Proper nutrition is an integral part of herd health. Our Rafter O goats are essentially dry lotted meaning they do not have access to lush pastures. Our property sits on solid limestone at an elevation of about 1,000 feet above sea level. Our goat pens are very rocky and have Ashe juniper (cedar) and live oak trees with little ground vegetation. Lots of shade, but not much to graze on therefore we provide everything our goats need.
For feeding purposes, we classify our goats into the following categories: Kids, Dry Does, Milking Does, and Bucks. Pregnant does in the late stages of pregnancy are also fed a little differently.
New Country Organics Certified Organic 15% Protein Goat Pellets is an easy to feed pellet that helps to support growth, lactation, gestation, and general management of goats. Made exclusively with North American Organic Grains, this feed is balanced with probiotics, kelp, and other minerals to best meet your herd’s needs. Feed 1 to 2 lbs per head per day for general maintenance and gestation diets. Feed 1 lb grain per 3 lbs of milk production per day for lactating goats. Feed as a supplement to good quality forage. We feed this to our Rafter O Kids and Milking Does. We purchase this direct from New Country Organics in bulk and have it shipped in.
Update: Our goats were not super enthusiastic about the pellets last year, so we opted to get the Goat Feed instead of pellets. So far, they are LOVING it! More info here.
Premium 100% Organic Alfalfa Pellets are high-density pellets of Standlee Premium Western Forage. Alfalfa forage is low in sugar, moderately high in protein, high in calories and digestible fiber. They are certified organic by the USDA and GMO-free, with no artificial colors, flavors or chemicals added. Sustainable, and ecologically grown ingredients. This product provides an organic feed alternative for animals and backyard food production for families. We feed this to our Rafter O Kids, Dry Does, and Milking Does. We purchase this from Tractor Supply.
Update: For 2021, we purchased our Organic Alfalfa Pellets from New Country Organics. We ordered in bulk along with the Goat Feed to stock up and cut down on trips into town.
Tired of fighting parasites in your goats? Consider adding Sericea Lespedeza to your nutrition program! Lespedeza is a legume that is fed to ruminants for control of internal parasites, specifically Haemonchus contortus, otherwise known as Barber Pole Worm. The tannins in the legume are thought to control parasite levels by creating an unfavorable environment in the rumen that hurts parasite productivity and fertility. Tannins are also linked to improved digestion of proteins, thereby enhancing nutrition and boosting the immune system, all of which aid in increasing the animal’s resistance to parasites. We have had great success with this natural parasite control combined with strong management practices. Our goats love it! We feed this to our Rafter O Kids, Dry Does, and Milking Does. We purchase this direct from New Country Organics in bulk and have it shipped in. This product has very limited availability and sells out fast- so if you are interested in ordering it, reach out to New Country Organics and let them know. It is not currently available, so the Rafter O will do without it this year. For those of you running your goats on pasture and having problems with Barberpole worms, this is definitely a must-have to control those parasites! Our Rafter O goats are dry-lotted so we do not have a heavy worm burden and reinfestation rate.
Manna Pro Calf Manna has been part of the community for over 80 years, helping your animals grow healthy and strong. Calf-Manna delivers a wide range of benefits to all types of animals and life stages. From horses, cattle, rabbits and goats to poultry, swine, and deer, Calf-Manna helps every animal reach their peak condition and top performance.
Calf-Manna includes multiple sources of high-quality protein. This protein provides a wide array of essential amino acids that meet the needs of many different animals. More proteins equal more growth and better muscle development. Digestible Carbohydrates = More Energy. Calf-Manna’s digestible carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. It’s often called “energy dense” which means it delivers more calories per mouthful. Our quality carbohydrates also make Calf-Manna an ideal solution for weight gain. Anise = Palatability. Ingredients like Anise provide Calf-Manna’s inviting, sweet-smelling aroma and taste for animals of all ages. The great taste Calf-Manna encourages animals to stay on feed during times of stress like travel, illness, or environmental changes. Brewer’s Dried Yeast = Better Digestion. Brewer’s Dried Yeast improves palatability, encourages earlier and more consistent intake of dry feed, and promotes optimal digestion of other nutrients. Linseed Meal = Improved Coat Condition. Linseed Meal provides protein and oil to help add sheen and luster to your animal’s coat. At Manna Pro, we believe that every animal that comes down our path deserves the best nutrition possible, which is why Calf-Manna is America’s favorite nutritional supplement.
We feed Calf Manna to our Rafter O Kids and Milking Does. We purchase it at Tractor Supply.
A pelleted complete feed formulated for the optimum growth, development, and maintenance of goats.
- Medicated options: rumensin or decoquinate* – Aid in protection against coccidiosis
- 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. Proper calcium to phosphorus ratio for goats.
- Palatable, high-quality ingredients – Helps ensure consumption
We only feed this to our Rafter O Bucks. We purchase this at Tractor Supply.
Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Pellets are high density, 1/4 inch pellets of Standlee Premium Western Forage. This mix combines two of the most popular forages in a blend that is moderate to low in protein and sugar. We feed this to our Rafter O Bucks. We purchase this at Tractor Supply.
- All-Milk Protein Supports Growth + Development
- Powered by Opti-Gut™ to Support Gut Health + Digestion
- Easy-to-Mix for Fast Prep + Optimal Consumption
We only use this as a last resort if we need to bottle feed kids or as a supplement. First preference would be Raw Goat Milk from our Milking Does, but if we don’t have enough milk, we have used this with great success. We purchase this at Tractor Supply.
- A fun, nutritious snack for goats of all ages.
- Enriched with vitamins and minerals.
- Easy-to-feed nugget form.
There are many other treats that goats love! We rotate through BOSS (Black Oil Sunflower Seeds), Raw Whole Pumpkin Seeds, Bananas, and the occasional Oak Tree branch!
Goats need long-stem roughage as well as high-quality feed. Obtaining quality hay is a challenge in some parts of the country – all depends on the climate and what grows there. Here in Texas, I have found a great source of Haygrazer (Sudan) hay. Previously, I fed square bales of Alfalfa, but the goats wasted so much, I found Chaffhaye to be a better alternative.
Haygrazers are described as crosses of forage types of sorghum, sorgo, and sudangrasses. Sudan hybrids are described as hybrids or crosses in which at least one parent is a Sudan. The other parent may be a grain sorghum, a sweet sorgo, or a Sudan. Sorghum X Sudan and sorgo X Sudan hybrids tend to have coarser stems and broader leaves than the true Sudan X Sudan hybrids. Common examples of Sudan hybrids are Haygrazer, Trudan, Sweet Treat, Sweet Graze, Sudax, and many others.
We feed this hay free choice to all our Rafter O goats. The smaller stem varieties work better for goats than the larger stem cattle varieties. Waste still occurs with this hay, but they absolutely LOVE it!
Coastal Bermuda is the most common hay fed to horses in Texas. … A similar grass is Tifton 85, and lots of folks call it Bermuda grass but it is different as Tifton 85 is a cross between a Bermuda grass and a close tropical relative called stargrass that was used in the cross to increase digestibility. We only feed this as filler hay in the winter, and sometimes when kids are on the ground. Our Rafter O goats will eat this when it is “new” to them again, but don’t like it as much as the Haygrazer.
Chaffhaye is premium bagged, Non-GMO Alfalfa sold in 50-pound bags that captures the key characteristics of alfalfa, while also offering a guaranteed level of nutrition. It is ideal for ensuring maximum health and well-being of all classes of horse, deer, goat, llama, chickens, camelid, household pets, and other exotic animals. Chaffhaye is family-owned and located in Dell City, Texas. There are many dealers all over Texas. We purchase this at either New Braunfels Producers CoOp or Strutty’s in Spring Branch.
Alfahay comes in a 50-pound bag and is the closest thing to fresh-cut alfalfa. Alfahay is NON-GMO alfalfa. Alfahay is for horses, cattle, pigs, deer, goats, sheep, birds, and exotics. Unlike other feeds that are dried, Alfahay is cut and packed with its natural moisture. This locks in all the fresh nutrition of the plant. Alfahay then undergoes a fermentation process after being bagged to produce beneficial yeasts and bacteria. Alfahay is a newer company based out of Iowa with a growing number of dealers nationwide.
We feed Chaffhaye to our Rafter O Kids and Does. It is great when the kids start nibbling, and the adults gobble it up quickly with no waste.
High Fiber Chopped Hay is a measured blend of timothy, oat, and alfalfa hay, with added molasses and short chopped for easier chewing and digestibility. Dried at a high temperature to lock in the natural nutrition. We feed this to our Rafter O Kids and all Does. It is a great starter hay for kids, and we use it often as a “distraction” hay to keep the girls busy while we are going in and out of the gate. We purchase this at Tractor Supply.
Whether it is for meat goats, dairy animals or breeding stock, this is the ultimate protection for excellent health, immunity, parasite-resistance, nutrient-density of meat and milk, enhanced color and quality of horns, hooves, and hair. This is the “gold standard” with which to compare any and all other labels for the perfect all-in-one, free-choice, all-natural, self-regulating livestock nutritional supplement. One can look long and hard for many years without finding anything even remotely close to this. Not only is it the absolute best, but it also won’t cost a penny more than cheap, ineffective and mediocre factory-made products! No other goat mix comes even close to this recipe. All organic, nothing GMO, or artificial and no fillers, cheap additives or salt. It also provides everything the dairy animal needs. It is very high in copper, iodine, zinc, and selenium, all the critical minerals, as well has providing maximal levels of vitamins A, D3 and E.
We purchase this direct from Grass Farmer Supply and have it shipped in. We feed this to our goats in our homemade PVC Mineral Feeders (click the link for the tutorial). We fill our PVC feeders with minerals about once a month. We feed these minerals to our Rafter O Kids and Does.
Vitamin & Mineral Supplement Designed Just for Goats! Manna Pro Goat Mineral Supplement is fortified with vitamins and minerals for sound growth. We feed this mineral to our Rafter O Bucks. We buy these minerals at Tractor Supply.
- Fosters optimal conditions for reproduction and enhances show appearance
- Chelated minerals for improved absorption and utilization
- Contains ammonium chloride
- Exclusive microbial blend promotes proper digestive function
- Loose mineral form can be fed free choice
Thorvin Kelp is nutrient dense, supports animal health, is economical, has high nutrient value per pound, is a concentrated source, is versatile, organic, and all natural. Supplemental kelp may help raise milk production, increase appetite, improve digestion, and general overall condition, regulate heat cycles, rate of conception and healthy births and in bucks’ number and durability of sperm.
We feed Kelp about once or twice a week to our Rafter O Kids, Does, and Bucks. We feed more often during Breeding Season in the Fall. Thorvin Kelp can be purchased in many places. We have purchased from Caprine Supply and New Country Organics.
A nutritional source of amino acid chelated/complexed minerals and vitamins for all classes of Beef, Dairy, Equine, Goats and Swine.
REPLAMIN® PLUS PROVIDES 12 VITAMINS & MINERALS INCLUDING:
- vitamin E
- Metal Amino Acid Chelated minerals in a single dose to improve immune response
MAAC® minerals are 100% biodegradable and can be absorbed up to six times more than inorganic minerals. It also contains a direct-fed microbial that helps optimize digestion and absorption of vital nutrients.
We supplement our goats with this about once a month or when we are trimming hooves. It can be purchased at Jeffers Pet.
What are Probiotics?
Every animal has bacteria in their digestive system that help to digest food. The balance of trillions of bacteria in the intestine includes both beneficial (good bacteria) and pathogenic (bad bacteria) microorganisms. Maintaining a balance of these bacteria aids in digestion and overall health.
Probiotics are good bacteria that can help boost the levels of naturally occurring beneficial bacteria in the gut. The word probiotic means “for life,” the opposite of antibiotic. Antibiotics indiscriminately kill both bad and good bacteria. Probiotics, or Direct-Fed Microbials (DFMs), can help return an animal’s intestinal microflora back to healthy, normal levels.
The benefits of probiotics are unique to each species and even further defined by the specific strain. Probiotics are living bacteria and are therefore sensitive to conditions such as pH, moisture, and temperature. The strains in Probios® microbial products have been carefully selected to survive the manufacturing process and storage in quantities meeting the label guarantees. These strains also remain viable under the harsh conditions of the animal’s gastrointestinal tract, meaning every guaranteed bacterium (expressed in Colony Forming Units or CFU) will be available to the animal.
Most Probios® products contain lactic acid bacteria including Enterococcus faecium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus plantarum. Select Probios® products contain Bacillus subtilis and Bacillus licheniformis bacteria.
Probios is the top of the line brand, but others are okay too. We buy our Probiotic Paste at various outlets (Jeffers Pet, Tractor Supply, Caprine Supply). We give Probiotic Paste as needed to Kids and Adults.
Selenium & Vitamin E
Vitamin E and Selenium are needed for optimum muscle health and antioxidant support. We feed these crumbles to our pregnant does about once a week during pregnancy.
We have the gel formulation on hand for Kids that might need extra supplementation to correct muscle issues after birth.
Vitamin B is used to support appetite, digestion and energy levels. We administer during kidding, vaccinating, post antibiotic, deworming, weaning, diminished feed intake and other stressful events. Vitamin B can be either injected subcutaneously or given orally as a gel.
Our Rafter O kids are dam raised. We will supplement with a bottle for large litters, triplets or quadruplets. When bottle feeding, we try to use Raw Goat Milk, but will use the Kid Milk Replacer if necessary.
When the kids start nibbling, they eat the same hay that the Does eat: Haygrazer, Chaffhaye, and Hi Fiber Chopped Hay. After about 4 weeks of age, the kids are offered the Grain pellets, Alfalfa pellets, and Lespedeza pellets. They are fed these pellets in small amounts both in the morning and evening when they are separated from their dams.
Dry Does consist of both junior does who haven’t freshened, and adult does who are given the year off. These goats don’t need as much food since they are not producing milk.
In the morning, these girls get Alfalfa pellets and Lespedeza pellets and all-day access to Haygrazer hay. In the evening, they receive Chaffhaye and Hi Fiber Chopped Hay.
Milking does require higher feed intake. In the morning, the milkers receive 2 cups Grain pellets, 2 cups Alfalfa pellets, and 1 cup Lespedeza pellets. Calf Manna is also added to help increase milk production. After they are done milking, they receive a handful of goat treats. They have all-day access to Haygrazer hay. In the evening, they receive Chaffhaye and Hi Fiber Chopped Hay.
Our Bucks have all-day access to Haygrazer hay. In the morning, each buck receives about 1-2 cups of Purina Grower pellets. In the evening, each buck receives 1-2 cups of Alfalfa Timothy pellets. During rut in the Fall, we feed the bucks more, and other times of the year less.
Water is an essential nutrient for all animals and is sometimes overlooked. While goats require less water than cattle, they do need water and require additional supplies when lactating or coping with hot weather. A 110-pound goat will require 1 to 3 gallons of water per day, depending upon diet, intake, and weather — toward the lower range in winter and the upper range in the hottest days of summer. A lactating goat will require an additional 1 quart of water for every 1 pint of milk produced. If a goat is producing 5 pints of milk at peak lactation while raising twins, 2.5 gallons of water are required each day. If goats are eating green material, a substantial part of their water requirement can be met by water contained in the plant material. However, if dry feed such as hay is consumed, water must be supplied to meet the requirement.
Water should be kept clean to encourage intake. This usually involves regular cleaning of the waterer. It is important that the area around the waterer not be muddy as this environment can spread foot rot and internal parasites. Placing some rock or gravel around the waterer can help keep feet dry and reduce disease problems. Water cleanliness is especially important for bucks on high-grain diets. Their water needs to be shaded in summer and warm in the winter to encourage intake and reduce the risk of urinary calculi.
Here at the Rafter O, we utilize Nelson Automatic Dog Waterers Model 1200. Unlike the cheap automatic waterers you can purchase at Tractor Supply, these waterers are built to last! They are built of high grade 304 stainless steel and they are virtually indestructible. We have one of these mounted inside our doe barn and another outside. We are looking to purchase two more to use in the buck barn and for our LGDs.
We have very high water pressure at our barns, and I recommend using a water pressure regulator with these waterers. Reducing the water pressure helps lessen the strain on the waterer and decrease the chances of leaks.
We also have a few buckets of water out for our goats as well in case one goat decides to hog the waterer. In the summer, we add Goat BlueLite® to one bucket of water in the doe barn. During the extremely hot days, we refill this several times a day. Goat BlueLite® contains palatable electrolytes, vitamins, and readily available sources of energy and nutrients to use during periods of dehydration in goats. BlueLite is also helpful when taking goats to shows. Sometimes goats won’t drink “new” water that they aren’t used to. BlueLite makes the water more palatable and increases consumption. We have nicknamed this Goatorade! BlueLite is available at many online retailers.
We have been raising goats since 2015, and adjust our nutrition plans as needed. Our goats are happy and healthy and raised without compromise! Because they are dry-lotted, the feed bill is high, but we don’t have to battle the parasites like herds on pasture. More on parasites in a future blog! Happy goating!