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A Beginner’s Guide to Caring for Goats

Your goats need most of their diet to be natural roughage from shrubs, woody plants, hay, tree bark and more. The roughage they eat probably won’t provide them with all the nutrients they need to maintain perfect health. You will probably need to supplement their diet with coarse grain such as goat feed, corn or another good grain product.

If you feed your goats a diet consisting of almost all grains, they will develop kidney problems that can be fatal. They may also develop a bloated stomach or become very obese. A goat should have a balanced diet containing between 75% and 80% of its dietary intake from plants that provide natural roughage.

You may have heard that a goat can eat anything, or that a goat will eat anything. This is not real. Many natural plants can either make your animal very sick or in some cases cause an early death for the animal. Plants that will make your goats sick.

• Hemlock

• Wild cherry

• Azalea

• Black walnut

• Rhododendron

• Sheep laurel and mountain laurel

• Juniper

• Ponderosa Pine

• Yew

• Mesquite pods

Always keep plenty of fresh water available for your animals. The amount of water they will need will vary depending on the moisture content of the food they eat. In the winter months, if you live in an area that sees temperatures drop below freezing for long periods of time, you’ll want to get an underwater heater to put in the water tank so the animals’ water doesn’t freeze solid.

Shelter is a necessity for your animals. They need a dry place where they can get out of the rain and where they can sleep without getting cold. Their shelter should provide them with a way to escape the cold winter winds and provide them with safety from natural predators.

Most goat owners put a thick layer of straw or hay inside their shelters so that their animals have adequate protection from the cold and the dampness of the soil. 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 enter the structure and also climb the structure. Many owners buy the small igloo dog houses and put them inside their enclosure so that their small animals can go inside.

You will need to learn to trim your goats hooves. You can put stones or concrete blocks in the pen with the animal to help them maintain their hooves naturally, but from time to time you need to worm their hooves and trim the excess.

Happy Fencing

You need to install fences that the animal cannot push through and cannot lift to go under. Goats are notorious for sticking their heads through the fence and often hang their horns on the fence.

You need strong fences with secure gates to contain these animals. They often push against the fence as if scraping their sides against the fence, so it is very important to properly attach the fencing material to the fence posts.

Signs that your goat is sick

No matter how well you take care of your animals, there will be times when they will get sick. The best way to determine if you have a sick animal is to pay attention to its normal behaviors. Then, when one of the animals starts acting differently than it normally does, you’ll quickly notice the difference.

Some signs of illness in goats are:

• When they don’t chew their cud

• When they refuse to get up

• When they don’t eat as usual

• 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 start grinding their teeth

• They have a limp

• They are sensational

• Their breasts are warm to the touch

• They cough

• Their eyelids or gums are ale colored

• They have a runny nose

These animals have great personalities and will entertain you for hours. They will help keep the property clear of bushes and weeds, and the young ones will fetch a fair price when you sell them. Caring for animals really isn’t difficult, and the rewards far outweigh any problems the care presents.

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