Goats are ruminants. Ruminants have "four stomachs" (vets would say that there are four parts to one stomach). In adult goats, the rumen is the largest part of the stomach, and does most of the breaking down of the roughage that they eat. While many local veterinary doctors are well versed in goat care; we have found some who are not. We encourage goat owners to check with their vet to see if they are compatible as well as being goat knowledgeable. Veterinary colleges and universities are a great source of information. There is also much information available on the world wide web.
An adult goat should receive dewormer every two months - this is usually a paste wormer - easy to give orally. They also receive a yearly CDT shot - either your vet or you can administer this. They need hoof trimming every 4 to 6 weeks - this is easily done and takes about 5 minutes if done on a regular basis. Goats are generally healthy. Once in a while they can get a cold, but often recover with no medications.
We take our kids away from their doe at birth. We bottle feed 4 times a day through the age of two weeks, then they are fed 3 times a day for another two weeks and then at age 4 weeks they begin to browse on hay and/or alfalfa and begin to eat grains and go to twice a day bottle feedings. Bottle feeding is the most significant bonding experience that you and your goat can have. The kids respond just like dogs in that they come when called, they know their name, love to play with you, enjoy your company and respond to you. Kids get a CDT shot at 10 days of age, 2 months of age and then once a year. We give our kids BO-SE shots and are aware that we live in a selenium deficient area. Kids are susceptible to a number of diseases, which are generally easy to care for.
Dairy Goat Nutrition
Each goat's metabolism and growth rate is different - age is also a factor in determining what to feed goats. Providing proper nutrition is an important part of goat herd management. As a general rule, an adult goat should get about 2% to 3% of its body weight in feed daily. This means that a 100 pound dairy goat needs about 2 to 3 pounds of feed a day. Adult dairy goats in milk should get 2% to 4% of their body weight in feed daily. Of the total amount fed, 3/4 should be roughage, and no more than 1/4 a combination of grain and supplemental vitamins. Roughage consists of hay or alfalfa (or browse) and a grain mixture.
We have found that it is important to use a scale to weigh feed (roughage, grain and supplements). Our dairy goats in milk are fed grain and supplements every milking. Growing kids are fed alfalfa one feeding, and hay and grain the next.
Supplements can be spread on the roughage if the feeding station is off the ground. We mix supplements into the grain. For the adult goats, some supplements like baking soda can be fed free form in a bowl. Many of us have observed that goats usually will not eat much roughage that falls onto the ground (so keep any supplements off the ground).
Pack Goat Nutrition
Pack goats should get 1-½% to 2% of their body weight in feed daily. This means that a 100 pound pack goat needs about 2 pounds of feed a day. A working pack goat needs about 2% to 3% of their body weight in feed per day. If a goat seems to be a little thin, add ½% to 1% more feed each day. When working, a pack goat needs extra fats and proteins which help their muscles work well. Fats and proteins come from the grain mixture. The grain mixture should consist of vitamins and minerals along with oil for fat - corn, oats and/or barley for protein.
It is our opinion that wethered pack goats should not be fed a continuous grain diet, nor should they be fed a continous diet of alfalfa. For our pack stock, we feed some alfalfa about every third feeding (we feed twice daily). Grain is fed to our working pack stock about every fourth feeding.
Wethered goats are prone to urinary calculi (caused by too much phosphorus and not enough calcium). Urinary calculi in a pack goat can be life threatening. To avoid problems with urinary calculi, the grain mixture should be at least 2 or 3 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus. A goat should have plenty of fresh water daily. In areas that are deficient in the mineral selenium be sure that goats get a mineral mixture that contains selenium (a horse or cattle salt mixture or block works well).