It is kidding season again! Most of us are out there de-livering kids and taking care of all those babies and we all want to do things “right” and have the end result be a healthy, well grown, productive animal. Over the years I have learned some “tricks” that I feel help me do just that very thing. I present this information in a question and answer forum.The credit for the questions goes to Robin Kristin Nichols of Missouri Alternatives Center (MAC). The credit for the answers goes to all those wonderful folks who have been there over the years to teach me. Chief among those folks are Dr. Bob Coley, my vet; Landon Backus, nutritionist for Tennessee Farmers Co-op; Dr. Sharon Patton, parasitologist at University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine; Betsy Hultin of Glastonbury Farm; and Kathy Howard, By-Grace LaManchas
When do you introduce hay and grain to the kid?
I put grain (it is actually a pellet) out at birth and I remove it daily and feed to older stock, always putting fresh back in for the kid. Second or later cutting of fine leaved, green grass hay is added at a month of age. It too is changed every day. I change the water every day and keep the water bucket cleaned. I use a small gallon or so sized bucket that is mounted on the wall at kid height. Larger buckets can be a drowning risk.
Do you encourage kids to eat as soon as they will or do you wait until they are a certain age? If so, what age?
I want them to eat grain as soon as possible, and really encourage them to do so. I use a 16% pellet with decox and ammonium chloride in it. I add enough Calf Manna or some other protein source to raise the protein level to 22% until kids are eating at least a pound per day per kid. I then drop it back to 18% until they are about four months old, and drop it back to 16% from then on.
From birth, they always have access to a loose mineral mix that is formulated to meet the nutritional requirements of my management program. I don’t give any other supplemental selenium except what they get from their feed and loose mineral mix. This mix also has zinc in the form of ZinPro, which is the most bio-available form on the market.
Research in dairy calves has shown that you want them to eat grain as it encourages the development of the rumen. This contradicts the old commonly accepted wisdom of forage/hay encouraging rumen development. However the chemistry behind it makes sense. (See Hoard’s Dairyman, Volume 145, Number 16, September 25, 2000, “Why you should hold off on feeding forage to calves,” page 638.) In this article it is explained that butyric acid, which is the end product of fermentation of grains, but not forage, is thought to be the stimulating factor which drives rumen development. There is a direct relationship between more butyric acid being present and more rumen development being noted.
Do you limit grain and/or hay intake or allow free choice?
My experience has been that I can actually put the hay in the day they are born as they don’t really pay much attention to it until they’re about a month old. But, you have to put the grain in from day one and they will eat it soon if you just keep working with them. Dam raised kids will do what momma does and eat grain at just a few days old. Lambar raised kids will be very slow to catch on unless they’re in with an older kid that is already eating grain. I play with my lambar kids and mess around in the grain and “eat” it with my hand. They will then come over to see what I am doing and start “playing” too.
I never limit hay and it is always available free choice. I grow my own hay, and use a second or later cutting of grass hay for my goats. My feeding and management is built around using grass hay and not alfalfa. If I did feed alfalfa my grain ration would be lower in protein and my mineral mix lower in calcium.
Kids get all the grain I can get them to eat until they are consuming about a pound per day per head. I then begin to feed them to gain 10 pounds per month as I want them to be 80-plus pounds at seven months of age. That can be more or less than the one pound per day per head, depending upon how they gain.
Is it better to leave milk out free choice or to feed several small meals a day?
I have done it both ways. Best is to be able to leave them on momma if you have a CAE negative herd. But, if you have to raise on a lambar I like cold free choice milk replacer. I have found that there is just too much of a chance of contamination with raw milk when trying to do a prevention program at home with milk. Even though my does test CAE negative I will never pool raw milk and feed kids. Tests are not 100% accurate and the consequences are just too harsh for any mistakes. Also, I strongly suggest if you are doing CAE prevention to pasteurize all your milk! Don’t have any milk in the house that is raw! Tint your pasteurized milk green so you know it is really done. If you are storing or using raw and pasteurized milk from the same refrigerator/kitchen you are at risk of cross contaminating your milk.
Feeding cold free choice milk replacer frees up the milk to be used for other purposes and also is so easy to consistently feed kids without a lot of variation in content. I use Land O’ Lakes Nursing Formula. You do want to use a high quality product that has no soy in it. Trying to get by on cheaper milk replacers will usually give you a lot more health problems like bloat and scours in your kids.
Now, when you do feed the all they can eat cold milk replacer, those kids do have looser stools. It can be like the consistency of thin pudding. This worried me to death the first year I tried it and Kathy Howard kept assuring me that as long as a kid acted healthy, happy and the stool was not really watery or discolored, then all was fine.
And it is much more expensive to feed free choice because kids eat a lot more. You have to keep those lambars filled and never let them get empty, frozen, or too soured to drink. However, you will see your kids grow up so much faster and be almost indistinguishable from a dam raised kid the same age!
I use a frozen pop bottle full of water to keep it cool in warm weather and a heat lamp to keep it from freezing in cold weather. You can also just freeze a chunk of the replacer and float that in the lambar, too, so that when it melts they drink it! Most of my kids are born in late February to early March (this year they are due late March to early April) and below freezing weather isn’t a problem here. I know in other parts of the country is can be a real challenge though.
I also add a probiotic to the milk daily and dust the pellets with a probiotic and brewer’s yeast (Diamond XP). I use the probiotic that is dispersible in milk because of the flexibility of being able to use it to top-dress feed or in the milk.
Kids stay in the house for the first 24 hours and then go out to pens with a lambar. I take great pains to see that they “hook up” and they nurse well several times a day. My kids are pretty smart and I have never had one take longer than a day to figure out where the groceries were!
At what age do you start or stop coccidia control in your kid feeding program?
All kids get Corid daily for five days at 14 to 21 days of age. They get another treatment in 21 days after the last dose if they are not eating the pellets well enough to medicate them. My kids are on a pellet with ammonium chloride and decox. I almost never have to treat my dam-raised kids more than once as they are eating pellets well when it’s time to treat again. My lambar kids often need at least three treatments to be safe since they are slower to eat enough decoxx pellets.
I use Corid because it is a coccidiaSTAT and does not kill coccidia so the immune system can identify it and create a response to it; it just prevents any more from reproducing. Albon on the other hand, is a coccidiaCIDE and kills coccidia and the immune system doesn’t have a chance to do its thing. If you have a kid with actual symptoms of coccidia you need to use the Albon or some other coccidiacide to quickly alleviate the problem and minimize the damage.
Corid is known to be a B vitamin antagonist-it binds it up and makes it unavailable to the body. This could result in pseudo-polio and other neurological problems. I have used Corid for decades on puppies, chickens, kids, lambs, foals, and calves without ever seeing any sign of any problems. But I do keep on hand a B complex and B12, and watch for any problems.
When using the feeds with a coccidia preventative in it, you need to always treat the animal “as if” it really had a clinical case of coccida, and then put them on the feed. This is due to the fact that the feed has a low level to prevent coccidia, and not to treat an actual case.
My kids stay on the medicated decox pellets until they kid and we start to use the milk (about a month fresh) if I freshen them as yearlings. If they don’t get freshened as yearlings then I take them off the pellets at about 10 months of age, or so. By the way, my bucks stay on that ammonium chloride and decox pellet for life.
My experience with coccidia is that it is much more of a problem than the textbooks would have you believe. I have found that any animal that is stressed out can have a flare up-yearlings at first freshening, bucks in rut, old animals with chronic health problems, any animal that gets sick, etc. I also routinely treat my entire doe herd with Corid beginning about two months before they freshen. I get two cycles of treatment in before they freshen and that cuts down on any exposure of the kids that are dam raised. I have never had a clinical case of coccidia, but have had some really high oocyte counts on fecals which were just about to the point of being a clinical case. Developing this treatment regime has almost eliminated this problem.
My herd has been Linear Appraised several times over the last 10 years and all the appraisers have remarked my does are very well grown. I really want them to be 80-plus pounds at seven months of age and to be 120-plus pounds when they freshen at a year old.
What I do works well for me. It might work well for you and it might not. I have found my Tennessee Farmers Co-op, the University Agricultural Extension Service, and my local goat club-Smoky Mountain Dairy Goat Association-to be a wealth of helpful information in keeping my animals healthy.
Safehaven Nubians, breeding quality American and Purebred since 1991, DHIR & LA. David E. Raybon and Donna R. Myers-Raybon, 1101 Sager Rd., Dandridge, TN 37725; 1-865-475-0919. Certified, Accredited, Volunteer Scrapie Certification Program, CAE negative, CL free.