Hints From Our Customers

Over the years, our customers have sent in hints about all aspects of keeping goats. Below we share with you some of the most helpful ones we've received.

 

Starting Right:

“Do you know how many years most people own goats? Three years! Seems like an awful short amount of time. Those who have goats longer seem to involve the entire family, invest in work-reducing equipment and routines, keep goat numbers under control, and don't try to make their hobby replace their regular job.”

“The best way we've found to get children interested in raising goats is to take them to a nearby fair and let them talk with other children who have goats. If they catch ‘goat fever,’ the next step is to buy them a few good books, ones that are easy to read and have lots of pictures. For young children, try some of our story books that talk about goats or our goat coloring book. Be careful not to choose a book that shows goats eating tin cans, etc. Find out about local 4-H groups or goat clubs where your child can visit, and be frank about the amount of time and work needed to take good care of an animal.”

“I keep my goat coffee mug at work. People always ask me where I got it, whether I have goats, where they can get one, etc. I give goat stuff for gifts and send Christmas greetings on the goat note cards. Using goat products is a great way to advertise just how wonderful goats are.”

“Raising goats is really hard work, and it's pretty easy to get burned out. It's important to make time every day to enjoy your goats. One way to do this is to divide up chores so that everyone has some chore he or she really enjoys doing. I really enjoy milking, so it usually doesn't seem like work. Others like to feed kids. Then spend time just sitting and watching your goats, or go in the pens and play with them. You don't have to spend every minute caring for them.”

“Goats get bored too! Give your goats toys to play with. You can make simple teeter-totters from surplus lumber and jumping platforms from spools. Then you can enjoy watching them jump, dance, spin, and play.”


General Management:

 “Goats won’t drink dirty water willingly. To keep water clean, you can set your water buckets outside the pen on the ground or on a shelf. This works well with grown does. Small kids, however, being the devils they can be, may climb through the opening in the fence. If kids are mixed in with does, kids may not be tall enough to reach through the fence and get their heads in the water bucket.”

“Goats appreciate warm, almost hot water in winter. They can drink a lot, and it won’t chill them the way cold water may. This helps keep milk production up. By feeding hot water, you can water bucks and dry stock just once a day so that pails aren’t left to freeze in pens. To keep water from freezing in buckets, try using a water bucket warmer; your goats will have water available 24 hours a day.”“The first thing we do every morning and evening at chore time is to ‘count heads’; that way we know immediately if we have some problem. We also try to pick up on any goat that looks the slightest bit ‘off’—standing off in the corner, hair on end, hunched up.”

“Goats thrive on routine. Try to feed both kids and mature animals at the same time every day. Also, try to milk and schedule other activities (such as going out or coming back from the pasture) for the same time each day. Your goats will love you for it, and be healthier too.”“Our barns and pastures were such a mess, but we found a way to clean them up and keep them clean. We set aside one Saturday a month as clean-up day, and we planned nothing but clean-up for our Saturdays. In the beginning, clean-up took all day, but once clean, it took only a few hours to take care of problems that we couldn't get to daily. The trick is to set up a routine and stick to it. NO MATTER WHAT! A pizza or other treat for dinner also helps reward a good job!

“Barns and pastures can really be dangerous. We make a habit of routinely checking for loose boards where inquisitive goats will stick their heads and choke, gopher holes they'll step in and break legs, protruding nails and fencing they'll snag themselves on, exposed wiring they'll nibble with electrifying results! It's probably impossible to ‘goat-proof’ a barn or pasture, but this type of vigilance helps cut down on disasters.”

“Put some udder cream on the udder of a doe that's ready to kid. It helps relieve udder congestion, and it helps keep bedding and birth fluids from sticking to her udder.”

“It's important to check the nitrogen level in your semen tank regularly. We try to do it the first of every month. We also check the level after we've moved the tank or before we remove a straw for breeding.”

“To load goats in the back of a pickup truck, we put a bale of hay or straw below the tailgate. It makes a nice step up for them to hop on to before mounting up in the bed of the truck.”

And to help those baby bucks:  “Sometimes our baby bucks aren’t tall enough to reach our grown does to breed them. We’ve solved the problem by backing our does up to a landing, dirt bank, or bale of hay or straw. The buckling can then stand up on his ‘booster chair’ and reach the doe. You need to make sure that when he dismounts he is careful not to fall off the step and hurt himself.”

“At our farm, we think our goats should have Christmas too, so on Christmas Eve my husband goes to the local Lions or Kiwanis tree lot and buys up enough leftover trees to put one in every goat pen. He buys only natural trees, free of colorant or flocking, of course. This way we feel we're doing a little something for those more needy than we are, plus the goats just love their Christmas presents.”

“For lightweight goat coats or to keep kids clean at shows, we use old t-shirts. They go over their heads and their front legs go through the arm holes. To keep them in place, working from the goat's back, gather up the bottom edge of the t-shirt and knot it over the top of the goat's back. We always keep a bunch of t-shirts in the barn cupboard or our show tack box.”

Hoof Trimming:

“Instead of using trimmers, you can use a hoof plane or rasp to flatten the sole and finish the hoof. Children can do a good job with a hoof plane if they are taught how to use it properly from the beginning and if they trim hooves on a regular basis. Then, most of their work will be taking off a little excessive growth on the hoof bottom.”

“Hooves are much easier to trim when they are wet. Try trimming hooves after the goat has been walking in snow, mud, or morning dew.”

“Hoof trimming is a chore most of us don't do often enough, but I've found a way to get it done without it killing me. And it will work no matter if your herd is 10 or 100. Every time I milk I trim the hooves of a set number of goats, that's just part of my milking routine. And I continue to do this, without fail, until the whole herd has had its hooves trimmed. That way I get the job done in a reasonable amount of time, and it's less back-breaking than doing them all at once.”

“Our goats kept getting knocked down in the shows for bad feet. We began a routine of hoof trimming, and we found our goats' bad feet had been caused by bad management, not bad genetics!”

“Most goats don’t like their hooves trimmed. You aren’t hurting them; they just don’t like standing on three legs.”

“Try not to trim your goat's hooves at a show. Trimming should be done a few days before the show to give your goat a chance to get used to how the foot meets the ground. It's always possible to trim too close, and there's nothing worse than having your best doe limp around the ring just because you've trimmed her hooves too close.”


Eliminating Off-Flavored Milk:

“We had problems with off-flavored milk, and after trying a number of folk remedies, we decided that we had to attack the problem on more than one front. It worked. Here's how you can help overcome ‘goaty-tasting’ milk. Make sure your milk is scrupulously clean and chill it quickly. All dairy equipment must be really clean. A dairy rinse can help here. Brush goats and wash and dry udders to make sure nothing falls into the milk. Filter the milk and chill it immediately. You want it to get to 40°F quickly, and a refrigerator won’t do that. An ice-water bath does a fine job. Test whether the milk from all goats is ‘goaty,’ or only one. If all milk is bad, look for a feed or cleanliness problem. If one goat is the culprit, don't use that milk for fluid consumption, cooking, or cheese. If “goatiness” in milk seems to run in a family, consider a change in breeding programs. ‘Goaty’ milk may result from a combination of factors, and besides if you do everything we suggest, not only will your milk be good tasting, but the overall quality of all your milk will be better.”

“We have eliminated bad-tasting milk from does in our herd with the use of Vitamin E. First, we made sure that every goat was properly wormed. Then if her milk was still strong flavored, we gave her Vitamin E each day for five days. This has improved the taste of milk from does whose milk was truly undrinkable.”

“We cured several cases of off-flavored milk with garlic! We give the doe two tablespoons of baking soda and one clove of garlic minced (we use the minced garlic in jars) on the doe's feed every day for two or three weeks. I don't know why it works, but it does. (Ed.—Maybe the strong “goaty” taste is masked by the taste of garlic in the milk? No reports from other breeders on this remedy.)


Milking: 

“I find teat tape is easier and quicker to remove if you turn down one corner just a little on the last piece you put on.”

“We use our 9-quart milking pail not only for milking but for making cheese, feeding calves’ milk, and for our veterinarian to wash her hands in when she visits our farm. After ten years, it’s still bright and shiny. Love that stainless steel!”


Raising Kids:

“I can't count the times I've come into the barn to find a badly chilled newborn kid. Warming it quickly is the key to saving these kids. One way I've found that really works well is to put the kid in a pail of warm water, then dry it first with a warm towel, and finally use a hair dryer (set to low) to dry its coat thoroughly. When the kid is all toasty, I put a goat coat on it. If the baby is only a little chilled when I find it, I put it inside my sweatshirt and carry it around close to my body until it's warmed up.”

“We put a baby sweater on kid goats to keep them warm in the winter if it's especially cold. Just button the sweater over their backs.

“After we dry the ears of newborn Nubians, we dust the ears with baby powder to prevent their sticking together.”

“Instead of automatically tube-feeding weak kids, try the Pritchard flutter valve nipple first. Tube-feeding can be hard on kids, and the way the Pritchard teat is constructed, even very weak kids may be able to suck enough colostrum or milk to get them off to a good start.”

“We never have a problem switching our new babies from a bottle to the Caprine feeder because the only time they ever get a bottle is for their colostrum feedings. After that they go right on a hand-held Caprine-style feeder. It's fast, and the kids love it, even 12-hour old babies.”

“If you start babies out on a pop bottle nipple and then switch them to the Caprine nipple, some babies reject the new nipple. We've overcome this problem by feeding them colostrum from a bottle topped with a Caprine nipple rather than a pop bottle nipple. That way, the only nipple they've ever had is a Caprine nipple, and they're used to its feel when we switch them to the Caprine feeder.”

“The Albers-style nipple fits on some one-quart jars. I like to use this rather bulky jar for feeding older kids because it's easier to clean than pop bottles.”

“To identify newborn kids, use i.d. neck bands with the name of the mother, date of birth, father's name, and any other information you need. Use a pen with permanent ink and wrap the surface you've written on with clear tape for longer visibility.”

“To identify newborn kids, I keep animal crayons in the barn. Once a kid is born and dry, I immediately mark it and its mother with the same color crayon. I re-mark them as needed until I get around to tattooing the kid. With color breeds such as Saanens or Toggenburgs, I don't depend on my instincts to pick out a certain mom's kid. I mark them immediately so I’ll be sure who is who from the beginning. I once had so many kids born at the same time that I ran out of different crayon colors and had to mark one mom and her kids orange on the front leg and another orange along her flank.”

“For times when you don’t have colostrum on hand, keep some heat-treated colostrum in your freezer. You can fill ice cube trays or put the freshly heat-treated colostrum in either seal-a-meal bags or Ziploc freezer bags. Then you can thaw colostrum in its own pouch in warm water (don’t use hot water or a microwave as either can destroy the antibodies) whenever you need it. ”

“We take our large size shipping crates and put one half in each baby pen. Kids pile in there to sleep. Just don't put too many kids in one pen because the kid on the bottom can get smothered by the weight of the others.”

“I like putting teat tape on my does after they freshen because between milkings, I can put the kids out in the pasture with their moms. This teaches kids better foraging and eliminates extra feeding in the barn.”


Disbudding:

“When I use my kid holding box for disbudding kids, I put a towel where the kid's neck hits the aluminum headpiece. It cushions the kid's neck a little and makes me feel better about the whole procedure.”

“After disbudding a kid, I put a handful of crushed ice on its head where I burned it. It cools down the head quickly, and the kid really appreciates this. The sensation of cold also gives them something to think about besides their burned horn buds!”

“Before you use your disbudding iron and in between each kid you disbud, brush the surface of the tip with a wire brush. This removes built-up carbon particles and allows the iron to get hotter and hold the heat better.”

“Here’s a trick for heating the non-electric disbudding iron initially or keeping it hot between disbudding kids. Prop a can off the ground with two bricks. To heat the iron, put the iron in the can, and position the heating torch so that the flame hits the disbudding iron as it rests in the can. This will help the iron heat faster.”


Health:

"We found this dosage conversion chart very handy for treating our goats.”

1 ml        =       15 drops        =        1 cc
1 tsp.     =        1 gram            =       5 cc’s    
1 tbsp.  =        ½ oz.                =      15 cc’s
2 tbsp.  =         1 oz.                =       30 cc’s
1 pint     =         16 oz.             =       480 cc’s

 

“You can pick out healthy goats a mile away. They are lively and bounce as they walk. Their coats shine, their eyes twinkle, and they seem to take pleasure in their lives.”

“Check all healing wounds daily to catch the first signs of infection, including redness, puffiness, and weeping or oozing.”

“As in humans, it’s really important to finish the course of any medications that your veterinarian prescribes for your goats. If you don’t finish the medicine, your animal may relapse or have other problems. Even if the goat looks good and acts healthy, continue the treatment to the end.”

“Be sure to read all label directions to make sure you understand how to administer a medicine and how long to give it. If you have any questions, be sure to clear them up with your vet.”

“Take your goat’s temperature before calling the vet. The first question most vets ask is, “Does your goat have a fever?”

“When an animal of any kind has a wound, its natural instinct is to lick it. This often will keep the wound from healing and cause further health problems. One way to “lick” this problem is to use what vets call a “Victorian collar,” named for the massive ruffs people wore during the reign of Queen Victoria, I surmise. Take a small bucket, cut out the bottom and fit it over the goat’s head. The bucket should rest below its ears and keep the goat from being able to move its head around to lick. The trick is to find just the right size bucket for your goat. You can also ask your vet about these because some of them stock this type of commercial collar designed for house pets.

“Keep a clean leg snare in a plastic baggie in your barn in case you need it quickly to save a kid that’s having trouble being born.”

“We almost lost a nice older doe to coccidiosis. She never had the typical scouring that you see in kids. Her only symptom was that she lost weight and was listless. After I treated her with Corid, she started to gain back weight and looked and felt a whole lot better.”

“After fighting coccidiosis in our kids for years, we now routinely worm our babies against coccidiosis at 21 days and then every 21 days until they’re pretty well grown. With this program, we haven’t had any coccidiosis problems and our kids are big and strong.”

“Use your barn calendar to keep track of all treatments and health problems.”

“To make sure all our does get wormed in the spring, we worm them at the same time we milk out their colostrum for the first time. That way we know we’ve gotten around to all our fresh does.”

“Udder cream isn’t just for udders. We use udder cream on goats the same way we use hand creams on us. If we find a rough spot on the skin or some chafing, we put udder cream on it.”

“Most pharmaceutical products are approved for cattle, sheep, or hogs, not goats. The reason for this is that it takes costly testing to get approval to label a product for a species, and there has not, in most cases, been enough potential profit from goatkeepers to justify the investment.”


Showing:

“For longer clipper and blade life, always put your clippers away clean. Brush away accumulated hair and spray with clipper lube before you store them.”

“If your doe has trouble walking around a full udder, it may help to put some udder cream ointment on the inside of the rear legs and on the sides of the udder. This can help the udder slide by the leg more smoothly.”

“While we do like winning traditional trophies, we've found that winning can be memorable every day of the year if we milk in the 8-quart pail we won for best in show, or if we wear a belt buckle our buck won for grand champion. And we really appreciate the hoof trimmers we've won. Most traditional trophies gather dust, but a milk bucket or hoof trimmer never will.”

 

Have a Hint You Think Other Customers Would Like to Hear About?


If you'd like to see your hint here, simply send an email to us at info@caprinesupply.com or write us a note and send it to us at Caprine Supply, P. O. Box Y, De Soto, KS 66018.

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