Thanks! Lots of good info. Side note: when I said to my brother that I wanted to put bows on the doelings for the sale pictures, he suggested that I use baseball caps on the bucklings. Can't wait!First, where do you live?
Don’t use a vet for vaccinations – it just costs you a lot of money and is not necessary for healthy goats. You need to do a subcutaneous (just under the skin) injection and can do it in the skin of the armpit. On kids I give the vaccinations in the loose skin of the groin. Goats only require Clostridium Perfringens vaccine known as CDT. I usually buy it from Jeffers and a 50 ml bottle gives you 25 doses. This sounds like a lot of doses, but you will need this much since you will be breeding and need to vaccinate the kids. Also you will be vaccinating every year and the vaccine will keep in the fridge for 2-3 years. Check the expiration dates when you receive it. The kids require 2 vaccinations 2 ml each, 1 month apart, so they will each need 4 ml of vaccine. The does will only need 2 ml vaccine annually unless they have not been vaccinated before. Then you will do the 2 dose routine with them the first year. Then they will only require a booster of 2 ml each year. Good breeders vaccinate their goats and kids so just ask when the next booster is due when buying your does. The cost for the Bar-Vac brand which I have used for over 30 years is currently 11.99 on Jeffers, plus the cost of shipping. I usually pay extra for expedited shipping and an ice pack, especially in summer.
You will also need syringes. I order the Jeffers combination 3 ml syringe with the 22 gauge ¾” needle. The 3 ml size is perfect for the vaccination dose of 2ml (cc) and I find that this smaller needle is easier on my goats and sheep for the vaccine. I use a larger syringe and larger gauge needle for the denser antibiotics. The larger the gauge number, the smaller in diameter the needle is. You can buy these individually but I buy the box of 100 because I vaccinate so many annually. Each syringe and needle combination is sealed in its own sterile package.
When disposing of the used needles, I use an empty 1 gallon plastic milk container. I attach a hay rope through the handle and hang it in the barn where it is always available for disposal of my sharps. The tiny opening makes it almost impossible for the needles to be retrieved. You can also bend the needle before disposing of it.
Depending on the area of the country where you live some hay will be cheaper and more accessible. I live in Southern California and our best hay and most affordable is alfalfa. Excellent protein and calcium levels make it perfect for dairy animals. We can hardly get orchard grass and both it and timothy are hugely expensive here. We always fed alfalfa to our dairy goats. Most of them were high yielders. We were on milk test, so yield was important.
The variety of hay you feed is less important than knowing what the protein percentage is. Hay is roughage and is the most important part of the goat’s or sheep’s diet. They need the roughage for a healthy rumen which in turn produces healthy kids and lots of milk. You will need to make up any shortage of protein and minerals in supplements if the hay does not contain enough protein. While the amount of hay varies according to the size, age, and condition (pregnant or dry) of the goat, we always free fed our dairy goats and kids on hay. Got sre picky eaters and will not eat off the round unless they are starving so make sure to feed in a keyhole style feeder. The (alfalfa) hay that will eventually be left in the feeder will make it look like they still have plenty to eat but it will be the stalky leftovers. If you have a horse, calf, or steer, you can feed that stalky remnant to them. Or use it for bedding since the goats won’t eat it unless they are starving. That means it will be ncessary to check the feeders. Often you can salvage most of the leftover hay by reaching into the feeder and pulling out the hay and turning the pile upside down to expose more of the tender edible leafy parts. Since we only fed Alfalfa I don’t know if your goats will consume all the other types of hay you feed. We raised newborn dairy bull calves we bought from a friend on the leftover alfalfa and milk and then took them to auction at 2 months old.
When milking, you will only be graining your goats on the milkstand. You can use any good brand of goat grain or dairy cow grain. I used to buy dairy grain in bulk from the mill. It had slightly higher levels of copper which was good for the goats. And since I bought in bulk it was cheaper. You need to weigh your milk. Use a hanging scale for this and deduct the weight of the pail. The standard ratio is 1 lb. grain for each 1 lb. milk produced. A gallon of milk weighs 8 lbs. In order to avoid wasting grain, match the grain weight to the milk weight until the goat is at peak production. Then back off on the grain by a half cup at a time. When you reach the point where the milk yield starts to drop, go back to the last amount fed just prior to the drop in production and continue feeding that much grain until her production naturally begins to drop prior to kidding. Another reason for weighing the milk yield of each doe is that their production will fluctuate depending on what point in their lactation curve they are at. The lactation curve tarts off slowly, then builds to a peak, then some does start dropping down to a medium amount. Yo want to determine how much milk you are getting and match it to the grain. Otherwise you are wasting money in grain, the goat will get fat, and overly fat goats often don’t breed well.
Be sure to use a good quality udder wash and teat dip when milking to avoid mastitis. Standard length of lactation is 20 months. You breed your doe during the lactation without drying her up. Then you dry her up 2 months prior to kidding. I used to do a Tomorrow dry cow mastitis tubes prevention treatment after the final milking. I can no longer buy it here in California without a vet prescription.
Last point – if you have a livestock auction to sell your buck kids, they will sell best at around 2 months old. Take all your buck ids to the auction at 2 months old which is when you want to wean them. Don’t wean them first, keep them on bottles until you load them into the trailer for the auction. Don’t disbud them or castrate them since ethnic buyers want them with horns and testicles. Disbud your doe kids for safety sake.
My friend here has ND and hers are seasonal. I think it depends on location.I just think the ears are cute.
So most goats are seasonal breeders, AKA, you breed them in the fall and get kids in the spring. But I read somewhere that Nigerian Dwarfs breed year-round? Is there any truth to this, and if so, does it cross over to their hybrids? Because staggering breeding by more than a month would be nice.
(I am just going to ask BYH every goat question I can think of, until I think of no more.)
Wow, I was NOT expecting so many posts. Thanks for all of the great advice! Let's see, neighbors. No, I do not have any neighbors within earshot. I can't hear them unless the wind is right and they're screaming. Heads can get stuck in cattle panels? That's not good to hear. So I've read that goats are browsers, like deer, rather than grazers, like sheep. My land is mostly grass, but I do have a windbreak barrier of pines, so they might like that? I think I'm pretty good, unless anyone has any more advice or warnings for me. You can never have too much.
Goats can eat pine bows. Mine love them. I actually cut branches off now because they have eaten the pines as high as they can reach. What I have seen is goats sample things and if they don't like it they don't eat it. Lilacs are listed as not good for goats but mine eat them without any ill effects.I'm in the same boat as you, studying up on goats and eagerly awaiting our own. You mention having pines as a windbreak and this is one of my questions regarding goat safety. There's a huge list of plants that are toxic to goats and I seen that pines are on that list. Just throwing that out there because after reading the whole thread I haven't seen it mentioned. I plan to post a more specific question in my own thread, but just wondered if someone could comment on whether or not having pines accessible is a danger or if the goats are more likely to just avoid it on their own.
Enjoy the quest and learning and good luck to you!