My goats are too fat!

Discussion in 'Dairy Goat Info' started by Dorit, Feb 25, 2013.

  1. Dorit

    Dorit New Member

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    When my vet came out to help with a kidding he said my does were too fat. I've read on here about protein/hay feeding and thought I understood but now Im totally confused.
    My goats hardly ever eat hay. They do browse on laurel bushes and others that I dont know the names of. I've stopped giving them so much grain (Purina 16% dairy goat parlor). I now give my pregnant doe grain in a private pen. I put out a mix of crimped oats, some BOSS, alfalfa pellets and shredded beet pulp. I've cut this down dramatically so they will loose weight. They always have hay, minerals (which the dont eat) baking soda and a mineral salt block which they do lick on.
    I am getting two new FF (I am too excited for words) and want to make sure I dont fatten them up also. I read that I shoudl only be giving them 12% protein and more hay. What am I to do if they dont eat hay? (Hay is Alicia Bermuda and peanut hay that's all that is available) I also give dehydrated alfalfa hay which they dont eat either. I began to panic and started adding grain and didnt realize how fat they were getting.
    Can anyone tell me, in simple terms, what to buy to feed them. I do not know enough to mix my own. Many thanks, Dorit
     
  2. Dorit

    Dorit New Member

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    I just saw another post asking about feeding, so if you don't want to add anything I will follow that post. thank you Dorit
     

  3. swgoats

    swgoats New Member

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    Forage/hay is essential, grain is not. You shouldn't make changes too quickly, especially in a pregnant doe. Grain is like candy - alot of simple sugar. If you feed alot of candy, they won't eat hay. I would get rid of the beet pulp. I use that when I need to fatten goats. My goats go first for their oats, second for their alfalfa, last to their grass hay. They get a little oats, more alfalfa (as much as I can afford to give), all the grass hay they want. I'd remove the salt block - that's probably why they don't touch the loose mineral. If they are hungry, they will eat what is served.
     
  4. Ashley

    Ashley New Member

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    First off, remember not to make any changes suddenly. How far along is your pregnant doe? You don't want to go dropping her grain unexpectly in the last trimester as, if she is overweight and thus likely insulin resistant, you could encourage a case of ketosis.

    I would focus on getting her weight off when she comes into milk. I would keep the alfalfa pellets at their current amount or increase them depending on how much you are feeding. The fattening things are carbohydrates, particularly in grain. But they are also important in the latter part of pregnancy to prevent her burning too much body fat to support her increasing energy needs. Once she has freshened and isn't growing babies, you can let her milk some of that fat off by not giving as much grain (maybe a half a pound twice a day). Remember, no sudden changes. Changes are best made over 2-4 weeks time.

    Now, I'm a little confused. They are getting the mix of oats/boss/a pellets/beet pulp and then also the 16% mix as well?

    I personally look at feeding goats in this manner: First rule is, as much of their nutrition from forage as possible. These items are always easiest to digest, easiest on the rumen and the less acid the rumen is, the less the doe is having to pull alkaline minerals, like calcium, from her bones to buffer acidity. Then, you add whatever is needed beyond what you are able to get in forage.

    So #1-bulk: It's what's needed to make digestion work. You are getting this in your forage mainly, since they don't eat much hay. So this bulk is likely lacking in protein except in the spring/early summer (I'm unfamiliar with laurel however) and also probably lacking in energy for what it takes to grow babies/milk. So #2, Protein. To get a forage source protein, alfalfa is the best one other legumes can be quite good as well. You are taking care of this with your pellets (2-3 lbs per doe per day every day). #3 Energy: The richest source is grain which is super high in energy in the source of carbohydrate (why it's fattening when they get more than they need). You simply feed this as needed to keep weight on (with exception during pregnancy, during the last trimester you feed no matter weight, it's about keeping sugar going into the blood to provide energy in the form of carbohydrates and prevent the goat from burning too much fat which can turn into ketosis in a bred doe because of her huge energy demands and reduced capacity to eat). Now grain throws a little wrench in things because it has an inverted calcium to phosphorous ratio. That is, the ideal for a dairy goat is usually considered at least 2:1, calcium to phosphorous. You can go higher on the calcium, but not the phosphorus, as it will tie up your calcium and cause hypocalcemia (to little calcium in the blood). BUT, you are feeding alfalfa, which has a super high calcium to phosphorus ratio, something like 6:1 IIRC, so there you go. Beyond that, your goats are probably missing out on certain minerals, why we add a mineral ration. I would remove the lick. It is not possible for goats to get enough mineral or salt from a block. They just can't access it fast enough, it is hard and their tongues are soft. But it is salty tasting enough to keep them coming to it for the little salt they do get, and enough to keep them from checking out better sources of salt, like your mineral (BTW, purina's goat mineral is known for poor palatability, so if you have that one, you'll want to get something better, something lower in salt, high in copper (preferably multiple sources, high meaning like 2,000+ ppm or so- look for cattle or horse minerals) and hopefully free of added iron and molasses. With the mineral block gone,t he goats should start taking advantage of it and should eat it quite well.

    As for how much grain to feed in pregnancy, I start mine out at a handful and work up to just 1/2 lb twice per day by the time they kid. She may need more since she is probably used to more. Just concern yourself with getting through pregnancy safely at the first.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  5. NubianSoaps.com

    NubianSoaps.com New Member

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    Feel them over the ribs. Everytime my vet is out she asks if my goats are pregnant, when they are milking, when they are dry, she just looks at the spring of rib, that huge rumen that deapth of body and sees fat or pregnancy. Feel the ribs, if they have a blob of fat hanging down than sure, you are feeding way to much grain, but that does not mean to stop feeding grain, just slowly decrease it. You aren't wanting quick changes either way. Lots of folks on here feed grain 24/7/365 milking or not, pregnant or not, my goats would be butter balls on that. You have young does, from the weights you told me they are not fat. You have to stop reacting to every single thing someone says or that you read.

    If you feel fat over the ribs than decrease the grain, if they have a good layer of flesh over their ribs but nothing you can grab, than you are fine, if you just have skin and ribs, increase the grain ever so slowly.

    What goats thrive on is consistancy. Vicki
     
  6. Dorit

    Dorit New Member

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    Am I reading correctly: Priority, #1 keep everything same till kidding (in 2-3weeks), #2 keep minerals out always (which I do but they don't eat), Once she kids: I'd like to give the Sondra mix,
    Whole Oats 37%
    Barley 37%
    BOSS 9%
    Cracked Corn 9%
    Beet Pulp 7%
    ___________
    and only grain with a little BOSS on milking stand. If I take away the baking soda they get the runs. Also Ive offered at least 5 different mineral mixes and they just refuse to eat it. So when I start putting out the SOndra mix do I add the alfalfa pellets then? how much mix should I put out per goat? I should add that they eat browse when I take them for a walk which in good weather is daily but not if its raining. Ill cut browse and bring to them, but thye dont like that as much. I was thinking of tethering them to where they can browse for an hour or so, is that advisable or not? i have an aversion tethering up anything but they wont stay if they see me walking away, they follow me everywhere.
     
  7. Dorit

    Dorit New Member

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    OK, you are right, I agree. I just wanted to be perfect for the babies and my new girls. thanks for your comments. i will feel da ribs. What do you feed your milking does?
     
  8. swgoats

    swgoats New Member

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    If they get the runs without baking soda, that suggests that they probably *are* getting too much grain and have acidic guts. Alfalfa is good to give in late pregnancy, definitely focus on getting them through pregnancy without radical changes. How much grain you give per goat depends on each individual. I feed 1/2-1 lb of my oats-alfalfa pellet mix per head per day (most my herd is minis). Milkers maybe a little more if they aren't holding condition. So you can see only half of what I'm giving is actually grain.
     
  9. MF-Alpines

    MF-Alpines New Member

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    Nothing to add to everyone's excellent advice, but I would get rid of the mineral block. They can't lick enough off to get any value from it and it could be a reason that they don't like the minerals. Have you tried Manna Pro Goat Minerals? They are pricey, but most goats will eat them up. Since you only have a couple of goats, the cost shouldn't be too bad.
     
  10. todog

    todog New Member

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    Dorit, i have been in goats for forever. i am always told my goats are fat. my vet told me, my family said i was raising tall pigs, people i sell babies to said i have big goats, but i still havent changed a thing. i buy the best grain mix i can afford and feed just a little less than the package suggests. i dont show them so i am not concerned about the "dairy look" . my main concern is how they look to me and how they feel. i like shinny goats and i dont want to see a rib. i do agree with the rest of the comments, get rid of the mineral block. find a good loose mineral and stick with that. just remember you are not there 24/7 so they may eat it when your not looking.
     
  11. Ashley

    Ashley New Member

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    Grab the skin behind th elbow, on the ribs. How much subcutaneous fat do you find? Is it thick with fat, or thin? Grab your own fat in the same spot (not by your elbow as yours is in a different spot, but the same as on the goat). How much subcue fat and you can get an idea depending on if you are overweight or not. I'm about ten lbs above my ideal weight and what I grab is about what I want in a goat that is dry and going to kid soon. Hopefully I'll soon be where I like a goat in heavier lactation to be ha! But get into a habit of grabbing that skin (on goats, not people, people are weird about it and tend to take offense) and you'll get good at it. You can also tell by the tailhead (that one will really tick people off so please refrain). There is nothing wrong, IMO, with seeing some ribs on a doe in milk that is milking strong if she is shaved or short haired. Im not talking painfully thin, im talking lean and mean- shiny coat, plenty of muscle... where you would expect an athlete to be body fat wise. She should grt a little smoother look as she gets more stale later in lactation and have a little extra by the time she is ready to kid again. That fluctuation in weight is natural and healthy. You dont want them in "good flesh" 365 days a year. They are designed to fluctuate this way tearing down their bodies and building them up with the seasons. They tear down the oldest and poorer quality tissues and rebuild them with new, higher quality stuff (if they are eating such). Everything in animals is a pulse, a cycle nothing stays the same. Stress and rest, tear down and build up.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  12. Dorit

    Dorit New Member

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    Thank you for the support. I dont show so looks dont matter to me, I just dont want to make them sick. I just found out that alfalfa pellets is the same as hay, 'sigh of relief' thank you all, Dorit
     
  13. Caprine Beings

    Caprine Beings New Member

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    And you do have to take into account the individual goat :) Some are just really easy keepers. Those always pack on the pounds and look awesome while in milk. The hard keepers will take more to keep them going, especially in milk.

    Good quality Alfalfa and Hay come first, and the easy keepers will actually get softer poops if they eat too much alfalfa (not scours just soft) and that is when they need additional grass hay. Here in the PNW it is sometimes easier to feed a half and half of Alfalfa and grass hay to eliviate that issue.

    Tam