Buying any animal is an exciting time but can be overwhelming when getting a new type of animal. Here are some helpful hints when bringing your fainter goats home, from any breeder.

1. Make sure when getting kids they are at least eight weeks old and eating grain, good grassy hay and drinking water, unless they are a bottle kid of course. Kids should be active, clear eyed, and curious. Avoid kids that sleep excessively, don't play around, and have a dull demeanor, these are signs something is not right. Also beware of coughing, sneezing and discharge from eyes and noses. I prefer to leave the kids on their dams until they go to their new homes, except for eager young bucklings who can breed their sisters.  If a breeder weans their kids early or before they leave, the kids do not get those extra nutrients they need. Kids fed stemmy/marsh/cover hay also do not get the nutrients they need from it and may have growth problems. Also deworm and start them on a cocci treatment plan as soon as you get them home unless you have seen the breeder deworm them before they left. It's easy for someone to say it's done and in fact it wasn't. Cocci and worms can multiple quickly in a stressed goat and if they have not been on a prevention plan, you could lose the goat. Any new goats coming to my farm are dewormed as soon as they arrive and if they are a kid, put on a feed mix with a coccidiocide and give a dose orally for 5 days.

2. Make sure your new goats of any age/size have a good, draft free, well ventilated shelter at all times. Try to avoid old, dark barns and do not let their bedding pile up to nearly the ceiling! This promotes bacteria growth and bad smells which can make them sick along with lice and worms. The more light the better and in the summer, make sure they get plenty of air inside the barn.

3. Give them plenty of space to roam for the amount you have. Keeping several in a small pen only promotes problems as they are cramped together which causes stress and fighting. Goats in general do not do well in small pens like cattle or sheep. Also, make sure they are not standing in mud and keep the old hay or bedding cleaned up as much as possible to avoid hoof rot, heavy worm populations, lice and cocci populations. Keeping their areas as clean as possible is the best as goats are clean animals and hate to be dirty. In winter, there can be a build up due to the weather, but as soon as possible come spring, clean out old hay/bedding. Then put down barn lime to dry out the areas before letting the goats back in. Lime also helps reduce slipping on ice during winter so if you have a lot of ice built up, you can use it for traction as well.

4.  For hay, use a good grass hay with just a little alfalfa. If you can't get good grassy hay, you can feed straight alfalfa but you must give it in 2-3 feedings a day until they are used to it, and cut back on their grain so they don't become obese. My goats get free choice round bales of grassy hay with a little alfalfa in it in the winter months. They can eat when they want, day and night. If there is bad weather, they are fed inside the barn but still can choose to go outside if they want to. This encourages them to exercise instead of being cramped up all the time which is not good for pregnant does especially. Goats need pasture to roam and to eat. While goats prefer browse, they do just fine on a good grass/weed pasture when provided with free choice minerals and fresh water. During the summer months, they are out on seven acres of good grass/weeds/clover pasture and do not need hay supplemented to them. They easily maintain a healthy body weight and are in excellent physical shape from roaming around being goats. Goats are biters, not lickers, so do not use the hard, pressed cattle blocks for their minerals. The 37% protein mineral block from Fleet Farm is a loose pressed block that they can easily bite off and consume. I offer one free choice all the time along with loose cattle mineral salt (to provide the extra copper goats need) and they also get proper minerals in their grain mix. During the summer months after the kids are older and eating on their own, I cut down on their grain because they can easily get fat with all the pasture they are getting plus grain, getting fat before breeding season means more chances of problems not getting them bred. Winter through kidding and nursing they get a custom made mix from my feed mill made for goats. It has the proper minerals, vitamins and proteins they need. Do not feed sheep or llama mixes to goats, they do not contain enough copper. I also have Bovatec added which is a coccidocide which kills cocci before they can become a problem in kids. Since using it, I've never had issues with cocci in the kids born on my farm.