NFU Mutual Smallholding Insurance

Author Topic: General advice please  (Read 385 times)


  • Joined Jan 2019
General advice please
« on: February 06, 2019, 03:31:21 pm »
Hi, I'm new to this site and have only had goats since last June. We adopted two young Saanen wethers from the ISPCA, we then took on an adult Alpine female and then adopted another young wether (nubian I think) from the ISPCA again. We also have four ewe and three wethers.
I've read lots of information about the rights and wrongs of feeding (mainly on american sites) but wanted to know what people here advise.
At the moment they have a couple of large scoops of grass nuts/lamb pencils and as much 18% dairy nuts as they'll eat daily and hay. I feed them around 5pm and feed the lambs at the same time...not the dairy nuts though.
I've read that you shouldn't free feed them/no grains/no concentrates/no alfalfa etc etc I got a bag of sugar beet by accident once and they all loved it but then I was told not to give it to them.
They are all pets so I want to spoil them of course but still keep them healthy
Any advice gratefully received  :wave:
Voss Electric Fence


  • Joined Nov 2011
Re: General advice please
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2019, 06:40:39 am »
Are they kept in or have browsing access?If they're not working in any way - milking, growing kids, growing mohair - they only need minimal hard feed. If you want to give treats things like apples, carrots, broccoli stalks, hazel or willow prunings to debark   would be much better.As you've mostly got wethers check the feed is ok for males, don't give ewe nuts,Grass nuts and sugar beet are fine.
I'm sure lots of others will be along soon with they're favourite tips and treats.


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
Re: General advice please
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2019, 06:59:33 am »
Any concentrate feed should be in restricted amounts …….   and safe for males (concentrated feed made for females can be fatal for males) .   Hay should be available at all times and fresh (goats are very fussy and can almost starve themselves rather than eat something they decide doesn't smell nice) .   For treats (and for general feeding)  most veg and fruit are loved. (chopped up or they waste it). They do have individual tastes …. all mine love carrots but cabbage is avoided by one and marrow avoided by another. …. as for your lambs how old are they?

Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.
Nantygroes  facebook page


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: General advice please
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2019, 10:25:34 am »

Won't need dairy nuts or any kind of concentrate if kept as pets, as others have said. Grass nuts are given as treats by some people, though I have not used them. Carrots are also good, but they may not eat them if they don't know what they are… mine also love bananas as treats (or when heavily pregnant), incl the peel.

But they will need good hay more or less ad lib, and in summer they will love browsings//fresh cut branches from most native deciduous trees - like willow, hazel, some beech, ash, etc etc. Don't feed any evergreens with the exception of ivy leaves (no berries though, just cut them off), they are a good winter treat in moderation.

wrt to sugar beet shreds, they ar sometimes thought to cause bladder stones in males, esp castrated ones. As you don't know if the castration was done properly (with that I mean the urea tube wasn't pinched in anyway, making it narrower) I would just not feed them - there is enough other stuff out there.


  • Joined Dec 2012
Re: General advice please
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2019, 01:42:16 pm »
Is that Adrigole in County Cork? Been many times, stay over at Helen's Bar


  • Joined Jan 2019
Re: General advice please
« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2019, 09:36:28 pm »
Hi Dogwalker  :wave:

They are able to browse on all the land we have, some is out of bounds as it's boggy but we have trees that they're happily stripping the bark off of, gorse, holly which they seem to like and of course ivy. There are still some leaves on some of the brambles that they have as well. They are gluttons and I always worry that they're eating enough even though one of the vets I've seen asked me if they had bloat and I had to admit they were a little on the porky side so were fat. The youngsters won't eat any veg at all but the older one loves carrots, cucumber, blueberries and the odd grape but nothing else. We tried them with greens but they looked at me like I was mad. They all do like the delicacy which is hen food however and are mortified the food is given elsewhere  :D


  • Joined Jan 2019
Re: General advice please
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2019, 09:40:15 pm »
as for your lambs how old are they?

Hi Backinwellies

The lambs are about two weeks younger than the young goats so will be a year in early April so they've grown up together


  • Joined Jan 2019
Re: General advice please
« Reply #7 on: February 18, 2019, 09:41:41 pm »
Is that Adrigole in County Cork? Been many times, stay over at Helen's Bar

It is, blessed to be here and of course Helen's bar is a massive favourite with us

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: General advice please
« Reply #8 on: February 18, 2019, 11:28:52 pm »
I agree with everyone that goats who are not pregnant or giving milk do not need anything more than browse and good hay. Chicken feed is very bad for them. It sounds like your goats are overweight and I think the clue there is in your statement "as much 18% dairy nuts as they'll eat daily" which is probably far more than they would need if they were feeding twins. I would keep what you have left as a treat - no more than a handful once or twice a day. I used grass pellets as a treat and mine loved them. As my goats were zero-grazed, I also fed them dried grass such as Graze-on until they decided they didn't like it any more.
[/size]As you've discovered, goats are very fussy. Mine adored fruit and would eat twice what they actually got. We were able to collected bruised and damaged fruit and veg from out local corner shop and they munched their way through cabbages, carrots, swede, leeks, tomatoes, any fruit apart from citrus. I've had goats that would leave any lettuce and others that would eat a bit if that was all that was on offer. Yes, to branches, brambles, etc. but not evergreens. A good guide is avoid trees with shiny leaves. Dried nettles go down well too. As you've discovered, they also enjoy the bark from trees but this will kill your trees so I would stop them unless you want rid of the trees. Another thing goats are fussy about is water. It must be clean and fresh or they simply won't drink. In the winter they will appreciate warm water.[/color]
[/size]Do they have access to shelter at all times? Most goats absolutely hate getting wet. Their coats are not waterproof like sheep's are so they get very cold when wet.[/color]
[/size]Have you been shown how to trim their hooves? This needs doing every month to six weeks or they will be overgrown and can lead to lameness.[/color]
[/size]Above all, enjoy your goats.[/color]


  • Joined Jan 2019
Re: General advice please
« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2019, 02:51:11 pm »
Hiya, when I say they'll eat as much as they want of the dairy nuts its usually a big handful as they prefer the grass nuts. I only give it as I thought they might need it because of the copper content but I'll post some pics so you can see if they're really fat (not wanting to body shame them in any way  :D)
Yes they have access to a shed at all times. Gertie the adult has one side and the two older boys have a table they get on with their dog bed to sleep in, the other younger goat shares the rest of the space with the lambs who also don't seem to like the rain lol
I did get some Dengie Alpha A short cut hay which they liked initially but then went off it.
The one thing I'm hysterical of is dirty water, they have five buckets around them and they are refreshed twice daily and I read on here about warmer water so the bucket in Gertie's side is warmed and on around the other side and the rest are normal temperature.
There's a goat about half a mile away who lives alone, is tethered and has no shelter which makes me really sad especially when mine have clean dry bedding in the shed and if it gets really cold I put a heat lamp on for them all. I check their hooves regularly and have trimmed them and so has a vet. We have a fair bit of rocky ground here and they spend time climbing old walls etc and they spend a fair bit of time on the drive when the ground is to muddy....and sometimes they'll get on the bonnet of the car as well  8)
The neighbours think I'm mad but I love them loads


  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: General advice please
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2019, 03:51:04 pm »
The goats will need copper but dairy nuts are probably not your best option for feeding it to them. 

You can't tell if a goat is fat by looking at it... because they are essentially a breathing fermentation tank their shape changes depending on what they've eaten when throughout the day so they can look like a hat rack at one point and a barrage balloon at another.  Google "condition scoring of goats" and you'll come up with good information on how to tell whether they're in good or bad condition by feeling their spine, brisket etc.  You need to do it regularly to keep an eye on how they're doing.

If you're keeping sheep and goats, be sure to read up on the complexities of them sharing parasites but having entirely different treatment requirements.  Getting that wrong can lead to huge problems in the future with resistance to wormers etc.

The goats shouldn't need a heat lamp unless they're very young kids or sick.  They generate heat from their rumen by digesting the woody browse and hay.  It's important that they can get out of bad weather (in natural conditions they'll seek caves, thickets etc) and draughts but they'll often scrape a bare patch in bedding to get to the floor underneath.

The current advice is only to trim hooves if it's absolutely necessary.  If they have good access to rocky ground and tarmac/concrete they will probably wear the feet well enough to stay sound.  The hoof wall may get overgrown and fold over, but will normally wear at the edge and break off after a short while.  Obviously if something starts going lame you do need to intervene but otherwise leaving well alone is less likely to do harm.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.

Mad Goatwoman of Madeley

  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Telford
Re: General advice please
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2019, 10:51:34 pm »
Goodness, AMA, your goats must think they've died and gone to goatie heaven. It's a pity that poor goat near you can't make its escape and come and live with yours. The owner obviously is either ignorant of how to look after goats or just doesn't care. It sounds like you are doing a great job with them.

SD, I hadn't heard the current advice about not trimming hooves but mine had a concrete yard with a pile of breeze blocks to climb on and still had overgrown hooves and one would start limping if I left them more than 6 weeks. I suppose it's a case of keeping an eye on them.

I still haven't got used to being with my girls after nearly five months without them.  :'( :'( :'(


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