I have 6 wethers, 2 oberhasli, 1 alpine, 1 Nigerian, 2 fainters all wethers. They are all a year old this month except the fainters are 7 mo. I have been feeding Purina Goat Chow on the advice of the 4H girl I bought the alpine from. After reading this forum and the dairy goat forum it seems that almost everything in the goat chow is bad for my wethers. For hay I give them orchard grass. I don't know what kind of grass is in it but they love it and don't waste 2/3 of it like they do alfalfa. They also have a goat specific salt lick.
From reading I have found that I need goat specific free choice minerals with 2-3 sources of copper. I am going to start mixing the orchard grass 50/50 with alfalfa. My question is what can / should I give them in place of the goat chow. I don't mind mixing something up. It doesn't have to be mixed in a bag. The goat chow is as much for my wife as it is for the goats. She loves to hand feed them treats. I don't want them to goat chow anymore but I need something to give them that will be good for them. They are looking a little ratty right now because of their winter coat but they are all healthy playful and happy.
I was thinking about replacing the goat chow with alfalfa pellets with karo syrup and maybe some canola oil and maybe a tiny bit of grain or corn or something that they like that will be good for them. They are just pets we obviously aren't in the goat business. All they do is keep an acre or so of hillside clean for us. I probably worry too much about them but I feel that if you take on the care of anything living you should try to do the best you can for it. Cost isn't a huge concern because I only have a few and my dogs cost far more to feed them my goats.
I would definately take them off the Purina chow & really wouldn't give them any goat feed or grain. Your just asking for urinary problems feeding them that stuff. Not all bucks or wethers get Urinary Calculi but if you ever have one get it you'll never want to go throught it again. The grass hay mixture will be fine for them, especially if they love it & there isn't much waste.
They need a good cattle mineral with at least 1700 - 2000 ppm of copper in it & Preferably a gray colored mineral if you can get it. You will only find copper contents like those in Cattle minerals. I'll have to look at mine again but I think it has 2300 ppm of copper in it. The high copper content will also help their coats stay nice colored, shiny & smooth.
If your wife wants to feed them stuff try little snacks a day, they don't need alot of anything though, just snacks like animal crackers, apply(cut in thin slices, grapes, orange sections, stale bread, crackes, mine even like grape tomatoes, romaine lettuce, those baby carrots, some cucumber celery. In the summer when everythings growing they like my strawberries & raspberries too. Watermelon, cantalope, etc. Mine have actually had some of all the above. It's what ever I have that day, etc. Just try it out. Grain is really not good for bucks or wethers.
Hi! My goats are pets too. Wethers don't need any kind of grain and it can cause Urinary Calculi (UC) so I wouldn't feed it if I were you. I would also add Ammonium Chloride (AC)to their daily diet just as a preventative for UC. I would replace their goat chow with Alfalfa pellets..just plain, nothing needs to be added. Or you can feed them Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) that is what I feed mine (2 does 1 wether). Both are very good for hand feeding.
Mine are minis and they get 1 cup (BOSS) a day for the 3 to share.
I also feed the BOSS to my 2 horses, they each get 1 cup a day and no grain. Everybody gets good grass hay...for the goats it's unlimited.
WoW, you folks are fast. Thanks for the suggestions. I don't think I will be feeding them grain of any kind after this bag of chow id gone. Thanks for telling me what BOSS is. I have seen it in both forums and couldn't seem to figure out what it was and whether my goats needed it. The only person I really have to help me with the goats is my friend that breeds the fainters and she doesn't keep wethers or bucks except for her one breeding daddy buck so when she tells me things it's always things that are great for the girls but maybe not so good or necessary for boys.
Make feed changes gradually, not abruptly. If they're cleaning up grass hay, they like it, so keep that. Alfalfa pellets are probably more economical, certainly more consistent, than alf. hay. With good hay & alfalfa pellets, grain is a waste of money. But mineral is important. And parasite control.
Carolyn Eddy has a book/let called "A Diet or Wethers" that I highly recommend. It talks about different kinds of feeds and balance. It is pretty cheap and can buy online. I am not sure you want to be feeding boys the calcium....... (uc)
Honestly I wouldn't even bother with all that. Go find a good meat goat pellet that contains ammonium chloride and slowly switch them from the purina to it. Your hay is perfect, and just keep your minerals the same as long as they eat some of it.
As yearlings they really don't need grain, but will need some of the meat goat pellets if you get really cold winters for extra energy. Right now they need as big an area as you can give them to browse, wormings and hay and clean water.
They don't breed so don't make them fat, never flesh over their ribs, it should be skin and ribs or you are loving them to death. the more grain you feed them the more likely they will not live long lives. Vicki
Thanks for all of the suggestions. They are very helpful.
Vicki, can you recommend a brand of meat goat pellets? I live in the San Francisco bay area and most of the feed store within 50-60 miles are geared towards horses. There is one store up north that carries a lot of cattle and sheep supplies but even they are short on goat specific products. If I have a brand name I can either try to get someone to keep it on hand for me or I can bite the bullet and have a few months supply shipped to me.
I have 2 wethers, and I also have Carolyn Eddy's book Diet for Wethers. It is a really good book, but I don't seem to be able to retain the info long - guess I gotta go and read it again!!
I do remember that they should be on just a grass hay. The alfalfa would be too much calcium for them. You want to balance the calcium/phosphorus - too much of either one can lead to the stones. So, if you do feed alfalfa hay, you should also feed some grain. And, if you feed some grain, you should also balance it with some alfalfa. When you look for minerals, look for the 2:1 ratio of calcium/phosphorus. I've been told that once they are done growing, they really don't need any grain at all. Another good treat is peanuts - in the shell - they love them!
My neighbor brought over a couple of bags of oat leaves and a bunch of willow trimmings a couple of months ago and they loved both of them. I have mostly eucalyptus, pine, holly and a few other random trees but they love them all. I have two different types of eucalyptus on my hill. They love the one with the long curved leaves but won't hardly touch the round leaf one unless they are out of everything else. My goats are strange but always a great source of entertainment.
this is an interesting thread to me. We have 2 bucks and their 2 companion wethers that all live together on about 1.5 acres. They always have plenty of grass hay, Tifton 44, free choice minerals, and I feed them a little bit of grain a day. Is it ok to give them the grain? It is just a bit, and mixed with BOSS. I have alfalfa pellets I give my does, should I switch them over to that slowly? One of my bucks is REALLY big and doesn't seem to hold weight well even though he is not wormy (i do fecals). I have never had a problem with UC since I first started with goat--had one little guy get it and it was AWFUL. All the boys seem happy and healthy, not too fat, not too thin. Shiny fur etc.
I gave up grain when my boys were a year old. They're easy keepers and the fear of UC made it not worth the worry.
These days they get an orchardgrass/timothy mix hay with a bit of alfalfa mixed in to increase the calcium/phosphorus ratio closer to 2:1. That and clean water and loose minerals is all they get other than their pasture, and at 2 years old they're in good shape.
Beth ~ Old Church, VA
3 Nigerian Dwarf goats, 3 cats, 1 Chinese goose, 3 Pekin ducks and 9 chickens. One very patient husband~