To live a long, healthy life all pets require regular medical attention. This article will be helpful if you have questions about your new pet. Although brief, here are several topics that may arise throughout the life of your pet goat.
Feeding Be sure to have fresh, clean water available at all times. Grain is only needed in the winter or if a goat is lactating. Feed small amounts of grain if needed. Goats can get VERY sick if they eat too much grain so it is critical to store grain in goat-proof containers and not overfeed. Only feed grain made for goats, for example: goat ration, goat chow or goat grain. Horse grain is not recommended because goats may develop an intestinal impaction. There are two basic kinds of hay. Legumes (alfalfa, clover and pea) are generally higher in protein and minerals than grasses. Grasses have more fiber. Goats find a combination legume/grass hay very palatable. Furnish good quality hay even if pasture and browse are available.
Shelter Goats need shelter available all the times. Your barn can be plain or fancy but it needs to be free from drafts yet well-ventilated allowing good fresh air circulation. Many people remodel space in an existing building to provide shelter. An 8’ X 10’ shelter is the minimum requirement for four adults and they will appreciate all the extra floor space they have. Room indoors for exercise in bad weather is important in many climates. A small, 3-sided lean-to is also adequate. If you are building a new one, take time to consider wind direction and plan doors and windows facing other directions. In bad weather, you can put a temporary piece of plywood, canvas or wool blanket over the exposed side of the lean-to. Consider shade and sunshine relative to your barn location. Shade is VERY important in summer and sunshine in the winter. Have a fenced pen for protection of your goats. They are small and defenseless and need to be kept safe. A roaming goat will get into trouble in some way or another, so they require fenced areas.
Vaccinations All goats should be vaccinated for: * Clostridium perfringens type C & D toxoid vaccine. Vaccinate kids at 3 and 6 weeks, then booster annually. Booster all does one month before kidding. Booster adults annually. * Tetanus toxiod. Vaccinate annually. * Pasteurella (Pneumonia) vaccine. Vaccinate at 8-12 weeks, with a booster at 12–16 weeks. Consult your veterinarian in areas where the following diseases are endemic or common: Leptospirosis Bacterin; Contagious Ecthyma vaccine; and Chlamydia and Campylobacter Antigen.
Parasite Control Adult goats should be wormed every six months. Kids are very susceptible to parasites. They should be wormed by 8 weeks, and again every 8 weeks until 1 year old. It is most effective to alternate between types of wormers. Commonly used oral wormers include Safe-Guard, Ivermec and Cydectin. Apply Permethrin topically in the fall since lice are most problematic in the winter. It is important to repeat application of Permethrin 2 weeks later to kill newly hatched lice eggs.
Predators The goat’s main predator is “man’s best friend” -- the dog. Goats should NEVER be kept with dogs because the goat has no means of protection. Goats only have teeth on the bottom of their mouth. Even if the dog is just playing it can harm or kill the goat without trying.
Hoof Care Goats should have their hooves trimmed a minimum of once every 6 months. Pointed hoof shears, often used for sheep hooves, should be used. Simply lift up the goat’s feet while the animal is standing. Sometimes it is found easier to lay the goat right-side-up over your lap. Remove hoof wall that has overgrown the sole, shorten the toe and level the sole and the heel. Use caution so as not to cut the feet or cut the hoof too short which will cause bleeding and soreness.
Dehorning and Castration Kids should be dehorned as soon as you can feel the horns (also called nubs) beginning to poke through the skin. Doe’s horns usually come through at about 4 to 8 days old, whereas buck’s come in much quicker at about 2 to 4 days old. The ideal time to castrate a buckling is 4 weeks old. A castrated goat is called a wether.