Am I the only one that is constantly thinking and worrying about the health of my goats? It seems like there is so much information out there floating around that is conflicting, and I really wonder how people decide how to properly care for their goats, especially if they are just getting started and do not have any background in raising livestock or animals? Not everyone has the same education and experience that I do, so how the heck are we supposed to make the best decisions on our goats health care, feed and housing?!
This idea really came about as I was trying to educate myself by CBD oil and its uses for goats along with other more non-traditional medicine treatments. For clarity, it is important to note that I have an undergraduate degree in animal science, where I have taken college classes in nutrition, management, breeding and care. I believe in science whole heartedly and I think that a scientific study that is diverse, and double blind is the best way to make decisions about how to empirically manage our goats. The challenge with this is economic. Goats are a minor livestock species, which means they do not receive the same amount of focus and financial backing for studies like the cattle and equine industry. This means there are less experts in the goat industry from a nutrition, health and management perspective. This can and does lead to decision making and education that does not follow the traditional path.
So if you have goats what is the best way to educate yourself and make decisions about them and their care and maintenance? I think the answer to this is multifaceted. The first and most important is to find a vet in your area that is knowledgeable about goats. A veterinarian that has formal training on goat healthcare will be absolutely instrumental and invaluable in solving problems that come up in your herd. Secondarily, find someone that has owned goats before to be your mentor. They will be helpful in answering questions about smaller issues and be a wonderful sounding board for you. Make sure this person has a herd that you think looks healthy that you are willing to mimic. ie. You would not want to choose a mentor that is struggling with management themselves. Third and perhaps as important as the other two is to invest in your herd. This can mean many things, but you will have better luck with your herd if you invest in high quality goats that are disease free. Better confirmation in theory leads to healthier goats, as better structure yields easier kidding, lactation and longevity. It is also important to invest in a shelter for your goats that allows them a draft free space to enjoy and rest. The next item to invest in is high quality feed, minerals and hay for your goats. If they have a clean place to live and high quality food they are much more likely to be healthy and productive. Finally, invest in your infrastructure, build as good of fences as you can afford to minimize parasites, invest in the best tools you can for your kidding kit, as it may mean the difference between a successful kidding and an unsuccessful one. Invest in an emergency kit that has a myriad of supplies and medicines for your goats. There are many times where there is no time to call the vet or rush the animal to the nearest emergency hospital. An owner with a well stocked medical and emergency supply kit can mean the difference in a goat that lives and one that doesn't. The bottom line to this is, there is no direct formula that is written out to properly care for your goats, but with education, investment, community and critical thinking we can all do the best we can with what we have to raise and care for our goats. Stay warm and Happy Goating!