QUESTION: Hi Donna , little lull in the weather and back to cold tomorrow . O K , so I know the tree's are safe for them , now how much actual nutrition ie protein etc. does it have . Looking to cut the hay ration back a bit as I am going through it to fast . I also have access to kelp if I can get them to eat it , should it be dried ? Thanks .

ANSWER: Hi there - I have never looked into exact how much nutrition tree boughs and leaves have.  The bark is eaten by goats that like the taste of the inner cambrium layer that has lots of vitamins and minerals in it.  I would suspect there is a good amount of nutrition as really leaves is what goats do best on.  During the winter the nutrition usually goes down out of the leaves/boughs back into the roots and then back up during spring.  I would say you'll have to do an experiment with cutting back on some hay and adding the boughs in place and then check lumbar score of the goats in 7 to 10 days.  Re the kelp, dry is usually what the goats like.  Hope this helps - Donna

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QUESTION: Hi Donna , have been doing a bit of research on tree's , and yes they have a high vitamin c count as well as other vitamin's . They are also a natural wormer which is good to know . I will try a reduction in hay for a short time and see how they do . They do get lot's of grain , and I check often to their physical and muscle appearance . The milk Breeds often throw me off as they carry differn't , looking lean when they actually are not . I like a nice flat back , which I have found out is often a bit overweight in milk breeds . One thing is for sure , there is no lack of wild fodder and sea related food here in Nova Scotia , and there should never be any reason for a Goat to go hungry , if you are resorceful , and I am . Thanks .

ANSWER: You're correct about the dairy does, their conformation is certainly different than others - re the lumbar scoring, that is really the best way to know if the goat is in good condition - have we talked about that before/explanations?  If not I would be happy to send you info on that.  I'm looking into starting to grow fodder hydroponically - you don't even have to have the pumping system - just containers that you water every day (especially easy for a small operation) and drain out - it sounds easy, know folks who use it for their livestock, inexpensive, and extremely nutritional.  I remember collecting kelp from the ocean during the summer and letting it dry naturally and the goats loved it - wish I was closer to the ocean.  Take care - Donna

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QUESTION: Hi Donna , no I am not familiar with the lumbar scoring , but would like to know about it . Any new info on goats is always welcome . Thanks , and Merry Christmas to you and your family including the goats .

Okay, so lumbar scoring is from 1 to 5, with 1 being very thin and 5 being overweight.  What you'd like to see your goats be all the time is a 3, but sometimes that is not always possible with kidding, illness, growth, etc.  There are three places to check for the lumbar scoring - one is the backbone, second is the ribs and third is on either side of the tailhead.  On the backbone you want it to be smooth with being able to feel the backbone but it feels like there is a small amount of fat overlying the bones - use the flat of your hand for this.  On the ribs you again use the flat of your hand spreading the fingers out and go down the ribs, again, you want to feel the ribs with a little bit of fat over them and not pressing very hard.  On either side of the tailhead for a 3 score you would want to see smoothness there - if it dips in that is thin, if it seems plump then that is fat.  When standing away from the goat you should not be able to see the back bones or the ribs, if you do that is a 1 or 2.  If you have to push in to feel the backbones or the ribs then that would be a 4 or 5.  I usually check everyone (22) every day - but as you get good at knowing what to feel and look for - you do this quickly - when I'm feeding grain as the goats come up to the feeders I get a feel then. Hope this helps.  Yes, Merry Christmas to you and all the livestock too - keep warm and take care.  Donna

Forgot to say that in some of the dairy breeds they get hollow in the area on the sides near the hip areas sometimes but that does not indicate being thin usually.  


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Donna Ruelas-Semasko/Edelweiss Acres


All goat health care, nutrition, judging questions about all goats - packgoats, dairy goats, pygmy goats, meat goats, fleece goats.


27 years health care/nutrition of all types of goats, 17 years experience in packgoats, 20 years experience in 4H goat projects as leader, superintendent and judge. 20 years experience in putting on goat care/nutrition seminars.

NAPgA, The Evergreen Packgoat Club, 4H, ADGA.

Hobby Farm, many newspapers, 4H newsletters, Packgoat Manuals (youth and general), judging information pamphlets, seminar handouts about health care and nutrition.

4 years of college, ongoing education in goats.

Awards and Honors
Small Farm Award of Thurston County

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