Natural Goat

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Rob30, Feb 3, 2005.

  1. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario
    Why do goats require extra supplimentation? Everyone is giving extra vitamins, minerals, grain, worming. In nature the goats should get these requirements frome their environment. Is it possible to raise goats without suppliments? What do I need to do?
     
  2. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

    Messages:
    2,479
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Lynnwood, Washington
    Provide them with a natural environment of the sort in which wild goats thrive. Rocky ground not deficient in any important minerals, supporting a wide variety of brushy plants to supply their various vitamin and mineral needs. Running streams to provide fresh, clean water. Many acres to roam and browse so that they can always have clean, untouched growth to eat, thereby removing the possibility of getting worms from contaminated feed. And then expect them to produce like wild goats - short lactations with only enough milk for their own kids. And remember that in the wild, goats get sick and die from exposure, infection, infestation, predators, starvation, etc. Darwin's rules.

    That said, the closer you can come to providing a natural environment even for your domestic beasties, along with with proper attention to vitamins, minerals, nutrition and worming, the happier and healthier they will be. :)
     

  3. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,910
    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2003
    Location:
    tn
    i agree. it seems to me that all the supplements etc. are needed when it becomes a commercial operation, with not enough land to support the number of animals the breeder is raising. not just goats, but all animals. of course, if you are raising a product for market, you need to meet certain standards as well.
     
  4. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    9,569
    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2003
    Location:
    CHINA
    Domestication of any wild animal....since the domestication of any species of animals they are changed to suit the needs of the owners versus the needs of their natural environment.....longer lactations, heavier, shorter etc...and it needs to be compensated for or you get no meat or milk. Just deficient/dead goats.

    I have a goat that I truly believe could do just fine on her own and her offspring are also well suited....not real gentle or easy to milk but I like her independent nature, she is the barn bully and tiny teeted! And at the same time meatier than the Nubians. We only do this at a basic level, for the homestead, I dont do record keeping or shows.

    You have to decide what you want in your herd and try to breed for it, otherwise you'll have incest and Lord knows what else! And respect the laws of nature as posted above... once you fence them in you restrict their natural resources....
     
  5. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,130
    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2003
    Location:
    Verndale MN
    The natural capra aegagrus, the wild progenitor of our domestic goats, requires a range of ~247 acres for a herd of 8-10 animals. This range must include a variety of forest, brush, and grassland with minimal snow cover, along with many sheer rocky cliffs so they can escape predators.

    If you have this quanity and quality of land, you can let your goats be "natural" without mineral supplimentation or worming as they can select the food to meet their needs and avoid overgrazing. Fencing in livestock is a recent development in agriculture and as we restricted livestock, we learned that their nutritional needs must be met one way or another.

    Antibiotics and vaccines are not natural- should we go back to letting children die of infection, polio, and smallpox? Or, because we have learned there is a better practice, should we not use that?

    If she had a choice, I bet a mama goat would rather have an unnatural selenium supplement than watch her 3 day old babies die of white muscle disease.
     
  6. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

    Messages:
    747
    Joined:
    May 26, 2004
    Location:
    N.Ar
    i understand what youre saying, it does seem like we have created a highly intensive care cycle,
    you can manage goats less intensely, but you have to expect lower yields too ,
    the idea behind all the care shots wroming, etc is to maintain optimum health , its the same reason you eat right exercise, drink plenty of water...... get the idea?

    that being said ,
    its not as daunting a task as it all sounds ,
    my girls have a goat block in thier barn, and soda in a pan
    they get grain only in late pregnancy and while milking
    i feed alfalfa mix hay, all they can eat, they have browse in thier pen , and i give them branches from time to time, they will tear through an orange in seconds flat as a treat .... they get feet trimmed every other month( they have a rock pile in thier pen that they climb on)
    they get wormed when indicated, pale gums , eye spots, works out to be just about 3-4 times a year...
    and annual shots
    thats it .
    my daily care is fresh water and hay, grain for my 1 preg doe, and milking and grain for my other doe .
    takes longer for the water to run than anything ....
    total needed time daily, not including milking time , about 7 minutes, miliing by hand takes about 10 minutes 2x a day, thats just to milk, not including filtering and washing bucket and all
    and i could have 4-6 goats , and my time would be the same ....right now we just have 2

    when i had 24 does my time daily , not inc milking was about 15 minutes. cause then instead of squares i fed round bales ....

    its up to the owner
     
  7. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario
    Thanks for all the opinions. I am really just looking for the reasons selenium and other nutrients can not be provided naturally. I realise we need to suppliment our livestock, or I would not be paying so much for hay and ration. For example the white tailed deer that live on the back of my property are very healthy, very tasty, and raise twins at times. They do it without hay, ration, injections, wormers, etc. I am simply looking for ideas on how I can get my goats to be as hardy and healthy as the deer. They are simular creatures. Do the deer require selenium, where are they getting it?
     
  8. Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians

    Vicki McGaugh TX Nubians Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,817
    Joined:
    May 6, 2002
    Location:
    North of Houston TX
    Hi Rob, that really is the beauty of goats, you can raise them anyway you want. If you notice the answers I give to those who ask questions, it's because they are having some difficulty, it's hard to get a real handle on how easy it is to raise goats from forums like this when everything is an emergency, when everything is sick, when everything is dieing, because non of this happens in the breeders farms who are answering the questions. Knowing alot about nutritition or managment or disease prevention or treatment, does not mean I have a highly drugged, ill herd...it means I made huge mistakes in the beginning, learned quickly that prevention is the only key, and preach it non stop :)

    You have no idea if the white tail deer fawns really make it to adult hood, you have no idea what their longevity really is. And yes you can let your goats loose on your property to live naturally...but :) Naturally here in the piney woods means coyotes, fox and sadly neighbors dogs. I also milk for a living, I do not want to have to go and fetch the girls off the back property to bring them into the milkrooom some 13 acres away, twice a day, for 10 months. I know also that without hoof trimming, they would be lame, our land is woodland, there is no way hooves would naturally pare themselves down. Our land is also selenium and copper defficient, left to their own resources they would seldome get bred, because of the selenium/reproduction key, and those who did get bred would likely have dead kids because with our severe copper defficiency the kids could not get out of the thick tough walled amiotic sacks. Instead of living healthy long lived lives, kidding and milking past 10, they would have shortened lives from mineral defficiency, would never have milk to sell (so they darn well not cost me anything!) have little to no kids that live because of all of the above and fireants, so whats the point of having them? I could kill a deer if I wanted meat.

    The goats in East Texas would have moved further north years ago if you took down the fences, there isn't anything natural about raising livestock in confinement. Vicki
     
  9. ak homesteader

    ak homesteader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Alaska
    It is interesting to hear about how different folks raise thier goats, and why they raise them. When we first started out with goats, we used a natural wormer, but no other meds at all. After a short time, we discovered we didn't even need the wormer. We learned that after a bear got into one of our tents we had to store things in until we got our cache built. The bear ate ALL of our wormer (YUMMY), so we couldn't get any more until the next plane came in about 6 months later. Guess the bears around our place are pretty well-fed because they've never looked twice at our goats. Anyway, we decided to try them without the wormer and they did great. Our goats are also not confined. We do have a house for them to sleep in at night. They "free range" like our chickens. When it's "bedtime" we give them a treat of some sort to keep them in the habbit of staying around the house. We never supplemented their natural diet with anything, and we've never had to give shots or meds of any kind. Don't vaccinate anything, either. It would not be financially feasable for us to charter planes to fly out hay and grain to feed our goats.

    Also, since they're herd animals, and they seem to consider us a part of their herd, we never have to go and get them or chase them back home. They browse around the edges of the woods for awhile, then come back and play with our dogs or join us in whatever we're doing outside at the time. When they get hungry, they go out for another snack. They stay out the longest around mid-morning and late afternoon. They seem to either sense or smell when there's a bear in the area. The chickens seem to pick up on danger very quickly too. Don't know who's warning whom, but they do a good job rotating guard duty.

    We have some of the healthiest goats I've ever seen. The does make great mothers, and raise healthy kids. However, as expected, they do not produce an overabundance of milk. Enough to feed their kids, and a little extra for us. Yes, we have to milk more goats to get enough milk. But, if we had to keep just a few high production goats, they'd cost us a fortune. We enjoy the work and it's more our style. Plus, it gives us a little extra meat at times.

    Oh yes, we do have to trim their hooves. Just not rocky enough for them. Nothing wrong with the way most folks raise their goats. If we lived on the road system so that supplementing their diets would increase the yield of at least a couple of does, we would likely do it. Just doesn't work for our homestead and lifestyle.

    Mrs. AK Homesteader
    Homesteading
    and
    Alaska HOMESTEADING Journal
     
  10. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,832
    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2004
    Location:
    Washington
    I know that in the North Cascades, mountain goats don't live much beyond 6 years on average. You do see some impressive old guys sometimes, but they're pretty rare. Those critters get the minerals they need because they live up in the rock and literally scrape off what they need or get it from glacier silt. They only give milk as long as their own babies need it - 2 months maximum. Their coats are long and shaggy, and double coated to keep out the elements - but that undercoat is a whole lot coarser than what we know as cashmere. (I find the fluff left behind while they're shedding. No way am I risking those horns to tackle one and pet it.)

    Another thing to think about; yes, goats and deer are similar. So are goats and sheep. Goats and sheep have very different mineral needs - particularly when it comes to copper. I truly don't know what a deer's mineral needs are (except that they'll just about knock you over to get to your pee while backpacking), but I wouldn't be surprised if it was a bit different from a goat's. Goats in the wild are creatures of the alpine world, above treeline. I typically see deer well below treeline, I've never seen a goat below 6,000 feet. Bighorn sheep are also creatures of the alpine world, but I don't see them ranging where the goats are - there must be some difference I'm not noticing because they aren't on the same mountain sides. At least that's true here in the North Cascades.

    For that matter, if you want to see a really happy goat, take it hiking in the mountains with you. Mine absolutely love getting above tree line. They really don't appreciate the pack saddles (I can relate), but they sure like the rest of the experience. Start doing a little scrambling and they're in heaven - that's what they're built for.

    -edit: I should say, I supplement selenium and copper because I notice a difference in the coat if I don't. I raise cashmeres, so I really want that coat thick, soft, and as long as possible. Cashmeres don't need the grain that the dairy breeds do, just lots of protein so they can grow lots of hair. I probably go through alfalfa pellets the way others go through grain.
     
  11. ak homesteader

    ak homesteader Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    65
    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2004
    Location:
    Alaska
    The part about the glacier silt made me think of something about our land. We're not too terribly far from some volcanoes. We've found several layers of volcanic ash, and some mixed with clay. It's all over the place, even in the creekbed where we usually get the water for the animals. I suppose it has lots of minerals?
     
  12. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario
    OK, so I need to do some supplimenting. How do I find out what they need? I do not want to waste money or over suppliment. I plan to get some sheep in the next couple months, so copper supplimenting may be difficult. I raise boer crosses, I only milk a little to have extra for orphaned kids. A guy I know says he feeds nothing but good hay. He says his kids are smaller at birth, but that just makes birthing easier.
     
  13. debitaber

    debitaber Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,061
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2003
    since, most of us, don't have the amount of land it would take to rais our goats, natural, I let mine browse, and feed grain, alhfalhfa hay, and water, and minerals. and i worm.
    I want good healthy babies. you can't be to careful. nowdays. Nowif you are really rich, and own a thousand acres, so that your herd, will have the correct grazing, then go for it. I think very few people have that option.
     
  14. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    420
    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2003
    Location:
    Arkansas
    Rob30, I would recommend reading "Natural Goat Care". The author recommends getting a soil test to find out which minerals your soil is deficient. Then you proceed to improve the soil over time by topdressing with the minerals it needs. In the meantime you provide the minerals they need as supplements.
     
  15. Rob30

    Rob30 Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    812
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2004
    Location:
    Ontario

    Thank you. This is the type of info I am looking for. I don't mind supplimenting if the goats really need something and are not getting it. But The more minerals and nutrients that can be optained from their environment the better.
    For instance;The feed I give contains selenium, but I only give feed when they are getting ready to breed, pregnent, and the first 30 or so days of nursing. The rest of the year they don't get and feed. And the babies will only get a little feed after they start eating. That means the kids don't get selenium right after birth. Other people are giving injections of it to young kids. Should selenium be given or do they get enough from the environment for the rest of the year?
     
  16. Paula

    Paula Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,104
    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Location:
    TN
    Rob,
    The selenium thing depends on your local soil. You'd need to ask your vet or ag. agent about that.
    The deer you mention that are healthy are able to go anywhere they want to forage, even if they do hang out most of the time on your property.
    We raised Boers for a long time, and we try to raise all our animals as naturally as possible. I think you would be fine just giving them good hay as long as they have a salt and mineral supplement available. We did that for years but I think DH snuck them a little corn sometimes when it was really really cold outside. I didn't think they especially needed it though. They did get hay only in the winter, they had all the green stuff they could eat other times of the year. They just don't do well over a longer period of time without the minerals though. Trust me. Don't reproduce nearly as well, less tolerance for parasites, very shabby coats. As someone mentioned above, goats evolved ranging over a large area of land, foraging on what mother nature told them they needed. They ate the most select forage (young growing parts of bushy plants and trees) then moved on. That sort of forage is especially high in minerals.
    Also, we learned the hard (and expensive) way that you just can't get away with skimping on worming after you've had goats on your property for awhile. They are OK for a year or so on fresh land - and depending on your stocking rates - but as soon as the parasites build up you're in trouble. They just don't have enough resistance, again because of the way they evolved. Some bloodlines do better than others, and they will probably all be more resistant after they have been domesticated a few thousand more years but right now they are real wimps. Boers seem worse than other goats too. We have had spanish goats, and have pygmy goats now and they are much more resistant.
     
  17. Dream Acres Va

    Dream Acres Va Member

    Messages:
    10
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2005
    Location:
    Virginia
    Here's how we feed:

    all goats: free choice: pasture, browse, water

    good grass hay, as much as my herd will finish in 1/2 hour (otherwise they waste it)

    Bicarbonate soda - animal grade (baking soda), free choice

    Diamond V Yeast - animal grade (I only put out 6 cups a day for 29 goats - it has some molasses and they make pigs of themselves, when it's gone it's gone)

    "Sweetlix Free Choice Minerals for Sheep & Goats", free choice (my herd did not do well with blocks, they could not get enough off of it)

    Bucks: all of the above, except he only gets 1/2 cup of Diamond V Yeast

    grain: only when he's getting ready for breeding season (about two weeks before), and during breeding season, he gets 2 cups in am & pm

    (note: his hay is never alfalfa - too much calcium that can lead to kidney stones)

    Wethers: good grass hay (not alfalfa), pasture/browse, water, free choice: minerals, yeast, & baking soda, NO grain

    Does (not pregnant, not in milk, but first 3 months of pregnancy): good grass hay, browse, pasture, water, free choice: minerals, yeast, & baking soda, no grain

    Does (last 2 months of pregnancy): gradually change diet to add grain (about 4 cups a day), about a 12 percent protein, and make sure she is eating minerals & vitamins, that definitely include iodine, calcium, and vitamins A & D. Also good grass hay, browse, pasture, water, yeast & baking soda.

    Does (two weeks before due to deliver): same as last 2 months of pregnancy, but now add a little alfalfa hay to their rations (if you can't get good alfalfa hay, add about 1/2 a cup of alfalfa pellets to her grain rations each day). Also, good grass hay, browse, pasture, water, yeast & baking soda.

    Does (with kidd and during milking): same as previous but now she is fed grain while on the milking stand - all she wants while I'm milking her. I milk only in the morning (starting at two weeks after delivery), and let the doe keep her kidd the rest of the time, we get plenty and so does the baby, after the baby is eating grain and hay well, they are removed to another field and I milk twice a day (at about 2-3 three months - I judge it by each kid - and mostly good by body weight, usually at 19-22 pounds, sometimes more or less). Again, always good grass hay, browse, pasture, water, yeast & baking soda.

    Kids (birth to about two weeks): Mother's milk or replacer (if I have to bottle feed - see my recipes at the end). (Luckily we are CAE free).

    Kids (two weeks to weaning): mother's milk, access to hay, grain, etc. that is a goat creep feeder that my husband made - it keeps the does from getting into it - but the kidds slide right through.

    After being weaned: refer to the above depending upon the sex of the goat.

    Worming: Speak with your vet concerning the parsites in your area (I'm in Virginia). I have to de-worm about ever 3 to 4 months (the entire herd), depending on the weather. Sometimes it gets very wet here. Also, pregnant does should not have some worming medicines.

    VACINNES THIS IS A GOOD TIME TO GET TO KNOW YOUR VET, THEY CAN SHOW YOU THE FIRST TIME, AND GET YOU ON A PROGRAM (then you can do it yourself)

    CD/T (Tetanus): does: 2 cc intramuscular 4 weeks before freshening, kids get a booster shot at 2 months of age. All goats get one annually, here (bucks, wethers, etc. unless they received on as before mentioned).

    White-muscle disease: 2 1/2 mL Bo-Se per 100 pounds body weight to pregnant does Sub-Q 1 week before freshening. Give 2 cc to new borns.

    Enterotoxemia: Give 5 mL Sub-Q to pregnant does 2 weeks before freshening. Kids get 2 1/2 mL Sub-Q at 4 months.

    Pasteurella: 2 mL intramuscular to kids at 2 months of age. Repeat in 2 weeks.

    (Also use a fresh needle for each shot for each goat to prevent infection and the spread of disease!!)

    Also, watch the goats for about 10 mints for anaphylactic reactions. Have a bottle of epinephrine on hand, just in case.

    My favorite goat feed recipe:

    2 bags 50 lbs each general all purpose goat feed (16 percent protein)
    1 50 lbs bag of black oil sunflower seed
    1 50 lbs bag of beet pulp w/molasses
    1/4 of 50 lbs bag wheat germ
    1 50 lbs bag of triple cleaned crimp rolled oats
    1 5 lbs bag of selenium (& vitamin E) - (Caprine Supply)
    1 5 lbs bag of ammonia chloride (Caprine Supply)

    (my goat love this - but it is pricey - from our co-op this costs me $150.00, but the same amount of just plain goat feed (310 lbs. of feed) is only $40.00, I have to order the selenium & ammonia chloride from Caprine Supply because no one carries it in quantities less than 28 tons locally)

    My own kid formula (someone gave it to me):
    1 gallon whole cows milk, minus approx. 3 cups
    add: 1 can whole evaporated can milk
    add: 1 cup whole buttermilk
    stir, heat, give to kid

    Colostrum Substitue (from Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats):
    3 cups whole milk
    1 beaten egg
    1 teaspoon cod liver oil
    1 tablespoon sugar

    Mix well (of course this lack the maternal antibodies). Warm. Feed each newborn kid 1 ounce of colostrum per pound of body weight, three times daily, starting within 1/2 hour of birth.

    To feed the minerals, baking soda, & yeast. I put feeders in the stalls. 2 side by side. Each feeder has 2 compartments, making four compartments. I got them from Jeffers Livestock Supply on the internet (very inexpensive). They are black and can be screwed into the wall. The fourth empty compartment is for the grain.

    In the main run in shed the herd gets two sets of four. On different walls. The mineral and baking soda are kept full & cleaned out at all times. The yeast when gone is gone, no more til the next day (I've noticed they will eat too much of this).

    Also, I keep general barn records. It helps when the vet comes out, and to keep everything straight.

    Let me know if you have any questions or want clarification on anything.