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Newbie needing feeding advice for possibly underfed does

Discussion in 'Feeding Time - Goats' started by Jster, Sep 20, 2009.

  1. Sep 20, 2009
    Jster

    Jster Exploring the pasture

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    We got two very sweet does about a week ago. They are six months old. According to their chest measurement, they're about sixty pounds, but they seem to be somewhat lean condition from what I've been reading. According to their previous owners, they were kept with chickens. Their food was not measured but just thrown on the ground and they had to get it before the chickens did. They had eaten anything edible in the yard so did not get to forage. I asked after we got them about hay, because I realized they hadn't mentioned it. We have some coastal hay from our own chickens nest boxes, but I realized they may not have been getting any. She said they had given them hay but that the goats hadn't been interested. Oh, and they fed them a mix of goat chow and oats, with much more oats than chow. And they had not trimmed their hooves at all in the four months they had them, so the goats definitely need some attention and I don't think these owners really put much effort into learning how to care for them.

    Here's some pictures of our beautiful and sweet girls for your evaluation:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    So, my questions are:

    Do you think the girls are underweight?
    What is the best way to help them get to a healthy weight?
    I know not to change their diet quickly, but how slowly can I get them off this oat/chow mix into something better?
    How much should I feed them every day...they act starving! (Oh, and they have plenty of lush pasture, an acre fenced that they live in and more when they are in the rest of the yard with us.)

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Sep 20, 2009
    ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Alpaca Master

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    They do look a bit underweight.

    I would suggest getting some good quality alfalfa or grass/alfalfa mix hay and give it to them free choice. Also get a good goat feed and feed them what the instructions say on the bag.

    I would also suggest taking a fecal sample into the vet and have them run a test for worms including a test run for coccidia. Then once you get the fecal results, worm appropriately.

    Have the girls been properly vaccinated? If they haven't, they also need to be vaccinated.

    To put weight on, you don't need to give them extra grain. The hay will actually put the weight on them better than the grain. Plus if they end up being wormy, getting the parasites taken care of will do wonders.

    Congratulations on your new goats. They are adorable! :thumbsup
  3. Sep 20, 2009
    ksalvagno

    ksalvagno Alpaca Master

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    I just noticed that you want to know how fast to change them over to new feed. I'm not really sure with goats but what I do with alpacas is to start with a quarter of the new feed with 3/4 of the old feed, feed it to them for a few days. Then I mix half and half, feed it to them for a few days. Then 3/4 new stuff and 1/4 old stuff and feed it to them for a few days. Then full new feed. I probably do it in about a 2 week timeframe. Hopefully someone with more goat experience can give you a better answer on that one.
  4. Sep 20, 2009
    freemotion

    freemotion Self Sufficient Queen

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    They are adorable! A little on the thin side, but not to worry. With the great pasture and the care just mentioned, they will catch up pretty quickly. I change feed at about the rate just mentioned.

    And even my fat goats act like they are starving to death all the time! But the babies will have a note to their cries when they are missing something in their diets. You will notice this note goes away (but the begging doesn't :p ) as they get the propper food.

    Are they pets or will you eventually breed them and milk them? Such cuties!
  5. Sep 20, 2009
    Jster

    Jster Exploring the pasture

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    Thanks for the quick replies karen and freemotion!

    We are totally in love with the goats, they have wonderful temperments and are just all around fun. As you can see in one picture, my 2 year old son is hanging off the side of Penelope begging to go up, and they tolerate him wonderfully. We do hope to breed them and milk them.

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm not totally sure if alfalfa is available here...I think coastal hay is mostly what's around. That's what you get for being by the coast. And to be honest, we're a little nervous about purchasing hay now. We bought some from a smaller, independent feed store in town and it was LOADED with german cockroaches, which are now all over our house and property. So I'll look for it...but I've also seen mention of alfalfa pellets, might that be a good alternative (the does will get plenty of foraging).

    Also...how much to feed them quantity wise? I've seen three cups a day, per doe, should I feed them a little extra? Or is that enough to help them gain and maintain weight?

    Thanks again!
  6. Sep 20, 2009
    Jster

    Jster Exploring the pasture

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    Oh, and I'm also thinking they weren't getting any minerals where they were before. I was just reading the thread about them and the stuff I bought seems good, it actually has chelated minerals for proper absorption, but for now they are totally uninterested. They did lick my sweaty legs yesterday, though!
  7. Sep 21, 2009
    cmjust0

    cmjust0 Loving the herd life

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    Maybe it's just me, but I don't think these two look all that bad at all.. They look a bit hollow, but it's not like they've got course, dry, wirey hair protruding from sharp shortrib and hipbone outlines or anything.. Had you simply said "Hey, look at my new goats!" I would just figure they hadn't filled up on hay yet..

    To be 60lbs at 6mo is spot-on perfect, frankly...can't help but think that if they had big problems or were kept really roughly, they wouldn't have hit that benchmark.

    As for feeding, just get them switched over slowly to what they'll be eating at your place.. If you can't easily mix in a new grain ration, I'd probably just give them a few days off any grain, then just start off light with the new grain and work my way slowly toward the intended portion.

    If you can't find any alfalfa hay, you might look for clover or lespedeza... They're similar. I don't have any experience with alfalfa cubes or pellets, but protein is protein. I just wouldn't personally count cubes or pellets in the 'hay' column since they don't have long fibers, even though they're made from alfalfa... So, if you feed cubes and pellets, make sure they get plenty of palatable free choice hay as well.

    Come to think of it, that may be why they look hollow...if they were never interested in hay when they were little, they may just not have developed their rumens very well yet...maybe...or like I said, they could have just not eaten much roughage that day. Who knows?

    Either way...all in all, I think the goats actually look pretty good.

    :thumbsup
  8. Sep 21, 2009
    helmstead

    helmstead Goat Mistress

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    And...they are ADORABLE!!!
  9. Sep 21, 2009
    Mini-M Ranch

    Mini-M Ranch Overrun with beasties

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    I just had my 6 mo mini-nubian at the vet. She weighed in at 30 pounds exactly. I have been wondering how that compares with a full sized doe. Thanks!

    These two are SOOOO cute! And great that they let your kids climb all over them. Ours were not that friendly where we got them, but they sure have come around now! I love to see all my kids playing together (human and goat). :D
  10. Sep 21, 2009
    cmjust0

    cmjust0 Loving the herd life

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    No clue.. Sorry. :/

    All I know is that full-size dairy breeds, as a general rule, are supposed to gain about 10lbs/mo..

    :hu

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