATS. I would keep a box of 12 on hand if you have lactating goats so you can treat ASAP when needed. It can usually be had from a veterinarian or at most farm stores as well. se the CMT kit to determine wether or not mastitis is the case, and/or perform a milk culture. Subclinical mastitis can also be detected by regular DHIR tests. Clinical mastitis usually presents as udder hardness/lumps, heat/inflammation, a salty flavor of the milk, formation of chunks, blood in the milk, increased body temperature, depression/decreased feed intake, drop in milk production, and unpleasant smell or flavor to the milk. It can cause permanent udder damage and death of the doe. You can use a strip cup to detect changes in milk consistency such as chunks. It is infused into the udder by way of a nifty tip that comes on the syringe. Easy to use, follow box instructions.
ToMorrow ~ DRY TREATMENT/MASTITIS PREVENTION for dairy animals. Infuse a whole tube into each half when you milk out the doe for the last time of the season. Dry period mastitis can be very hard to detect. No need to milk it out, it is safe for kids to consume when she freshens, though you may notice it as an oily substance if you milk. Many highly managed small herds do not need to use this protocol, but it is helpful in large herds where a subclinical doe may evade notice. Helpful in does that are 'mastitis prone' - but you must decide if continuing to breed a doe that is mastitis prone is a good idea as in breeding her, you're making more work/cost for yourself to keep her healthy as well as producing daughters who may be 'mastitis prone' as well! If you have does that are 'mastitis prone', I also consider looking seriously at your cleanliness before, during, and after you milk as well as where they lay down (bedding).
This is a simple procedure that many people forgo and end up with lame goats. Here is how I do it.
I used my dad's shears for a year till I got my own pair, which I love. The are sharp enough to cut easily. They are called 'utility shears' and look very similar to the shears marketed as 'hoof shears', but only cost about 5.00. We got ours at Menards, and you can probably get them at Lowes or Home Depot. Many people also use pruning shears. Hoof shears are nice because they're two sharp blades that can be taken apart, sharpened, and put back together.
First, I restrain the goat in the milkstand or with a collar clipped close to the fence. I then give the goat a small amount of grain, some alfalfa pellets, or hay to keep it busy and content. For the front legs, stand on one side of the goat, at the elbow. Pick up that front leg and bend it, so the goat is standing on 3 legs and you're holding the 4th up. Make sure it is not in an uncomfortable position. Trim excess hoof wall, heel and toe. You desire a FLAT walking surface. If you see a light pink spot, do not trim further to avoid bleeding. A severe nick can cause lameness, but usually a small nick does not cause any lameness or excess pain.
If you notice a strong smell and lots of white powder like stuff coming out of the hoof, it is called hoof rot. A little bit isn't bad, as long as you get it cleaned out. I simply spray 7% iodine on it, or use a product like Coppertox. The area between the toes should be evaluated for hoof scald or rot, which can cause severe lameness.
Parts of the hoof:
An untrimmed hoof:
Don't forget to trim the inner hoof wall! :
A trimmed hoof:
Yes, goats have a social life! In fact, they live for the social life. In order for a goat to be happy it must have at least one other goat companion, Even bucks. This allows them to develop their social life. Just like if a human is deprived social contact, a goat will become "odd". Then, later in life you buy that goat a companion it may stress the goat out to the point of stopping eating. Often though, the goat gets it's social life straightened out and back on track. But it is really the easiest to go ahead and buy two goats at the same time.
Stress is a big thing with goats. A goat gets stressed over dominance issues, a new goat being introduced to the herd, getting shots or medication, having kids, being transported exc. exc. Being a goat owner you want everything to be as unstressful as possible. Introduce a new member slowly through the fence, give shots quickly, give meds nicely, and transport the goats efficiently.
Many people freak out when they see a new goat being butted around the pasture or the least dominant of the herd being butted around. This is perfectly normal, and rarely will the animals carry it to the extreme of hurting the new goat or the lowest ranking animal. Goats thrive on scheduling and order. A certain goat is the leader, or the "Herd Queen" and then there is the second in command right on down to the last ranking goat. However, goats defend their position to extremes. If a new goat is introduced, even the herd queen will defend the lowliest goat's position. Usually with new goats they learn to start from the bottom and work their way up. A new goat can be lowest ranking and within a year be in the middle or even high ranking. It is quite interesting to see what is going on within the herd every day. Also when kids are around two weeks old you can begin to tell who is dominant within their own little herd. One kid can be dominant at birth and then be subordinate after two weeks or so. Also, a single lost fight can determine when the herd queen resigns her spot to a younger doe.
Goats have some interesting behaviors. For example, normal buck behavior during rut. Bucks in rut will call to the does, snort, and stomp their front foot. They become short tempered. Maybe one of the most distressing behaviors of bucks in rut is their behavior of haunching over and peeing on their own faces. They then usually lift their upper lip up in a funny face. They do this to 'evaluate' themselves. Their very odorous smell, a combination of scent glands behind the horn area on the head and their urine, is like their own brand of cologne that attracts the lady goats.
Does in heat don't act normal, as well. A doe in heat my mount other does like she is a buck, or allow other does to mount her. She will flag her tail and be anxious, often becoming more vocal. Her vulva may turn pink and often gets a small amount of discharge. Some does become short tempered and will beat up on other does more. If a buck is nearby, you will quickly know why she is acting thus. :)
Housing for goats is very important. It must be secure and not drafty, and large enough for them to move around in. The bedding should be made up of pine shavings alone in the summer and pine shavings underneath straw in the wintertime. I use an 8'x10' metal shed for my bucks, and a large barn stall for my does. The buck?s shed has two doorways so they can access both of their pastures through the shed. In all the doorways of the shed I put a 2"x4" board across to keep the bedding in the shed, but a 2"x6" would have worked better. You could use a smaller shed, but only if you wish to have two goats. An 8'x10' shed should be able to handle up to 4 does per half, or 8 does. Since bucks are more aggressive, I wouldn?t dream on housing more than 4 bucks in my 8?x10? shed. I divided my shed in half using fencing and pieces of wood. That way during the breeding season, I can separate the does into smaller herds and put them with the bucks they are to be bred with.
As with all livestock, goats must have access to a pasture. If you own under an acre, you may not be able to own goats. You must be willing to fence in as much room as possible for the goats. Your goats will need an appropriate fencing. You can run electric fencing which many people use with good results, or you can run actual fencing. I use actual goat fencing which I purchased at Tractor Supply Company. You can use cattle panels, which are heavy-duty "sheets" of fencing, or you can use rolled fencing. Rolled fencing is the fence that comes rolled up. Either kind works well, but make sure you get a fencing that is sturdy enough. They sell rolled chicken wire, which has octagon shaped holes, and then there is a thin wire rolled fence that has holes shaped like rectangles. Neither of these types are acceptable to hold in goats well. Also, if you have horned goats, the holes should not be large enough for the goat to put its head through. If a horned goat does this then most likely it will get stuck. Then predators or the weather will quickly kill a helpless goat. There is a saying that goes : "If it doesn't hold water, then it won't hold a goat". Obviously this is slightly exaggerated, but not by much! They are escape artists, and are able to detect a weakness in the fence, and then they will work on that specific spot to tear it down and escape. Also, they are able to undo simple gate latches. The gates I use are purchased from Menards as a kit with just braces and hinges. Then you build the gate out of 2"x4" and pick a goat proof latch. It costs only 20.00 or so for the entire gate. It doesn't matter too much what kind of fencing you use on the gates. The gate needs to be attached at least on one side to a wooden post. The fencing needs to be held up by actual t-posts, every 8 feet. Pygmies are notorious jumpers and climbers (though I have never had a problem with mine) so the fencing should be at least 4' tall. Never try to keep a goat in a pen by tying it out inside the pen. The goat could climb over still and hang itself. And another tip : Goats love to itch themselves on the fence. You can prevent this by taking a board and putting a plastic, stiff, long fibered foot mat on one or both sides, then attaching it to the shed or to posts in the pasture, but not on the fence line. If they continue to rub the fence to a point where they are wrecking it, I would run a strand of electric about chest high on them, and make a connection thingy on the gate so that it is a full circuit when the gate is closed and it is an open circuit when the gate is open.
Toys are not mandatory, but are cheap or easy to make. I use an old truck top and some boxes that my school was throwing out, the ones the cheerleaders stood on. I also have an old, huge tractor tire, wire spools, and a hanging tire swing. Goats love to climb, jump, and play. Just make sure that the toys are not close enough to the fence that the goat can jump over the fence. With a cable spool, you need to cover the holes with a board. Also, the toys should not be dangerous in any way. Goats will inevitably get hurt on it. Especially if it is metal. Then the goat could contract tetanus if it does not have it vaccines up to date. Also, I have noticed that kid goats like chewing on things. Next year I hope to tie some cotton rope onto the fence and in the shed so they have something to chew on.
Many people choose to have their goats bred as a source of income. You can sell the babies and milk the does for your own uses. If your goats are just pets, however, you do not have to let them breed. They can live long, happy lives without being bred. Have a goal in breeding; If a goat you own does not fit your goals, cull or butcher it. If a goat you own has serious conformation or production problems, please do not breed it; it will only pass on it's undesirable traits. Also, understand thatabout 90% of buck kids born are NOT BREEDING QUALITY! Know what is and what isn't breeding quality, and refuse to sell sub-quality bucklings with their testicles still attached! A
Having your does bred is a fun experience. It allows you to raise kids at your farm, and experience the wonders of birth. You can sell the kids for some income and drink your does' milk. Does will not produce milk if not bred. When breeding, choose a buck that will result in kids that are will be (in theory, at least) higher quality than both the sire and dam. This is called breeding 'up'. Know your doe's strengths and weaknesses, and evaluate bucks to determine if they are a match for your doe. Dairy bucks, which obviously do not have an udder to evaluate, should be evaluated by their mother's strengths and weaknesses in her udder and chosen for those reasons.
Your doe, just like most mammals, has a heat cycle. The time when the doe is most receptive to a buck is called a standing heat. This is when a doe will stand still to be mounted by the buck. The doe will show signs such as excessive noise, discharge from the vulva, a pink and puffy vulva, excessive urination, tail flagging and dominant does will sometimes exhibit male mounting behavior onto other does while in heat. If there is a buck in the pen next to the doe, you will always know if the doe is in heat. She will rub up against the fence, the buck will smell her behind a lot, she will flag her tail and the buck will exhibit breeding behavior. Not all does show very well, and not all does show all the signs. They may only have one or two signs. They will always show interest in the buck if they are in adjacent pens. This is why I keep the buck in the pen next to the does in the wintertime, so I can put her in with him when the time is right. Pygmies and a few other breeds of goats are capable of going into heat year round, and most other breeds only go into heat during the fall for spring babies. They often get moody during heat, and will come up to snuggle with your or maybe will get an attitude with you. If you do not own a buck, a good way to detect heat is to have a "buck rag" on hand. This is a piece of cloth that has buck scent on it, usually gathered by rubbing the cloth onto the buck's forehead. When the rag is presented to a doe in heat, the doe will start acting goofy, making vocalizations that sound like swallowing noises, flagging her tail and just generally acting funny.
The bucks also display a breeding behavior. Of cource, they often will display this behavior year round. They use their tongue to lick the air, making a thubthubthub sound, often stomping a front foot as well. They often snort and will defend does from other bucks. They make an extended swallowing noise in their throats and 'hum', calling to the does. The does will often do this too during standing heat. The most repulsive behavior is "peeing" on their front legs and face. This gives them their particular "cologne" that is obviously irresistible to the ladies. They also have scent glands that produce their own individual stink, which is also very attractive to the ladies. Wethers and does do not produce the smell, but the buck smell is what gives the goat the stinky reputation. The only reason I own bucks is because there are no local breeders that I can find. If at all possible find a local breeder who owns a buck that you like, and ask if he is willing to accept a fee in exchange for breeding. The breeder may prefer money or a resulting kid. Then when the doe is in heat, you cart her over there and she gets bred. Usually a good breeder will let you rebreed if the doe does not get pregnant the first breeding. Always try to hand breed your does, because that minimizes the possibility of disease transmission and means your doe will remain in your care. It also means you have an absolute breeding date and can figure an approximate kidding date.
Kidding is one of the most exiting and stressful situations both for you and your goat. No matter how much of an easy kidder your doe is, you can only imagine and mentally prepare for those 'what if' situations. This is not a bad thing, because if you are mentally ready for problems you will be able to deal with them if they do arise.
A week before the duedate, give your doe a kidding haircut. Clip the tail into a blunt brush like you do for show, down the backs of the legs, the udder, the insides of the legs, and the 'hind end' area - baisically everywhere that kidding 'goo' will stick to her. That way, you can grab a towel or whatever and give her back end a wipe down, and she'll be cleaner. Also prepare the kidding equipment and set it aside in an easily accessible place, so that when kidding does begin, you can get the equipment quickly. Through the years I have adjusted my kidding kit down to just a few basics - towels and iodine. We keep other things like lube, a weak kid syringe, CMPK injection, Ketosis treatment etc in the barn if needed, but the kit itself that I use in ALL kiddings is just towels and iodine. The rest has seen rare or no use in the 12 years I raise goats, but i have been able to lend a hand/product to local friends in need through the years and the times I have needed things, I was greatful to have it on hand.
You should know an approximate delivery date for ideal management of your herd. Have the kidding kit ready at least a week before the due date, as goats often kid before their exact due date at 150 days. (Normal is 145-155 days, I've had them go 6 days early or late! I start watching 7days before due). Watch your doe closely for decreased feed intake, swelling of the udder (especially suddenly, like overnight), pawing at the ground, Yawning, licking behavior (usually of your hands or whatever part of you she can reach, lol), streaming of amber goo from her vulva, loss of her 'plug' - white/opaque goo somtimes weeks before kidding, it is the cervical plug mucous. These are all signs of labor soon or started. Not all does will show all or any of these signs. Sometimes the only sign your doe will show is the loss of ligaments and a behavior that makes you say "well, she never did that before!" In the summer, does often kid around 4 pm or later to escape the heat of the day. In the winter they often kid in the morning or midday. Feeding does their daily grain in the evening HELPS reduce overnight kidding, and promotes kidding during the day. (NOT a hard fast rule!)
Watch the doe's ligaments. Her ligaments are pencil like and go from the spine to the pin bones. When her ligaments "disappear" kidding is to take place within 12 hours. When the ligaments "disappear" you will be able to reach around her tail head. They also leave a caved in are on either side of the spine/tailhead. Ligaments can be tricky, however, because about two weeks before kidding they will start to change. A week before kidding you may notice the due doe's ligaments are much different than a non preggo or earlier stage doe's. They may even soften dramatically to where you may be fooled into thinking she's kidding. Many people make the mistake of trying to find a spot on her tail where you can reach around the spine - this can be done on any goat if you attempt below the ligaments at any time. The goal is to FIND the ligaments and when you no longer can, she is in early labor. However, if they are still detectable then she is probably not in labor. Here are a couple pictures of ligaments and how to find them :
This first picture is the day Boston kidded '06, you can see me reaching under her spine/tailhead in the location where her ligaments SHOULD be I have drawn on where the ligaments would normally be.
In this picture, you can see a top view of where the ligaments are and where they go.
After the signs start, be ready. A doe can have her kids either standing up or laying down. If possible, move her to a clean area either outdoors if a nice day, or to a cozy kidding area indoors if in the winter the kidding area, if in a colder part of the year, DRAFT FREE, and have clean bedding. The first thing you should see after a doe starts serious pushing is a bubble. The bubble should appear within the first 15 minutes of hard labor. In this bubble you should see little white hooves, and then a nose resting on the legs. It is ok if you don't see a little nose; a normal kidding position is back legs first, though the "diving" position of front legs and nose first is more common. After the doe gets this far, it is usually just a few more pushes for that kid. A couple more pushes gets the shoulders past, which is the hardest for your doe. Rub the new baby's face with a towel, making sure to clear the nostrils and mouth. The kid should start gasping. Tie off the umbilical about an inch from it's belly and snip it between the tie and mommy, not between the tie and baby. Set this baby up for mommy to lick, and get ready for more. If you want/must bottle raise your kids, set the kid aside in a box after YOU dry it. Do NOT let mommy see the baby. After you dry the kid, you can hand the mother the towel that you dried the kid with, that can amuse the mother, or let her lick you (this helps with her bonding to you)
Fias Co Farm has GREAT birthing diagrams and detailed instruction on how to assist birth. They also have lots of images of NORMAL births. http://www.fiascofarm.com/goats/kidding.htm
You can 'bounce' a doe to see if there are more on the way. To bounce the doe, straddle the doe at the shoulders while she is standing - face towards her hind-end. Place your hands underneath her on her belly, right in front of the udder. Lightly lift and drop her belly in a smooth quick motion. and feel for anything hard. If there is something there, wait for her to return to contractions within the next 15 minutes. If unsure of the presence of more kids, PLEASE do not hesitate to investigate - it saves lives and rarely leads to complications.