Raising Goats in Ohio

goatsMe and my wife have been raising goats here in Ohio for many years. Sometimes, just when you think you have seen it all, something new comes along. I feel it is better to prepare and have fewer surprises, than to react to every situation that arises.

Buying goats

Go to a reputable breeder to purchase stock. If you go to a sale barn to buy stock, usually you get cull animals that someone else did not want for some reason. You will find out quickly in most cases why that animal was sent to the sale barn. You will also be susceptible to many diseases that are found at these sale barns. You really do not want to bring these diseases to your farm to deal with.

Feeding goats

I have found that your animals only produce as well as you take care of them. You may feel sometimes it is more feasible to feed the cheapest feed you can find. I find that this is not always saving you money. Lets say your feed cost $13.00 per hundred weight. My feed cost $19.00 per hundred weight. Your goats eat 9 pounds of feed to put on 1 pound of gain. I only have to feed 5 pounds of feed to put on the same 1 pound of gain. Who is more efficient and really has the lower feed cost?

Feeding kids

If you want to be successful, kids need to have access to feed as soon as possible. I have a creep area set up for the kids from day one. This also doubles for a place for the kids to hideaway and sleep in safety, when away from their mothers.

Housing

I have read many articles that have said you want an air tight area for your goats during the winter. I believe you must have some air movement to keep diseases down. A strong ammonia smell can develop in tight spaces. You want to keep the bedding dry and clean to help eliminate this problem. If you are housing on concrete during the winter, use a four inch base of sawdust or wood shavings and bed with straw over the top. The wood shavings will draw the moisture. The straw gives you a clean dry bed to keep the goats warm. In most cases, a three sided shed facing to the south will suffice for shelter from the elements.

Medication

One thing I have always said when raising livestock, “What lives and breathes, will someday die”. Ohio, like several places in the nation, has sporadic weather patterns. The saying is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 10 minutes and the weather will change”. This can cause you headaches in raising goats, but it doesn’t have to. Goats can suffer the same colds, diarrhea, respiratory, etc. just like people do. I always keep on hand antibiotics to combat these illnesses. My preferences, which work well for me are LA200, Penicillin, and Nuflor. When treating animals, I always double the recommended dosage (except for Nuflor) for the goats. I have better response with treatment that is strong and knocks it out immediately.

Worming

Diagnosing your goats for worms is going to be the greatest thing you can do. Worm loads do nothing except steal nutrition that should be meant to put on weight. This means you are wasting the feed that you are feeding, and in essence, wasting money. I use a trio of wormers, Ivomec injectable, Safeguard Oral (liquid), and Valbazen. With a rotation between these, and sometimes using Ivomec and Safeguard at the same time, I have been effective. One thing I always do is worm the does 24 hours after they kid. Valbazen has been my wormer of choice in treating the doe after kidding.

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