Purina® Rabbit Nutrition E—Newsletter

FEATURED STORY | Raising Goats as a Form of Therapy

When 9-year-old Nicholas Pena and his family moved to a Michigan farm in 2008, his parents let him choose what kind of animal he wanted to raise. For Nicholas, the choice was easy: goats.

Lynn Pena, Nicholas’s mom, isn’t sure why he had such a curiosity for goats, but she’s grateful for the experience it’s been for her family. Raising his pet goats isn’t just a hobby; Nicholas has Pervasive Development Disorder, a form of high-functioning autism and ADHD. Taking care of his goats has been a form of therapy for Nicholas as well as a way to teach him responsibility.

“It has been truly amazing to watch the relationship and bond he has formed with them,” said Lynn, Nicholas’s mother. “He cares for them, takes them for walks, and plays with them as if they were his best friends.”

Lynn said that there was a notable difference in Nicholas, keeping him calmer and more relaxed with fewer outbursts. The Penas currently have six goats: Renn, Missy, Chocolate, Buddy, Tinker Bell, and Frisco. Some are Nubians and some Pygmy Dwarfs. The goats, in addition to being amusing pets, provide milk for the family.

“We are always learning something new, and they are very comical to watch,” Lynn said.


One of Lynn’s favorite memories of Nicholas and his goats were their appearances in local parades. In 2008, Lynn rode her horse in the Rudyard Summer Festival Parade, and but told a disappointed Nicholas that goats didn’t get to be in the parade. Much to her surprise, there were goats in the parade and Nicholas got his chance the next year! He and his goat Renn dressed up as Detroit Red Wings, his favorite sport team. Then, in the Christmas parade, three of the goats were dressed up as reindeer.

“The two parades got many comments from people, and Nicholas felt so proud to be a part of the parades with his mom and sister,” Lynn said. “The goats were patient with all the decorating and transporting and gave no problems walking.”


For healthy and nourished animals, the Penas keep a strictly Purina brand diet.

“We use Purina® goat grain, and we love all the nutrition it has,” Lynn said. “We also use Purina® products for our dogs, horses, cats, chickens and pigs.”

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GOAT TIPS | Summer Tips

Summer is finally here, which means outdoor barbecues, lounging around at the pool and, of course, air conditioning. Things like jumping in the water and spending time in the cooler indoors are ways that we help beat the heat during the warm summer months, but don’t forget to help your goats do the same. The warm weather can be tough on animals, sometimes causing them to overheat, which can lead to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, or even death. Following these tips will help them enjoy the summer months as much as you do.

Fresh, cool air: Make cross-ventilation a priority, especially in the summer. One thing to look out for, in particular, is ammonia. Ammonia builds up more quickly in the summer heat, especially low to the ground where goats sleep. Kneel down in your goat shed, and if you can smell ammonia from eight inches above the floor, your shed needs a thorough cleaning.

H20: Clean, cool water should be available at all times. Water is essential for temperature control, waste excretion, electrolyte balance, digestion and more. Keep water troughs clean by changing drinking water several times a day, and put water containers in the shade to avoid algae. In extreme heat, or if you will be away for long periods, add ice blocks to your goats’ water. One way to increase the water intake is by offering free choice salt. This will help dilute the urine and avoid urinary calculi, which increases in hot weather. A bout of diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration in the heat of summer. Keep cool, clean water available at all times. Persistent diarrhea in young kids can lead to death if left untreated. If symptoms persist, consult your veterinarian.

Play: Goats love to play and are always looking for something to do. Make sure they have a shaded area to have their fun during the summer months.

Hygiene: Dirty shed and bedding can lead to skin sores, mastitis, respiratory ailments, foot problems, and more that escalate in the summer heat, so keep it clean. You may also want to shear long-haired goats before the summer heat sets in.

Transportation: Minimize transport time especially in late gestation as much as possible, but if you must, provide proper ventilation, make plenty of stops and make time to rest, water, and feed them along the way.

Summer babies: Try to avoid summer births in hot climates where temperatures are often above 90 degrees during summer and fall. Kids tend not to grow as fast under such circumstances, and high temperatures combined with drought conditions cause stress.

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GET TO KNOW | Purina® Goat Block

Purina® Goat Block is a highly fortified supplemental feed designed to enhance a goat’s diet on native range or pasture. It contains the essential vitamins and minerals needed to meet a goat’s nutritional requirement.

• Essential nutrients supplement natural forage
• 18 percent protein supports muscle growth in kids and doe lactation
• Added copper and zinc for healthy skin and coat
• Supplemental vitamins for overall immune health

Feed limited amounts for the first few days and then offer free choice, scatter in pasture or field or place in bunks where goats are grazing. Supply at the rate of 1 block per 12-15 head of goats. Check the supply often and replenish when blocks are two-thirds gone. Be sure that goats have roughage and water available at all times.

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