At Goat Milk Stuff, we take our herd management very seriously. Not only are the dairy goats the foundation to our business, but in many ways, they are also a part of our family. We pay strict attention to the condition of each individual goat to make sure they get what they need to be happy and healthy and give us high-quality milk.
The mainstay of the girls' diet is 100% dehydrated alfalfa pellets. This provides the goats with what they need to make sweet milk. They are offered alfalfa pellets free-choice. On the milk stand, the goats are fed either whole oats or whole barley that is locally grown without pesticides from a local farmer.
We do not feed our goats any corn or soybeans as we do not want them consuming genetically modified corn or soy. Our goats are offered free-choice, pesticide-free grass hay from our farm as well as free-choice loose minerals.
Our goats are fed whole oats or barley, because to the best of my knowledge, the modern dairy goat can not be kept without feeding a minimal amount of grain. Because they have been selectively bred to be very high producing animals, a grass or browse diet alone does not have enough calories for them to maintain proper condition. They will literally pull all the weight off of their own bodies to put it in the milk pail.
A dairy goat that has the genetics to be a high producer will starve without grain. We have a genetic line of goats (our "H" line which are all descendants of Hummingbird) that we have to feed extra feed to all the time because they get so skinny. If you scan down our "Alpine Does" page, you'll see that there are several goats that look too skinny (you can see their ribs). Take a close look and you'll see that most of them are in the H line - that is their name begins with the letter H.
There are low producing goats out there that can live without grain, but my girls are bred to produce. I want healthy goats so they can produce healthy milk. On a side note, cows can successfully be kept on grass. But they produce less milk per body weight than dairy goats.
Goat owners may wish to read more detailed information on feeding dairy goats.
We manage our pastures to minimize the worm burden on our goats. But we do worm them pre-breeding and on the day they kid with cydectin. They are monitored throughout the year and wormed only if a fecal shows they have a severe worm burden. I do not use an herbal wormer b/c most herbal wormers contain wormwood - which is contraindicated for lactating women. I therefore do not want to feed it to my lactating goats and then have my own children drink the milk.
We make every attempt to attend each birth. For years we heat-treated colostrum and pasteurized milk. Since our goats have continued to annually test CAE negative, and because they do not leave the farm, we have decided to raise them on their dam's raw milk. If we do not have enough raw milk, they are supplemented with whole cow's milk. Kids are given coccidia prevention until they are 6 months of age.
All goats have their hooves trimmed once a month and receive Bo-Se (selenium) pre-breeding and pre-kidding.
CAE and CL:
Our adult goats were all raised on CAE prevention. We used to test every single goat every year for CAE. These whole herd tests come back negative for many years. Now that we have a much larger herd, we perform random CAE tests on 5-10 goats each year. These have always come back negative. Test results are available if you would like to see them. In addition to being CAE free, all of our goats are abscess free.
Disclaimer: This information is provided as an example of how we personally raise goats at Goat Milk Stuff. We are not veterinarians and any information on the GMS website should not be taken as veterinary advice. Please seek the advice of a professional vet before making any changes to your herd management or individual treatment of your goat.