October 2017 Issue



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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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The number of people who proudly tell me how tall their pastures are and therefore how much they have for their goats to eat is an indication of widespread misinformation about goats, how they live, and how they survive.

Goats are not pasture animals. They are foragers/browsers, like deer. They need to eat "from the top down," eating weeds and leaves, to avoid stomach worms that exist at ground level . Goats can digest leaves more readily because of the net veination of the leaf structure. Grasses have veins parallel to the stem which are much harder for goats to digest.

I suspect that folks who have pasture but lack forage/browse think they can offer tall grasses to their goats and keep them from contacting stomach worms. Not so. Goat will go to ground level for the newest and most tender plant material, right where the worms are. Unless there are seed heads on the tall grasses, goats won't eat them. As grasses grow, the tips get less digestible to goats.

Pastures that have tall grasses tend to stay wet at ground level, increasing the exposure to worms, pasteurella, and other organisms. Mow your pastures to about 8 inches in height so that the underlying ground dries out.

Over a decade ago, we had an unusually wet spring in West Texas. The goats were enjoying all the greenery. I allowed one pasture containing 15 Tennessee Meat Goat™ bucks to stay high enough to cover their heads. Every one of them contracted pasteurella pneumonia, even though I had vaccinated against it. I treated them and they appeared to get well, but the problem became chronic. Over the next 18 months, every one of them slowly went down and died. I wasn't sure what was happening. I verified it wasn't worms. My vet necropsied the last one at GoatCamp™ and discovered pasteurella abscesses in his lungs. Because I didn't mow the tall grasses, the ground never dried out, setting up conditions that resulted in pasteurella pneumonia abscesses that killed 15 top-quality Tennessee Meat Goat™ bucks. An expensive loss and my fault.

Improper management is almost always the cause of problems with goats. Analyze every decision you make before you put it into effect. THINK LIKE A GOAT.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, 10/7/17


Goats as a general rule have a fairly short life span. In an unmanaged free-range environment, a goat can be old at five or six years of age, particularly if bucks are always run with does and re-breeding occurs without time for rest and recovery between pregnancies. Bucks generally live shorter lives than does. If predators and starvation don't kill a goat, poor and rough nutrition wears out their teeth. When a ruminant cannot tear plant materials and chew its cud, it starves and dies. A well-managed goat operation in which goats receive proper nutrition can result in productive does living to 10-12 years of age and bucks 9-10 years of age. These are generalizations but pretty much on target.

Occasionally I hear from folks who have managed to keep goats alive beyond the 12-year age range. Geriatric goats need extra care. Their teeth are worn down and their immune systems are age compromised. Better nutrition is vital. Adding shredded beet pulp to their pelleted goat feed as a source of long fiber and top-dressing their feed with black oil sunflower seeds (25% fat) can help them gain and maintain weight.

More frequent fecal testing is a good idea. The immune system isn't what it used to be, so the goat may be more susceptible to internal parasites (stomach worms, coccidia). Don't assume that deworming automatically works. Fecal counts are the only way to know. Thiamine (Vitamin B1) injections help the old rumen and old brain work better. Thiamine is critical to both brain and rumen function. Any compromise to the rumen results in decreased thiamine production. Good shelter from wind, rain, heat, and cold are increasingly important as goats age.

Geriatric goats can develop age-related arthritic issues. If the goat is dear to you, you might consider putting it on a prescription that helps with joint pain. I've helped several folks with goats that lived quality lives until they were 17 years old.

Recognize that as goats age, they (like people) need more care. But when the time comes for them to leave, pay attention and they will let you know. They don't fear death. It is part of life. I truly believe they fear not being a productive part of their herd. Goat have taught me there are worse things than dying. Living a life in which they cannot keep up with the herd and be a part of it is unacceptable to goats. So do the right thing and help them make this transition when their time here has come to an end. "You can't do live goats if you can't do dead goats," goes the old rancher's adage. I have several articles on this topic on the Articles page of my website http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com.

Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Texas 9/3/17

Consultation & Evaluation Services for Hire

I've decided to expand my business to include consultation & evaluation services for people who are either thinking about raising meat goats or are currently raising them and want to improve their operations

Please contact Suzanne W. Gasparotto at 324-344-5775 or email at onioncreek@tennesseemeatgoats.com

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2017 Myotonic "TMG™ prospect" buck kids for sale.


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Pat Cotten 501-581-5700
Bending Tree Ranch located near Greenbrier, Arkansas

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