Purina® Goat Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Moenning Hill Farm

A few years ago Whitney Rogers was diagnosed with vasovagal syncope, which causes her to have fainting spells. She has to visit her cardiologist a couple times per year and take medication daily; however, it does not slow her down. She is a junior breeder for the Myotonic Goat Registry and American Miniature Horse Association/ American Miniature Horse Registry, active in 4-H, an honor roll student and an excellent athlete.

Ironically, Whitney and her parents, Staci and Greg, own Moenning Hill Farm in Southern, Indiana and sell myotonic "fainting" goats and miniature horses.

"When our goats faint, she laughs and says she knows exactly how they feel," said Staci.

When Myotonic goats get scared or startled, the muscles in their legs constrict and cause them to lock up and fall over. A typical faint lasts 15-20 seconds, however it can last longer. Although the newborn kids "scream" the first couple times they faint, it is completely harmless.

"One of my funniest goat stories happened last year," said Staci. "A local couple had driven by our house a few times and loved the beauty of our goats. Although we weren't home, they decided to stop and see the goats. When they approached the fence, one of the goats fainted. Not realizing they were fainting goats, they panicked and drove away. A few days later, the gentleman was having lunch with his friend, our sheriff, asked if anyone had reported that their goat was killed last week and told the sheriff what happened."

It just so happens that Staci's sister-in-law works with the sheriff and he and his family have visited the Rogers' farm.

"When the sheriff asked if he happened to be on our road, the gentleman said 'Yes, how did you know?'" Staci said. "The sheriff laughed so hard he could hardly explain that they are fainting goats and that they really didn't kill my goat."

Staci and Greg bought their 29 acre farm in 2001, and renamed it after Staci's great-grandparents, the Moennings, who founded the farm in the 1800's. A few years ago, the Rogers decided to get pygmy goats for Staci's birthday. At the time they couldn't locate any, but did come across an ad in Farm World magazine advertising for Myotonic fainting goats. Greg called the seller and Staci started researching.

"We were both very intrigued by what we learned so we made arrangements to visit the seller's farm," said Staci. "We came home that same day with two pregnant does, a buck and a four month old kid. We were in love!"

The goats soon became an addiction for the Rogers, as they found the curious creatures to be very docile, inquisitive and friendly. Their family and friends immediately began to ask about buying the unborn kids, so they looked for a few more does to purchase.

"Instead, we ended up with a herd of 16 from a family who could no longer afford to keep their livestock," said Staci. "We planned to sell off half of that herd, but by day two, my daughter and I had them all named, so they stayed."

The Rogers now have approximately 20 breeding does, 3 bucks and countless kids. At one point during this year's kidding season, their number reached just over 60 goats; however, that number quickly declined as people rushed to purchase the new kids.

"It's always hard to say goodbye to our babies when they leave; however, it's a great feeling when our past buyers send new buyers to us because they too fall in love and want a fainter to call their own," Staci said.

Although the Rogers haven't shown their goats yet, a family who purchased two wethers from them last year took them to their local fair and swept Grand and Reserve Grand Champion.

"We have several families who bought kids this spring who plan to show at their local fairs, so I am eager to go watch them compete and root on our kids," said Staci.

Staci and Greg both work full-time outside of the home and Whitney plays basketball and volleyball for her school. Although Staci works in the financial industry, she received her goat producer certification and is in the process of studying for her Veterinary Assistant degree to help her become a better owner and breeder.

"We stay quite busy, and when things gets stressful, we like to unwind by sitting in the kid pen and letting all the kids give us kisses and climb on and snuggle us," said Staci.

Kidding season is Staci's favorite part about raising goats and having grown up on a Holstein dairy farm, she prefers the black and white Myotonics, although they do have a few brown ones on their farm.

"We love welcoming all the new babies and can't wait to see what they will look like," Staci said.

The Rogers started using Purina® Goat Chow® last year because they were not happy with their other feed.

"Thanks to Purina, we just finished our best kidding season ever, with 34 kids born during the months of February and March," Staci said. "My whole herd has overall good health now that they are being fed Goat Chow®, and the success rate of our kids is a testament in itself. Our kids had overall larger birth weights and strong muscle development."

The Rogers' does have also seen improvement.

"In years past, my does would also start looking poor at weaning time and lose hair and weight," said Staci. "However this year, all the does rebounded quickly and look great."

The Rogers purchase their feed from both their local Tractor Supply and Jackson-Jennings Farm & Pet, since sometimes they buy more than what they have in stock, due to the size of their herd.

The Rogers are members of the Myotonic Goat Registry, American Livestock Breed Conservancy, American Miniature Horse Registry and the American Miniature Horse Association.

"Myotonic 'fainting' goats are listed on the American Livestock Breed Conservancy list as a 'recovering' species of animal, so we feel it is important to share this information with others and try to help increase the number of Myotonic goats," said Staci.

For more information on the Rogers, their goats and to see available goats to purchase visit www.moenninghillfarm.com.

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GOAT TIPS | Preparing for the Birth of Baby Goats

Making sure a doe is in good health and good body condition before she gives birth is one of the best ways to ensure healthy kids. Here are a few tips.

Ideally, you should start thinking about nutrition even before you breed your goat. A doe should be neither underweight nor overweight at the time of breeding. By feeding her a nutritious diet such as Purina® Goat Chow® or Show Chow® Goat Ration along with good quality natural forage, you help ensure that she won't need to overcome any nutritional deficiencies during pregnancy. And you can be confident that she's getting the proper balance of vitamins and minerals she needs to produce healthy kids.

Gestation for goats is 150 days, or about 5 months. During the first three months, you can feed the doe as usual and allow her to maintain her normal healthy exercise routine of walking and grazing. Healthy exercise is important because she's going to need strength at the end of pregnancy to carry the extra weight of a fetus or fetuses.

In the last two months of pregnancy, the feeding routine may need to change. During these final weeks, the unborn baby or babies are growing at a tremendous rate in preparation for birth. Depending on the size of the unborn kids, a doe may not have enough rumen capacity to eat as much as she usually does. Without proper nutrition, she's more likely to have smaller, weaker kids, yet she simply cannot consume enough foodstuffs to get the nutrition she needs (especially if they're of poor quality).

Consequently, now is the time to increase the concentrate (grain) portion of her diet and reduce the hay portion (it's important to do this gradually so as not to change the rumen pH too fast). A small amount of fat added to the feed is another way to increase her energy intake. Providing smaller, more frequent meals will also allow her to consume more energy.

Although goats can typically go for long periods without drinking water, the final days of pregnancy is no time for that. Water is the major component of amniotic fluid and milk and should be made freely available at all times.

A disease often seen in goats (most often in dairy goats) is pregnancy toxemia. During late-term pregnancy, especially when carrying multiple kids, a doe may be unable to derive all the energy she needs from feed. As a result, the doe's body begins to extract energy from its fat reserves. The breakdown of large amounts of fat results in compounds called ketones floating around in the blood. In large concentrations these ketones have a toxic effect and the animal can develop acidosis of the blood. Obese and extremely thin does are more prone to pregnancy toxemia, so it is important to maintain does in ideal body condition. Symptoms include apathy, a rough coat and disorientation. Your vet may need to administer glucose and electrolytes to help your goat get well.

The good news is that you can help prevent ketosis or pregnancy toxemia by getting more energy into the late-term pregnant doe. Simply increase the grain portion of her diet and add fat as needed, as described previously. Please consult your veterinarian for more information.

Also, about 30 days before the due date, vaccinate against Clostridium perfringes Types C & D and Tetanus. By vaccinating in advance, you will give the doe's immune system time to produce antibodies that can be passed along to her newborn kids through the colostrum.

Finally, during the final two months of pregnancy, keep unnecessary stress to a minimum. Avoid transporting the doe for long distances, and don't perform any routine management activities such as foot trimming.

As the big day approaches, you may notice telltale signs that your doe is preparing to go into labor. In fact, about two weeks prior to kidding, you may want to consider moving your doe to a kidding pen where you can observe her more carefully.

One of the first signals that the delivery date is near is a drop in appetite. Some does may paw the ground or become cranky. She may even vocalize. Frankly, any behavior that is out of the ordinary can be an indicator that she is getting ready to give birth.

When the time comes to go into labor, she will probably look for a secluded spot to deliver her babies. At this point, it's best to allow nature to take its course. Kidding normally takes about 20 minutes. If the doe is straining longer than that, it could indicate an abnormal presentation and she may need your help. Always keep the phone number of your veterinarian close at hand.

We hope these tips and suggestions will prove helpful. Good luck, and congratulations on the new kids.

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GET TO KNOW | Noble Goat® Dairy Parlor 16

Noble Goat® Dairy Parlor 16 is an all-natural*, fully fortified pelleted feed designed for optimum milk production in lactating dairy goats. Its special formula delivers the nutrition and performance your goat needs and provides the difference in overall growth and health you expect from Purina. 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.

  • Nutritionally balanced—provides the proper balance of high-quality proteins, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients
  • Appetizing, high quality ingredients—consistent quality ensures 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 support optimum growth and immune response
  • Pelleted—No separation of ingredients, easy to handle
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 in limited regions, so please check with your local local Purina dealer to confirm availability.

Note: This product contains copper and should not be fed to sheep.

*with added vitamins, minerals, and trace nutrients

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