what are people feeding babies for the first year?
#1
hey there   just curious what others are feeding babies for the first year for optimal growth??  breed will be alpine if that matters   and a side question   when is the best time to castrate? ive heard let them stay intact as long as 6 months   i know theres benefits to leaving them for a time for growth like in horses
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#2
Be prepared for a lot of different opinions on this one. Goats castrated earlier (like in the first 2 months) tend to achieve a greater height, however, it is at a sacrifice of bone in my opinion. Also common wisdom says that early castration sets them up for higher risk of urinary calculi. Most of ours are castrated at 3-4 months. Some of ours have been castrated as late as a year if I used them as breeding bucks for a season. If I'm not going to breed a buckling, I generally castrate whenever they start exhibiting a lot of unwanted buckish behavior. This generally starts anywhere from 3 - 5 months depending on the maturity of the particular buckling.

I don't feed our babies anything particularly special. I will feed some grain and calf manna if they start looking ribby during a growth spurt. However, I have the advantage of owning 40 acres of "goat paradise" where they have an all-you-can-eat buffet of pasture grass, weeds, pine trees, and brushy scrub oak. I feed primarily local grass hay (mountain brome and this year some timothy) with some alfalfa or alfalfa pellets if needed. I fed exclusively alfalfa one winter and regretted it. Too much alfalfa can mess with growth plates in youngsters, and it also blocks selenium and copper uptake if fed in excess. A mix of 2/3 - 3/4 grass with 1/3 - 1/4 alfalfa seems good for our area. And that's one thing to keep in mind. What works in one area may not be the best diet in another.

Be very careful about feeding grain to wethers. If they are sleek and growing well then I generally don't recommend it. Why take the risk if not needed? Some grains formulated for meat goats have ammonium chloride added to combat stones, and some grains also have a coccidiostat added to combat coccidiosis. We've never had a case of coccidiosis so I prefer to give unmedicated grain. When (if) I feed grain, I usually use Purina Goat Chow or something similar. It's a type of sweet feed. Babies get calf manna and alfalfa pellets when they need extra. Usually I only feed grain for a month or two after weaning. I did have a couple of bottle bucklings that got a mix of grain, calf manna, and alfalfa pellets for their first six months or so. Bottle kids don't typically grow as well as dam-raised, so they needed something extra to keep up with the others in the herd, plus they had to be big enough to breed by that fall.

This is just what I do. If you are keeping your goats on smaller acreage, you may have to feed more concentrates and for a longer period than me. People who feed a lot of grain usually end up having to add baking soda to the diet to combat acidosis of the rumen. But baking soda is not generally recommended for wethers since it alkalizes the urine, which in turn makes it more prone to calculi build-up.
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#3
Wean off the bottle at 3 months of age, castrate at 5 to 6 months, Alfalfa for the 1st year with Nutrena Show Edge Goat Feed. It has the 2 to 1 calcium to phosphorus balance, ammonium chloride (AC), and 16% protein. I used calf manna with 25 % protein when my 3 month old got sick. He picked the weight back up nicely.
I do not have acreage and my goats are supplemented with Show Edge Goat Feed most of their lives. I have 3 goats with and age spread of 4 years between each. By design I always have a young one growing and an older packer.
My Mana Pro Goat Minerals which has AC in it are cut in half with kelp meal which has 4% protein in it.
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#4
My babies are 10 months old. I offered my bottle baby grain when he was just learning what food was because it's more palatable. A couple weeks later his sister was weaned so we went and got her and she taught him how to eat hay in 2 days so it's been alfalfa ever since. I feed alfalfa because their breeder fed it to her 100+ goats (does, bucks, and wethers) but I'm thinking of switching to Timothy because they REFUSE to eat the alfalfa stems so I'd rather feed something they can eat all of. 

I use grain and other treats to bribe them onto the milk stand for hoof trimming. Plus peanuts, raisins, cheerios, and banana chips for clicker training. I have their training treats all mixed together so I call it "goat trail mix" :-)

As Nan said, there are advantages to waiting a few months, so it's really up to you. I am of the opinion that UC is a  result of multiple factors including diet, wethering age, and genetic predisposition so wethering a little later can give them a leg up. 

That being said, some methods of wethering become a lot more difficult as they age. Burdizzo should still be fine but banding is harder (you need bigger bands) and possibly more painful when they're older and you'd have to check and see with local vets for other methods. In my area, the only vet within an hour of my house will only surgically castrate w/ general anesthesia and it would cost almost $300. I'm planning to band my next boys as late as the bands will still fit.
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#5
thank you for the advice and input
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#6
(04-07-2018, 08:24 PM)IdahoNancy Wrote: Wean off the bottle at 3 months of age, castrate at 5 to 6 months, Alfalfa for the 1st year with Nutrena Show Edge Goat Feed. It has the 2 to 1 calcium to phosphorus balance, ammonium chloride (AC), and 16% protein. I used calf manna with 25 % protein when my 3 month old got sick. He picked the weight back up nicely.
I do not have acreage and my goats are supplemented with Show Edge Goat Feed most of their lives. I have 3 goats with and age spread of 4 years between each. By design I always have a young one growing and an older packer.
My Mana Pro Goat Minerals which has AC in it are cut in half with kelp meal which has 4% protein in it.

curious on your ration of the show goat feed??  simply following the instructions on the bag which follows the guidleines of 3% to 5% of bodyweight?
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#7
Not very scientific on my part. I should have mentioned it is a supplement in addition to orchard grass hay.
My 10 year old Oberhali seemed to be loosing weight this winter. Vet says his teeth are fine. At his peak he was 225 lbs and 38in tall. He is on 2 cups a day with 2/3 cup black oil sunflower seeds, some beet pulp and good hay morning and evening. It has not seemed to do much for weigh gain but he stopped loosing. He seems to get loose poop easily so I have to move slow with him. Today he was out kicking it up and being goofy even with his arthritic knees.
My 3 year old and 7 year old get 1 cup a day with the 2/3 cup BOSS with hay in the morning. They don't need it, they like it and it distracts them while the old goat eats. It is great having them use to it when travelling and I like a low trickle of AC and fat in their diet.
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