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Goats - Are They As Hardy As They Used To Be?

Cocoa a Mini-Lamancha wether $50 Pictures, Images and Photos

As a child, I remember watching my dad milk our Nubian goat and watching her frolic and play afterwards. What I don't remember is my dad giving the goats a dewormer or minerals.  Actually, he never did!

Let's fast forward a few years (we don't need to know how many, do we?) and here we are with our LaMancha goats.  We have raised goats for about 8 years now and have learned quite a bit about these interesting creatures!

When we bought our first goats, my sister, who already had goats, recommended this great book, Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby. Hmmmm, I thought all I had to do was put them out on pasture and keep their water bucket full, right?  That's what dad used to do.

Although dad's goat raising days weren't that long ago (ahem), times have changed a little on how to raise healthy goats.  Yes, they do need extra minerals and, yes, they do need to be wormed (naturally and/or chemically).

Goat's are browsers, not necessarily grazers.  God intended them to eat mineral rich leaves and brush.  My dad had the goats on part pasture and part woods.  So, they could graze and browse and get the minerals they needed.

One of the signs of a goat lacking minerals is it will eat the bark off of the trees.  Our goats used to do this when we lived farther south.  They were overcrowded with our two horses, therefore, they did not get enough to eat naturally.

We also had parasite problems because of the lack of space.  The horses would eat the grass down low, and the closer the grass is to the ground, the greater chance a goat will get wormy.  We tried natural dewormers at the time, but they did not work.  We then had to revert to using chemical dewormers.

When we moved here with more acreage and sandy soil, our parasite problems became almost nonexistent.  We usually deworm the goats in the spring, after they have their babies.  Parasites usually come out of dormancy around this time.

You can check to see if a goat is wormy by pulling down the under eyelid and examining the color.  If it is pale, than you probably have a wormy goat.  You want a nice vibrant pink color.  You can also look at the gums.  Once again, look for a healthy pink color.

Another sign of parasites is the goat will not eat it's grain.  You would think they would be starving and gobble it up like a wormy dog, but not in this case.  When they get to this point, chemical wormers are probably needed.  There are other natural wormers out there that might work. We have used copper sulfate with some success which is explained in Pat Coleby's book.

Here on our farm, the goats have more room to graze and eat fallen leaves. We give them broken branches and other brush that has been chopped down or blown down by a storm.  Kind of like what dad used to do.

We also give them a goat mineral block and kelp (when we can afford it).  The goat mineral block is specifically for goats, not sheep and goats.  Goats need more copper, but this higher level could be toxic to sheep.

There are other problems that we have to deal with, mainly mastitis.  We are learning some new things each year to help prevent this dreaded infection.  I'll save that for another post!

So, are goat's less resistant than they used to be?  Maybe.  It seems we have to take extra measures to keep our goats healthy.  Some of it is genetics, but, more importantly, we must do our job and give them the most natural environment possible.

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  1. I agree with you...I really think breeding lines have alot to do with it too. It could be that the pure strains have been so diluted (Americanized)and because most people use chemical dewormers and real goat pasture (tons of woods,weeds, and roughage)is harder to provide. That seems to be our problem. We do have good goats-I think...good kiddings, no mastitis etc- but we do have bark munching! They've stuck it out through our low times (bad hay, no minerals, poor feed, no money- almost hauled them to market- so glad we didn't).

    My friend had Nubians. I got a bad impression that they were a weak breed, but I think now it was the blood lines they came from. She had a coccidiosis problem that would not go away, therefor had kids that couldn't live and there were always scours. And her barn was better kept than mine!

    Still goats are easier than cows!

  2. Do you think it might also be a case of the soil not providing the nutrients to the plants that it used to? So the goats aren't getting what they used to from what they eat and now supplimentation is needed.

  3. I love my little nigerian dwarf dary goats. We personaly use Shaklee Classic Basic H as a natural way to de-worm our livestock - we use it for our cows, Nigerian dwarf dairy goats and LGD. The book "Salad Bar Beef" by Joel Salatin is a great read if you want more info.
    Here is what we currently do for worming -
    1. Measure out Basic H classic for the animal you are trying help eliminate worms. For cows, use 1 cup per 100 gallons of water. For smaller animals like goats and sheep the dosage needs to be smaller. Measure out 6cc.
    2. Mix the Basic H classic with water. For large animals the cleaner can be added to the water trough. For smaller animals, mix the 6 cc cleaner with 8 oz water. Place the mixture in a turkey baster and give to the animal. or put directly into water and give more more water till it is all.
    At first some of the animals don't want to drink the water, but that is the only water offered till gone - they catch on pretty fast! Right now, I worm my goats every 4 months (3 times a year) with Shaklee Classic Basic H. I'm sure there are a lot of veriations on that.
    Basic H is a green cleaner made by Shaklee,and has been on the market for over 40 years. There are over 1001 uses for Basic H www.srkindredspirits.blogspot.com/2011/10/shaklee-basic-h-1001-uses.html You can read an article here: www.ehow.com/how_7817074_use-basic-control-tapeworms.html
    I also want to start planting some plants in the pasture so the goats can eat some when they need it such as wormwood, garlic, thyme, peppermint etc. -still researching this. Also good B vitamins will help keep goats free of worms!
    I didn't know about looking under the eyelid - thanks for the tip!

    1. Just curious if you do fecals on your goats? If the Basic-H would work for us I would totally do it rather than chemicals. I have never done fecals but am going to be learning how to soon, so I know if and when I need to worm. Thanks for the information!

  4. I've thought of planting wormwood along the outside of the fence row too. But, my husband has been known to whack down a few "weeds" that were intended for good use;) I might try again!

    I do believe that the soils are depleted more now than ever and that is a contributing factor of our mineral deficiencies.

    I love Joel Salatin! I'll have to look into the Basic H classic. Natural Goat Care is also great at showing how to treat ailments with herbs, vitamins and minerals.

    We have learned to supplement a milking doe with dolomite. It works wonders for mastitis! Pair that with copper and it helps keep worms at bay too. Pat Coleby talks about the mineral depleted soils and is very much for supplementing goats. I can't stress enough how much I have learned from her!

    Thank you so much for your informative comments, ladies! I wish we could be sitting at the kitchen table with some coffee, chit-chatting away!

    1. Me too...with some of your coffee creamer of course-I thought of that yesterday morning!

  5. Basic H is also great around the barnyard as a spray for flies. When you put it on, they stay a foot or 2 away. Put a little on their back and the flies move down to say away from it.

    Also, mixing Basic H with their germicide, Basic G, is a non-toxic way to get fleas and lice out of bedding - good for dogs and around the yard. (Same mix gets rid of moles if you spray that lawn with it.)


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