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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My husband and I are first time goat owners and really want to maximize our goat's growth potential. What should we feed in order to accomplish lots of healthy size and growth?

Right now we feed free choice hay (1 flake lasts about 24 hours) and about 5 cups of goat ration with millenium gold supplements. Is there something else we should change or add to their diet? I measured them today at 28 inches around the girth making them about 70 - 80lbs at 8-9 months old. My wether's sire and dam were supposedly around 200lbs for the sire and 170 for the dam.

Thanks for your imput!! :)
 

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Hey there, welcome to the forum! Where do you live in Alaska? Some friends of mine live in Homer and sent me a picture of some hay bales for sale there for $25/bale. I hope you can get it cheaper than that!

I highly recommend Carolyn Eddy's book Diet for Wethers. It is very in depth, and near the back it has sample diets from packgoat breeders, including diets for growing youngsters. I look at those descriptions frequently, to make sure I'm feeding my guys right as they grow up.

Love the pics and video- those are some stalwart goats, climbing out on the ice to follow you!

Ali
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Ali, I love these two little guys. The video shows the second time across the river - the first time across they were scared to get onto the ice to jump down, so I helped them down and they hopped right in behind me. :) I just hope they keep on growing! We were hoping for 150-200lbs per goat. Do you think that the Alpine wether at 8 months and the Togg/Saanen/Alpine doe at 8 1/2 to 9 months will still gain some good height and weight?

I'll definitely look into that book!
 

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Yes they will grow a bunch in the next couple of years!!! I have 2 alpine boys who are only 11 months old and they get bigger everyday!!!

Jayme_Alaska said:
Thanks Ali, I love these two little guys. The video shows the second time across the river - the first time across they were scared to get onto the ice to jump down, so I helped them down and they hopped right in behind me. :) I just hope they keep on growing! We were hoping for 150-200lbs per goat. Do you think that the Alpine wether at 8 months and the Togg/Saanen/Alpine doe at 8 1/2 to 9 months will still gain some good height and weight?

I'll definitely look into that book!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
That's great to hear! Thanks salmonfisher. I'm so new to owning goats that I have no idea what to expect growth rate wise. I know they keep growing/filling out until they're 4, but I'm not sure when they reach their max height.
 

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Hello,

goats grow until they are 4 years old, some even until 4.

The biggest growth spurt is in the first year for height, but they'll do considerable growing in the next years, too. Height and, not to forget, width and length.

The doe most likely will not reach 150 lbs. Does stay smaller than bucks or wethers, about 1/3 smaller. So her reaching 120-130 lbs should be expected.

Don't overfeed them or push them to grow too fast. Bone is a slow reacting material, if you push it, you can get structural weakness (joints, f.e.). And the internal organs need time to adapt to the growing body, as well.

If you like, take a look at the following thread:

viewtopic.php?f=23&t=657

This buckling developed this problem last summer and I still have to stay on top of it. I think, that among other things, his height and weight and the rate he grew, contributed to this problem. He weighs about 170 lbs. right now, age 1,5 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you Sanhestar,

I definitely don't want to force them to grow too quickly. I saw how crooked your goat's leg was! It's amazing what some extra TLC can do to improve that.

Alaska hay could probably be considered bedding or thin straw compared to the rest of the united states, I've added some alfalfa pellets about 1/2 a cup into their feed. Do you think that will be ok?

Jayme
 

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My boys get NO alfalfa or Corn products! I give them a cup of goat chow every 3rd day when there hoofs get treated. I worry about bladder issues with my boys! I am not sure if I am doing the right thing so I just ordered "Diets for weathers" , by some crazy goat lady!!! HE HE :D Good Luck!!!

Jayme_Alaska said:
Thank you Sanhestar,

I definitely don't want to force them to grow too quickly. I saw how crooked your goat's leg was! It's amazing what some extra TLC can do to improve that.

Alaska hay could probably be considered bedding or thin straw compared to the rest of the united states, I've added some alfalfa pellets about 1/2 a cup into their feed. Do you think that will be ok?

Jayme
 

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Crazy goat lady is right. I never thought my niche would be feeding and caring for male goats. Below 12 months it's better to give kids a little grain every day as long as they don't get fat. They need a steady suppply of both calcium and phosphorus when they are growing that fast.
After that you can cut back to every other or every third day and then a couple times a week. After they finish their two year old growth spurt it's time to cut it out completely and only feed it if they are working hard or they are losing condition. Be sure if you feed grain you also feed a calciium rich supplement like alfalfa.
 

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I think alfalfa pellets are just alfalfa that's been ground up very fine, wetted, extruded into pellets, and dried. I was told that if you feed the same weight of pellets as you would baled hay, it's the same thing.

My three goats will be 5 years old in March. They are Saanen (230 lb), Saanen x Oberhasli (210 lb) and Oberhasli (180 lb). I think they quit growing tall, and just added bone mass and muscle the last 2 years. During their first year I fed them some ordinary 3 way sweet feed grain mix, plus grass/alfalfa hay. Since then it's been just grass/alfalfa hay. I should say that's what half of their diet has been. The other half is wild browse (juniper, oak brush, pine, weeds of all kinds, mistletoe, and yucca). I take them out almost daily to fill their bellies on this stuff. I think that is why they have thrived so well. What they go for each day varies. Some days it's juniper and yucca. Other days it's oak brush and last year's dried up weeds. They always love mistletoe. I think their own bodies tell them what they need, and if they can, that's what they go for. They are very healthy and vigorous, and never sick. And the walking and climbing around, up and down the rocky hills, eating all kinds of things gives them (and me) some good exercise, too.

There are a few places I take them camping where they can't find enough varied browse to eat. These are places where it's just pine trees and grass (good cattle and elk country, but not good goat country). In those places I supplement their diet with some alfalfa pellets. I like alfalfa pellets because they are compact, concentrated, and easy to store in my goat trailer.

If I were in Alaska I think I would encourage my goats to eat whatever moose eat. I am assuming that moose are browsers and like all kinds of brushy, weedy stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Jross - Where in the world did you find such large goats?? We really wanted large (200lbs+) goats but I'm not sure how big our wether will get - I'm praying for 170, but he's around 75 pounds at 8 months.... I'm not sure that's much of a sign of a future huge goat :p How much did your boys weigh at 8-9 months old?

When we take them out on walks and hikes, they love the dead leaves and pine needles from trees.
 

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I got them from a dairy/packgoat breeder. Two of my boys are Saanen, and that's what makes them so big. Your wether should get to 180 lb+ if you really pour the feed to him when he's young. I don't remember how big mine were at 8 months. But yours will really grow over the next three years (if you feed them well).

I think it's very cool that you guys are taking the goats out for hikes, river crossings, etc. even in the snow and cold. That's the most important thing for making them good packgoats. Every time you go out with them both they, and you, learn something and everybody gets stronger.

When the weather warms up and all those trees and brush you have turn green the goats will really chow down on it.
They love trees. I would let them eat a lot of that stuff. That's what they will be eating when they go for pack trips anyway. You sure won't be packing hay and grain for them.

Good luck and welcome to the forum!!!

Here are some pics of my boys taken this past September.

Pinto, the big guy.


Moose, the little guy:


The three of them, plus my wife and cousin (on the mule):
 

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Hello,

as already often said: "size doesn't make the packgoat - attitude does"

A big, lazy goat is of no use for packing. If your goats stay smaller but have the will to work, stamina and a friendly temperament - be glad.
 

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ryorkies said:
I am not sure feeding up a young goat so they grow
bigger faster is a good Idea.

Just seems to me that that could cause bone problems.

Maybe I am wrong.
I may be wrong too, but I think that if they don't grow when they are young, they aren't going to grow at all. Why is it any different than raising children? Well fed children grow better than those who aren't. I don't mean to feed them some kind of super hi tech stuff. Just plenty of protein, calcium, etc. Good hay, some grain, and lots of wild browse.
 

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I was just thinking of the large dog breeds.
Where you do not want them growing too fast.

You also do not want to stunt the growth.

But as you said. Just like people. Some have
growth spurts at younger ages.

I agree with sanhester. Temperment
and stamina are more important than
size. My nigerian has a lot of stamina.
I would pack her if she had been bottle
fed. She is not freindly. Only tolerates
me touching her. LOL
She is built like a working goat.
Goes everywhere the bigger goats go
and has more stamina.
I bet she could pack 20 lbs. LOL
 

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jross said:
I may be wrong too, but I think that if they don't grow when they are young, they aren't going to grow at all.
not completely correct. I stumbled over a study about growth patterns in sheep a while back and the effect of correct nutrition compared to longer periods of malnurishment in lambs under one year old.

If the malnurishment is countered with nutrition that covers the need of the lamb, the lamb will make up for the stunt in growth. These lambs will either put on a hugh growth spurt or continue to grow longer than "normal" lambs of the same age. Meaning, if a normal fed sheep (or goat) would stop growing when 3 or 4 years old, some of the lambs that underwend these periods of malnutrition would grow several years longer until they reached their genetically pre-determined maximum height.

Provided that they wouldn't experience malnutrition over longer periods again and being allowed to live long enough.
 
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