First and foremost, I care for my goats depending on what the individual goat needs at the time. Whenever possible I separate the herd by feeding needs -- ah, except for the boys and girls separation, that is.
For the over all herd:
- Shelter at all times because goats don't do rain and need shelter from strong winds
- Clean water at all times
- In the summer we have fans in all the barns so they'll have moving air.
- In the winter we have heat lamps for them. They can choose to get under it or not. But it's there.
- Sweetlix Minerals; goats need copper
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Backing Soda
- Kosher Salt (without iodine)
For lactating does and babies:
In addition to the above, they are fed a sweet feed with 14 to 16 percent protein.
For the babies:
When the babies are about two-weeks-old I set up the baby feeding area with a creep gate. This magnificent gate keeps the larger goats out and away from the food so the babies will have a chance to eat without being mobbed. These little babies are figuring out what solid food is and don't need the competition.
When the babies are weaned at about 12 weeks, I can either continue milking the does or gradually dry them up.
- If I continue milking, the does receive 14 or 16 percent protein so they'll have plenty of energy. I feed this percentage until their milk begins to diminish then will gradually reduce the percent protein until they are back to 10 percent protein.
- If I dry them off, I gradually reduce their protein to 10 percent over a period of time described below:
- To start, I milk every day for about a week;
- then milk every other day for a about a week;
- then milk every second day for about a week;
- then milk every three days for about a week, and so on until the doe isn't producing much milk. Then I let her dry up on her on.
- I do this because I don't want her udder to get too heavy. Besides, it's painful with they're not milked regularily.
- The ultimate goal is to have the doe back to 10 percent protein without upsetting her system.
The herd overall:
IF the pastures are plentiful then I will probably feed only hay (our pastures are relatively small) but without feed. However, I do supplement feed when the pastures are really thin. They are fed hay daily based on 3 percent of their body weight.
I did one detailed weight analysis to get an idea of how much hay would be needed. I weighed every goat then did the math to find out how much hay to feed. This was nice to know and gave me an idea of what to expect.
Now I guesstimate based on how quickly the goats eat the hay. If it's gone in 3 hours, then I didn't feed them enough. But, if it lasts over 5 hours and they're off lounging and they're chewing their cud, then I've probably fed about right. However, if hay remains in their feeder the next day, then I've way overfed and need to cut back.