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Nigerian Dwarf Weight Chart
(click on the chart to make it full size)
I give everyone permission to use it, if you like, but
please give credit! A link would be nice, too.
Need to Know Information for Goat Owners

(Click on links for more info)

Housing        Fencing       Feed      Grazing       Supplements      Kidding Supplies

Weighing            Routine Care        Pregnancy       Pregnancy Due Date Calendar

Freshening      Disbudding      Copper Boluses     Selenium Needs






Weighing Your Goat
By Angie Lilly-Vasquez

You cannot or should not use a regular size dairy goat weight tape on a Nigerian dwarf or other small goats. They are small enough in stature and conformation that you must weigh them using a different method. You can use a pygmy goat chart like the one found here in an article by Maxine Kinne, or you can use another method that is probably more accurate. I say this because the pygmy goat has a different chest size and is rounder in the 'barrel' than the Nigerian dwarf who has a more 'dairy' conformation. Measuring your individual goat (or weighing on a scale or hanging scale) is the most accurate way to weigh the goat.

Why Weigh?

Why do you need to weigh? You do not want to overmedicate your goat; some medicines and supplements, such as selenium and copper, can be toxic. You also do not want to undermedicate because this helps establish resistance to antibiotics and other related drugs. There is already a huge resistance problem related to wormers and some other drugs used for goats, so there is no need to perpetuate the problem by not providing a proper dosage.

*Some information found at the goatspot.com




Kidding Supplies List

When kidding season approaches, you will want to make sure you have everything you need on hand, especially since you never know when you will encounter an emergency.  First things first, make sure you have a list of people you can get in touch with if you have an emergency. Your vet should be first on the list, including vets that will make emergency calls or allow you to bring the animal in, even on holidays, but you should always have a list of goat friends, too, who will be there to give advice or offer fast assistance if you need it. One way to get these friends is from lists like the http://www.thegoatspot.net/forum/.  There are also plenty of groups on Facebook that will offer assistance if you need help. Don't forget that you also need an area to separate the new mom from other members of the herd and/or an area to isolate kids if necessary for bottlefeeding. A kidding stall, even one made from goat panels, is essential to making sure mom's feel some sense of safety and ease.

Beyond friend's contact info, important numbers, and a kidding area, you will need a list of basic supplies. Many of these supplies you will probably have on hand. Others you can purchase from Hoegger's Supply, Jeffers, Valley Vet, Caprine Supply, Tractor Supply Company, or your local feed store or veterinarian. You will need birthing supplies and survival supplies.  Note that the list below is not exhaustive. If you feel you need more, add more. These are basic needs.

Birthing Supplies Survival Supplies Medications Herbs
(will add benefits for these in my blog)
Other
blankets nasal aspirator Iodine for dipping navels--essential! Red Raspberry shallow water buckets
towels and/or paper towels tubing kit Nutri-Drench Marshmallow trash bags
plastic gloves kid puller Propylene Glycol Fennel antibacterial soap
warm bottle heat lamp Calcium Drench Dawn and bleach
box or container clamps KY Jelly Paper towels
nipples/bottles coffee Penicillin G Ziploc bags/freezer for colostrum
molasses Selenium gel or Bo-Se
electrolytes Bovi Sera
Epinephrine
Fortified Vit B and Iron supplements






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Goat Pregnancy (DUE DATE) Calculator
http://www.goatbiology.com/animations/gestcalculator.html




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Disbudding

Tools Needed:

Disbudding iron
Blue Kote or Wound Kote
A helper or a disbudding box
Vaccines or antitoxin --see below


The sooner you disbud, the better. Bucklings develop horns between day 3-8, so it is better to do them early on. Doelings develop horns from day 5 onward; the key with any kid is to feel for horn buds. If you can feel the 'bump' starting to push up through the skull, it is time to disbud; you can disbud before you feel these, but if you wait for 1 to 2 days beyond finding them, you are asking for trouble. After the bud appears, you stand a good chance of ending up with scurs, especially if you are new at disbudding. This is something that does take practice. If you have someone who can mentor you, please ask. :)

1. You will need a disbudding iron from Jeffer's or another supply store, along with some pain relief like Banamine or an herbal aid, etc. 
We use the Rhinehart X-30 but up to an X-50 is good as long as you use the right size tip.I'd recommend 3/8" minimum if you use the X-30. 

 
2. CD-T or Antitoxins: (see note below)
  • In the past, I have given the kid his/her tetanus shot beforehand to avoid any problems, especially if the kid was a couple of weeks old. This was a personal choice. However, in younger kids (3-7 days), I use antitoxin or make sure mom is vaccinated properly for immunity--see note below. 
  • You can always administer C&D Antitoxin or a Tetanus Antitoxin, and you should keep these in your medicine chest, too, for emergencies. Remember you will need to use them more than once because it only creates intermittent, not full term, immunity. See packaging instructions.
  • Have epinephrine on hand, if possible, for any reactions to vaccines.
Note: If you know that mom was up to date on her CDT shot before delivery (if you gave her the shot 30 days before delivery so the kids have some immunity), you can wait on giving the tetanus shot and not give the antitoxin unless you see signs of an issue. Learn to recognize the symptoms of tetanus! This is important. :)  If you didn't give her a booster, or you do not know if she has been vaccinated with CD-T recently, you will need to 1) vaccinate the kid to avoid possible tetanus if you think he/she is old enough or 2) use the antitoxin a couple of times until the kid is old enough to vaccinate.

3. Use clippers to clip the hair on top of the head so the buds can be seen well.

4. Heat up the iron. It is VERY hot!! This is not something you want to do in the barn where a fire can be started or around small children.

5. Heat the iron until glowing red.  I always test it on a piece of wood to make sure it burns the wood fast and leaves a complete circle.

6.  Apply to head and twist, making sure there is a clean burn with a complete circle. The circle should be golden in color.

7. If there is any bleeding, apply antiseptic.

Here is a video showing the process of disbudding: http://s320.photobucket.com/user/endofthelinefarm/media/reference/MVI_0001.mp4.html














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Copper Bolusing



Look at your goats!
  1. Do you see fishtailing-- a tail on the goat that has hair on the outside but hair missing in the middle, like a 'fin' on a fish?
  2. Do you see reddish colored hairs on goats that are brown, taupe, chocolate, or black? 
  3. Do you notice a goat changing 'shades' from a deep rich color as a kid to a lighter shade or 'diluted' shade as an adult? Example-- from black to chocolate or reddish 
  4. Do you have a goat that continues to have worm problems/susceptibility to worms?
  5. Do you have infertile goats--bucks or does?
  6. Do you have goats with hoof issues?
If you have any of these problems, your goat could probably use some copper. NC is copper deficient (and selenium deficient--we'll talk about that some other time), as are most states, so any vegetation that grows here, doesn't have enough copper to fully support a goat's growth and reproduction. That means goats need copper in feed and loose minerals to supply copper, but many of the loose minerals do not contain enough copper or the copper isn't easily absorbed by the rumen (chelated minerals). So the copper that is needed has to come from somewhere, which means you will need to add copper to the diet in some other way. Some people do add it to water, but I wouldn't personally recommend this method because it's difficult to know who is getting copper and how much; it isn't measurable, not to mention that the goats CAN overdose on it. Bolusing is the best thing. To bolus, you will need Copasure copper rods. These now come pre-packaged in a few weights based on your goat's weight, or you can use the Copasure copper rods for cattle and measure the exact amount your goat will need according to their exact weight. I prefer the second over the first so that I am giving them the exact amount they need. 


Supplies Needed

What do you need to bolus your animals? Normally, you would need the regular supplies in addition to a good bolusing gun. In this example, you will only need the following:

Bread for bread balls-- buns, croissants, anything that is 'fluffy'
Copasure copper rods OR Copasure pre-measured capsules
Scale that will weigh in grams --if measuring your own, for accuracy
Ziploc bags

Dosage

If you are using pre-measured boluses --2 gm, 4 gm, etc, then the only thing you need to know is the goat's weight. You then give the dosage that is closest to the goat's weight.  In the case of the Copasure pre-measured for goats, the 2 gm is only for animals that are between 25-99 lbs. The 4 gm dosage is for goats that are 100-300 lbs. 

I copper bolus according to the goat's actual weight. The formula to do that is 1 gram of copper rods per 22 lbs of goat.  You can see here that 2 gm for a 25 lb goat is going to be a little much and in my opinion, could pose the risk for copper toxicity in a young or debilitated animal or one that is not copper deficient.  Then again, for an animal that weighs double to triple that amount, they will not be receiving much copper at all at the pre-measured dose. I want to make sure everyone gets what they need, so I do this:

Name: Weight divided by 22 lbs  =   grams of copper rods needed
Acorn 55 lbs         /   22 lbs   =   2.5 gms
*Note: Calculating this way, I can still dose a younger animal that is less than 25 lbs if he/she is showing signs of copper deficiency. They require less, but I can calculate exactly how much. Honey:          18 lbs      /          22 lbs            =   .82 grams  
Bolusing
When it comes to bolusing, many people will weigh the goat and then measure out the copper rods, add them into capsules, and bolus down the throat of the goat. I have done this in the past. It's a pain! Goats fight and struggle the entire time, and it is definitely not a one person job.

So, this past year I changed the way I've been doing things. I've read plenty of info from people who state that simply allowing the goats to eat the rods will not work; they say that doing it in this manner doesn't let the bolus of rods get distributed into the rumen as necessary by adding a 'weighted' chunk of material. However, when it comes to using the capsule bolus, I've been bitten, had capsules melt and break open, had goats spit up the bolus and bite into it, and several other problems. So, as far as I can tell, the best thing to do is get as much of the copper into the goat as quickly and efficiently, and as wholly as possible, as is needed to meet dosing requirements.

What I began doing this year is this:

First, TRAIN THEM:
I routinely give my goats bread. Usually I get this from the bread store, and if you get organic bread, it is actually good for the goats. Mine are used to it and love it.
    • Take a piece of bread. 
    • Tear off a small piece and roll it into a ball about the diameter of a quarter.
    • Give it to the goat!
    • Do this every day, every other day, a couple times a week--however often you like--until you visibly witness everyone SWALLOWING (it's actually closer to inhaling) the bread with a gulp.
It's normal for the goats to compete with each other over food when it is allowed. Doing so with bread ball forces the goats to rush forward, grab a ball, and swallow quickly; they do this so they can get as much bread as possible while bread is available. Yes, the goats become little bread pigs ... lol.

After doing this for a week or so, you will notice that hopefully all, if not most, of the goats have been 'trained' to swallow the bread quickly--with minimal to no chewing involved. Move through the herd, handing out balls of bread. They will usually all swallow the bread quickly, pushing each other around, especially if they think they are going to get more than one piece. They soon realize that if they don't swallow quickly, someone else will take their extra piece. They don't want that, now do they!

Next, DOSE THEM:
  1. Now, weigh (measure to calculate weight if necessary) everyone the night before you want to give the copper rods. 
  2. Calculate the rod amounts needed for everyone ahead of time, placing the rods into the capsules if you like (for storage) or into name coded zippie bags.
  3. In the morning, before you feed anything else, give a few pieces of bread so everyone knows it is going to be a bread day. They will be more than ready for bread then! 
  4. Make a few bread balls, and into the center of one ball, dump the rods for ONE goat (make sure you have labeled these and know who gets what according to their weight. 
  5. Give the goat who is getting dosed, one bread ball, and then give someone else a bread ball to create some competition.
  6. Next, give the goat who is getting dosed the dosage ball. They should swallow it down quickly with no chewing.
  7. Have a helper write down who was dosed or write it down yourself. Don't give anyone a double-dose.
  8. Give everyone their dose following this same pattern. 
Occasionally, someone will bite into the ball of bread and taste the rods. If they do, most of the time they will spit out the bread. Simply trick them again if you feel they missed the dose. If they do spit it out, you can usually estimate how much has been spit out.

Even though some people have said that getting the goats to 'eat' the rods is not very effective because of rod placement in the rumen, I've found over the past year that doing it in this manner does work quite well. I feel that since the rods aren't being chewed, and they are poured into the center of the bread ball, they are still being positioned in the same areas as a capsule would place them in the rumen. After all, a capsule disentegrates quickly in acid. Some goats that require more copper in general may require being bolused sooner than the 'three month' normal interval, but I've found that happening with some of them even with normal bolusing. It depends on the goat. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to know your goats. Again, answer these questions:
  1. Do you see fishtailing-- a tail on the goat that has hair on the outside but hair missing in the middle, like a 'fin' on a fish?
  2. Do you see reddish colored hairs on goats that are brown, taupe, chocolate, or black? 
  3. Do you notice a goat changing 'shades' from a deep rich color as a kid to a lighter shade or 'diluted' shade as an adult? Example-- from black to chocolate or reddish 
  4. Do you have a goat that continues to have worm problems/susceptibility to worms?
  5. Do you have infertile goats--bucks or does?
  6. Do you have goats with hoof issues?
If you see these things going on then your goat needs copper. Now you can give it to them! :)








Selenium --Bo Se or Selenium +E Gel

Many areas of the US are Selenium deficient, including NC. Here is a map from the USGS showing exact counties throughout the US so that you can get an idea for how much Selenium (in addition to other minerals) are available in your soil (USGS MAP). Selenium is essential for reproduction, lactation, birthing, urination, and muscle function. It works with Vitamin E to protect the brain,  assist in thyroid function, regulate the immune system, and prevent cell damage. In addition to these things, Suzanne Gasparotto at Onion Creek Ranch (tennesseemeatgoats.com) further adds: 

                                   
Symptoms of selenium deficiency are similar to those of Vitamin E deficiency. White Muscle Disease, also known as Nutritional Muscular Dystrophy, is a condition in which kids are too weak to stand or          suckle at birth, they consistently cough, milk sometimes runs out of their nose after nursing, and they develop pneumonia because of muscle weakness in their lungs. In adults, abortions, stillbirths, retained                  placenta, or inability to conceive can be indicative of selenium deficiency...Pen-fed goats can be more susceptible to selenium and vitamin E deficiency since they don't have access to forage plants        containing them. High levels of sulphur in feed prevent selenium absorption. Proper levels of calcium in feed can help in selenium and vitamin E uptake. Selenium is routinely added to processed grain by feed   mills, but the amount permitted by US law may be insufficient for some areas. ("Selenium and Vitamin E")


Selenium should be given routinely to adult and junior animals--bucks and does.
Bucks--twice a year; does more often if they might become pregnant.
To protect kids, Selenium should be given to pregnant does 30+ days before delivery.

Kids can be dosed if they show any weakness or symptoms of deficiency after delivery.

Delivery Options: IM or Gel

There are two options of delivery. You can talk with your vet and order a bottle of Bo-Se. It is a prescription injectable form of Selenium and must be given intramuscular (IM)--into the muscle. When dosing Bo-Se at the 1 mL per 40lbs, I give 1 shot at 5 weeks before kidding, and then another shot at 2 weeks before kidding. For kids, you can give 1/4 cc Bo-Se for small-breed or 1/2 cc for large breed goat kids.

If you do not have experience with giving IM shots or simply want the ease of a gel, there are a couple of kinds you can pick from. I've listed a few below with links to help you decide. Most of the time you will need to give these gels MONTHLY as part of your routine. Different forms of Selenium will have different dosages.
 
          

 

















Housing

Goats may live outdoors, but they need shelter from wind, rain, snow, and extreme changes in heat or cold. Ideally, the best shelter is three-sided or four-sided with an opening of some kind for ventilation. Some goats are housed in barns, some in doghouses or igloos, some in hoop houses, and some in three-sided shelters or other shelters. Whatever you choose to use, good ventilation is important! However, the animals still need to be able to get out of the wind (even in a three-sided structure) so they can stay warm in very cold weather. Some people build a 'stub wall' in a three sided structure where the goats can go behind this additional wall to get away from high wind. Adding a good layer of straw or allowing bedding to 'deep pile' in the winter will also help them keep warm; if using the deep litter method, be sure to have good ventilation due to ammonia build-up.

Test: Get down on your knees. If the floor of the barn smells really bad to you, or if you have problems breathing,  imagine how bad it smells to someone sleeping on the floor, especially kids. 

Consider a heat lamp for babies or very young goats. It is also an option for those with short hair or that are sick or elderly.



DOUBLE CHECK where you put your heat lamp. Is it safe? You want to avoid fires as much as possible, so always make sure the lamp is in a safe place away from goats that can bump it or knock it over. 



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Disclaimer:My thoughts on routine goat care, etc, found on this page and throughout my website or blog, are not intended to be medical advice.  If you need medical advice or have an emergency, please discuss the problems with your veterinary medical provider! :)

Sources:
Gasparotto, Suzanne. "Selenium and Vitamin E: Critical to Raising Healthy Goats." 14 Feb 2014.

                  <http://www.tennesseemeatgoats.com/articles2/seleniumdeficiency.html >.


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