This page summarizes the most important things we’ve learned over the last 12 years and will help you understand the commitment involved (and if you’re ready for it), and how to prepare for welcoming home goats (there's a lot to do).
We love our goats, but they’re an expensive, time-consuming hobby. Goats are hardy, but it takes A LOT of time and effort to keep a truly healthy herd of Nigerian Dwarfs. After 12 years, we’re still learning (many times the hard way). Goats live 12-15 years, so they’re a long-term commitment much like a pet dog. We try to place goats in their forever homes so please be sure you’re ready for the responsibility before you sign on.
For so many reasons, if you're going to raise goats, you need a large-animal vet. Goats need many supplements and medications that are Rx only. And they DO get sick. A goat rumen (4-chambered stomach) is an incredibly sophisticated digestive system. It doesn’t take much to throw it off, and goats can get very sick very quickly for many different reasons. Unlike the family dog, you can’t just throw a goat in the car and take it to a 24/7 emergency clinic if they’re acutely sick (well, you can visit either Tufts Emergency location but it will cost you $1,000 - $2,000 to walk through the door). I can promise that within the first year of owning your goats you will have multiple occasions to need a vet’s advice, treatment, and medicines. So get established with a vet as soon as you bring your goats home. Very few vets with brick & mortar practices make farm calls (or have any significant experience with ruminants), so you will need to find and sign on with a mobile large-animal vet who sees horses, cows, sheep, goats, and alpacas/llamas. You should plan to have your vet over twice/year for regular check-ups. And when you have an emergency, your vet will take your calls, help you by phone if possible, or schedule an emergency farm visit if needed. The large animal vets in eastern MA are overworked and simply don’t have the time to take calls from strangers with emergencies, so if you get into a pickle and don’t have a vet, you’ll be on your own in terms of diagnosis and treatment. Plan for about an $80 call charge, with exam and meds added to that. For a wellness check, you should plan to spend $125-$150 twice/year. My vet, Dr. Karin Kaczorowski, is a goat specialist (and owns goats as well) based in Marshfield, MA (South Shore). She sees clients as far south as the Cape, Tiverton/Little Compton RI, and as far west as Attleboro. Her practice is called KMVS (Karin's Mobile Veterinary Service). She’s a mobile full-service vet (including simple surgeries). Her customized truck stocks everything she needs. Her cell is (617) 653-6401. Her call charge is $75, and then you pay for medicines, tests, procedures, etc. on top of that. Dr. Karin can also trim hooves if you need her to, teach you to give shots, and help with tons of other health-related issues (if you are having skin or coat issues, etc.). If you call Dr. Karin to ask her to be your vet, be sure to tell her you bought goats from me. She has a heavy caseload and is generally NOT taking on new clients, but since she’s my vet she may take you on knowing that your goats came from a healthy herd she has treated for years. Other reputable mobile large-animal vets in MA/RI/CT are:
• Dartmouth: Corinne Slaughter (http://hiddenbrookveterinary.com/) 774.206.6602
• New Bedford: Jacqui Brito/Village Vet (www.villagevetma.com), 800.992.0871
• Cape Cod: Marina Cesar/West Barnstable (48 Lombard Ave., 508-362-3646)
• Norwell: Dana Pantano (Black Pond Vet Service, www.blackpondvetservice.com), 781.659.7798
• Natick, MA: Rosario Delgado-Lecaroz (Country Vet Services), 508.887.1398
• Shirley, MA: Kerri Mitton, firstname.lastname@example.org, 978.401.5129 (she is a goat owner too)
• Spencer, MA: EquidDoc Vet practice (www.equiddocvet.com), 508.885.4205
• Eastern CT: Cara Knese/Knese Veterinary Services (www.kneserveterinary.com), 860.823.8951
Goats need to be kept dry and out of the wind. Insulation is not necessary, but you should minimize drafts. Some air flow is essential for healthy air exchange. A small shed with a door that can be closed at night is optimal. 3-sided shelters typically don’t offer enough protection. Goats are creatures of habit and come into their barns at dusk (especially important if you have predators). They will typically eat, chew their cud, and sleep until dawn, when they’ll be anxious to be let back out. In foul weather they will likely stay inside their shelter. Goats hate to be wet and hate to step in puddles or snow. The floor of your shelter should be wood, or hard-packed gravel or dirt with 3-4” of pine shavings on top. Concrete is NOT a good idea, as it transmits cold and moisture into the goat’s body. If your only flooring option is concrete, you’ll need to invest in thick rubber stall mats as insulation. Stall mats are an amazing investment (regardless of flooring) if you can afford them. They make shoveling and stall-cleaning much faster. Make sure you can easily rake or shovel out soiled bedding on whatever floor you have (sometimes dirt or gravel is too loose and ends up getting shoveled up with all the soiled bedding). We top-dress our stalls with a layer of fresh dry shavings nightly, to cover any wet spots, and all goat poops. It’s important that your goats always have a dry place to lay or you’ll create an environment conducive to illness or skin problems (sores). And of course you’ll need to “muck” or clean your barn often, once the shavings are wet and soiled and you see more dried goat poops that you do clean shavings. Never wait until you begin to smell ammonia (these fumes aren't good for their respiratory system). Everyone always asks me “how often?” We clean our 8x8 stalls weekly in the winter and sometimes more often than that in summer. Each stall houses 4 adult goats. But you’ll have to see what works for your goats and your space. Letting the bedding build up (thicken) over the winter can be a good idea – as the lower layers break down they trap heat and help keep your goats warm. You can let your “winter” bedding pile up to about 8” thick before it becomes a real chore to shovel out in spring. If you’re lucky enough to able to muck with machinery, don’t worry about how thick the pack is – your machines will do the work. If you’re shoveling by hand, I don’t recommend a “pack” thicker than 6-8”. After we shovel and scrape out all the soiled bedding (a spade shovel works great for this) and sweep up, we spread lime (agricultural lime, which your feed store will also carry) and sprinkle diatomaceous earth (DE) and lay down fresh shavings. Lime absorbs moisture and keeps the smells down. DE kills bugs (lice, mites, etc.).
People say that goats are escape artists, but truly, we have never had a horrible problem with our goats escaping their pens or learning how to work gates. But that may be a factor of Nigerian Dwarfs being small, and easily contained within standard fencing. You may be surprised at how small a “recreation” (outdoor) area they need. Our original goat pen (for 2 does and their spring kids) was only 20’ x 30’ and it was totally sufficient. It’s great for the goats to have both sunny and shady spots (for warm/cold weather options), rocks and other obstacles (wood spools, old dog houses, old kiddie slides, etc.) to climb/play on, and well-drained soil for their hooves. For permanent, solid fencing you generally have 2 options: rolled wire or wire cattle panels. Electronet fencing should NEVER be used as your primary perimeter/containment and predator control fencing. If you live in an area with ANY predators (coyotes, fishers, neighborhood dogs), you should invest in 5’ high fencing (or at a minimum, 4’ high with a single or double wire strung above that, electrified or not). Rolled wire fencing comes in 100’ rolls. It is typically either welded or knotted/woven. We highly recommend woven as it is much stronger, and won’t break if the goats repeatedly stand on it. Also, you have many choices about the size of the openings. For Nigerians (and especially their tiny babies) we prefer 2” x 4” openings since with anything larger the babies can get their heads stuck. The brand we use is “Red Brand” and it is sometimes called non-climb horse fence. Cattle panels are another affordable, easily moved option. They can be pieced together to create a very nice pen. They’re typically 16’ long and 4 or 5’ high, with a variety of choices for openings (4” x 4” square, graduated, etc.). They are a nice heavy gauge metal, and will never break or bow from a goat stepping on them. They are also quite mobile, so you can break down and move a small pen created with 4 or 6 or 8 panels easily. You can also cut them to size with a reciprocating saw or heavy-duty bolt cutters. For posts, you can drive heavy-duty metal stakes into the ground (every 6-8’ or so) with the fence clips that come with them, or sink pressure treated 4x4 posts and then use poultry staples or bent nails to affix your panels to the posts.
P.S. Never "tie out" or “stake out” your goats because if they're attacked by predators (even as simple as a stray neighborhood dog), they're defenseless. They can also strangle themselves. If you need your goats to stay in a specific area (because you want them to eat a patch of brambles, etc.) it’s best to contain within fencing, even if temporary/moveable, like 4 cattle panels or a partial roll of fencing secured with stakes that you move around your yard.
Hay: the basis of your goats’ diet will be a good-quality 2nd cut (grassy) hay. Hay in the northeast is typically cut twice during the season: once in June and again in August. If a farmer is really lucky he can get a 3rd cut in September. 1st cut hay is coarse and relatively dry, great for cows. Goats are picky and prefer 2nd cut hay, which is much greener, softer, and sweeter. 3rd cut hay is also great for goats, but it’s hard to find. It’s better for goats to have consistency in their diet, so it’s worth finding a source of good-quality hay and storing as much as you’re able. This is preferable to their rumens having to adjust to a different hay source every week or every month. Feed your hay in some kind of manger/feeder off the ground. You can “free feed” your goats hay (meaning keep hay accessible at all times), or you can feed them 2-3x/day. Each full-grown Nigerian Dwarf goat will probably eat about ½ flake of hay morning/evening. A flake is a chunk of hay that naturally peels off from the bale, about 2-3" thick of hay. If you can't get 2nd cut hay, you can feed 1st cut but they will be picky and throw a lot of that on the floor (especially the woody stems), turning it into bedding, and they will need to eat more of it to get proper nutrition. If you tell your feed store you have goats, they'll know what kind of hay you need. Investing in the better-quality hay goes a long way toward healthy goats. In the cold they work harder to stay warm (and their ruminating stomach acts like a furnace), so provide more hay when the temps fall below freezing, and feed more frequently. When the temperature is below freezing, we stuff our hay mangers to the gills at night so the goats can eat as needed (and keep themselves warm). There are lots of good hay mangers to choose from (metal or plastic). Your feed store may carry them, or you can mail-order most of them from the agricultural supply catalogs like Jeffers Livestock, Valley Vet, PBS Animal Health, Premier1, etc. You can also make them from old cribs, cut cattle panels, framed fencing pieces, etc. Hang them high enough so your babies can’t get their heads stuck in the openings (trust me – it happens !!!).
Grain: many people believe that goats only need good-quality hay to survive, but we disagree. Feeding goats only hay, even if good quality 2nd cut (grassy, soft hay) doesn't given them all the protein and minerals they need. Goat-specific commercial grain is nutritionally balanced to help them stay healthy and in good body condition.
We typically feed 1 cup of good-quality goat-specific grain each morning for each adult goat (less for babies when they’re little, and graduating as they grow). DON’T BUY MULTI-SPECIES GRAIN because it’s not nutritionally correct for goats and it won’t have enough copper in it. We also don’t feed a sweet feed (sweetened with molasses, will often be a dark reddish color and sticky) because goats don’t need that extra sugar. Buy a goat-specific grain from a good-quality manufacturer. Goats in milk will need dairy grain (higher % protein, typically 16-18%) than non-milking goats (typically 14-16% protein). Our girls in milk are allowed to eat as much dairy grain as they want while on the milkstand each morning, and our heavy milkers (or those with 3+ babies) get grain at night too. It’s hard work to create that milk and their bodies need the fuel to do it.
You can also feed your goats a medicated grain (medicated options exist to prevent coccidia and also urinary tract issues in wethers, which are neutered males). For wethers, you should feed grain with ammonium chloride (to prevent urinary tract issues and stones). And only a very small amount (1/2 – ¾ cup per animal per day). Some vets recommend that wethers receive NO GRAIN AT ALL, so confer with your vet when making that decision. Always be sure your wethers are peeing easily, and they don’t have a bloated “water belly” and trouble urinating (dribbling, lying in a pool of urine, straining to pee, crying while peeing – almost always accompanied by a very bloated belly). This is a sure sign of urinary stones, and you need to act fast since their urethra is blocked by stones, and you’ll need a vet’s assistance to clear it pronto.
If your goats start to look fat, cut down a bit on the grain. Most goat weight gain is because of high grain intake. Goats rarely get fat on hay. Be sure to keep your grain securely locked away so they can't get into it and over-eat. We feed Purina goat grain and have had good luck with it over the years. If your feed store can’t get Purina or stocks a different brands, that’s OK. If you get goats from us, we’ll send you home with a supply of our grain to help the transition. Feed ours for the first few days to minimize change in diet. Then mix ours with whatever brand your feed store carries, in a 50/50 ratio for about a week to acclimate them to the new grain. Then feed 100% your new grain. Your goats should be voracious eaters. In the morning they should run to their grain and hay.
If FOR ANY REASON they are “off feed” (not interested in grain or hay), and acting listless, you need to act fast to find out what’s wrong. Their rumens are sensitive machines and imbalance can quickly lead to problems. A first step is often to take their (rectal) temperature. Anything between 101.5 and 103.5 is generally normal. A low temp often indicates decreased rumen activity, and a high temp indicates infection. Infection needs immediate treatment with antibiotics (call your vet). Decreased rumen activity can mean they ate something bad in their hay, and just need digestive support: probiotic paste, possibly some high-energy drench, special treats like fresh browse, anything to get them eating again. Or it can indicate a high worm load, which should be tested for and treated within a day or two. Or it can indicate that organs are beginning to shut down (which is an acute situation). If we have a goat go off-feed we take a temp. If it’s slightly low but their behavior is other OK (and just “listless”) we treat supportively with probiotic paste 2x/day, yummy browse, and watch carefully. Generally they act only a little off, and come around in 1.5-2 days. If symptoms persist for a 2nd night or we see diarrhea, we get a fecal done to see if it’s coccidia or a heavy worm load (and subsequently we worm with oral chemical wormers). After 2 days of non-improvement or ANY sign of escalating symptoms (like stumbling, neurological issues, glassy eyes, drooling, moaning or teeth-gnashing which indicate pain), call the vet. Goats crash fast and you can lose them easily if you don’t catch a problem EARLY and treat QUICKLY. Literally within 2 days a goat can go from perfectly heatlhy to dead. I won’t terrify here you by listing all the diseases goats can come down with (from the soil, from pasture, from rainy/damp conditions, etc.) but the key to helping a sick animal is to QUICKLY recognize non-normal behavior, ascertain what’s happening, and treat as needed.
Pasture/Browse: if you have pasture or browse, you can turn your goats out onto it. For pasture (grass), introduce very slowly (1 hour/day then 2 hours/day etc.) to build up. Very fresh green things have lots of nitrogen and can give them bloat, so you have to be careful. Their natural habitat is "browse" which is things that grow at human knee-waist heights. They will nibble at this stuff (brush) forever, picking what they want. So any kind of brambles, multiflora rose, poison ivy, oak and maple and pine shoots, etc. are good. They love pine needles and small pine boughs (even the bark), including old X’Mas trees (as long as not sprayed with chemicals or fire-retardant) - it's a great source of vitamin C for them. Read up on the handful of commonly found plants that are truly poisonous to goats (any type of cherry, azalea/rhododendron, etc.) and avoid them. Here’s a link to Cornell’s list: http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/goatlist.html. You can also cut browse and throw it into their pen. It's nutritious for them and they love it (it's actually what they eat in the wild). If your goats are on pasture, be sure to send off fecal samples regularly (through your vet or via one of the many mail order companies like Mid America Research or Meadowmist Labs, both in the Midwest), to check their worm loads. Heavy worm loads can kill a goat very quickly. We don’t prophylactically treat our goats for worms, because that leads to resistance and makes all the worming medicines useless. But do learn to check your goat’s lower eyelid for a healthy pink color (Google “FAMACHA”) and send fecals in if they look pale. Once you get the results back, you can see what worms they have and treat accordingly. See more info under “Worms” near the bottom of this document.
Water: always provide your goats access to fresh, clean water. Cool water in the summer and warm water on winter mornings is greatly appreciated. They're more apt to drink the warm water in the winter, which keeps their rumens healthy. We refresh water twice daily. In your shelter, always use a bucket hook for your water bucket (so they can't knock it over). For winter time, you may want to invest in a few rubber buckets (don’t freeze/crack), or a heated bucket if you have a power source nearby. Be sure to scrub them regularly with a mild soapy bleach solution (weekly in the in the warm months, less often in winter) to prevent bacteria build-up. We often pour a half cup of cider vinegar in our goats’ water for rumen health. Or in the winter, some molasses into the hot water for extra energy/vitamins/minerals.
In the wild, goats walk around all day and eat hundreds of different plants, thus fulfilling their high mineral needs. In captivity, when we feed them only hay and some grain, they need mineral supplementation. All feed brands make goat-specific loose minerals (which contain copper and other key minerals like calcium, zinc, magnesium, etc.). This should be available in shallow compartmentalized dishes “free feed” (meaning all the time). Goats have great instincts and will lick this up as needed. We have tried MANY brands of minerals, and found that (by far) the best is SweetLix MeatMaker unmedicated (never feed goats in milk medicated feed or medicated minerals b/c it will make the milk undrinkable). Your feed store should be able to order it for you (~$25 for 25 lb. bag). Because our well water is high in iron, it binds with and pulls copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and manganese out of their systems. We invested in a sophisticated whole-home water softener system, which helps tremendously. If you have well water, you’ll want to get it tested to see if you have the same issue. If your goats drink untreated well water high in iron, you will ALWAYS be battling deficiencies in your herd. You should be prepared to buy an inline water filter for your barn water or invest in a house system (yes, pricey). We also believe that Nigerian Dwarf goats have more challenging mineral needs because the breed was developed in Africa, where the soil composition is very different from the northeast U.S.. European-based full-size goats (like Saanens and Nubians) originated in a part of the world where the soil is very similar to North America, so we’ve heard lots of stories that those breeds have much lower mineral requirements and are generally easier to care for. So if you commit to Nigerians, you will also need to be prepared to work hard to keep your goats in balance minerally. All soils in the northeast are deficient in selenium (meaning northeast hay is also deficient in selenium), so that’s a constant battle too. Selenium is important for muscle and coat health. See below for more information about Selenium/Vitamin E and how to supplement. DO NOT use mineral blocks for goats. They don’t contain the proper concentrations of minerals that goats need and more importantly, goats are unable to lick blocks efficiently. Their tongues are much softer than horses or cows, so they can’t truly lick a block correctly without hurting their tongues. And hence, they will not uptake enough minerals from a block. Always buy loose minerals and leave them in a simple open dispenser so they can lick them up at will. We also use a wonderful product called Replamin Plus gel, which we are supplementing with weekly in winter (in addition to the minerals, copper bolusing, etc.). It’s easily bioavailable and contains all the necessary vitamins, minerals, trace minerals that goats need. The dosage is 5cc orally / goat / wk.
Our favorite 2-compartment minerals feeders are the small green ones at agrisupply.com ("Double Tuf" mineral feeders, for $5-6 each) or the larger black ones found at any feed store. Some people make their own mineral dispensers from PVC piping.
IMPORTANT: You will also need to supplement your goats every 2-3 months with copper. Nigerian Dwarfs have particularly high copper requirements. The copper in their grain and what they get from licking loose minerals is not quite enough to meet their needs. Copper supplementation is given by feeding them tiny copper rods that lodge in their rumens and slow-release copper. These rods look like mechanical pencil refills, all broken up. The copper comes pre-dosed in gelatin capsules that you put into a "balling gun" (like a cat pet piller but bigger) and shoot down their throats. We have NOT had good luck with this method (goats fight anything being shoved down their throats). We have much better luck opening up the capsules, pouring the tiny rods into a small pile of kelp (goats love kelp), and letting them lick up the entire pile. You can also put down a tiny pile of grain, pour the copper over, and add a little bit more grain every few minutes until the goat has eaten all the copper. Be sure to feed each goat separately so you know he/she got the necessary amount. Some people also use peanut shells, peanut butter balls, fig newtons, chunks of banana, and other treats with the copper inside and feed them that way (but you’ll need to introduce the specific treat ahead of time so the goats learn to love it as a treat). You should experiment to see what works for your goats. Jeffers sells the copper supplements in various dose capsules (2g, 4g, 25g, and 50g). For the giant capsules (25g or 50g) you’ll need to open them up and weigh out or eyeball the correct dosage. Dosage is 1g/22 lb of body weight, so the dose will change as your goats grow. 8-10 week old babies typically weigh around 22 lb. and full-grown goats are typically 60-80 lb. Copper deficiency signs are: black goats turning a reddish color, dry/coarse/frizzy hair, loss of hair along the top of the nose or base of ears, and a forked or fish tail.
Zinc: goats also need fairly high levels of zinc, which is found in your overall goat minerals, but most people will need to supplement with a zinc-only powder as well (also left out free-feed, like the overall goat minerals). Otherwise you will be in a constant state of “correcting” which is exhausting and hit/miss. Zinpro makes a great product that your feed store can likely order for you (Zinpro40). It’s expensive ($100 for a 60 lb. bag), but worthwhile for herd health, and lasts a long time if you have a small herd. It’s much easier to prevent problems than to try to correct a deep deficiency after it has manifested. Zinc deficiency signs are: hair loss especially in rings around the eyes and at the base of the ears, very dry flaky or scaly skin, foaming at the mouth, and hair loss. Black oil sunflower seeds are a great source of zinc. We give a handful each day to every goat (but they’re high in fat so don’t overdo it).
Selenium/Vitamin E: selenium is also important to goats, but you must be careful not to overfeed (it is toxic in too-high doses). Vitamin E helps the selenium get absorbed. You can buy selenium gel (which you would squeeze into your goat’s mouth) monthly. Or crumbles, which you would pour over their grain. We also tried to free-feed a selenium powder (in wheat middlings as a medium, made by a company called Fertrell), but that absorbed moisture very easily and then the goats stopped eating it. If you regularly give Replamin Plus gel (see above), you should supplement less often with selenium since it’s already part of the Replamin formula. Our preferred method of selenium/VitE supplementation is a prescription shot called BoSe (which is Selenium and Vitamin E), which we give quarterly. Dosage is 1cc/40 lb.
Kelp: goats need iodine and trace minerals, and dried kelp is an excellent source of these. We free-feed our goats kelp, in a mineral dish just like we use for the loose minerals and zinc. They ADORE kelp and will bankrupt you on kelp if you give them the chance, although once their bodies “catch up” and are in balance, they will eat less of it. Our favorite brand (by far) is SeaLife.
Baking Soda (very important). Baking soda neutralizes an acidic rumen (very important for balance), and if goats eat too much green/grassy material or get something funky in a hay bale, they will self-medicate and eat baking soda to neutralize the bubbles. This can prevent bloat (which is life-threatening and can come on suddenly). The safest way to keep healthy/bloat-free rumens is to put out free-feed baking soda (the standard kind you buy in the grocery store). Put in some kind of dish low enough so they can reach it but secured so they can’t knock it over. Keep dry (so mounting this inside your shelter is great). We use small green mineral feeders for this purpose.
Bottom Line on Minerals and the Must-Commit-To Supplements & Healthcare for goats? Here are the routines/products you must commit to, or you will be fighting deficient and sick goats:
• CD&T annually
• Loose goat minerals (free choice – out all the time)
• Baking soda (free choice – out all the time)
• BOSE shots or other selenium/Vit E supplementation (quarterly, more often if you use a gel/paste)
• Copper Oxide particles/Copper Boluses (every 8-12 weeks)
Optional but HIGHLY recommended:
• Kelp (free choice – out all the time)
• Zinpro-40 (free choice – out all the time)
Goats need shots annually for CD&T (clostridium types C&D and tetanus). Some goat owners also give pneumonia and rabies shots. Your vet can come to do this for you, or you can learn to give your own shots.
You should also regularly check your goat’s coat, especially in winter, for signs of lice (very common). Lice are species-specific so you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination with dogs or people. Mites are also a nuisance in winter.
If your goats get diarrhea for any reason, feed them probiotic paste or powder 2x/day (you can get this at your feed store or via mail order) to restore good gut bacteria (in fact, probiotic supplementation is great for overall health if you don’t mind the expense). They might just have an upset tummy. If the diarrhea persists for more than 2 days or gets worse fast, you will want to get a fecal sample to see if they have a heavy worm load or coccidia, a parasite that lives in all soil. Treatment is by pill or liquid, both of which are now prescription-only from your vet (Albon).
Worms/Parasites: another issue you need to know about is worms. Goats with a heavy worm load can get very sick very quickly, and die without intervention. Worms affect babies and new Moms or any stressed animal more frequently, and are active only in the warm months. Worms live in the soil during the warmer months and are ever-present/unavoidable. We test our herd throughout the year and only worm when he have a high worm load (over-use of chemical wormers leads to resistance). Very rarely do we have an issue with worm counts. Choices for treatment include various chemical wormers or herbal wormer (all of the vet supply catalogs sell wormers mail-order, your vet can sell you some, or you can get herbal wormer from Molly's Herbals/Fiasco Farm – we have not tried the herbal wormer so can’t vouch for its efficacy). I recommend having your vet take fecals when she visits 2x/year, and if you want to send out your own in the interim, you can use Mid America Ag Research or Meadowmist Lab Services. There are LOTS of wormers, each used for different problems and on a specific worming schedule. You’ll need to read up on these and have supplies on-hand.
Hooves need to be trimmed every 2-3 months, depending on how much rough surface (rocks) your goats are jumping on. They grow much like human toenails, and are similarly tough. Get yourself a good pair of hoof trimmers (we prefer Shear Magic brand, pictured below), wear gloves, consider eye protection, and go slowly. You can trim 1 hoof/day while they're eating their grain. Be careful not to bend their legs in an unnatural position. Trim the sides, the tip, and the heel. There are lots of good videos on YouTube about how to do this, and sites on the web. Just go slow, nipping a little at a time, so you don't cut the quick (like a dog's) and make the hoof bleed. If you do, use blood stop powder, styptic powder, or cornstarch or cayenne to stop the bleeding (pour into your palm, press on the hoof, and hold for 2-3 minutes). The goal is to even out the hoof so they stand comfortably with straight legs, and not with their legs pitched at an odd angle. We have a milk stand (tons of plans are online to build these inexpensively at home, or you can buy them out of PVC, wood, or metal), to contain the goats while we milk them and do hooves, shots, etc. They are invaluable, especially if you’re milking! If you have a strong helper you can do what you need without a milk stand, but they're super handy.
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