December 2013 Issue

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THE DON'TS OF RAISING GOATS

Below is a list of things that you should not do when raising goats. If you avoid making these mistakes, your goat-raising venture can be successful and profitable:

Don't buy bred does. They are likely to abort when transported. A newborn kid has no functioning immune system, and a pregnant doe's milk contains immunologic protections for the place she was moved from rather than for organisms on your property.

Don't breed three times in two years. You will wear out your doe. She can do it, but she will get old/wear out quickly and will have lousy kids.

Don't disbud or dehorn. Horns are radiators for animals that don't have sweat glands. Goats need their horns for heat elimination and protection.

Don't ever rotate dewormers. Use one dewormer (always orally) until it quits working, then switch. Rotating dewormers builds super worms that are resistant to all classes of anthelmintics (dewormers).

Don't breed does too young. Wait until does are a year old to breed them. You don't want juveniles having kids.

Don't fail to allow goats to ADAPT to your property and management. Adaptability doesn't transfer with the animal. Goats need time to adapt and develop antibodies to the bacteria, viruses, and other organisms in their new environment.

Don't deworm or medicate in feed or in water. The goat needing it the worst will be the one on the bottom of the pecking order who gets the least feed and water. Medications must be administered orally or injectably. Dewormers must be given orally to each goat.

Don't feed grain twice a day unless the goat is a doe nursing three or more kids.

Don't overfeed bottle babies with milk. Calculate proper feeding amounts based upon kid's body weight. Overfeeding on milk often causes Floppy Kid Syndrome and dead kids.

Don't free-choice grain feeding. Goats can founder, develop ruminal acidosis, and a host of other rumen-related problems caused by overfeeding grain.

Don't restrict hay intake. The rumen needs long fiber to generate heat that keeps the body warm and allows digestion of food.

Don't push goats to gain by feeding diets heavy in processed grains. Goats don't marble fat like cattle, but instead layer fat around internal organs and under the skin when they are fed more protein than they can metabolize into muscle. Goats lose weight fast and gain slowly.

Don't fail to have livestock protection animals. All goat breeds are sprinters, not long-distance runners, and need protection. Dogs are smarter than donkeys and llamas. I like Anatolians. They are smarter than most people you'll meet.

Don't try to raise goats in wet climates. Goats as a species are dry-land animals. Raising goats in wet climates means constantly fighting blood-sucking stomach worms.

Don't force goats to be pasture grazers. Being very susceptible to stomach worms, goats (like deer) need to eat "from the top down" to avoid these blood-sucking, anemia-causing worms. You cannot de-worm your way out of stomach worms.

Don't think that show goats are meat goats. They aren't. Show goats are managed and fed totally different from meat goats. Show goats are beauty-pageant animals. Meat goats are production animals. Unfortunately the twain do not meet in the USA.

Don't ignore internal parasites. Perform fecal counts regularly. Do FAMACHA field check of each goat every time you handle it.Don't look for complex solutions. When diagnosing an illness, consider the simplest things first -- worms and pneumonia. Rule out the simple before looking for the complex. It is usually the simplest thing that is wrong with a goat.

Don't follow the crowd. People are like lemmings; they tend to do what their friends and neighbors do. Study the meat-goat business in your area and follow the road less traveled. You will be a stand out rather than a follower.

Don't look for quick fixes. Management, not the breed you are raising, is the problem. If it is easy or cheap, it doesn't work raising goats.The keys to raising goats: (1) proper climate; (2) lots of land, (3) good nutrition, (4) excellent management, and (5) quality genetics. Note that I have listed genetics last because if you don't have the other four requirements in place, you cannot overcome them with genetics.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas 12-8-13

Subscribe FREE now! Monthly issues with new articles and other educational information on meat goat health, nutrition, and management written by Suzanne W. Gasparotto of Onion Creek Ranch and Pat Cotten of Bending Tree Ranch. In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Neither Suzanne Gasparotto nor Pat Cotten are veterinarians. None of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

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