Adding a New Goat From a Dry Lot. Below was our announcement 2 months ago that we brought home CC, our new dairy goat. She was raised on a wonderful farm close by that shows goats in the county and state fair. CC didn’t have the exact body and udder that they breed for, so they sold her to me. She is very well behaved, and gives nice wonderful milk, which is exactly what I need.
The farm Cece was raised on is a dry lot. They spoil their goats with alfalfa hay, pellets and grain. Aside from nibbling on a few weeds that pop up on their lot when it rains, she hasn’t eaten much green pasture in her life.
*Gasp* why would you buy a goat that didn’t know how to eat pasture? Right? I have written and read a lot about pasture raised animals, it’s a big passion of mine. So why would I buy a spoiled goat?
Because I was certain that she could adjust and learn to eat pasture like the rest of our herd.
Dry Lot to Pasture Greens
When changing an animals feed, it is important to do so gently. Ruminant animals will bloat if the PH of their rumen is changed too quickly. We expected Cece to do 1 of 2 things. Either gobble up the grass like it’s candy, or stick up her nose and refuse to eat any. CC stuck up her nose.
This is what we did to help her slowly adjust her rumen, and learn to eat pasture.
1 Put her and 1 other goat in a pasture that wasn’t incredibly lush, but wasn’t bare. River is awesome at grazing, so we were certain that she would help teach CC to eat.
2 We also feed them both hay twice a day. It gives her dry matter to help adjust her rumen PH slower, AND it gives her a food that she knows so that she doesn’t starve herself. She also got alfalfa pellets and grain on the stand while I milk her.
3 After 3-4 weeks we moved the herd back together. We still fed them hay, but not as much as they were getting when separated from the sheep.
She has been here for 2 months now and has adjusted great. We expect her to continue to improve, and enjoy the fresh plants more as time goes on.
Her milk production did drop dramatically. Honestly, this is something I expected to happen. CC was very attached to her sister, and moving can be stressful for some goats. She was giving a gallon per day at her previous farm, and is now giving me just under a half gallon.
Milk production drop is expected when re-homing a dairy animal, it is more important to me to keep an eye on her body condition to make sure she isn’t losing too much weight. If I do notice her looking thin, I plan to put her on the stand to give her extra food in the evening.
Back Up Plan
Always have a plan B, right? What if she still refused to eat the greens? I would have moved her in with the sheep sooner. They learn from seeing the group. If she STILL refused to eat pasture, I would have given her more time. I expect it can take a couple months for some stubborn animals to get used to eating pasture. Be prepared that it might not happen in a couple weeks time. Be prepared with hay, pellets and food that it was given in their previous home.
What if she attacked the grass? We would have put her in a dry pen, and only let her have access to the pasture for a couple hours a day.
Goats Can Be Grazers
I have been asked if goats eat grass. Yes, our goats do eat (and love) grass. They have become better grazers since being in with our sheep. Our pastures though are not just plain grass. We have several different grass varieties, clover, wildflowers and a few native plants too (tumbleweeds, amaranth, mallow, purslane). We strive to keep the variety, and we believe it helps the goats graze better also.
I love how well mannered CC is, especially on the stand. We are happy to have her here on our farm, and have more milk to drink!