Pack Goat Kid Nutrition
The full rundown on pack goat kid nutrition.
There are a few different ways to feed a baby goat, they can be dam raised or bottle fed when raising goats. Each has its unique benefits and drawbacks. The option you choose really depends on your ultimate goal for the goat. You can check out our How to Raise a Baby Goat Course, it goes into extensive detail about this topic, but for now let’s dive into each method of feeding baby goats.
Written by: Dwite Sharp, edited by packgoats.com
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Paradise Ranch Packgoat Research & Developement
When it comes to pack goat kid nutrition, there’s nothing like raw milk. In a perfect world, we would choose not to pasteurize one of “Mother Natures” most nutrient gifts. But because of the disease CAE, an arthritic crippler of our Caprine friends, it is best to pasteurize all raw goats milk. This assures the disease is not passed from a CAE infected doe to a new kid. Now you will find that a lot of folks selling raw goats milk have had their herd tested for CAE and the tests have shown their herd to be CAE free. However, this disease continues to be passed to kids that have been drinking raw goats milk from CAE free herds.
Don’t take the chance, PASTEURIZE all raw goats milk, it’s not worth the risk. Too little is known about the transmission of this debilitating disease to take a chance. So then, to pasteurize colostrum, you slowly bring the temperature up to 135 degrees, no more or it will curdle. Hold it at 135 degrees for 60 minutes. If not fed immediately, cool in a cold-water bath and refrigerate or freeze.
To pasteurize goats milk, you bring the milk up to 165 degrees, holding the temperature is not required when heating to 165 degrees. Chill quickly, refrigerate or freeze immediately if not fed. Goat milk is high in butter fat content. It is the higher butter fat content that will cause this milk to sour quicker if not kept at a lower temperature in the refrigerator. So, refrigerating in the mid 30 degree ( Fahrenheit) range will usually keep the milk safe for about 7 days. Be very careful not to feed soured milk to your kids! Give it the taste test if in doubt.
CHOOSING WHAT TO BOTTLE FEED YOUR KIDS:
Pasteurized goat milk is, of course, our first choice when bottle feeding for pack goat kid nutrition. But unfortunately sometimes goats milk is not readily available and we must go to plan B. In this case, our second choice is whole cows milk, either from the cow or the grocery store. Nothing needs to be done to the cows milk except warming it to suit the kids taste. Our third choice would be Powdered Kid milk replacer, but it is not our preference do to the chance of it causing gastrointestonal issues in some kids.
Whenever switching from one choice of milk to another, it is best to do it slowly to avoid upsetting the goats digestive system and causing a belly ache and/or diarrhea. Instead, start by changing it one quarter at a time, two to three feedings at a time. Such as changing from goats milk to cows milk, start by mixing 3/4 goats milk and 1/4 cows milk. Then feed this mixture for at least two to three feedings and then mix it 1/2 goats milk to 1/2 cows milk for two to three more feedings. After that, 1/4 goats milk and 3/4 cows milk for another two to three feedings. Finally, at this point it is safe to feed 100% cows milk.
If a belly ache/and or diarrhea shows, then cut the milk feedings with water, 1/2 water and 1/2 milk and give 5 cc of Probios daily. Encourage the consumption of quality grass hay and cut back on the pelleted mixture, especially the Calf Manna. If the diarrhea is liquid, or close, an electrolyte should be bottle feed twice a day, in between regular bottle feedings. Do not over do the electrolytes.
I prefer “Bounce Back” by Manna Pro, but there are a number of good electrolytes on the market. Once everything turns back to normal, discontinue the Probios, electrolytes and water in milk and put the pelleted feed back to normal. Also diarrhea can be a sign of a parasite issue, especially coccidea. Parasites is the number one killer of goats, world wide. Take no chances, run a fecal sample.
BOTTLE FEEDING for Pack Goat Kid Nutrition:
After birth, it is important to get colostrum in their system as soon as possible. We feed pasteurized goat colostrum, as much as they will drink safely, every six hours. A minimum of 20 oz. will be effective.
Temperature of 102 degrees. After they have received, at least 20 oz. of colostrum, we go to pasteurized goats milk, up to 14 oz. at a time, again, 102 degrees for the first week. At the beginning of their second week we change it to every 8 hours (3 times a day), up to 18 oz. per feeding. The 102-degree temperature is not as important but should not be cold.
At 4 weeks the feedings go to 2 times a day, 20 oz. per feeding. We do not exceed the 20-oz. maximum as it will cause them to not see the need to eat the quantity of creep feed and hay we desire. At this point, the temperature of the milk can be quite a bit cooler, if they will drink it. It will not hurt them. At 12 weeks, we go to one 20 oz. bottle per day until they reach 16 weeks and at that point we wean them altogether. Now you must take into account that all kids are a little different and some, a lot different, so these time frames are an average, we adjust them to each individual’s pack goat kid nutrition needs and characteristics.
BOTTLEs for Kid Nutrition:
When bottle feeding we prefer the Pritchard or Excal Topper nipple. These nipples are designed to screw onto soda bottles, and both have a small ball valve built into the cap that allows air to flow back into the bottle as the milk is sucked out, thus not allowing the bottle to be sucked flat. You can buy cheaper nipples but you and the goat will be sorry. For the bottle, we use 20 oz. soda bottles. Check the label to be sure they are actually 20 oz. Remove the label and cut off the little plastic ring that is right under the cap. Never heat the milk up in the bottle using a microwave oven. If you heat the milk up while it is in the bottle use a warm water bath.
First, bottles and nipples must be cleaned thoroughly before reusing, do not soak the nipples. The Pritchard nipples can be purchased at numerous Farm and Ranch stores and on the internet. The Excal Topper nipples I have only found on the internet. Additionally, it is my opinion that the Excal Topper nipples are of a little higher quality. The Pritchard nipple must be trimmed on the end to open up the hole. Use a very sharp pair of scissors and be careful not to cut too much off as it will make the hole too big. Also, the Excal Topper has a small X cut in the end of the nipple that more times than not does not allow the milk to flow fast enough. It too can be trimmed a little to allow for more flow. Purchase extra nipples in case one gets damaged.
CREEP FEED for Pack Goat Kid Nutrition:
Creep feed refers to a grain based solid feed whether in a natural grain state or pelletized, that is offered continually in a free choice feeder. All they want, all the time. We have found that if the kids are fed this way they learn that they do not have to compete for their feed. When the more dominate kids are through there is still plenty left for them and they are less likely to become quick eating, over eaters. We introduce our kids to solid creep feed at about 5 to 7 days.
Our creep feed is made up of three different types of pellets. The first is a special 16% market goat pellet we have made just for us. You cannot purchase it so we recommend a goat pellet made by Purina, it is medicated, and is labeled “GROWER”. It used to be called “NOBLE GOAT” (medicated), and then changed to “MEAT GOAT”, but Purina has changed the name again to “GROWER”. It comes in a red and white 50 lb bag with a Boer goat on the front, labeled “GROWER” across the bottom.
The second pellet, in the formula, is alfalfa. Make sure the alfalfa pellet is not too large in size, some are, nothing larger than a 1/4 inch in diameter. The third pellet is Calf Manna manufactured by Manna Pro. Mix these three pellets together at a ratio of 3 parts Purina “GROWER” (medicated) to 1 part alfalfa pellet, to 1 part Calf Manna. We feed this creep feed mixture until approximately 8 months of age, at that point we remove the Calf Manna from the mixture and continue to feed free choice until about 10 to 12 months, at which time we feed them the same mixture but no longer free choice.
Feed at a rate of 1-1/2 lbs. to 2 lbs. per day. After cutting their Pelleted mixture back to a set amount, tie each goat up to feed so they get their full ration and the goat on the top of the pecking order doesn’t get the lions share. Continue to feed this way until about two years of age, at which time their diet turns to quality hay or browse only, which should have been part of their diet from the very beginning and continued until the end of their life.
The reason we prefer pellets over a whole grain mixture is the fact that goats have a tendency to pick through a whole grain mixture and not eat some of the items in the mix, especially any powdered ingredients such as vitamins and minerals etc. In a pellet all the ingredients are mixed together and cannot be picked out. Goats tend to not eat powder unless they are very hungry.
NOTE: Not all goats have the same eating habits and through the years we have learned that occasionally we get a kid or two that abuses the Creep feeder and “Extremely” over eats. It is the “Full Feed” creep feeder that has allowed us to raise kids that tend to not over eat as adults. So the few goats that abuse the creep feeder must be addressed individually to avoid the health issues that are attributed to “Extremely” over eating on a regular basis. Watch your kids! Intervene if necessary!
FORAGE for Pack Goat Kid Nutrition:
Dried grass or hay and forage is probably the most important item in any healthy goat’s diet from the first few weeks of their life to the end of their life. A goat has the most diverse diet of any creature on the planet, having a huge variety of plants that they choose to get their nutrition from. The problem arises when we humans choose, out of necessity, to not allow them access to all the plant life that they know will keep them healthy. They are capable of making all the right choices for optimum health if they have access to a large enough area of what we humans call weeds and brush.
So, if you don’t have an area where your goats can browse on a large assortment of vegetation then you must make all the decisions for a healthy diet for them. Believe me, goats are better at this than we are. If they do not have a large variety of browse to choose from then you must provide them with quality broad leaf hay, for life. Even though they will turn down good hay for browse you need to provide it for them if the browse is not sufficient at certain times of the year. We feed smooth brome hay and alfalfa hay. I feel that feeding only alfalfa hay is probably not the best plan. Half and half is OK. Timothy and orchard grass hay may be available in your area if brome is not.
Also, feed quality hay, free choice, if browse is not available in quantity. Check to see if there is a selenium deficiency in the soil where your goats browse and where their hay is grown. If so you may have to add some into their diet. Selenium is very important in their diet. A lack of it can cause their pasterns to break down among other issues. Also you can over do selenium, be careful. Your County Agriculture Extension Agent can help you with your selenium questions in your area.
Finally, different areas have different mineral contents. If there is a selenium deficiency in your area or where your hay is grown, do not ignore the problem. There is a Selenium Vitamin E paste that is reasonable priced and can be purchased without a prescription, unlike the alternative, “Bo-Se”, an injectable, that requires a prescription.
An “Extremely” important item for optimum health in goats is minerals. They need loose minerals free choice. They will eat what they need when they need it. Make it available to them in a mineral feeder. There are a number of good loose minerals for goats. Purina Goat Minerals and Sweet Lixs are both good, but my mineral of choice and by far the cheapest is actually a cattle mineral that goats do very well on and like it quite well. It can only be bought at Tractor Supply as it is the store brand, DuMor Spring Mineral. It is sold in a 50 lb. bag, which will last quite a while if stored correctly. Copper is a very important mineral to all goats. Finally, make sure there is sufficient amount of copper in which ever loose mineral you choose.
A mineral block (with copper) can also be supplied in addition to the free choice “LOOSE” minerals, but not in place of it. Copper assists in the goats ability to manage their parasite load. A copper bolus can be administered every eight to 12 months, if needed. Again be careful, to much copper can be toxic. Copper is very toxic to sheep and will kill them. Keep your goat minerals away from sheep! Goats should also be offered free choice sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, as they will medicate themselves as needed when they feel they need to neutralize their digestive system.
Dwite’s Favorite Extra Resources for Pack Goat Kid Nutrition and more:
1. Best Goat book ever printed (I recommend the spiral version).
2. Famacha eye chart certification class (On line).
2.5 This is where to get your fecal samples checked for parasites if you don’t have a competent goat Vet.
They do a good job. Parasites are the number one health issue for goats, so take it seriously, they will kill
your goats! http://midamericaagresearch.net/
4. Coccidia treatment: Dosage….1cc/ml per 10 lbs…. given orally for 5 days in a row, no more.
5. For optimum pack goat nutrition you should feed pelleted feed used to mix creep feed. 3 parts Purina Noble Goat (Medicated), 1 part Alfalfa pellets(Small), and 1 part Calf Manna.
pellets‐40‐lb?cm_vc=‐10005 (If purchasing from Tractor Supply, I recommend this brand over the
DuMor brand) https://www.tractorsupply.com/tsc/product/manna‐pro‐calf‐manna‐50‐lb?cm_vc=‐10005
6. Loose minerals and 50 lb mineral block: Loose mineral is very important, the block is in addition to
the loose mineral, not in place of it.
lb?cm_vc=‐10005 (if your area is selenium deficient you may need the block with more selenium in it)
7. Mineral feeder, it can also be used to feed them there creep feed, screw it to the wall under a roof.
Put baking soda in one side and loose mineral in the other, free choice.
Gates and Fencing
8. Prefered fencing, 4″X4″ woven wire, 330′ long roll and 4″X4″ panels. Do not use 6″X6″ woven wire or 6″X6″ cattle panels. Goats can get stuck in them. NO welded wire, welds will break & fence will fall apart.
9. Gates: I recommend using a wire filled gate to keep the goats head inside their pens and the
predators heads out. Make sure the gates are wide enough to get carts, tractors or what ever into the
pens or pastures.
10. Electric fence chargers: For goats you need to use a low impedance fence charger with a minimum of
6 joule output for the goat to not out smart the charger. This is the minimum one I would use. The
charger I use is more than twice the joule output as this one. Also, I highly recommend not relying on a fence
charger to keep your goats in, they require a constant amount of maintenance to keep them functioning
as needed, They are very labor intense. I would use them in conjunction with the woven wire or panels
to keep predators out. A wire 4 inches above the woven wire or panel and a wire 4 inches outside the
fence 5 inches off the ground.
Feeding and Watering
11. Hay feeder, hay should not be fed on the ground, that promotes parasite contamination. I prefer hay
feeders with a tray under them. Also, there are lots of different ones available. This one is just to give you an idea.
Here is a link to one that works very well for Horned packers.
12. Watering systems: I use all of these