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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've got a couple of young goats here that I'm concerned about. I'm not used to dairy goats, I've always had feral/boer crosses, and I'm very much afraid I may have made some mistakes judging from that different experience (and some possibly misguided advice) and stunted their growth without knowing it.

One is a year old british alpine buck. I got him when he was three months old, he was underweight. The place he came from had no grass left worth talking about.

I popped him in a decent paddock and he put on weight. To me he still looked underweight, but I was advised that dairy goats are more lanky than meat goats, and that being a growing goat he'd be lankier still, so I didn't
worry too much and looking at a body condition scoring chart he was probably close to ok - and he stopped putting on weight so fast at that point anyway.

When he was about 6 months old he started scouring, I don't know why, he didn't appear to respond to worming, eventually I stopped the scours and then had to put all that weight back on him as he had lost a lot.

He got his weight back and seemed fine. When he was 9 months old, a visitor (who used to farm dairy goats) took a look at him and said he was tiny, that he was the size of a 4 month old, this was news to me ... it must be
that my ferals grow very slowly comparatively speaking as he appeared to be growing at a normal rate to me. She also said he was very copper deficient and that was likely to be why.

I've had him on copper supplements ever since, he immediately got a lot healthier, turned blacker, and has steadily gained weight. He's also grown, he's 3 inches taller according to my tape measure (personally I can't see it) and
in the last month in particular he has had a growth spurt of one inch in four weeks. I've determined to get him up to what I think is a healthy weight not what the books say, as that still looks too skinny to me.

He's now a year old, or nearly 13 months, and still nowhere near full size, which again I'm accustomed to from my old goats but I'm given to understand that its anything but normal for a dairy goat.

He's currently 27" high at the withers. He weighs about 80-85 pound according to a tape on heart girth.

He's on good pasture, and putting on weight and growing right now, and his minerals are finally in order, but I'm wondering how much chance he still has of growing to a normal size?

I'd wanted to stud him one day, he's a pedigree, and a waste of his genes to only cover my 3 girls, but if he's small he's not really going to be presentable as a stud, although obviously his genetics would be fine but I wouldn't
want to be presenting a small buck for service.


The other is a saanen/nubian cross doe. She is 16 months old according to quoted age when I purchased her 9 months ago. Again I thought she as underweight, she put on weight as soon as I got her on some good pasture, and has grown. She was lacking in cooper too, and has been supplemented. She responded similarly.

Thing is, if the boy is undersize, she must be too, she hasn't been commented on but I've more or less not mentioned her age.

I've always before waited for my goats to be about 1-1/2 years old before breeding them. However when advised that 10 months was plenty, and that in fact she'd develop better as a milker not left too long, I bred her
younger than I normally like to, although not until she was a full year old as I just wasn't comfortable with that.

I'm now regretting it bitterly ... she hasn't finished growing, she's still at the same body condition she was before breeding (which is to say I think she needs more weight on her), and she's due to kid in a month.

She is 28" tall, and weighs around 95-100 pounds according to weight tape. I'd also comment that her winter coat (I'm in the southern hemisphere) seems very sluggish to shed off.

Is there any chance she will continue to grow later? Should I take the kid off her and let her dry off? Should I miss breeding her again this next year to let her catch up?

If she stays small, how badly will her potential be effected? I'm guessing she wouldn't be a good milker with less reserves to see her through?


I can't afford hard feed for them ... the plan was with the milking goats, understanding that they can't be expected to produce miracles without hard feed, that I'd only milk after the kids were finished and wouldn't expect high yields then, only milk to what they could handle without losing condition. I was also thinking in the long run I'd look at growing some crops for them as well ... lucerne, buckwheat, stuff like that, but haven't had a chance to start those yet.

But that plan has been thrown off by a mineral deficiency which has apparently stunted a couple of my young stock ... now I don't know what to do to help them through.
 

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Sounds like they probably had coccidia too. Did you ever treat for that?

They probably need selenium as well if you are in a selenium deficient area.

Hard to say about them growing to full potential. They may or may not. The female will have a harder time with being pregnant.
 

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We breed ours at 7 or 8 months. It seems like when we do this, they are built better for breeding later. It's like their hips were able to grow wider than the ones who are not bred at that age. They seem to have easier deliveries. Our does always continue growing and none are stunted compared to those who have not bred.

I would let the kids stay with their mama until 2 weeks, then separate them at night, milk her in the morning and let them be together again until bedtime. Just milk her out in the morning, she will have enough for the kids throughout the day.

I guess if it were me, I would not worry a lot about their size compared to other goats if they are healthy, getting proper food and minerals and seem happy. They should grow to their full potential if the above conditions are met, and if they turn out a little on the small side, will it really matter a lot? Maybe their parents were on the small side and it's genetic. I'm not sure, but I would try not to stress about it, and just keep taking good care of them. It sounds like you are doing a great job. :)
 

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The buck has a very good chance of growing to normal size. He should put on a lot of growth over the summer. The doeling should catch up a lot. She may not get completely there because of being bred. You might consider milking her through next year rather then rebreeding her.

When I found Bean, he was a tiny little pipsqueak in a 12x12 pen of mud with a dirty pile of hay in the middle to eat. He was right around a year old and was about 70lbs.
He was brought home and wormed, bolused, started grains, etc. When he was 2 he weighed about 175 and I was afraid he was going to be small. Now, at 3 years old, he is 240 and still growing. He is not quite as tall as my other Saanen wether but, is stockier. I think he has caught up to his potential at this point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Oh thats much better news than I expected!

So Bernie will probably be fine he just needs a bit more time ... and his current growth spurt is a good sign there I think.

And I was right to be more concerned about Leia ... but she's still got time to catch up a bit if all goes well. I was worried she might be past the age where she'd have the chance to grow again.

So milking her a bit will be ok then? Thats good news I was concerned I'd have to take the kids and hand raise them off another goats milk to give her a rest!

I have got them on selenium recently (that effects growth as well? ouch its ganging up on me!) ... but haven't found vitamin E to go with it yet, and I don't know how effective it really is without it in combination? I'm on the hunt for it anyway ... although all I can find is that intended for horses or humans ... the horse stuff comes in 10 kg lots (EEEEK - I haven't got a herd of buffalo to feed!) and the humans stuff is a terrible price. Vets are notoriously unhelpful without doing a full health check first and charging accordingly.

I'd like to find what has vitamin e in it that I can introduce to their diet for a natural long term solution to the balance ...
 

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You can kill two birds with one stone here. If Swiss Chard is available in seed and will grow in your area. It is high in vitamin E and will temporarily replace Lucerne in their diet. I'm working with it now and my results have been very encouraging. Spinach greens are even higher in vitamin E but, shouldn't be fed to pregnant does without spritzing a bit of vinegar on the leaves.
 

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Black oil sunflower seeds are high in both vit E and selenium. Not sure if they're available in your area though.
This truly depends on the soil they are grown on. BOSS grown almost anywhere in the US have very little Selenium anymore. Definitely don't rely on them as a supplement anyway...Grains uptake differently than greens.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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When it comes to your animals, dont let numbers or ages dictate how you breed them. Animals with slow / stunted starts should not be considered the same way. Because they start stunted they are going to need much longer to catch up and the stress of growing kids can slow them down even more. It can also effect the quality of kids they produce. Its a little late for that but at the height and weight you said, she should be ok if you are supplementing her with quality feed. I cant think of anything better then alfalfa to help her grow the kids and put on some weight herself. Great that you did copper, how is your selenium? Do you do loose minerals? If so whats the ppm on the selenium? Selenium is essential for growing good strong kids. Low levels often cause still births or low birth weight and sickly kids.

Now it sounds like you have done a pretty good job on taking care of them. The only suggestion I can add, if you havent already is some high protein quality hay/alfalfa. Even a flake every other day would make a big difference. Goats keep growing till they are at least 3 years of age so you have lots of time to help them develop. The buck should in another year be of decent size and you shouldnt have to worry about him. The doe, with this kidding may be a bit harder to grow but again, you are on the right path. Id suggest drying her off as soon as the kids are weaned so that she can start putting that energy back into growing.

To give you some kind of idea about the growth gap between yours and top end of a dairy goats typical growth. Here ours are a bit larger then normal but by 1 year old our does are usually 110-140 lbs. Dont raise bucks but our pack wethers get much larger. Legion was 145 lbs at 10 months old and at 18 months he is well over 200 lbs. Again, these are a bit larger then typical sizes but gives you an idea of a dairy goats potential growth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Swiss Chard I can do, or grow at short notice anyway ... it only takes a short while to flourish.

I can get BOSS, its readily available, but New Zealand soil doesn't have that impresive a selenium count at the best of times so I'd expect it to be pretty low in content ... although undoubtedly higher than other plants from same soil!

I can do hay, but right now I think I can do considerably better as I have a crop of red clover (35% protein) growing which I'll be getting to them. Funny thing they don't touch it most times, but if they need protein (or something) they crave it. I hear that its got copper too.

Thanks for those weights that gives me a good idea how much I still need to get onto them ... not as much as I thought it might but still plenty to go on them. The lowest of your doe weights is only 10 pounds above Leia now ... although shes a bit more than a year but still I should be able to get 10 pounds on her over the next few months ... the boy gained that in the last month!

The boy has more to go ... but hes doing better than her now so thats not so bad.

Haven't got them on a loose mineral lick ... I tried them on some and they didn't like it! Couldn't convince them to touch it ... the only thing they'll lick is one type of block salt (the pink 'himalayan' crystal salt) which I can't beleive has much mineral content, or that they can get enough off it to call a supplement. So I've got the minerals separate, and I'm giving them all worked out in doses that I pop down their throat twice a week. It works ... their health is much better and at least I know they're getting what they should.

And yes I've determined that from now on I take the "eye of the master" addage literally, and whatever anyone says about age and "they'll keep growing through pregnancy" or "she's better off bred younger to develop as a milker than getting too fat" I'm not breeding anyone till I think its the right time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Oh and PS ... the op is a "She" :))!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've got them on a supplement of selenium, sodium selenate, it just that it doesn't include vitamin E and I'm not sure how effective the selenium can be without it? Which is why I'm looking for something that would have V E ... (if it has selenium as well that would be a bonus though!)
 
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