Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, Texas
Suzanne W. Gasparotto, Onion Creek Ranch, Lohn, TX
Lohn, Texas
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GERIATRIC GOATS

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

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Important! Please Read This Notice!

All information provided in these articles is based either on personal experience or information provided by others whose treatments and practices have been discussed fully with a vet for accuracy and effectiveness before passing them on to readers.

In all cases, it is your responsibility to obtain veterinary services and advice before using any of the information provided in these articles. Suzanne Gasparotto is not a veterinarian.Neither tennesseemeatgoats.com nor any of the contributors to this website will be held responsible for the use of any information contained herein.

The author, Suzanne Gasparotto, hereby grants to local goat publications and club newsletters, permission to reprint articles published on the Onion Creek Ranch website under these conditions: THE ARTICLE MUST BE REPRODUCED IN ITS ENTIRETY AND THE AUTHOR'S NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT INFORMATION MUST BE INCLUDED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REPRINT. We would appreciate notification from any clubs or publications when the articles are used. (A copy of the newsletter or publication would also be a welcome addition to our growing library of goat related information!)

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