"And alongside the torrent (river) there will come up,
along its bank on this side and on that side, all sorts of trees for
food...And their fruitage must prove to be for food and their leafage
for healing." Ezekiel 47:12
"For the earth which drinks in the
rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom
it is cultivated, receives blessings from God." Hebrews 6:7
We feed our pregnant does, milkers, and mother goats chaffhaye and our bucks a chaffhaye and grass mix or just grass hay, depending on the time of year and
breeding season demands. When we do buy hay bales, we like to get the first cuttings of alfalfa
with lots of weeds in it which is the best for goats! Alfalfa is often
called the "King of Herbs" and because of its many healthful benefits,
my family even drinks alfalfa tea. In his book Herbs and Old Time Remedies, Joseph VanSeters says if he could give one herb to everyone to improve overall health, it would be alfalfa.
We like to use hay/pellet/grain combo feeders as they eliminate a lot of unnecessary
waste with hay or pellets getting spilled or soiled. I appreciate the functionality of these feeders.
We feed our bred does (starting 50 days from due date) does in milk,
and growing kids up to 8-12 months old grain. I mix our own organic, non-GMO grain mix and I am hoping to begin sprouting our grain recipe - aiming for 12-16% protein content - this
helps keep a nice butterfat content in the milk. Sprouted grain is SO
much healthier. I am using organic, non-GMO grains from New Country Organics. Bucks can get 2-4 Tbsp. of grain as a treat; it makes them feel loved.
During rut, they may get more depending on body weight and condition.
MINERALS: I have fed Sweetlix Meatmaker Loose Minerals and Purina Goat Minerals and I have also used Redmond's Real Salt & Redmonds Mineral Conditioner for animals through Azure Standard Co-Op. I feed my goats Kop-Sel from Fir Meadow which is an herbal copper and selenium supplement as needed.
SODIUM BICARBONATE: We feed free-choice aluminum-free Sodium Bicarbonate (good old Baking Soda!) which helps aid in digestion and healthy rumen activity, helping to prevent bloat. Baking Soda is great for controlling the acidity in their gut (for humans too!) I buy 50 lb. bags of aluminum-free baking soda from Azure Standard Co-op. Goats will only eat as much as they need. I do not add it to their feed and force them to eat it, I only offer it free choice so they can eat it as needed.
ORGANIC THORVIN KELP: Our goats have free-choice organic Thorvin Kelp which has tremendous health benefits and they love it! It is a great natural source of selenium and many other trace minerals. I buy 50 lb. bags from Azure Standard Co-op.
BLACK OIL SUNFLOWER SEEDS: (B.O.S.S.) This is in our grain mix. A daily handful of this great source of Vitamin E will promote healthy, glossy coats and to help aide the body's absorption of selenium. It works well when fed along with the Thorvin Kelp mentioned above. PLEASE be careful in that your B.O.S.S. is NOT moldy!!! Crack open the seeds and make sure the insides of the seeds are not molded. Moldy seeds are toxic to animals!
DIAMOND V YEAST: The goats really like this and it has many healthful benefits as well. I usually sprinkle this over their grain.
We provide clean, fresh water at all times. We add unpasteurized
(raw) Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) with the 'mother' in it to the goats'
water. The goats love it and, one time when I wasn't looking, they
started drinking it straight out of the jug! It is very palatable and
has the following benefits: provides potassium for easy kiddings,
urinary calculi prevention in bucks and wethers, helps rebuild tissue
and aids in various skin ailments. I buy it from Azure Standard Co-op. Now re-homed in the East, I've noticed that whatever water troughs do not have ACV in them will spawn mosquito larvae...ick! So ACV is also a natural bug preventative for their water troughs too!
HERBS: I use a wide variety of medicinal and food grade herbs for my family and my goats. I have had tremendous success raising my goats naturally and they have never been happier or healthier. One of my best resources for herbs is: Fir Meadow
I have used the Pre-Pare for pregnant does, MilkMaid, Herbiotic, UdderBlast!, KopSel, DWorm, and many more of her fabulous herbal mixes. I use their herbal products for all my animals exclusively now. I have tried her LayMore for my flock of laying hens. Her herbs are organic and wild-crafted and they really WORK and I see amazing results very quickly.
TREATS: For treats, our goaties love roasted peanuts in the shell that we get in bulk from Costco. We also give them any vegetable scraps from our kitchen and garden. Be careful not to give goats nightshades.
DEWORMING: We use Fir Meadow's DWorm herbal blend with tremendous success with all our
animals. We prefer this natural and healthful maintenance method over
the use of administering chemicals only when the goats show signs of a
parasite overload. Once our goats learned that the herbal dosage balls are yummy, they gobble them down and de-worming is now a eagerly awaited snack time! The herbal blends can be drenched with water or given in tasty dosage
balls treats (mixed with enough organic blackstrap molasses to roll into teaspoon-sized dosage balls). They are given one day every week. What I really like about
using the herbals is that there is no milk withdrawal time! For dairy
herds, this is a perfect year-round herbal de-worming program! We have also
used it with great success for our dogs, cats, and chickens.
If necessary, in extreme cases, we would use Ivomec Injectable (we orally dose it) but so far,
all fecal testings of our goats show that our herbal program is very
effective. We prefer to do things the natural way always having the best
interest of our animals at heart!
PREGNANCY CARE: We
use Fir Meadows Pre-Pare and Vit. E
for our pregnant does to aid them in the most natural, easy birth
possible. We also use the herbal brews and follow the herbal care
provided to us in Juliette de Bairacli Levy's book The Complete Farm and Stable. We find this to be a great resource.
DISBUDDING: We disbud all of our goat kids that aren't naturally polled. This is safer for the owners and for their herdmates as well. Horns can cause an injury accidentally even without any aggression. It is unfair to keep a horned goat with a disbudded goat for obvious reasons. Disbudding is an unpleasant job, and should be done quickly and efficiently. We have heard of people disbudding babies at 3-4 days old, but we prefer to wait until the horn bud starts appearing as a tiny nub on their heads which is usually at 2-3 weeks old.
Before disbudding, we give our goats Owe-Eze herbal tincture from FiasCoFarms, 1/4 of a children's Aspirin, as well as a little Lavender Essential Oil on their nose and the mother's nose to calm them all down. We always return the babies back to their dam rear end first because the burnt hair on their heads smells very bad. Meanwhile, our iron is warming up. We use a Lenk 200. I usually let it heat up for 20-30 minutes before testing it on a block of wood. It should quickly form a solid ring burn on the wood and then we know our iron is sufficiently heated. I wrap the kid up in a big beach towel - we call it "The Burrito Wrap". My husband sits down with the kid cradled in his lap, holding their body down with one arm and holding their head down with his other hand, being very careful not to press down on their nose so they can still breathe...because that is important. :D I shave their hair around their horn buds as close to the skin as possible. Burnt hair smells horrible and so shaving the hair helps the dam accept her kid back more readily too. Then I start burning, cupping the horn bud with the iron and pressing with gentle but firm, solid pressure counting slowly to five. Then I check the burn, usually it needs another five seconds. Then counting to five again, I will rotate the iron around the horn bud, making sure that all sides get covered. Usually we have a solid copper ring around the horn bud. I will then quickly touch the iron against the actual tip of the horn bud and gently move it back and forth until it becomes loose and can easily be picked off, revealing a white underside. The burn site can be sprayed with a cooling antiseptic spray for animals (optional) and then we place an ice pack on their head to help cool them down. They are snuggled and comforted for a few minutes and then presented rear first back to their dam. With this method, I have never had a dam reject her baby and they are usually playing and nursing within minutes back at the barn.
Please note when you are disbudding to STOP at any time you see the
baby panting with mouth wide open, especially on hot days. We try to do
our disbudding in the cool of early morning or late evening. Please be
careful and realize that this heats up their brain and, if the process
is too long, they can get brain damage and die. It must be done QUICKLY
and efficiently the first time around. Re-burning is NOT an option, and
proves ineffective, so please make sure it is done properly the first
time. Bucklings you plan not to wether should be done in a crazy 8
pattern, one burn around the horn bud, then another burn making an 8
pattern forward towards their face. This will greatly help minimize
scurs later on.
Here is a short disbudding video on how we do our disbuddings.
Everything is over with as quickly as possible and thankfully the babies
never hold it against us.
(video link coming soon as time allows)
We do not vaccinate our goats as has become so acceptable in modern
Western medicine. Tetanus Antitoxin can be given to wethers when they
undergo banding. This is not a vaccine, but is an antitoxin that
provides up to two weeks of protection.
Coccidiosis has not been a problem for us yet and is greatly prevented on our herbal de-worming regime.
much as possible, we prefer to follow holistic, immune strengthening
programs. We strongly advocate the use of alternative herbal health care
to boost the goats natural immune systems in order to fight off
sickness and disease. This prevents the unsightly injection site
abscesses and, so far for our herd, we have noticed much healthier and
happier goats with glossy coats, alert eyes, and plenty of milk.
We derive much of our holistic health programs from FiasCoFarms.com and Juliette de Bairacli Levy's timeless herbal health care books as well as FirMeadows.