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In Reply to: Re: Weight Gain Just stops posted by timj on November 21, 2001 at 06:47:18:
From your membership form I saw that you are from New Hampshire. While I am not entirely familiar with that area as a whole, I do know that breeders and producers from different areas have different health and nutrition problems. To be honest, you are the first person from New Hampshire that I have known to raise goats. So really, what I'd recommend is getting together with your local agriculture extension agent to find what mineral deficiencies exist in your particular area. (Or perhaps other members near your region may share their knowledge here as well).
For at least the first 6 to 8 weeks of life, the kids are very dependent upon the doe for their nutritive needs. As the kid gets older, the doe is producing less and less of a concentration of the essential vitamins and minerals in her milk - natures way of weaning a goat I suppose. I have had alot of people tell me that Boer goats are not really good milkers to begin with - even crossed with dairy genetics. I must agree that I have found this to be more true than not. "Most" Boer goats will not produce a whole lot of milk to begin with so I guess I'd suggest actually milking out one of your does to see just how much she is producing daily. Mind you - the same can apply to dairy goats that have poor genetics. I've seen some dairy goats produce just enough milk to wash your hands and that's it. Culling becomes important.
One thing to remember though is that a "fat" goat is not necessarily a healthy goat. I know that some breeders will try and get those goats fattened for market and really do not pay heed to the amount of fat on the carcass as opposed to the amount of muscle toning. I take it that in your case they are kind of frail and dainty so that's not the problem really.
But their diet right off the bat (in my opinion) should start immediately with the majority of intake being a good quality mixed grassy alfalfa. Some people believe that feeding a "higher protein" ration to begin with is the way to get them bigger faster. Not so true. Feeding higher protein immediately can lead to severe problems in a short amount of time. Their physiological system will become accustomed to the higher protein feed and they will dwindle if it is not maintained. i.e. going from 22% to 12% or even lower when you feed more corn than sweet feed. Also, the higher protein feeds will immediately cause problems with your bucks (i.e. urinary calculi) unless you are also adding ammonium chloride or a similar acidifier.
Another thought that came to mind is where you said you have a herd of 100 goats. How many acres are they browsing daily? I have heard of a few people trying to raise meat goats in excess of 50 to 100 on just a few acres - it does not work unless you are importing ALOT of supplemental feed. I think the average is about 4 to 5 goats per acre. That too might be pushing it considering your goal of meat goats. Not sure here.
I know that in our neck of the woods (Missouri), meat goats are sold best as whethers. There is a higher market for whether than straight bucks usually and it is rare that a doe is sold for slaughter purposes (although I know they are). If you are not immediately castrating - that might be an option.
The other things I would do are, read up in the GoatWorld Articles section on raising meat goats. There is an article that addresses "production" methods and may be helpful here. Also, take a close look at your mineral supplements and feed supplements and compare the ingredients to some of those listed in the GoatWorld Nutrition section. If you can, please get back to us (and if possible, print out the label(s) and send them to me either snail mail or email) and let us know the exact ingredients of what you are feeding. This may help pinpoint a specific deficiency that you are encountering.
The bright side of this is that we are all learning a bit more about various meat goat problems and you still will have a market for smaller goats. I see more young (and tender) goats sold than older and more marbled meat goats. I know some reading this are not meat goat advocates - strictly dairy, but it is a fact of the goat industry and has to be addressed. It seems that customers prefer the younger goats over the goats over a year old. Especially the ethnicities.
Diseases? Yes, I would also agree that it is probably not disease oriented. Most of the diseases that would cause something like this take quite some time to manifest themselves; Johnes, CL, Chronic Wasting, etc. The cocci is a possibility as a problem but I am just inclined to still think of either nutrition, genetics or a combination of both.
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