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It seems its cold across the entire country right now. I've got a few calls from concerned owners and wondered what everyone was doing to help with the cold. I make sure they have a dry place to get out of the wind and feed as much hay as they want when its this cold. I also put some old hay or straw on the floor as well so they can snuggle up in it. Of course we have water heaters in all the tanks but thats about it. They're pretty hardy critters! After awhile you can start to guess the temperature by how puffy they look.

Hair laying flat = "its not too bad out."
Hair up a little = "better wear a hat and some gloves outside to feed."
Hair standing on end like a big puffball = "darn, I hope the PU starts....."
 

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I asked this very question a few weeks ago on the Yahoo list. I'm feeding extra hay and a small grain ration (Locally mixed 12% protein sweet mix - 2:1 max balanced cal/phos, lots of minerals to which I add a bit of extra unIodized salt and 1/4 tsp amonium chloride and a bit of olive oil), the boys simply love this stuff.

I put a 5" layer of wood chips on the barn floor near the "sleeping corner" and pile the dropped hay on top and fluff it for them twice daily. I also built a sleeping platform that's about 18" off the floor and filled with 4" of dry wood shavings. They seem to use this more during the day. Plus... the boys are wearing fleece lined coats from Terri and Rex.

I still see them occasionally shiver, generally on the below zero mornings... but that quickly goes away after they glug down their morning juice... hot Country Time Lemonaid mixed lightly ...1/2 gallon each with Probiotic added. This dissapears in about 10 seconds and all you can hear is a noise like a vaccuum as they drink it. I also give them three buckets of hot water, morning, evening... the last at bed time when they get their grain. After eating the grain they really hoover that bucket down, salt and mineras make them thirsty. They don't have too much time to get cold locked in their barn at night as they seem to be too busy peeing :lol:
 

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Hi Mike,

I wouldn't give the grain in the evening. There's a goat research station in Switzerland that did tests on goats a few years back, taking body temperature und listing rumen activity before and after certain kinds of foot. After giving grain the body temperature dropped about 1-2 °C and the rumen got less active for quite some time. To regain that missing degrees of body temperature during the night when it's already cold outside will cost the goat in my opinion more energy than given by the grain.

I give sunflower seeds, enough high quality hay, warm water twice daily (or more often) and if needs be (no quality hay available or want to add a more diverse source of rough fiber) pressed hay pellets.
 

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Extra, or better quality hay helps raise the rumen temp and warm the body while it is digesting. Grain does not. Sabine is right. Also if you give a little extra fat in the form of sunflower seeds it will raise their weight a little and help them stay warmer.

Extra straw bedding insulates them from the cold since the straw is hollow and holds heat.
 

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I also found that the extra fat from the sunflower seeds will give the coat a better quality. The better the coat the better the insulation against cold and wet weather.
 

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Shelter, food and water, they are good to go.

Free choice hay, water heaters in the tanks and extra bedding in the shelter = happy goats. Well maybe not on all days, but I don't like the real cold stuff either.

I'm always amazed by the winter hair coats, thick and long and a puff ball on the cold days. Wouldn't wearing coats impead the growth of their hair coats, much like a blanketed horse?? With adequate shelter they shouldn't need coats on a everyday basis. Seems they adjust to "winter mode" quite well once they get by the first cold snap.

I recall a blizzard a few years back, for two days, all I could do was look out the window of the house and watch the goats shelter and pen dissappear under the relentless blowing snow, no goats ever seen. Finally, we awoke to the clear and calm that arrives once the storm has passed. I made my way to their shelter and started to dig. Once the door opened up, out started popping goats, keep them dry and out out the wind, they can survive some serious winter weather.
 

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I really hope you weren't serious about the bed fluffing, hot lemonade, superwonder mineral supplements etc. Coating your goats all the time is unecessary and is probably bad for them as it will retard proper winter hair coat production..... Notice how show horses are housed in the winter with blankets to keep them from becomming so fuzzy. Coats are useful when you take animals from the low country in the fall to high backcountry, that can all of a sudden go to a cold and or wet weather situation they are not used to. Then by all means coat the goats.

If they have dry bedded shelter, good quality forage, clean open water to drink they will do fine.
Shivering is a god programmed method for animals to generate body heat in addition to the fermentation process going on in their rumen as forage breaks down. We equilibrate the shivering with ourselves which with the evolution(creation) of our brains and cothing wearing society we don't have the hair coat(most of us) for insulating and we also lack the particular muscles that do alot of the shivering. Therfore we are not so good at it. Most range cows do just fine over the winter with just good forage and water. Goats are not extremely far off as a whole. We tend to humanize our animals and equilibrate our wants and needs with them, we tend to kill them with kindness many times.
Ammonium chloride supplementation may or not be of a benefit depending on many factors, its probably ok in WI. Unless you have predator issues leave the goats a chance to go outiside at night, they may actually pee outside, but its probably doubtful. Mine seem to seek out fresh bedding to mess up as soon as I scoop the barn grr.
 

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There has been some evidence that there is good reason to feed warm water to wethers and bucks when the weather is cold. According to Dr Steven Hart and other vets keeping the water consumption up by providing extra salt and more palatable water reduces the incidence of urinary calculi.

Other than that, you need to learn your goats. Every goat will tell you if they need extra blanketing or extra feed. The only goat I blanket in the cold at home is my geriatric wether who has problems with holding weight, despite having been gone over with a fine tooth comb by my vet and having extensive dental work. He just gets cold.

A little extra hay will help with keeping body temps up and a little extra straw in the pen won't hurt anything and might make them more comfortable.

But, the only goats I've seen with hypothermia have been either taken up to high elevations where it was much colder in the summer than they were used to and then gotten rained on, or ones that get wet and have to stay in a draft while drying. Both of these situations call for a blanket.

But we are dealing with companion animals and not livestock so it hurts nothing to add a little creature comforts to their lives. After all, they are working for us.
 

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@cowdr:

I provide warm water, extra bedding and a dry shelter to all of my goats and none of them is pampered or doesn't develop a proper winter coat. In fact, they are exposed to outside temperatures (weather if they chose to) 365 days 24/7. It's almost impossible not to grow a coat that fits the weather under that circumstances.

That notwithstanding - as I force them to stay in one location f.e. during a snow storm and can't give them the opportunity to move to a more sheltered, less colder area I have the responsibility to do what I can for them so they can withstand the weather better. We don't have the low temperatures some of you already experience, yet but in January we will have, when the arctic, dry winds from Russia will set in.

I think, all of the people who post here, keep their goats healthy, robust working (and companion) animals and not "unfit" show animals.
 

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Thanks for the tip on feeding grain at night ! I did some additional research with the UW ruminant (goat) specialist and you are 100 % correct. I have altered the timing and manner of feeding the grain to better fit their needs. And the coat thing may have merit.... but mine only wear coats when the temps are experiencing extreme swings... not all the time. Like Rex's goats, they look like porcupines with or without a coat when it's "that" cold.

I do give the goats warm water with some lemonade in it. They like it and it encourages them to take a "big" drink right away... before their water freezes solid (no power for bucket heaters at the goat house yet). They also get a larger bucket of warm to hot water 3 times daily... lots of H2O is never a bad thing.

Further, I plead guilty to "fluffing" their bedding. I want to make sure it isn't wet and/or frozen to the floor. In my twisted mind I figure they may find the softer looser hay more comfortable.

I fully understand my actions are thought to be foolish by some people. When I first got my two Oberhasli boys last summer, I went over to a large Boer meat goat operation in my County to find out who a "goat" Veteranarian might be in our area. I explained to the owner that I had two dairy goat bucks and that when they got older would need a Vet to castrate them and asked questions on winter shelters. I also told him that I was going to use the wethers for pack animals and pets. What I received in reply was a stare, a head shake, and "Why would anyone want a wether ? Are you nuts ? We have well over 100 goats, no shelter is needed except a few dog houses... and the goats do just fine. Of course there is the expected attrition which is around 20% of the kids and youngstock... but hey, these are meat goats.They are only going to be around 6 months to a year anyway." Nice...

I fully understand the "farmer" attitude towards livestock. It's a business...

I also realize that animals are considered "tools" by some people.... break a tool, just get another. K9 handler trainees are told that constantly... "...the dog is expendible, it's just a tool". You know, I never met a dog handler that actually believed that... I know I didn't.

In short, like anything... different strokes for different folks. I know I have lots to learn about goats. I will continue to try to care for my goats as my conscience, ethics, available cash and good practice permits. I appreciate all the help members of this forum and the Yahoo list have provided so far.

I'm a bit touchy about animal care... it's in my genes :oops:
 

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One of the primary reasons to fluff the hay or straw is that the insulation value of dry pile "fluffed" bedding is higher than if it's wet or matted. Straw is a tube and holds air so keeping it in condition makes the bedding perform more efficiently.
 

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We're finally going to get a break in the brutal cold, what a stretch for this time of year.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to check the goats, and found one little fella was falling behind with the cold. We got this fella as a rescue, born late and not ready for winter. Our home isnt' set up for goats in the house, but my wife met me at the door as I carried him to the house.

Where to keep a goat in the house?? Found out our main foor shower works very well, and easy clean up. Four hours of blankets, warm fluids and he was up and hungry. By morning we are back to a fully active goat that's heading back to be with the herd, thankfully on a day that's 30 degrees warmer. He's now enrolled in the special treatment program.
 

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My goat have been in below Zero for several weeks now and seem to crave willows even more than Christmas trees. I can't force sweet cob mix on them ( I have now fed this to the chickens). Alfalfa/grass hay is also a hot commodity.

These goats are new to me and am wondering what else I can try as a treat food for new tricks and good behavior? I have heard that there is not as much protein in the Teton (WY/ID) alfalfa, is this true?

For know hay and pine are doing the trick but this a hard to carry around. All goats are 2.5-7 years. I think the ober/ alpine crosses (Carolyn eddy's) are still growing a bit. The cold doesn't seem to bother them in the least, and they love to go hiking and sledding on the snowmobile trails.

brady
 

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· Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Protein would be judged farm to farm as seed and fertilizer would be the main factors. Then what year / cutting and so on. Also if its straight alfalfa or if there are weeds or other plants. But protein is more about care and management then anything else (as far as I know). I am not a grower but know a bit about hay. Things like lron, Selenium and other minerals would be more soil / area based. We get our hay from Huntining Oregon area and its very high in protein but thats because its managed perfectly.

As for keeping goaties warm in the winter... sounds like everyone is working way to hard! Just bring em in to the house at night! :) hehe. But really, we dont get but an average of 2-4 weeks of sub freezing temps. With maybe a week of single digit temps. So farm this winter, this last week was the coldest and we had to disconnect the auto waters and put the heaters into the waters. Lowest temp over the last week was maybe 20 with highs around 29 for the week. An ultra light winter so far with minimal snow (4"-6") total snow fall. Today it warmed up enough to melt the night befores freezing rain and its still pretty warm out there now at... holy crap, says its 49 degrees... but the wind is going to start up and last the next 3 days. Should help dry out everything though. So a weeks worth a warmer and windy conditions on the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
The microbes in a goats stomach generate heat as they break down roughage so it is natural for a goat to migrate toward coarse feed in cold weather. They'll be more eager for the high protein grain when it warms again and they start their next growth spurt. For treats, try salted peanuts in the shell. Goats love anything salty and the peanuts are relatively cheap.
 
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