Your goats need the majority of their diet to be natural roughage from shrubs, woody plants, hay, tree bark, and more. The roughage they eat will most likely not provide them with all of the nutrients they need to maintain perfect health. It is probably going to be necessary for you to supplement their diet with a coarse grain like goat feed, corn, or another good grain product.
If you give your goats a diet that is almost all grain they will develop kidney problems that can be fatal. They may also develop a bloated stomach or become too fat. A goat must have a balanced diet that contains between 75% and 80% of their dietary intake from natural roughage providing plants.
You may have heard that a goat can eat anything, or that a goat will eat anything. This is not true. Many natural plants can either make your animal very sick, or in some cases can cause premature death for the animal. Plants that will make your goats sick.
• Wild cherry
• Black walnut
• Sheep laurel and Mountain Laurel
• Ponderosa Pine
• Mesquite Pods
Keep plenty of fresh water available to your animals at all times. The amount of water they will need will vary depending on the moisture content in the food they are eating. In the winter months if you live in an area that sees temperatures fall below freezing for long periods of time you will want to get a submersible heater to put in the water container so the animal water does not freeze solid.
Shelter is a necessity for your animals. They need a dry place where they can get in out of the rain, and where they can sleep without the dew falling on them. Their shelter needs to provide them a way t get out of the cold winds that blow in the winter, and provides them with security from natural predators.
Most goat owners put a thick layer of straw or hay down inside their shelters so their animals will have adequate protection from the cold and dampness of the ground. You can put a wooden floor in your shelter if you choose.
A large dog house is also a good shelter alternative for a goat. The animal will go inside the structure and they will also climb on the structure. Many owners buy the small igloo dog houses and put them inside their enclosure so their small animals can go inside them.
You will need to learn to trim the hooves of your goats. You can put rocks or concrete blocks in the pen with the animal to help them naturally maintain their hooves, but from time to time you need to insect their hooves and trim off excess.
You need to install fences that the animal cannot squeeze through and cannot lift up to go under. Goats are notorious for sticking their heads through the fence and often getting their horns hung up in the fence.
You need strong fences with secure gates to contain these animals. They will often push against the fence like they are scratching their sides on the fence so having your fencing material properly secured to the fence-posts is very important.
Signs that Your Goat is Sick
No matter how good you care for your animals there will be times that they get sick. The best way to determine if you have a sick animal is to pay attention to their normal behaviors. Then when one of the animals begins to act differently from what they normally do you will be quick to notice the difference.
Some signs of illness in goats are:
• When they do not chew their cud
• When they refuse to get up
• When they are not eating like they normally do
• When their poop is solid or liquid instead of in pellets like it should be
• Walk and cry more than normal
• They stop drinking
• They begin to grind their teeth
• They have a limp
• They are staggering
• Their udders are hot to the touch
• They are coughing
• Their eyelids or gums are ale in color
• They have a runny nose
These animals have great personalities and will entertain you for hours. They will help to keep property clear of shrubs and weeds, and the young ones will bring a fair price when you sell them. Taking care of the animals is not really hard to do, and the rewards outweigh any trouble that the care presents.