Purina® Goat Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Susan McKean: Starting As Pets But Becoming Family

Having a love for animals and working as a veterinary technician for seven years at a small animal clinic, Susan McKean has always had various pets. Dogs, cats, geese, chickens, horses, you name it, and for quite awhile now, goats.

"I've had goats for 20 years," said Susan. "I first had a pygmy wether named Snipper, who was a pet I kept at the boarding stable with my horses. I then adopted a mature pygmy doe named Ivy. She changed everything."

Unlike Snipper, Ivy lived at home with Susan on her 18-acre farm in Southern California and even went on hikes with her and the dogs.

"Before I got her, Ivy lived inside the house with the people that raised her since she was a baby, and I don't think she knew she was a goat," Susan said. "She loved dogs and thought she was one. She was the first goat that we went hiking with and would run with the dogs as if she was part of the pack. In fact, when I got two little baby goats for her, thinking she needed companionship, she wanted nothing to do with them."

Ivy became more than a pet; she became a family member, which is the same for Susan's current goats: Wren, a black and white Nigerian doe; Willow, a gold Nigerian doe; Ares, a Boer wether; and Sampson, a Pygmy wether.

Each of her goats has its own distinct personality and preferences.

"Wren does not like to be held. She comes over to be scratched but is much more independent. Willow is just very affectionate and sweet. As soon as I sit down she comes over and tries to climb on my lap. She will sit there very contently chewing her cud and actually fall asleep," Susan said. "Sampson comes over and wants to be picked up and scratched all over. He has the loudest voice, he almost sounds like he is screaming. At feeding time, I worry that my neighbors think he is being tortured. Ares wants to be held, but he is way too big; poor guy. When we are out for walks he's the one who is always by my side and keeping tabs on me."

In addition to her goats Susan has three Australian Shepherds, two Chihuahuas, four cats, three Morgan horses, two Andalusian horses and 20 chickens.

"All of the animals have been raised together and get along great," she said.

All of the goats are one year old and live in their own special goat stall with an outdoor play yard complete with trees, stumps and logs to climb on. There is also a horse mounting block with steps that they love to climb on and shove around and a rubber feed tub that they like to play with.

"When Sampson is tired he likes to get in it and curl up and go to sleep," said Susan.

When they were younger, she kept the two Nigerian babies in the house until they were eight weeks old because they were so small and it was cold in the barn. Since they weren't house trained, Susan got creative and fashioned goat diapers using human preemie diapers.

Susan and her partner, Tony, moved to Oregon about two years ago and still like to take the goats for hikes and because the goats are so attached, they don't even need to keep them on a leash. They do keep collars on them though, just in case they need to grab them.

"I feel like the ultimate goat herder with my little pack of goats," said Susan. "If I start running, so do they. If I stop, they start browsing. If I start to walk away and they are still eating, they will run to catch up as soon as they notice I have gone."

Susan uses Honor® Show Chow® feed and Purina® Goat Chow® Goat Mineral that she gets at Rainey's Corner in White City, Oregon.

"I like it because it is a complete feed, so I don't have to worry about them needing extra vitamins," said Susan. "And most importantly it contains ammonium chloride to help minimize the incidence of urinary calculi in the wethers. I free-feed the additional minerals as an assurance they will drink plenty of water and I think it keeps their coats healthy."

Her goats provide her with plenty of entertainment, whether she's sitting and watching or going for walks.

"I can just sit with them and watch their antics for hours," said Susan. "I was surprised at how affectionate and loyal they are, too. They are incredible companions."

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GOAT TIPS | Goat's Special Nutrition Needs

Goats are related to other ruminant cud-chewing animals such as cattle and sheep. For this reason, it was once believed that goats could be fed the same as their ruminant cousins. But goats are primarily browsers, selectively eating a wide variety of shrubs, woody plants, weeds, and briars. In fact, goats are far more similar to deer than to either cattle or sheep. Unfortunately many goats, especially does, are unable to get enough nutrients from browse alone to meet their needs. It is also important to realize that certain types of browse pose a danger, including: wild cherry, hemlock, azaleas and species of the laurel family are all poisonous to goats.

To provide the nutrition goats need to reach their full potential, supplemental feeding is needed.

Hay and pasture may vary considerably in quality and nutrient value. Of particular concern is the extreme variation that occurs in key nutrients such as protein, fiber and energy needed to promote growth and good milk production. Protein quality can also vary. Inconsistencies in quality can be influenced by climate, land use and time of year. Controlling these inconsistencies is an important part of providing the nutrition your goats need to lead healthy, productive lives. For this reason, Purina has developed a full line of goat feeds designed to take the guesswork out of feeding goats for all life and development stages.

The productivity and well-being of your goats depends largely on the quality and quantity of the feeding program you provide. Balancing your goat's feeding program and providing the correct diet ensures your goats are receiving the total sum of the daily nutrients they need for optimal health. Nutrient needs will vary depending on the goat's life stage and activity level. A feeding program balanced for maintenance, for example, will not be sufficient to meet the nutritional needs of growth, pregnancy, lactation, wool production or for developing body conditioning and coat quality for showing. As nutritional demands rise with increased production demands, it will be important to readjust your goat's diet and feeding program accordingly.

The nutrient quality of forage can vary from season to season or even field to field as discussed earlier. So, when you want your goats to thrive, you should consider adding a supplemental feed to their forage diet. Supplemental feeds, like Purina® Goat Chow® feed, provide the consistent nutrients not found in forage to ensure optimum nutrition. Supplemental feeds come in coarse grain mixtures or pelleted forms. Purina® Goat Chow® feed is a coarse grain mixture.

Roughage is an essential part of good goat nutrition. But many times good quality forage is not available to provide roughage. Complete feeds not only contain the built-in roughage goats need, but other important nutrients as well. So with a complete feed, like Purina® Meat Goat 16 or Purina® Honor® Show Chow® Goat, you know your goats are consistently receiving total nutrition in every bite. Complete feeds are convenient, too, minimizing clean-up from wasted or uneaten forage.

In addition to choosing a supplemental or complete feed, you also have a choice of feed form. One choice is a sweet feed, a highly palatable, coarse grain mix that contains molasses. Almost all goats will eat sweet feeds, making it an excellent choice for even the most finicky eater. You may choose a pelleted feed. While many goat owners feel their goats may not prefer pelleted rations, they readily eat it when it is the only source of feed available and it offers several advantages. Pelleted feeds contain all the nutritious grains, vitamins and minerals your goat needs. Pellets eliminate sorting and help prevent waste that commonly occurs with coarse grain rations, making them very efficient in commercial operations. Convenient for you and good for your goat, Purina® Goat Chow® diets are available as either a complete or supplemental feed form.

If you are unsure which feed is right for your goats, your Purina Certified Expert Dealer has all the right training and tools to help you design a feeding program especially suited to your goats' environment and lifestyle.

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GET TO KNOW | Noble Goat® Lactation High Fiber

Noble Goat® Lactation High Fiber is an all-natural*, pelleted complete feed formulated for optimum milk production in lactating dairy goats. It is fully-fortified to deliver the nutrition and performance you expect. The ingredients found in all Noble Goat® products are carefully selected based on Purina's expert research, so you know that you're getting quality, productivity, and value in each bag.

  • High Fiber Formulation: reduces the amount of supplemental forage required and helps promote normal rumen fermentation
  • Nutritionally complete: provides the proper balance of high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
  • Built in roughage source: minimizes clean-up from wasted or uneaten forage, excellent for late-stage pregnancy when a doe's physical capacity for feed intake is limited
  • Palatable: consistent high quality ingredients assure top performance and goat acceptability
  • Diamond V® Yeast Culture: helps to maximize feed digestion and to support rumen fermentation during stress
  • Availa-4® minerals: balanced combination of organic zinc, manganese, copper and cobalt to optimize growth and support immune response
  • Pelleted: no separation of ingredients, easy to handle
Note: This product contains copper and should not be fed to sheep.

Remember that feed consumption will vary with life stage, environment, and activity. Also, be sure adequate amounts of fresh, clean water are always available. This product is available regionally, so check with your local Purina dealer for ordering details.

*with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients

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