The Udder Side
Everyone either has or is getting into small ruminants, whether sheep or goats. And there is a learning curve to having and caring for small ruminants.
One thing to make mention of is that goats are not the garbage eaters they are depicted on cartoons. Actually, they are very picky. We do not even consider them to be grazers, they are actually browsers. I actually believe if you follow them around and test the blossoms and things they eat you would find they are very nutritious.
They also have very distinct personalities. Most goats can be taught to do just about anything, if you have the patience. Generally they are very loving creatures, with a few exceptions, of course.
From the veterinary medicine stand point, small ruminants are very easy.
The first thing to remember is that if they are sick, then they are wormy until proven otherwise. And if they are male and not wormy, they are plugged up and cannot urinate until proven otherwise. Generally if you follow these first two points and remember them you will be fine.
To prevent worms we need to use the eyelids and FAMACHA.
This is a scoring system from red to white telling us how infected with worms our small ruminants are. If you are deworming without using this method eventually you will be overrun with worms and they will all be resistant to every dewormer we have available.
The main worm this checks for is the barber pole worm (Heamonchus contortus). This worm can and will if given the chance become resistant to every dewormer we have, (I HAVE SEEN IT). This is why I recommend using FAMACHA year round and having a fecal done on the flock annually.
Now to prevent the males from having stones plugging their urinary system up, I recommend feeding all males 10 grams of ammonium chloride every day of their life. It doesn’t matter if it is added to the feed, in the mineral or given directly daily, as long as it is done and the individuals eat it. This helps acidify the urine and prevent bladder stone formation. This is an absolute necessity.
The next point is about the coffee can. This was the worst thing for nutrition ever invented. Everyone always tells me I give a quart, gallon or scoop of feed to each animal. Sorry folks that tells me nothing. All feeding is figured by weight, NOT VOLUME.
Weigh your feed in the coffee can and put a line on the can with a magic marker, then you can fill the can to that mark and feed with it. Most feed stores will weigh your scoop with the feed you are buying so you know.
If they don’t, why are you buying feed there? Just part of what I consider good service.