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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Have recently acquired some goats. I have a few questions, and this seems like a good place to ask.

1. How much grain do they need a day? I was told to give two handfuls once per day (along with mineral) but this doesn’t seem like a lot. The goats are four months old (all wethers) and I have provided hay and straw as well.

2. What is the ideal temperature?
It’s cold in the uk where I am (wind is up) but I don’t want them to get stuffy in the barn. At night, should I leave the door open or not? Have been told to leave open, but it’s cold and there’s a breeze, so I’m wondering if that’s healthy.

3. One of the goats has been coughing (was already doing it when farmer brought them) should I be concerned?

Thank you. I know I must sound like an idiot, but in real life I am dealing with conflicting advice about these things.
 

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First of all -- you don't sound like an idiot! No worries. WE ARE ALL HERE TO HELP!

Wethers do not need and should not have grain fed at a normal rate. Grain is not necessary and pretty much does nothing for them. Too much grain can cause Urinary Calculi. You can give a small handful daily, but no more. First things first, do you have hard well water? Because if you don't have that very calcium rich water, instead of feeding grain you can feed alfalfa pellets. As for hay, I prefer good orchard grass hay, and again if you have good water you should feed alfalfa pellets along with it. Alfalfa hay is okay, but not preferred in my personal opinion for male goat care. And trust me, I have a lot of opinions. Raising wethers is not easy, balanced diets is everything.

Just to make things simple, I tell this to all new goat owners asking about grain, especially with wethers.

Goats really only need three things to live:
Hay
Water
Minerals

Grain is NOT in that list, to be clear.

Straw is bedding, not food. Just to clarify, I think that's what you meant.

What mineral are you feeding them? This is also an important part of male goat care. Good minerals means good balance which means good health.

(Also, you mentioned minerals "along with grain," and I want to confirm you do not mean that you are mixing them together.)

Now for temperature. What are your current temps? Goats are fairly adaptable, so it would be good information to know all about your climate. Temperature and conditions.

How big is your barn? A small "shed like" barn is not something goats should be closed in, as there is not enough airflow. A large full sized... "barn" barn, lol, with enough ventilation is usually okay.

A good note for goats is to always leave the door open. Just to be safe.

Are they acting cold? Usually enough straw bedding and good fuzzy coats keeps them warm enough. If they are shivering or seem unhappy, then you may consider covering the door with a blanket for drafts, but this still allows a bit more airflow than it closed.

Okay so as for the cough, what I say may sound overwhelming, but I need to ask a lot of questions.

1. Does the goat have a runny nose or runny eyes?

2. Is it a wet cough?

3. Is your goat hacking or choking at all?

4. Does it sound like there is mucus?

5. Is there any raspy breathing or wheezing?

6. How often does the cough occur?

7. What is the duration of each cough? (multiple coughs at a time, just one short cough, one longer cough, a coughing fit, etc.)

8. Does it get worse when running, chewing cud, or eating?

9. Are there any dusty conditions, especially in hay or feed?

10. Is feed and hay free of mold?

11. What is the goat(s) temperature?

12. How many goats are coughing? Just the one?

I would start the goat, and the other goats, on a garlic regimen. 1 clove daily a day raw and fresh. Please let me know if you need advice on how to give this if the links provided below are not suitable:

https://thegivinggoat.home.blog/2019/01/01/using-garlic-to-improve-herd-health/
https://thegivinggoat.home.blog/2019/03/05/why-we-plate-train-our-goats/
https://thegivinggoat.home.blog/2019/04/02/what-to-feed-your-goats-a-detailed-diet-explanation/

Welcome to the world of goats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hi. Thank you so much for your reply! It’s helped me, and I will be coming back to it for future reference.

I should have clarified about the grain. It’s an all round goat mix that was given to me by the farmer. It has (I believe) beneficial ingredients? I have been told to mix it in with the mineral.
I didn’t know about the alfalfa pellets. Is this a healthier alternative? Also, I have just been giving regular water. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know about water requirements at all. Is regular water alright for them?
The mineral was recommended to me by the farmer, so I trust it is ok? The minerals are from goat nutrition.
I’m not sure of the exact name and will need to ask, since I need to order more.

The weather goes from about 7-20 Celsius, in general.
In Fahrenheit, I believe this is roughly 49 degrees on a cold night, and 60 in the day) but the wind, especially in winter, is a tempest. Its (hopefully) getting better now.

The barn is quite big. I believe the previous owner used it for horses, and it’s just a big open space. (I am keeping the goats in a smaller area so they can get used to me quicker) but it’s not ideal. The building is quite poor, and there are small gaps in places where a breeze might get through. The door is absolutely huge, and I need to push against it with my body to close it. The goats are fairly near to it, and I’ve been told to keep the door half open so they aren’t uncomfortable. Just unsure that the cold and breeze might be upsetting them at night. They aren’t acting very cold though, but honestly I have anemia, so I probably feel it more than them

The coughing though. The goats (especially that one) weren’t fully tamed when I got them. I have been spending time with them, and they are beginning to approach and let me pet them, but that one is by far the shyest. He seems active, but I haven’t been able to seem him face to face because he’s usually eating or avoiding me. I haven’t seen a runny nose or anything like that.

The cough is quite dry, and he tends to do a few in a row. Eg, like maybe four at a time. I don’t know if I would say he was choking and I hadn’t thought of mucus, but this is my first experience with goats. I’ve only ever had chicken and sheep before, and mine are very hardy.
I’ve been in there for a while with them and haven’t heard any wheezing. The coughing is maybe once or twice an hour. He does seem to get a bit worse when chewing hay though.
There is absolutely no mould, and as for the dust, I had been coughing a bit myself after being in there so long, but other people have been in and say I might have an allergy to the hay, so I’m really not sure.
I haven’t taken his temperature, but I suppose I should? I might be contacting the farmer tomorrow to see what he thinks.

Thank you so much for the garlic information. I hadn’t heard of this and it’s not on the fact sheet, so I wouldn’t have been aware if you hadn’t said. I will be buying some tomorrow and seeing what they think.

Thank you so much for your reply! I honestly didn’t think anyone would comment, and when I saw your detailed response I was shocked.
It’s been a stressful time, so I appreciate any help offered.

I hate to trouble you again, especially since you’ve already been of help, but I need to keep the goats in while I do a big fencing of the land boundaries. I intend to take them out for walks when they trust me a bit more, but I’m unsure if keeping them in for so long is appropriate.
I just don’t want to risk them jumping over the fences, which was originally meant for sheep. I’m next to a busy road, so this is a big concern.

Thank you so much.
 

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NO, minerals should NOT be mixed in with grain. Minerals should be fed free choice, always around for the goats to consume as much as they feel they need. Make sure you have a brand that is meant to be loose minerals, the label would be helpful for us to see.

As for the grain, any grain even with "beneficial ingredients" should not be fed in large amounts, IF ANY, to male goats. Too much grain can EASILY cause Urinary Calculi, which can become fatal. So no I don't recommend feeding more than a handful. What kind of hay is it that you are feeding? For water, some water is "hard water" it contains a lot of calcium, molybdenum, sulfur, and iron. In your house, if it is the same water, maybe you have noticed some calcium staining or iron (orange) stains, and possibly sulfur smells (like eggs) while showers are occurring or just in general from the water. You see, male goats (all goats) really need calcium in their diets. But they need a good balance of calcium to phosphorous. So alfalfa has a lot of calcium, but if your water is also high in calcium, like well water, it is too much. So I ask what your water type is to determine whether alfalfa is necessary in your boys' diets. So I really need to know the type of hay you are feeding for starters. Alfalfa pellets are usually a better alternative to grain for males, but again it depends on the situation. So I just need a bit more info!

Your temperatures do not sound worrisome. The halfway closed door sounds good.

Yes please take the temperature of the goat. As well as taking the temp of one other goat who seems healthy, as a baseline. Once you take his temperature please come back and let me know what the read was. I always have theories and ideas and that piece of information is very helpful.

How long will you need to keep them inside for to do the fencing? Do they currently have fencing?

I'm glad to be of help, don't worry about asking questions, ask as many as you please!

This is truly my topic of knowledge, nutrition & diets, and male goat care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I see. What you’ve said is very concerning. I’ve been told and have instructions written by the farmer to mix the feed and mineral together, but this has definitely made me reconsider.

It’s late here, and I’ve locked up and can’t go outside to check the products, like hay and mineral, but I will be doing so in the morning.

I’ll enquire about minerals that I can leave with them, but I’m unsure if I can find anywhere that stocks this, since I live on a very small island near England, and I think most farmers order minerals from the UK. I will be asking though, and I hope I haven’t given them too much grain. I will be watchful about that in the future.

The water... I must sound like an idiot, but I’m really not sure. I haven’t noticed any smells or staining, so I don’t suppose it is?
I will look into the alfalfa as well.

I’ll take his temperature in the morning, if he’ll let me It’ll be a bit traumatic for us all, but I’ll try.

I think the fencing will take a week or two, depending on commitments. There is fencing, but it’s really for sheep. I’m worried the goats might try to jump over it, into someone else’s field, or into the garden or vegetable patch, which would be bad, because the plants really wouldn’t be good for them. I want to make sure the fencing is secure, but I’m upset they can’t go out.

I really appreciate your help. I can’t give much information right now, but I will try tomorrow.

They do seem to be a bit wary of drinking water. I’ve read goats are very finicky about this and have kept the water clean, but they take no more than a few sips at a time, and even that’s pretty rare. They do know it’s there though... but don’t seem very interested. Tonight, when I went to check on them, the water had barely gone down at all from when I changed it in the morning. I suppose that’s unusual, especially with the hay they’re eating.

I will update tomorrow. Thank you again.
 

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What is their current fencing? Do you have photos?

Certainly they cannot be locked up for that much time, if you really do need to change the fence, how about doing the fencing on the outside of your current fence and then taking down the old fence once it is done?

No, definitely not, minerals should not be mixed in with grain. Anyone else on the forum will surely tell you that. The only exception is supplemental minerals, such as a product called TruCare4 or other brands which you probably aren't familiar with. These are given as feed top dressings, but still require a free choice loose mineral blend to be offered. I have a feeling what you have is not one of those, and is an all-rounded loose mineral, in which case it should most definitely absolutely not be mixed in with food. So when you get a chance, try and provide a label of the guaranteed analysis and ingredients, and I should be able to easily tell you if it can be fed free choice.

As for the grain, I am sure you haven't given dangerously large amounts, so of course there is still time to adjust as to not continue making the same mistake. It is fixable, quite easily.

If you aren't fully aware of hard water being present, which most who have it are, then I would say to go ahead and feed alfalfa pellets, unless of course you are feeding alfalfa hay. The hay type I am asking about, means usually either grass hay like orchard grass, and other grasses, or legume hay like alfalfa.

As for water, water intake is really important especially for male goats. You may want to try to encourage drinking by offering loose salt, a good high quality brand like Redmond https://www.amazon.com/Redmond-Crushed-Loose-Mineral-Horses/dp/B00LI8D69A

Or a salt lick if that is all you can get. Either loose salt or salt licks are left out free choice all the time for the goats to consume at their chosen rate. This encourages water consumption.

Another thing that may encourage water consumption is adding raw apple cider vinegar to their water. Try this in only one bucket, leave one pure in case for some reason they don't like it. But usually this encourages more drinking, and has health benefits as well.

Taking a temp (and any sort of forceful action that involves catching a goat) can be traumatic. Make sure to get someone, or multiple people, to help you. Be confident with the goat, and gentle, move quickly but don't rush. Get a good read with a digital thermometer like the ones for humans. But make sure this is designated as a goat one once you use it lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi!

I will send some photos of the fencing today, if that would be alright?

Annoyingly enough, I have contacted the farmer, since the mineral he provided is in a plain bag, and he told me to contact the website he gets them off and ask which mineral would be best, so I cannot give you any information.
It would take a while (a few days, at least) for the website to send the mineral, and I will be emailing them to ask which of the stock they recommend, or going in to a shop on island to see if anything is available.

Is there a specific mineral you would recommend?
Just to clarify, this is a loose mineral, not a block? Should I provide this in a dish, and how much would be most suitable?

I bought a bag of goat feed a few days ago, before I was aware this was unsuitable, and it says to feed 0.4kg a day. Is this for does then and unsuitable for wethers? I asked the farmer, and he admitted he hasn’t kept any wethers long term, so he doesn’t know.

As for the water, quite a bit was drunk over night, and they seem more interested now. I will keep this in mind for any future problems though.

I saw some coughing today, and I think I will need to take the goat’s temperature and inform the farmer. Hopefully, if I can find help, I will do so soon.
I filmed the coughing, but I’m unsure if I can post on the forum, or if that would be ok?

Thank you for your help. I’m sorry for burdening you.
 

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Lol you are NOT burdening me! I am super happy to help!

Yes, please send the photos of the fencing and a video if the coughing, you should be able to post videos on here.

May I have the link to the website the farmer gets the minerals off of?

Well, I can definitely suggest my favorite mixes, but I am unsure as to what is available where you are located. My favorite blends are Sweetlix Meat Maker 16:8, and Purina Wind & Rain Cattle Mineral. I will do some research and try to determine if these mixes or any other good ones are available by you. Are there any livestock supplies websites that you currently can order from?

Yes, a loose mineral not a block. You can put it in a dish or a mineral feeder such as THIS ONE or THIS ONE or anything similar really. Put out enough to fill whatever feeder or bowl you have, and then watch the consumption. If your goats don't eat a lot of it, then you won't have to fill as much in. You don't want it to go empty and to be finished by them, that means you need to give them more. Don't be stingy or nervous, minerals are supposed to be left out al the time for the goats to consume as much as they need.

I never follow the directions of a feed bag unless they say it is medicated. I won't use medicated feed, but if you do you have to feed at the correct rate. For your boys, you can give them a small handful a day for them to nibble as a treat. But to their diet, feed means absolutely nothing to them. In the long run alfalfa pellets are a better sustained diet for wethers, in most situations. Still wondering your type of hay, if possible :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Thank you, I just feel bad about asking so many questions.

I have tried to upload pictures of the fencing. Not sure if it will work. Some, particularly around the vegetables, are weak. (Where all those boards are) I could put them in one of the paddocks for now, but I'm worried about them escaping into another field.
The website link:
I suspect the farmer gave me the ordinary caprivite, though I'm not sure. Is this an all around goat mineral? Unsure if there's anything better on the website.

Honestly, I've been very worried about the food. I'm just about to see if there are any goat minerals at stores on island, but I doubt it. Hopefully the people managing the website get back to me soon.

I will need to give the hay information later. I know it's a meadow variety though.

Thank you again, and here's the coughing video. He usually coughs three or four times, but I only got the end. I keep getting errors when I upload, so hopefully everything sends.
 

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Can you email it to me? [email protected] if you really want to!

Hopefully you have local livestock feed stores. If so, ask if they carry any goat cattle or equine minerals. If they do, take a photo of label and post it here.

That fence doesn't look to bad to me, if they have been in it and haven't escaped yet it is probably fine.
 

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The OP lives in the UK. So the diet and minerals are very different than here.

The 2 handfuls of goat feed is fine because their main diet should be hay and grazing. You can add vegetables to their diet too. I believe you don't have the ability to get copper boluses and other supplements so you may have to look into what vegetables will add copper and selenium.
 

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Hey, Fool! Are you a fan of the A-Team?
Welcome to the forum!:cowboy:
It looks like the briars and brambles on the other side of the fence will sure get some attention from your goats. That is their preferred food.
 

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Welcome to the forum! It's beautiful where you live.
If you're giving your boys grain it's ok as long as you don't over do it. There will be as many opinions as to the proper way to raise goats as there are days in a year. You will figure out what works best for you, we all have gone through the learning process. On you tube there's a group called the BrittishGoatSociety (one word) that offers great advice for folks In Your area. It might be worth a look.
Anyway, your fence doesn't look too bad, one thing you could do is run a hot wire at the top to discourage jumping. Goats by nature are escape artists but personally I've found that happy content goats don't tend to wander off.
Good luck with your boys, it's a great adventure being a goat parent.
 

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Your fences don't look too bad on the whole and so long as your wethers are contented and well-fed they should stay with you. As Dwarf Dad said though the briars and brambles on the other side of the fence in one of the photos could prove attractive to them! So far as minerals are concerned, we feed our AN's the Pat Coleby mix, plus we add apple cider vinegar to their water and they have ad-lib access to Himalayan salt blocks.

I hope it's OK to say this but is it possible for you to change from 'Fool' to something nicer? You're not a fool by any stretch of the imagination - you have questions, want to learn and are in the right spot to do so. That disqualifies you from being a 'Fool' !!!

camooweal
 
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