More Feedback on Raising Goats

The writer, who has 20 years of experience raising goats, takes issue with the advice in the goat chapter of "Grow It!" and provides her own recommendations.

| November/December 1973

  • raising goats - billy goat
    A healthy bill goat in pasture. You don't necessarily have to keep a billy if you're raising goats.
  • raising goats - care and milking
    LEFT: Brushing down a young goat. RIGHT: Milking a stanchioned doe on her milking platform.
  • raising goats - feeding
    Supervising stanchioned goats at their feed trough.
  • 024-038-01i2
    LEFT DIAGRAM: Suggested dimensions for a goat pen. RIGHT DIAGRAM: The does' water bucket can sit on a platform at the end of the manger

  • raising goats - billy goat
  • raising goats - care and milking
  • raising goats - feeding
  • 024-038-01i2

I've just read the chapter on raising goats from Grow It! reprinted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS and I can't believe that author Richard W. Langer ever really raised dairy goats. His work contains too many nonsensical ideas and factual errors...and some downright dangerous advice.

This is unfortunate for the many beginners who will read and believe Grow It' s suggestions and thereby get off to a bad start. It's especially regrettable because the novice goatherd often has no experienced neighbor or informed veterinarian to bail him out if he has trouble. Worst of all, Langer's most serious mistakes are in the important basics: feeding, milk handling, housing, and breeding.

First off, the grain ration suggested in Grow It! —four to eight pounds a day—is far too much for a milking doe. That amount would turn many goats into overweight non-producers, and could very easily cause a pregnant female to die of ketosis.

On our place, pregnant does get a pound and a half to two pounds of grain a day and milkers are given two to four pounds daily (one pound of grain per three pints of milk produced). All the members of the herd are fed as much good hay as they want.

Nor do I like Langer's recommended grain mix. It contains no molasses and will, therefore, be dusty and unappealing to goats. The commercial horse feed used by many goat raisers is preferable because it includes molasses, provides enough protein when fed with legume hay, and is usually much fresher than any goat feed your store might sell.

In all my 20 years' experience, I've never heard of giving kids cooked oatmeal gruel from bottles as Langer suggests. Out of curiosity I telephoned an experienced eastern breeder who's been raising dairy goats since before I was born, and she'd never heard of the idea either. We agreed, also, that it's a waste of time to feed kids milk four or five times a day. Three meals the first couple of days and two thereafter are plenty.

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