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Discussion Starter #1
Hi! I'm sort of new around here, and I was just hoping that I could get some input. As I mentioned in my intro thread, we just bought a property on 5 acres that's been fenced.

We have a deposit down on a registered ADGA Nubian doelings (four of them) that we should be able to pick up sometime in January or February depending on when the does kid. Unfortunately, we do not have a barn on the property yet, and the soonest we can afford to put one in will be around May or June depending on other costs to starting up the farm. We are planning on housing the kids in our garage in a penned off area for a while until they are old enough to go on pasture during the day and in the garage at night.

For bedding (and so we don't end up with concrete that permanently smells of urine), we were going to throw down a waterproofing liner and put shavings or chips on top so that we can change it out without letting anything soak into the concrete.

We were also planning on storing some hay in the garage until we get a barn built, so that should help mask the scent for a while. However, getting hay here in Florida is something I have never done (hay is plentiful in Oregon where I came from a few months ago), and I don't really know what the prices run down here for good quality hay. Any input here would be much appreciated for those who are in the Florida area. :thumb:

While I have physically worked with goats previously, they were Boers and their feed regime was far different from dairy goats, and I'm guessing what was available in Oregon for feed is probably very different from what is down here. I spoke to the breeder of these kids and she feeds a peanut oil/dairy heifer pellet/corn pellet mix.

While it works for her, I know peanut oil is really expensive and we were hoping to find a better feeding mix. We're planning on just using it to supplement and would like to stick to a mostly hay diet. I know this will cut into milk production once we actually breed them and they have kids, but we're more concerned about being a primarily grass-fed operation rather than being the highest yielding. Any info on grass fed dairy goats would be amazing. :D

As for the last thing I'm concerned about, I always feel like we aren't quite prepared. We already have the pens planned, the feed investigation going, but I'm just not sure what else we might need. Feed buckets/water buckets, plenty of bedding, and bottles for while they are young. But is there anything we are missing? This is our first go at raising them from a young age, so if I've missed something completely obvious please let me know because I feel I will always think this way until I'm knee deep in something. :hammer:

Thank you! :cool:
 

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My goats have done fine year round in a cattle panel hoop house. It cost me about $100 to build it and another $40 for the tarp. I made it three sided by adding a piece of plywood on the back. I live in New Hampshire where it is very cold and snowy and they do just fine. A barn is nice, but unless you've got a lot of money I wouldn't build a brand new barn just for four goats. Others will wholeheartedly disagree with me, but I thought I would throw out my thoughts on the matter :)

I feed my goats typical grass hay and a mixture of generic sweet feed and whole corn with loose minerals mixed in.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
V-NH: I think I should clarify. The barn is mostly for hay storage and for kidding purposes, not for adult goats. We aren't going to stay at 4 kids, we're hoping to expand our herd up to 10-15 does in the next few years, so we will have a lot of little vulnerable guys on the ground in the next few years. It's not going to be a fancy barn, just a metal barn kit. Our property has no outbuildings at all, just a small lean-to that's in a pen (our future piglet pen! :sing:)

The kids we are getting are going to be less than a month old (likely less than 2 weeks old, really), and the coyotes in our area are very prevalent so that's why we are housing them in our garage. While we are also working on getting a guard llama, we don't know precisely when he will be ready and it certainly won't be before late spring or early summer. So, it's not really for the weather. I know that won't get to them here in Florida. :D

Thank you for your input on the feed!
 

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Wow, are you sure you want to start out bottle-feeding four kids at once??? It's really a hassle; it wouldn't be a big deal to get them at two months old when they're old enough to be weaned. If you're up to the challenge, though . . . ;) :)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Goat Girl: We kinda wanted older kids, but there are very few breeders in the area that have good quality Nubians. The closest breeder that has good quality does sells them first come first serve, and she bottle feeds them as well so they don't stay with their moms to be weaned by her anyways. So in order to get a good set of kids, we have to take them when she's planning on selling them. If they are doing well, she sells them as young as a week.

The good thing is that I have done a lot of bottle feeding of all species including goats, so it's not something foreign to me. We are definitely in for a challenge, though! :) It wasn't ideal, but we'd rather stay local than drive 2 hours to the next closest breeder. Dairy goats just aren't common in Florida.
 

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Katie
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Keeping them in the garage for awhile with an outside area will be fine until they are a little bigger or weaned.
Maybe then you can switch them to an outside pen with a shelter made out of cattle panels like mentioned above. Put it close enough to the house you can keep an eye on them or even next to the garage with in a fenced in yard for them until your barn in done.
 

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Alfalfa will be difficult to come by where you are and bermuda is not the best hay for goats. Check into peanut hay from south Georgia, its a legume and a good substitute for alfalfa. Do you have a milk supply to feed the babies? You might find a mutt doe from a tested herd will pay for herself in milk until you get the babies weened and then she'll give you milk until your doelings kid out.
 

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STILL not Alice
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If you feed BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seed), you won't need peanut oil.

Here, we feed oats, BOSS, and alfalfa pellets, in addition to good alfalfa hay and minerals. My gals are almost too plump, but they settle well and throw healthy kids.

If you read through the threads on feed, you'll find as many diets as goat owners. :D

Work with what you have locally, and provide the best you can afford for your herd.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Backfourty: That would be a good idea, our garage has a side entrance that we could easily fence off for them to be outside during the daytime when they are old enough.

Clover: From just a quick Craigslist search, peanut hay seems to be almost as expensive at the moment as imported alfalfa, so I'll have to have a look in the spring and summer months to see what's more economical. Thank you for the suggestion! We have not found a mutt doe, we were considering just using milk replacer instead. Any tested does around here tend to be expensive, and those that aren't expensive tend to be not tested so we don't want to risk introducing CAE/CL to the babies.

Pony: I didn't know that about sunflower seeds, I'll have to look into it. If there is a local source of them that would be a good substitute, because peanut oil is pretty costly. I'd imagine that sunflowers do well here in Florida, so hopefully there is a good source of them somewhere nearby! :)
 

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Legally blonde!
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Welcome Meaghan! I am an old local being an Oregonian myself :).

It sounds like everyone covered everything. I was going to say instead of using replacer I have used Whole Vit. D cows milk from the store with great luck with bottle babies. I know people use the replacer stuff but I have always had an aversion to it so I use Vit. D milk if I need to sub out.

For my feeding program this is what I did this year (I REALLY liked it)

Kids

starting at three weeks of age:
Free choice 18% protein grain (I buy a kind that is specially mixed at my local feed mill), free choice Chaffhaye, free choice grass hay and of course their bottles of milk. For the grain while I bought mine from my local feed mill I have heard good things about Purina brands of goat feed though they can be pricey.

I am very much an eye baller so as my kids grew I would watch their weights. If I felt they where getting too chubby I started cutting down on their grain a bit while still keeping their Chaffhaye and grass hay free choice out for them. Now that everyone is 8-9 months of age they are getting Chaffhaye once a day with 2 scoops of grain poured over the top along with free choice grass hay and pasture. They can clean up their Chaffhaye/Grain up by the next morning and I am keeping a close eye on their weight.


Milking does
These get a mixture of 4 parts Barley, 3 parts Oats and 1 past BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seed) along with 5+lbs of Chaffhaye per doe and their grass hay. Again I am an eyeball kind of person so I don't measure out my grain I just go by the weight of the doe and how much she is milking.

Dry does

This year I am just giving free choice high quality grass hay and 2+ lbs of Chaffhaye a day. I will start adding grain back in to their diet along with upping their Chaffhaye once they get into their last month of pregnancy.

I hope what I wrote made sense! You will find your own rhythm on how you feed and what works for your area :).

Justine
 

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Meaghan, I would recommend using whole cow milk from the grocery store if you don't have a source of goat milk. I use it all the time if I don't have enough goat milk and they do great on it. I haven't used milk replacer, but have heard of some people having issues with it.
 

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Legally blonde!
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OH! Bugs! Be prepared to be worming a bit different and keeping on top of the cocci with your young ones. Florida is so much warmer and humid than Oregon can be at I bet the worm loads are much different there. I am not a huge fan of worming like crazy so I would be doing fecals on the herd to see what kind of nasty critters you are dealing with

My kids this year I gave Valbazen (wormer) and Baycox (treats cocci) every 3 weeks up until 6 months of age. I really liked the growth I got on my kids doing it this way. Once they reached 6 months I prefer switching to fecals and worming accordingly.

Justine
 

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STILL not Alice
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D'oh! Of course, Justine and Nancy are right. Whole milk from the grocery store is far superior to replacer.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Justine: That is awesome information! Thank you so much for the details. :sing: I'll check into the Valbazen and Baycox, because we do want to get good growth out of them.

Whole milk is a tough subject. I'm not sure exactly how much milk we're going to go through, but milk here in Florida is approximately $4.50 per gallon, which is extremely expensive (at least, based on my old costs in Oregon were approximately half that), so I'm not sure that we can do that all the time. We will definitely try to work it in, though, because I know just about anything is better than milk replacer. In the mean time, we are still going to be looking for a spare doe that has been tested. :)
 

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If you have an Aldi grocery store anywhere near by, they sell milk for $1 gallon to draw people in. It's limited one gallon per purchase so you'd have to be a frequent shopper to take advantage.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Frosted: I saw a 8lb bag for about $20 the other day at a local store. By a quick estimate, it should make about 6 gallons of "milk", so a little over $3 per gallon. I know the bigger bags tend to be less per lb too, so we might go for that.

Clovers: We have one that's about 45 minutes south of here, but it's definitely not worth it to take frequent trips just in the gas as I only have an SUV. Publix is the big box supermarket around here, and they dominate the market.
 

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Sometimes you can also find a smaller mom and pop type grocery store that will give you all the outdated or almost outdated milk. Those should be good for a couple days past the expiration date at least, and you can freeze them for later use.
 

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Be careful of using cheap 'unimilk' or multi species milk replacers. They are not good. A good or decent milk replacer can be not only difficult to find, but may not be cheap.

Personally I put my kids on a coccidistat lamb grower as soon as they start nibbling on food. I free choice that mixed 2 parts lamb grower with 1 part alfalfa pellet. I also like this because it is also balanced 2:1 and contains ammonium chloride for buckling/wether health. Free choice, quality soft grass or alfalfa hay as well as loose minerals and baking soda. Many people feed a LOT of milk but solid food helps develop the rumen and can allow as good of growth as tons of milk. We start out free feeding it but once they are like 5 months we end up giving them a large ration per day. I do not rely on the coccidistat to be a complete control, we use toltrazuril (baycox) which we can put right into the milk. That's the main reason we continue milk so long - we tend to do the last toltrazuril treatment about 50-60lbs and then do fecals to watch them.

This year I fed a qt of milk 3x per day per kid as soon as they'd take that much. Once they were about 8 weeks old I went down to 2x per day and I generally continue until they are around 5 months old. Mine generally self wean at that point - we offer the milk bucket but they only nibble or play with the nipple and we end up giving up for the year, continuing them on the grain ration until after they are confirmed bred their first fall.
 
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