Do goats need grain during pregnancy?

goats eating grain during pregnancy

Every winter, when most dairy goats are pregnant, someone will post a link to this study in an online group and ask if they should be feeding their does grain during pregnancy. After all, they don’t want a bunch of dead kids in the spring, which is what this study says will happen if you don’t feed your does grain during the middle of their pregnancy.

Although this is a study, it is not a good study. First of all, 15 is a VERY small number of goats. We have had many years on our farm where we had 50 to 60 kids born to 15 to 20 does. The ultimate conclusion of a study like that would be to say that more studies need to be done to validate the results in other environments. After all, this was in Africa, where conditions are very different than North America. One should not take the results of that study and change your feeding program.

Second, there was something seriously wrong with the whole picture because their feeding plan does NOT explain why kids were dying. I don’t feed my does grain when they’re pregnant, and I don’t have 45% of my kids dying or being born at 2.3 pounds. I completely disagree with the conclusions drawn by the author of this study. My conclusion would be that the feed contained supplemental minerals that were necessary for fetal development, and by not giving the goats that feed, they were mineral deficient. If you’ve read my story of copper deficiency problems (here or in my book), you know that we used to have all sorts of problems with goats not getting pregnant, aborting, miscarrying, and giving birth to kids far too early for them to survive. I’m not saying that the goats in this study were necessarily copper deficient, but they were deficient in something that was vital for not only growth but vigor — possibly selenium?

We’ve had close to 650 kids here now, and I have seen zero correlation with kids dying when they’re smaller at birth unless they weigh less than 1.5 pounds. This study is saying that 2.3 pounds is “underweight,” which I disagree with. I have learned that kids that size can’t maintain their body temperature at below zero temperatures, but other than that they’re as healthy as the 3-pound kids. (And I’m sure they were not dealing with sub-zero temperatures in the African study.)

The fact that they had goats requiring c-sections with kids under 4 pounds also makes me wonder about the overall health of the does. Keep in mind that the study was done in Nigeria, where many environmental factors are also quite different than in this country — and it was done in 1992 when no one knew anything about goat’s nutritional needs. Back then, everyone still thought that goats were just like sheep and they should have NO copper in their diet.

Quintuplets at one day of age

Another problem with the overall health picture of the does is that African goats in the U.S. tend to have multiples, so if these goats were well nourished they should have had more than two kids per doe average. Each group had 9 kids born, which is less than 2 kids average per doe. The fact that each group had the same number of kids tells me that there was something equally missing from all of their diets. When we corrected our copper deficiency problem here on our farm, our average number of does per kid went from less than 2 to more than 2.5 every year and more than 3 some years! We have almost no singles any longer and lots of triplets. We have quite a few quadruplets and have even had six sets of quintuplets — and only two of those 30 kids died. I’ve sold two pregnant goats that went on to give birth to five and six kids, which were all healthy.

As I say in my book, you can feed grain to goats until they are overweight, but it will not necessarily correct a nutritional deficiency. It is not simply a matter of calories. Nutrition is what’s important. When we had a copper deficiency problem, our goats did not look underfed. In fact, some were on the heavy side. Feeding them more grain would have made them fatter, not healthier.

So, do my goats need grain during pregnancy?

It depends. (Yes, that’s usually my answer to everything.) Assuming that you have a good quality, high protein alfalfa or peanut hay available, and your goats don’t look underweight, then they probably don’t need grain. Keep in mind that you really should not breed a doe that is underweight, in the first place because she probably has nutritional deficiencies or a heavy worm load that may negatively affect her pregnancy.

Keep in mind that throughout this article when I say “grain,” I am talking about a commercial goat feed that has added minerals and vitamins. I am not talking about corn or oats or any home-mixed combination of plain grains, which are mostly empty calories high in fat and carbohydrates. I have been emailed by multiple owners who have fed simple grains and wondered why they had fertility and birthing problems, dead kids, and weak kids. Nutritionists may not have the perfect feed figured out yet, but most commercial goat grains are infinitely better than simple grains. 

The following protocol is what I follow, based upon my 18 years of experience with these goats on this farm. It may or may not work for others, depending upon their goats’ genetics and the hay or pasture available for them. It is merely meant to be an example …

As long as a doe is being milked, she gets grain on the milk stand, so she will be getting grain until she dries up during the second or third month of her pregnancy. Once she is no longer milking, she doesn’t get grain until about day 145 of her pregnancy. (My does almost always give birth between 145 and 150 days.) Then I start her on a very small amount — like 1/2 cup — so as not to upset her rumen. And in most cases, I am only starting to give her grain to get her rumen adjusted to having it again, so that when she freshens and starts producing milk, her digestive system won’t get thrown out of whack by increasing the amount of grain too quickly.

I have found there are some good reasons to avoid giving it to some does. Feeding too much grain at the end of pregnancy can cause kids to grow too large. When a doe doesn’t need the extra calories, they go straight to the growing babies. Many years ago we had a couple of new mamas that were underweight, so I started feeding them Calf Manna, which is extremely high in protein and used for this very purpose, as well as making calves grow fast. My daughter misunderstood my feeding plan and starting also feeding it to pregnant does. Suddenly we were having very large kids that were challenging for the does to push out. Thankfully we discovered the problem before we’d had too many births. 

If a goat has a history of giving birth to large kids, I don’t give her grain at the end of pregnancy. If I have a first freshener who is not looking very wide, I usually worry that she has a single kid, which tends to grow much larger than multiples, so I don’t give her grain. Yes, some does are great at hiding kids, but the worst thing that has ever happened is that a doe gave birth to a set of twins that were 2 pounds each. They were on the small side but super healthy, and they grew up big and strong. I’d rather have that than a yearling trying to give birth to a 4-pound single kid, which has happened and is not fun.

So, what’s a new goatherd supposed to do?

My number one rule of raising goats is to always listen to the goats. Are they well-muscled and healthy? Do they have a coat that gets fluffy in winter and shiny and slick in summer? Is the color of their coat still as dark as it was a few months ago? Do they get pregnant easily? Do they stay pregnant for the full term? Do they give birth without assistance to healthy kids? Do they pass their placentas within a couple hours of birth? And look at what you’re feeding them. Is their hay green? Do you have a legume hay, such as alfalfa or peanut available for the last month or two of pregnancy when their calcium needs are increasing?

It sure would be easy if we could just give everyone the same “perfect” feeding plan, but that doesn’t work because everyone has different pasture and water available, and they are dealing with different genetics. Some goats are simply easier to keep than others. But if you know what your goats need, and you know the symptoms of deficiencies, you can figure out what works best for your goats on your homestead.

Learn more about:

Goats and Copper Deficiency

Selenium Deficiency

Vitamin E Deficiency

Zinc Deficiency

This post was originally written on November 5, 2014 and last updated on August 12, 2020. 

 

 

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41 thoughts on “Do goats need grain during pregnancy?”

    • I liked this article! I wanted to post how our feeding program is different in Florida. I always recommend your book to new goat owners, but I need to give them different feeding instructions because of cost differential for our area. Hay is crazy expensive in FL, with most of the cost going to the gasoline to get it down to us, plus multiple middle men along the way. We pay $25-$40 per regular sized bale for premium hay. The only reasonably priced hay is Florida (or Georgia) Coastal Hay (which is Bahia Grass), which goes for under $10 per bale. The coastal hay is good for roughage, but not high in nutrients or protein due to being grown in sandy soil lacking nutrients. So, feeding a good quality hay is too expensive unless you only have a couple of pet goats. We feed this lower quality Coastal hay free choice, plus the goats have access to a good quality mineral and get cowp boluses (our water has sulpher and iron in it) and a selenium supplement. We feed a good quality goat feed year round to our herd of 25-30 Nigerian Dwarf goats, but reduce it to only about 1/2 cup twice per day when the goats are dry. Typically our Nigerian does get pregnant while they are still lactating, then dry up 2 to 3 months after conceiving. If a doe has a longer dry period, we may have to take them down to a 1/4 cup per feeding to prevent them from getting overweight. The feed and supplements make up for the lower quality hay, and everyone looks great and has good fertility. Another benefit of feeding grain year round is that we don’t have to worry about the goats getting used to going back on grain after kidding. Grain can also help to identify when a goat is having a digestive issue, because they will refuse grain at feeding time. This doesn’t happen often, but feeding a small amount of grain daily can be a good quick check for digestive health.

      The Standlee hay pellets have recently started being available in my area, so I am considering trying them for a portion of the hay ration and comparing the results and cost difference for that.

      Reply
      • I also should mention that our kids are almost always healthy, normal sized and vigorous with no kidding problems. In 8 years we have only had one large single buckling born to a first freshener that was large enough to require birthing assistance.

        Reply
      • This makes sense. If you are feeding a grass hay rather than alfalfa, that will keep your overall protein level down. Thanks for sharing your feeding regimen!

        Reply
  1. I just found your blog. I am new to raising dairy goats. My first twins were just born last week, and I will start milking my doe in a week or two. My question pertains to the end of your article– “has their coat started to fade?” What does this mean? Is a fading coat a good thing or a bad thing? My doe has definitely had a fading coat since we got her about 11 months ago. She gave birth to two healthy bucklings and seems to be producing lots of milk for them. I feed the highest quality grain I can get my hands on, as well as alfalfa hay.
    Thanks for the great info.

    Reply
    • A fading coat is a sign of copper deficiency because copper is necessary for hair pigmentation. Your grain should have at least 35 ppm copper, and you should have a free choice, loose mineral available that is around 1500 ppm copper sulfate. Even if you have those things, if you have well water with high sulfur, calcium, or iron, you may need to give additional copper in the form of copper oxide wire particles (COWP). The brand I recommend is Copasure at the rate of 1 gram per 22 pounds. Depending upon how bad your well water is, you may need to give that anywhere from every 3-6 months.

      Thanks for your question! I just realized that every question is written so that the answer should be “yes” except for that one. I should figure out how to re-write that one.

      Reply
  2. I always get quite upset when I hear people tell others to feed grain to their pregnant does. You see, I did, because my breeder told me to. The result was my doe had quads, very large quads, only one of which could be delivered by us and with much, much help, and over a period of more than an hour. The other three were delivered by the vet who also had trouble without resulting to a c-section. The vet commented on how huge the kids were. One was delivered dead, one died at two days, and then one at ten days (from a liver infection which was believed to be caused by bacteria introduced through the cord even though it was dipped, undoubtedly a result of all the handling trying to get her birthed). Out of four babies, we lost three! That is not a good ratio by anyone’s count. My other doe , her daughter, had her kids the next day, triplets, without missing a beat, none of them oversize.
    Yes, it *does* depend! This is the perfect example. Both does were on the same diet, exactly. However mom’s body better utilized her calories sending the extra straight to those four babies. Her daughter (remember, same diet!) did not so efficiently use the same calories and her babies were normal size.
    Since then, I do NOT feed grain to my pregnant does. They are healthy and don’t need it, only lactating does get grain here. About two weeks before kidding, I start giving my girls a tablespoon of grain or two once a day just to get the rumen accustomed to it again. The only reason I give grain to lactating does is because I am taking their milk causing them to need more nutrients (calories).

    Reply
    • Are you saying that she is refusing to eat grain? If so, that’s really unusual. Most goats will eat grain until it makes them sick. If she is in good shape, though, I wouldn’t worry about it. Grain is concentrated calories, which is why most people feed it to does that are milking — that’s when they need some extra calories. But if you have really excellent forage and hay, she may not need the extra calories. If she’s not looking good and refusing grain, I’d be concerned that there is something wrong with the grain — that it’s moldy or something — and I’d try a different brand.

      Reply
    • It does not work the same way in goats. They need the calcium in the alfalfa. Milk fever is not very common in goats. I haven’t seen it in 16 years and hundreds of freshenings, and I can hardly remember any cases in the thousands of people I’ve helped through the years. It is usually only a problem in extremely heavy milkers, and since goats have not been bred to produce as heavily as dairy cows, this may be why we don’t see it much.

      Reply
  3. I’ve had two goats develop pregnancy toxemia. One had to be induced one month early to save her life (it didn’t and, in addition, all kids were too preterm to survive) and the other I managed by feeding grain twice daily plus a late night snack every day, which I started as soon as I saw her appetite decrease and tested her urine for ketones (positive). This second goat delivered 4 kids without problems. After these two experiences, I am reluctant to restrict grain.

    Reply
    • Ketosis is incredibly rare. I’ve never had a case in almost 17 years. Most people never do. If you had two cases in one year, then you probably had an issue with some type of nutritional deficiencies, such as poor quality hay or forage. Rather than just feeding grain, I’d suggest a serious look at everything that your goats are eating (or not eating). One reason I don’t like the study I mentioned is because it’s from Africa, and after having met a few people from Africa online, I understand that it is a very challenging environment, and their goats show signs of many nutritional deficiencies and usually only have one or two babies, and stillbirths are no uncommon. That same breed of goats is having three or four kids in the US because the nutrition they get here is so superior to what their cousins get in their native Africa.

      Reply
    • I’ve also dealt with pregnancy toxemia (a severe case). After NEARLY losing a doe to Ketosis, I’ve been more inclined to overfeed my pregnant does. That doe survived, and had triplets 10 days early… all healthy, but they had that parcilure sweet smell to them. It was too close, and I’m very wary of any symptoms now. I have been pretty keen with nutrition in my goats, but in this case the doe was pushed out badly and didn’t look at all like she had 3 in there. Next I knew, her ancles were swelling and it went fast from there. I nearly lost her, ended up inducing a few days later (accidentally) (I was on a trip, and my sister gave her the wrong shot;) ), but was correcting it slowly by intense and constant care… drenching electrolytes, protein, sodium, etc.
      I’ve never seen a goat birth a dead kid, other than a miscarried kid and (my first) that died hours before birth due to dam laboring all day without progress (ended in a C-section). I believe that there’s pretty much always a trackable cause if someone’s having dead kids or other serious issues.
      I don’t do ultrasounds on my does, so it’s often a guessing game… if they’re truly hungry or not. It seems some tend towards mineral deficiency that eat the most, while others that don’t get as much, end very healthy. It varies from goat to goat… that’s why it’s important to listen to what they’re telling you!
      Thanks for the article!

      Reply
  4. We have meat goats and feed them grain year round ( very little in summer ) to move them around and save on hay plus provide extra minerals. They get about half a pound each a day. We feed a mix of commodity (for cows really but it has all the minerals added including copper) , soy, gluten and a little actual goat pellets. Had lots of goat kids last year, one had 6 all delivered mostly on her own , one by me because it was backwards and stuck. They are all still alive and almost normal size now. I bottle fed 3 of them. Even our first years had 3 each except one that had only 2. Only lost 1 kid, born to one of our 2 milk goats at night in the cold. It got sick and died but not because of feeding grain.
    1 square bale of hay costs about the same as a 50lb bag of grain here, and good hay is hard to find. So not sure why not to feed grain? Unless you have unlimited amounts of excellent hay that doesn’t cost you anything.

    I was looking to get info on what is the best amount of grain to feed, when I found this website. I don’t want to overfeed them grain.

    Reply
    • Meat goats really don’t need grain unless your goal is to fatten them up, which you don’t want to do with pregnant does. It is not interchangeable with hay. Grain is high in phosphorus, and alfalfa is high in calcium, so they can balance each other, but it you are feeding grass hay, then you could wind up with a phosphorus imbalance. Wethers and bucks could wind up with urinary stones when fed grain.

      Grain is high in calories, and too many calories during pregnancy will go to the kids if mom doesn’t need it, and you will wind up with big kids. However, if you have lots of multiples, the kids can spread out that weight gain so that you don’t wind up with some doe trying to give birth to a huge single or twin kid. However, you can still overfeed. My first doe that gave birth to five wound up with extremely big kids — they weighed a total of 15 pounds, and this was a Nigerian! They were the average 3 pounds each, so her belly was dragging in the straw in the barn. With so many big kids inside it caused quite a tangled mess, and there was no space in there to move the kids around to get them into the right positions.

      Reply
    • Alfalfa is NOT grain. It is a legume that is fed as hay. Pellets are simply pulverized hay that has been compressed into pellets, so the goats can eat as much of alfalfa pellets as they want — just like they can eat as much alfalfa hay as they want during pregnancy. They need the high calcium that alfalfa has, and it helps to prevent hypocalcemia. In addition to alfalfa pellets, however, they do need to have some additional long-stemmed forage to keep their rumen working, so they also need to be on pasture or have some grass hay available. If goats are eating alfalfa HAY, they can eat as much of that as they want, and it is a long-stemmed forage, so they don’t have to have pasture or grass hay with that.

      Reply
  5. Hi we are new to the goats. We bought 3 does in December. I knew two were bred but one doe was in with the buck for 6 weeks so getting a delivery date was impossible. Well this week I came home to find two little babies with her. I had been giving her 1/2 cup feed and excellent alfalfa hay free choice. I always read where you are suppose to increase feed during the.last month of gestation and thought I messsed up until now. My question now is if I increase feed amounts how fast should I do it. Also I did not dip the cords in iodine. Sweating over that now too.

    Reply
    • You can increase it by about 1/2 cup a day. If she’s a small goat like a Nigerian or pygmy, she should have about 2-4 cups of grain a day, depending upon how many kids, so twins would be about 3 cups a day. If she’s a larger breed, then twice that amount.

      Don’t worry about the cord. I quit dipping in iodine years ago. As long as the cord is a few inches long, it’s probably fine unless you found them in something really gross like a manure pile. Hopefully she gave birth somewhere a little nicer than that.

      Reply
  6. I’m really appreciating this site, being new to goats. I have 2 saanen girls, both of whom I bought as pregnant, supposedly, because they had been running with a buck. Both have really sweet natures and are so easily handled, they are a joy to own. However, some days they look very pregnant, and other days, well, they dont look fat at all. They have plenty of good pasture, fresh water, mineral salt licks always available, and regular fresh flax bush cuttings which they love. Occasionally I give them a few goat nuts but dont want to fatten babies too much so the nuts are just a treat now and then. My girls, Blue and Browny, have been with me for about 6 weeks. I understand that here in the Nth Island of New Zealand the breeding season for them ends in october. How can I tell ig my ladies are actually pregnant, or just teasing us? I love them anyway, but having kids would be a thrill of course. Thank you…elizabeth

    Reply
  7. I have two Alpine Does, supposedly pregnant and due in April. I say supposedly because some days they look pregnant and others they do not. I was told to give them grain twice a day, high protein, told not to give Alfalfa. So now what? I am confused and I am new to this.

    Reply
    • If you think sometimes they do and don’t look pregnant, it could be that they are not pregnant and the change you are seeing is the change in the size of their rumen, which varies depending upon the last time they ate.

      You didn’t say who told you to feed them grain and not alfalfa, but that kind of sounds like a cow person. They tend to worry that too much alfalfa during pregnancy will cause problems. Goats are different though, and they need the high calcium in the alfalfa. Nothing is ever 100%, so if you have goats that need to gain weight, then sure, give them a little grain, but you also didn’t say how much. If you’re talking about a handful, that’s not a big deal, but if you’re talking about a milking ration, that would be a bad idea, especially if they are in really excellent body condition or slightly over-conditioned already. Overall, you really haven’t provided enough information for me to give you any info on whether the advice was good, bad, or mediocre.

      Reply
      • If you want to know if your does are pregnant, it is easy and very economical to draw their blood and send it in to a lab that tests pregnancy in goats (look it up online to find a lab near you). I use BioPryn. You won’t know how many are in there, but you can know whether or not to plan for kids.

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  8. Although it may be extremely rare per a comment I read in this for, I have a doe struggling with toxemia. We have had the vet out and confirmed it is indeed toxemia. The issue is, our local vets have most of their experience with cattle and sheep. Though they are very helpful, the literature I read vs veterinary recommendations can be contradictory. I was suggested to feed free choice equine senior and free choice quality grass hay. The doe is underweight and a heavy milk producer who kidded with triplets 2.5 weeks ago. I pulled the kids and am now milking her twice daily to prevent her udder from becoming engorged. With vitamin b injections her appetite has slightly increased, however she still isn’t interested in the senior. I am supplementing her with quite a lot of grain as the vet suggested we get her to eat what she can. I give her molasses/ karo multiple times daily, probios, red cell, herbal wormer, and electrolytes to keep her from having a relapse. I continuously use ketone strips to check her urine and I cannot seem to pull her out of negative energy! I have put A LOT of time and money into this doe and want to see her recover. Do you have any advice?
    She is out to pasture now so she is getting some browse which is noticeably improving her rumen function. Otherwise, I feel a little lost with my feeding program for this girl and am terrified I will have another case of it if I do not get a good regime into action!
    Thank ‘s

    Reply
    • I have never heard of such advice for a doe with this history. She needs calcium. That’s why she’s in this condition. So she needs free choice alfalfa hay. Thank heavens she has NOT been eating too much of the senior horse feed because it would have killed her from enterotoxemia, goat polio, thiamine deficiency, bloat, or some other condition caused by a rumen imbalance. I never say never, but I have NEVER heard anyone say you should give a goat free choice grain. I can’t understand why anyone would have basically told you to do the exact opposite of what you should be doing. So … free choice alfalfa hay and a good quality GOAT grain that has at least 35 ppm copper. She also needs a good free choice mineral with at least 1500 ppm copper. They only need about 1 pound of grain for each pound of milk being produced. Please message me through the contact form on here and keep me updated. This is so sad!

      Reply
      • Thank you for messaging back! I have been supplementing her with calcium in her drenches and give injectable calcium gluconate 23% SQ when she needs an extra boost. The vet was concerned that to much calcium could decrease her heart rate? I have grown really attached to this doe over the past 10 weeks and am willing to put into what I have to. She has an insane amount of milk production for her body condition. Today she produced 5.2 lbs in the am and 6.6 in the pm. I feel that I shouldn’t be milking her twice daily as it takes so much energy and nutrients from her. However, she becomes terribly engorged if I do not. Do you think it is best to continue milking her to prevent mastitis? Or is it better to decrease her to once daily? I have considered drying her off, however, I really feel it is beneficial for the kids to consume their dams milk. I’m really torn!
        I will be getting her quality alfalfa by the weekend and am considering switching her grain. She is most interested in whole corn, however I know this isn’t an ideal option. I offer free choice mana pro loose minerals and baking soda. I have to admit, I am unsure of the copper content and will look into that. I have given her a copper bolus and supplement oral selenium/ vitamin e. Upon the vets recommendation I have her cydectin 2 weeks ago and am getting a fecal done this week( she has had a poor famacha score) I prefer herbal wormers and have had success with my other animals on it. This girl is really making me question natural vs chemical intervention.
        I do not have a strong goat community yet as I’m still fairly new to the game. I appreciate any and all advice you offer!
        Thank you

        Reply
        • A vet professor once said to me — never supplement with a syringe. If a goat is deficient in something, they need to be getting that mineral or vitamin through their daily diet if at all possible, and it is certainly possible to feed alfalfa to a goat. There is not a lot in the goat world that isn’t debatable, but feeding alfalfa to milkers is totally agreed upon by everyone. You only use injectable minerals in emergency situations. When a doe in the midst of serious hypocalcemia and about to die, then yes, give her injectable calcium to save her life, but that is NOT supposed to be a long term solution. In 17 years of raising goats and helping thousands of people, I have never heard of anyone saying to NOT feed a milking doe alfalfa.

          I would continue milking her. This is just the way some does are. They have a will to milk that is out of this world, and their body will put milk production first, so if they are not getting the nutrients and calories they need, their body condition and health will suffer. She needs the proper nutrition to help her make milk, and you don’t want to deal with mastitis on top of all this.

          Reply
  9. Correction-
    The doe had toxemia during pregnancy, with support recovered and has had ketosis throughout the final terms of pregnancy and into lactation.
    She is rescue doe that I acquired 3 months into her pregnancy so I do not know what condition she was prior to breeding. She is certainly a train wreck now. I’m seeking all advice to help this poor girl.
    Thanks

    Reply
  10. Hi. I have a doe who was 23 KGS two months ago but then she was afflicted with PPR (pestes di petits ruminants/goat plague) I struggled a lot with this epidemic and she recovered a month ago. Today she was unintentionally bred by a buck…and when I weighed her she was 18 kgs . is this a terrible condition to have kids? She is quite healthy except for the low weight. Is it dangerous for me to continue grain in order to bring up her weight? Will this cause oversized kids? – thanks, any help is appreciated (I have only had goats for 7 months)

    Reply
    • If she is that underweight she needs those calories to build her own muscle. Kids put on most of their weight in the last month of pregnancy, so if she just got bred, I would not even factor that into the equation. If she is that much underweight, she may not be able to carry the pregnancy to term. In any case, I would concentrate on getting her back into condition right now. You can usually get a doe back into condition in a month or two if they are otherwise healthy. If she starts to get an udder four months from now and still seems under-conditioned, I would probably continue feeding her grain. Basically, watch the goat, and if she looks like she needs grain, then feed it to her. And through all of this she should also be getting a good, green legume hay, such as alfalfa (lucerne) or peanut.

      Reply
  11. Is one cup a day a safe amount? My grain is mainly barley with seeds and wheat….she also gets free choice good quality hay. Her last kidding was a single…I am so scared that she will have problems.(People are telling me I am paranoid);)

    Reply
    • If she was a yearling when she had the single, that’s not unusual. She’ll probably have twins from now on. That’s most common. However, the grain you’re giving her is mostly carbs, so it’s really not that beneficial. A good alfalfa or other legume hay would be more beneficial.

      Reply
    • When she is within a few days of kidding, you could start giving her a 1/2 cup of a good goat grain that has 16% protein and added minerals, such as Purina Goat Chow or Dumor Goat Sweet Feed, which both have more than 35 ppm copper in them. Gradually work your way up to whatever amount of grain she needs while milking, which will vary based upon breed. The usual suggestion is 1 pound of grain-based feed for every 3 pounds of milk produced.

      Reply
  12. Thanks again for sharing your expertise… and apologies for the long comment… I just don’t know where to turn anymore. As a new goat keeper (7 months now), life with my goats has been very challenging despite my being part of our local goat associations for a couple of years prior to having my goats, attending vet presentations, researching, etc. I have found so much conflicting information. If my goats were happy and looked well all the time, I wouldn’t be on this constant search for answers. I have registered ND stock from a “clean” herd: two does, one doeling, one wether, one buckling. One of my does is looking and acting fine. My troubling one has had her tail down for about 3 months now. You and I have had an email exchange about her, but she is still worrying me because she doesn’t look happy. Now my doeling has just started coughing off and on in the last three days. And she was doing so well! But she looks and acts fine otherwise. My boys seem to be fine. So I have been looking at everything I’m doing to try to find the problem. I live on the West Coast of Canada and, despite my looking at all the loose minerals I can find available in our country, I haven’t found one that supplies the copper and selenium that you recommend. So I just spent about 75$ US to have the one you recommend shipped to me. I’m hoping that this will make a difference. Now I’m looking more closely at their feed. Their hay is green and they eat it. Because my two does were in milk, I was feeding them Goat text (which is what most people do around here), and added alfalfa pellets and Timothy pellets because they were such a pain to milk. I gave the same thing, but in smaller quantity to my doeling because she was really slow growing when I got her. I recently just added flattened barley and reduced the goat text because that’s what some people suggest. Because my does are now dry, I’m reducing the text and barley combo to about 1/4 c. twice a day with a few alfalfa pellets added. I thought that keeping their rumen used to that feed and their individual feeding stations would be easier on them. I have had individual fecal tests done twice, so I have kept up with that. I will email you a photo of the label of the goat feed that we have available here (I don’t know how to attach it in this comment). I have noticed that there is no copper listed on the label. Sometimes, the goats leave the pellet part of that text but eat the rest. Sometimes, the goats leave the alfalfa pellets as well as the Timothy pellets. I appreciate any more help that you can give. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Have you actually had a vet examine the goats? It is not unusual for goats to have their tail down during the winter, and saying that the goat doesn’t look happy is a very subjective thing.

      I do not recommend ever feeding goats a simple grain such as barley. Grains are mostly carbs and not helpful for much other than fattening up goats for slaughter. It has nothing positive to add in terms of nutrition.

      Reply
  13. Different forages are available in different areas. Around me it is difficult to find alfalfa. I end up having to purchase alfalfa pellets. Not ideal as I am raising meat goats. Having to purchase commercially produced feed is not good for the bottom line.
    So far I have had 3 of my 4 mature does kid already. 2 singles and 1 set of twins. The single from my oldest doe was significantly larger than the single that was born 24 hours earlier. I have 1 doe that I have had a hard time putting weight on. She is at the bottom of the herd. I don’t have any more due till April.
    I am trying to figure out something that I could plant for my goats that would be around a little longer into the fall so I would have to rely so much on purchased hay and commercially processed feed.

    Reply
    • You didn’t say where you are located, but if you are in the southeast US, peanut hay is a legume with a similar nutritional profile. But keep in mind that ONLY pregnant does and does in milk need a legume hay. If you can find hay with clover in it, that’s also a legume, but the percentage of clover is usually small. Sericea lespedeza is another one, but is mostly available one the east coast and Gulf coast, and it grows like a weed, so is a great one to plant if your climate is right for it. It is also one of the most studied plants that has been proven to kill intestinal worms and coccidia.

      Having a single kid from an older doe can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, although a few are genetically predisposed to having singles. Usually you only see singles from first fresheners.

      Consider the article you’re commenting on, I should also add that grain is NOT a substitute for alfalfa. Grain is high in phosphorus, and alfalfa and other legumes are high in protein and calcium.

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