Traditional (Natural) Diet for Goats

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We desire to follow a traditional, non-industrialized, diet for ourselves. We also desire that our animals follow a traditional diet. And this not only for their own health, but to support our health when consuming the meat, eggs, or milk they provide. As the proud owners of (so far) two Nubian milking does, two Nubian doelings, and eight Nigerian Dwarf goats, we are hard at work to figure out what we should feed our goats so that they are healthy and the milk they produce is of the highest quality.

herbal handbook for farm and stable

Browsing around on the web, I’ve yet to find any information on the goat’s traditional diet. But I did find something in “The Complete Herbal Handbook for Farm and Stable” by Juliette de Bairacli Levy. Her work is based on the premise that if domestic animals are allowed to eat their natural diet in a natural environment, they will be healthy and free of modern animal diseases (such as scrapie and mad cow). She includes herbal remedies for common diseases such as those affecting the digestive system or mucous membranes. She writes,

“My book teaches natural care of animals and totally shuns their exploitation (wherein they are treated as machines, instead of as living, sensitive and loving creatures). This book wholly condemns the force-feeding of unnatural foods to any creatures. If a diet is unnatural, disease will keep company with those subjected to it: that is a fixed law. … The Bible tells of God’s instructions to Noah, that the preferred and natural foods of every creature were to be taken into the Ark for their nourishment. And to this day, animals fed on natural foods do not develop those horrible (almost satanic) ailments being reported in journals, on radio and television.”

According to Ms. Levy, who consulted old farming manuals, the natural diet of goats includes:

  • Abundant sweet water
  • Iodine-rich foods
  • Foods rich in aromatic oils
  • Rock salt, especially in hot climates
  • Leafy and woody food, other than grasses – woodland grazing
  • Oats planted along with vetches
  • Barley (the goat cereal)
  • Alfalfa
  • Sunflower – the whole plant and the seed heads
  • Linseed
  • Corn, including the inner cobs
  • Flaked barley and rolled oats
  • Wheat bran
  • Dried beet pulp
  • In the winter: silage (fodder harvested while green and kept succulent by partial fermentation as in a silo) prepared with molasses (a nutritious change from dry hay)

With regard to our strategy for feeding our goats, I would like to compile my own milk-supporting grain mix (maybe even someday being able to grow the food on our own property). I have sources for organic barley, organic rolled oats, and organic alfalfa (dried as hay). I would like to find organic sunflower seeds and organic corn. The corn should definitely be organic, otherwise it is likely GMO. We use kelp for the minerals. Our ultimate goal is to plant as many of the recommended foods as we can around our partially-wooded property (as well as many of the health-supporting and illness-curing herbs Ms. Levy recommends). We already have many browse-type non-grass weeds that are dearly loved by the goats, as well as woody food. Over the course of time, we will pay attention to milk production and the health of our animals and make revisions as needed.

What I haven’t found out is how much of each of the recommended foods is a good daily ration. Do you know of any traditional animal diet resources that offer information on the natural diet of animals and specific ration amounts of the recommended foods? Also, do you know any information about making/purchasing silage?

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  1. says

    What a fantastic post! I never knew what goats are supposed to eat. Thanks for posting this — very interesting. And thanks for adding this post to Real Food Wednesday. I stumbled it!

  2. says

    Hi Wardee,

    There is a lady close to me who feeds her chickens under that same philosophy – natural grasses, bugs and other plants. She is putting together a website about all things natural but not sure when she’ll be done with it.

    As far as finding organic corn I found some that is grown in Durham, OR by They have lots of organic things they grow, including popcorn & quinoa. It’s nice to buy something organic, fairly locally.

    Good luck!

    • says

      Sustainable Eats — I’d love to see your friend’s website when she gets it done – we’re planning on chickens, too!

      About Azure, I have never seen organic corn in the feed section-but perhaps you’re talking about using the corn “for people” (ha, ha)? I ordered organic barley feed from them this month, but it didn’t come in. :( That happens so often. Yesterday at the feed store, I was stoked to find local, natural oats! Yay! I can also order organic cracked corn through them. But nothing else organic. I would like to find organic black sunflower seeds. Those are conventional, so far as I can find. I’m still looking around.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  3. says

    hey there- my dad raised goats – when I get a chance I’ll ask him and drop you a line- I also have one of his old books called “goat Husbandry” – a friend of ours who has goats is borrowing it right now- but I will try to get it back so I can look for any useful info and share with you- we are planning on getting some goats this year- and chickens- so I am glad you posted this. How much land are you on? we have 12 acres…
    P.S. – Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  4. Christina says

    Goats are related to deer, so what deer like to eat is good for goats as well. However, in order to produce a whopping gallon of milk per day, enough to sustain not only thier kids, but also yours, they need some intense nutrition. I have a book (in a box somewhere, I believe I could find that for you if you want :) that was written in the ’50’s that tells how to formulate goat feed. Included in the recommendation is a vitamin supplement. I believe DC co-op adds Horseguard pellets to their goat mix along with whole grains, sunflower seeds, split peas, whole corn, alfalfa pellets. My goats would like it better with mollases and they could use the extra calories.
    I knew a lady once who fed straight alfalfa hay during milking, perhaps with a good salt lick that would be sufficient.
    Blessings to your little farm-

    • says

      Thank you for that information, Christina. I wonder if the book you mention is “Raising Milk Goats the Modern Way” but it was published in the 70s. It has some formulas for mixing your own feed, but many include soy. Since I’ll be visiting you soon, maybe I could take a look at your book? (If it is unpacked – don’t do it special.)

    • says

      Thanks! I hadn’t seen them. I am in Oregon, but not near Yamhill, I don’t think. I will have to map it. I would like to contact them about their feeding practices. We are enjoying the goats – now we have four milkers. This morning I brought in more than 3/4 gallon! We’re making date sweetened ice cream tonight. I can’t believe we have raw milk in the house. We’re all in heaven.

  5. Christina says

    Wardee- have you looked into silage? Its like fermented salad for animal feed. I was just looking through Carla Emery’s Encyclopedia of Country Living. She also mentioned that old time farmers would sprout grains for winter feeding of livestock as an alternative to buying processed, viitiminized feeds. Carla Emery describes how to silage but wasn’t as thorough as you would probably want to begin the process.

    • says

      Christina – thanks for mentioning that! It came up in the above reading I referenced, but without any detail. Happily, I just ordered Carla Emery’s book and when it arrives I will see what she has to say. It sounds good to me – I already sprout for us, why not more for the animals? I wonder how the goats would like it.

  6. Larisa says

    Re: several goat comments.
    The Natural Goat Care book by Pat Coleby is excellent and discusses a large number of nutritional issues that goats face in thin soil, which includes about half of our mountainous Douglas County land, which is prone to erosion. It also has a great section on poisonous plants… and yes, goats are related to deer, but there are some things deer can eat that goats can not. Mountain laurel, azaleas and other related plants make goats REALLY sick. I had a mob of goats (yep, that’s what goats are called, not a herd!) get into mountain laurel in 2003 and they were convulsing and had green foam coming out their mouths. (Goats can’t vomit.) I saved every single one of them by mixing Emergen-c, water and olive oil in a drench and carefully forcing it down them with a drench gun. (Carefully, because an ex-boyfriend of mine once killed my favorite angora bucklin by forcing milk down his throat while he was sucking in a breath to scream. He got milk in his lungs and died almost immediately, before we could even figure out what to do other than pat the little guy on the chest and back and shake him upside down. Sounds cruel, but we panicked.) Several of them had stillborns a few months later. But they all had healthy kids later. So far as I know (I gave away and sold some when I moved in 2007), they are all still alive.

    I have the other goat books mentioned above, and Carla Emery’s book, and several veterinary textbooks, but Natural Goat Care is the book I used over and over again when I had a problematic mostly angora mob at my old home in Virginia. I brought three of my pygoras with me when I moved to Oregon and bought three other goats (one milk, two meat) and now have a mob of 15 mostly very healthy, unruly, happy, silly, playful, curious, loveable pains in the rears. I am concerned about the local deer, who frequently jump the fence and eat with my goats. Some of the deer are missing tufts of hair. I must look that up.

  7. Larisa says

    Re: the comment about ensilage, goats are also especially prone to sickness from mold. (Funny, because people think they eat everything with impunity.) So I’d be careful with ensilage, inspecting it carefully before feeding.

    Sometimes I buy whole green peas from the co-op, pour them into a five gallon bucket about 1/3 full and then add water to about the 2/3 mark. I soak them 24 hours (as soon as I’m done feeding I get a pail started and it’s ready the next morning). This also works for barley and whole oats, but the two times I tried wheat in the summer, it molded. I used to pour the soaked peas (oats, barley, etc) out onto a screen to sprout but the chickens and ducks ate them too fast so now I just drain off the water and feed the soaked grains and legumes as is. Goats also LOVE peas dry and it is fun to watch and listen to them chew them… they’re kind of like children with hard candy.
    I haven’t seen feed corn at Azure either. I try to avoid feed store corn because so much of it is genetically engineered (same with soy, which is also a goitrogen).
    One note about the peas: one year the does all had bucks… not even one doe was born. We have a lot of vetch growing on our hillside and I was also feeding peas very often then. I looked up a preponderance of bucks in Pat Colby’s book and she said this was a common issue when too many legumes are fed.

    • says

      Larisa – Thank you for all the information! Wow! I just got Pat Coleby’s book yesterday and I’m halfway through. :) I am a little overwhelmed. I wonder if I might call you sometime to ask your advice? I will email you about this! We have a goat with pneumonia – one of our new goats. She has been sick for 4 weeks and we’re on a second round of antibiotics (out of desperation) but she is not getting better. I wanted to do what Pat Coleby suggested with Vitamin C and B12 and whatever VAM is, but I think I can only find B12 locally. I’ve called Central Feed and DC Co-OP. I’ve been feeding her kelp liberally in case she has a mineral deficiency (which Pat Coleby says is the basis of all illness), and hay, but no grain (although I just stopped that two days ago). I can’t get her to take whey or anything remotely good for her. I have some dolomite, but nothing copper, other than in the kelp (and it isn’t much). Do I need to do a drench? I have Emergen-C which might give the Vitamin C and she might like it. I also have questions about using a mineral mix in addition to the kelp. I called the extension office yesterday and she advised against the kelp. I am avoiding soy like the plague and I hate using GMO corn, but I feel like my options are limited. What do you feed your milk goats? The peas, oats and barley? I have been feeding wet and dry cob, mixed, along with whole oats, sunflower seeds, kelp and raw apple cider vinegar and then alfalfa hay along with lots of browse. I wonder if I should start soaking the oats? With their advanced rumen, is it necessary to soak for goats? I know this is a very basic question but I have it! I could go on an on… I’ll email you to see if I can call you. Thanks for all the detailed descriptions!

      • Larisa says

        Alas, I have never seen injectible Vitamin C. You can use Emergen-c or powdered magnesium and c, both of which are available at drug stores and/or run some chewable vitamin c tablets through a coffee grinder or high speed blender. The problem with all the human options except Emergen-C is that they have scary sweeteners and colorings. Try seeing if your drug store can get injectible vitamin c for you. Sometimes if you’re really persistant you can get goats to eat the powder or the tablets, but they have a tendency to cough or spit them out. Do you have any acidophilus to make up for the damage from the antibiotic? I would separate her, pull grass and weeds by hand for her and give her some of your family’s salad trimmings. Keep someone with her as much as possible, loving her and administering C often if you’re doing it orally. Do you know she has pneumonia? Does she have a runny nose, cough AND a fever? If not, could it be lung worm? If your goat is new, sometimes stress of moving will cause a dormant worm population to explode. I have an older doe who has lung damage from lung worm, I believe. I baby her and watch her carefully, but she still kids twins and she follows me around like a puppy. She remembers the loving care from when she was sick.

        I can’t remember what they call VAM here. But there is an excellent B complex shot you can purchase at the DC Co-op in the same aisle wit h all the ear tags. You will need a syringe and needle (pre assembled might be easier since you’re new at this – they are on an aisle end at the back of the feed department and beginning of the plumbing section). You will need to know whether the complex is subcutaneous or intramuscular. SubQ is much easier on YOUR heart and nerves: you just pinch up a flap of loose skin and insert the needle while straddling the goat, so you don’t have to worry about hitting a vein or damagine a muscle (never inject a butt muscle!)

        You can use “acidified copper sulfate” for the copper; it is in the same aisle as the B complex. But use HALF of what it says on the directions! It will leave a film on the water and your goat may refuse to drink it otherwise. You may even have to use less.

        Please continue feeding kelp. The extension agent is making absolutely no sense when she advises against it. That’s like when my mom’s colon cancer doctor told her to eat jello and avoid whole foods. I’ll run real food through the blender, thank you very much. Kelp has trace minerals you can not get in any commercial formula and goats like it. There is a probiotic goat mineral blend in a yellow bag if I remember right, in the same aisle. The goats eat it up, but I think probios you might have refrigerated for human use are probably more effective. I’ve also used the “Probios” brand in the little round white jars. The goats eat that up happily, too. You can also see if your doe will eat some of your cultured vegetables. I’ll bet she will!

        DC Coop also has a variety of wormers in the same aisle across from the B and copper; I would try the kind that is pelleted like food, which even sick goats will eat and I have never seen to have side affects. I have tried Hoegger’s herbal wormer multiple times, but despite what they say, I’ve never had goats eat it happily. I have to hide it in molasses or peanut butter or something else silly. I used to have a pygmy who would only eat it on peanut butter and home made bread. Hoegger also have a liquid black walnut/clove/wormwood wormer… which you can also buy at your health food store. Figure the goat’s dosage just like a person’s for the liquid herbal. Warning: it tastes nasty! You’ll have to dose quickly.

        The goats are NOT fond of the Emergen-C, but it perks them up nicely. You asked if you needed a drench. There is a cheap kind that works just fine – it has a plastic cylinder and plunger and a curved metal spout with a rounded tip to put in the goat’s mouth. Sometimes the drench is a little hard to get started when you push the plunger, but other than that, I’ve never had a problem with them.

        I feed all the goats the same feeds, rotating for variety. Mostly they graze, but they get=2 0about a couple of cups each of whatever the grains and peas of choice are each morning. When I’m feeling really broke (which has happened a LOT lately), I’ll feed them a combination of rye pellets and hen scratch (which contains corn, but also wheat and milo). When I’m feeling rich, they sometimes get DC goat mix, which includes peas and sunflower seeds. Otherwise they get whole oats, whole barley, whole peas… sometimes soaked, sometimes not. I work a night job AND the store (which is opening tomorrow afternoon very quietly with minimal food since I just got my license a few minutes ago and I have 1200 pounds of grass fed beef here that I am anxious to start selling… we’ll be fully stocked in a couple weeks). Sometimes I think about the soaking and sometimes I don’t! The goats’ rumens do hold food long enough to break down enzyme inhibitors, but I think they could sometimes use a little help, especially if they are sick, or they’re stressed, or it’s really hot or really cold, or there’s been a couple thunderstorms in a row, etc… Sometimes I feed probios for the same reason, even when everyone looks healthy.

        All my goats are in milk and I’m not milking even one. Sad, huh?

        Yes, you can call me.

  8. says

    I would like to recommend that you read Pat Coleby’s Natural Goat Care. She is a wealth of information and believes very strongly in feeding goats naturally.

    • says

      Linda – thanks! Since writing this post, I’ve gotten that book. It is great. We’ve already benefitted from it with an eye injury and using cod liver oil to treat it. It is good to hear of someone else recommending it.

  9. Grandmajo says

    Just a couple of thoughts for your goats. Try to keep it simple. My milkers get oats, BOSS and calf manna, mixed in a ration of 6 parts oats, 2 parts BOSS and 1 part calf manna. They have fresh water, free choice baking soda and free choice minerals (manna pro goat minerals). They only get grain on the milk stand, and the rule of thumb that I follow is 1 lb. of grain for every 3 pounds of milk produced. I then adjust the amount up or down, according to their body condition. In your area, you may want to copper bolus, and also look to see if you need to use BO-SE injections for their vitamin E and selenium, if your area is selenium deficient.

    Be very careful feeding corn to goats. Although they really love it, it can cause their rumen to become too acidic.

    I use the chewable vitamin C tablets for humans for my goats, they absolutely love them.

  10. Andrew in Oz says

    Great site, stumbled upon it by accident while trying to hunt down how I can purchase Pat Colby’s Goat Care book.

    Found the comments on goat diet most informative! We have over 50acres and run Boer Goats, but recently have had a terrible run of bad luck which we thought was limited to a particular blood line, but recent developments indicate this might not be the case.

    A strange “wasting” disease which has taken sick goats within a couple of weeks. Drenching (chemical) has not done the trick but I’ve recently tried hunting down “alternative” options out of desperation, hence the trawling of the internet picking up bits here and there from Pat Colby!

    Look forward to visiting this site from time to time, there’s always something to learn thinking outside the square!

  11. Jbruner7 says

    I too have read and live by Pat Coleby’s book. I must admit that forcing dolamite, copper sulfate and sulfur down their throats twice a week is a pain but well worth it.

    I have two half pygmy/half fainters that have their own barn and own land to roam next to a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Milking Goats. I keep them seperate because the fainter mix has horns( scurs that might as well be full horns) that were done wrong by a vet. Then we have our buck barn on the other side of the farm away from all the girls.

    I feed my goats only natural stuff and do not give vaccines. I have never yet had to give a shot of any kind. I give vitamin C a lot, and dolomite if i feel they are off at all. Only had one with a runny nose when I very first got them several years ago. They get a mineral blend with a little Diamond V yeast added to it along with free choice kelp, baking soda, and salt. I also give apple cider vinegar twice daily in their water for all animals, chickens and dogs included. I also give them cod liver oil every two weeks and herbal wormer once a week that I make my self.

    I am taking in their feces to the vet next week so will be able to tell if it is all working or not. I do my own fecals here and I never see any worms, but just to be safe once a year I take a sample to our vet.

    When the does are dry they get alfalfa hay and forage daily with no grain. When they are in milk I give them my own mix of grain that I get from a co-op. They get fed grain twice a day when I milk. My grain is
    50 pounds barley
    50 pounds oats
    25 pounds alfalfa pellets
    4 pound of boss
    8 pounds, 3 ounces of beet pulp
    I mix it all and this is their grain .

    I too would love to talk to others who go by Pat Coleby’s book. I really do live by her book and my goats have always been extremely healthy. It really is very very time consuming to care for your herd this way especially when you have a larger herd than mine but their health is not something that I would ever want to compramise. Thank you for this site, I loved reading everyones posts and hearing other peoples comments.

    Does anyone soak the dolamite, sulfer and copper and add it to their feed as Pat Coleby suggests? If so how has that worked for you? I would love to find and easier way to get it down their throats every week. Thank you all for the posts they were great reading.

    • Shaelee says

      Hello, what herbal formula for worming do you use, and what is is dolomite for? I am new to goats, having have my does have their first freshening last month… are there any books that you recommend for holistic goat management?


  12. says

    Grandmajo – What is BOSS? Thanks for mentioning the chewable vitamin C – I will try that!

    Andrew – Have you found anything alternative that has worked against the “wasting” disease?

    Jbruner7 – It is good to read your specific feed and habits – Can I ask what you buy for dolomite? Have you ever found a food-grade dolomite and what name does it go by?

    Everyone – The biggest problem I have had is that I go to the feed store and ask for such and such, and nobody has heard of it. 😉 So I think it would be helpful to come up with a list of what to buy in today’s commercialized/industrialized feed stores.

    Also, what about the CLO? The only good kind of CLO is fermented – and it is expensive enough to buy for people. How often are you giving it to your goats and can you find a quality form of it somewhere for a discount? Unless we go out of your way to buy fermented CLO, the stuff in the stores is bleached with synthetic vitamins added back – sometimes natural vitamins added back. I don’t want to waste money on nothing – nor can I spend what I’m spending now to keep us in supply.

  13. Rachael says

    Wardee–What did you end up feeding your goats? Are you making your own ration now? If so, what are you mixing? We just got two Nigerian Dwarfs that we are milking and one Mini Mancha doeling but I am still feeding the ration from the feed store. They love it but I am not happy with them eating the soy and (likely gmo) corn. I like Jbruner7’s recommendations and have read Natural Goat Care, but don’t know how to even find the grains to make my own ration. Did you start with your feed store? I know ours has grains, but I’m pretty sure they are not organic.
    Any help is appreciated!

    • says

      Rachael – In order to get GMOs and non-organic feed out, we have greatly simplifed. I gave up the dry COB and wet COB because of the gmo-corn. Couldn’t stand it. :-) As well as the preservatives on the web COB! (corn-oats-barley).

      So now, for grains, we give the goats local, whole, naturally-grown oats. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds in the bowl, too. The sunny seeds are not organic. They get just a small amount of this during milking, as much as they can eat while on the stand basically. Free choice they have organic alfalfa, which is so high-quality – we are blessed that this is available to us. Kelp is free-choice, and that comes from Azure. And as much pasture as they want. :)

      Everything comes from the feed store. It is worth calling around. Our local feed store gets the oats from someone around here, and the alfalfa too. I wouldn’t have known this w/o calling and letting them know what I wanted. Most people don’t question what’s at the feed store.

      It is not ideal, but it is the best I can do. When we first got them, I thought they needed to have more grain. That’s what everybody says. And I understand that grain supplementation is different than grain-fed, so I was comfortable w/ it because I knew they were eating tons of pasture and tons of alfalfa hay. But over these months, I have seen that their milk supply goes up when they have good alfalfa and pasture to eat, in spite of me gradually cutting back on their grain.

  14. says

    Thanks, Jenny! Did you see you had some questions up there? :-)

    I wondered what you buy to get dolomite? I mean, what name does it go by?

    Also, someone wanted to talk to you about your grain mix (and you may have already answered that).

  15. says

    For the grain question, yes I emailed her and we have talked several times now about goats. It is always nice to find others interested in natural goat care.

    As for the Dolomite, I buy it from Hoeggers Goat Supply. I use them because they are Christians and I believe in supporting other believers if I can. I buy my sulfur and my copper sulfate from the grain elevator as well as all my grains I mix. I use to order organic apple cider vinegar from Swanson health products. Now I have found out that it is so much easier and cheaper to just make it myself out of apple juice so that is what I do now.

    I also misread Pat Coleby’s book. She recommends feeding grain daily to all goats and mixing the apple cider in with their minerals. I also was not giving them enough of the minerals so that has changed. Now each goat gets 1/3 cup of grain a day even my bucks. Then in it they get 1/4 tsp. of all the minerals mixed together( 1/4 tsp is about the equivalent of 2 grams as Pat Coleby suggests), 1 tsp. of dolomite and 1tsp. of sulfur a day mixed with enough apple cider to make it wet and stick. You have to feed it to them right away other wise after a half an hour it makes the minerals of no effect. Every other week they get 3ML of Cod Liver oil mixed in with their minerals and grains as well.

    Sorry about not answering your questions sooner I did not see that any one had asked me anything. Take care and God Bless.

    • says

      Jenny, thank you for all that information!

      Today when I got to the feed store I found out that they are out of the local, whole oats. :( Now I don’t know what to do. They might possibly have a new crop in July/August, but only if the grower decided to do oats again this year. Perhaps we will be transitioning to all grass…

  16. Linda says

    Yes, Jenny and I have talked quite a few times. Jenny’s way of giving the minerals is different than mine. I give mine separate in their feed. For a full size doe, according to Pat Coleby, they should get a dessert spoon of dolomite (which I looked that measure up on Wikipedia. It amounts to about two teaspoons), 1 teaspoon of sulfur, and vinegar in their feed daily. Kelp should be kept out for the goats free choice. The copper Coleby recommends be soaked with grain and feed at a teaspoon a week. That adds up to 1/7 of a teaspoon daily. However, my goats are Nigerian Dwarf so I feed half that amount of each of the dolomite, sulfur, and copper. I add the vinegar to the goats water at 1/4 cup to a gallon. I could probably give less vinegar.

    Jenny, thanks for the information where you buy your products. I will look into them. I have been using The Jolly German (Goat World) for the minerals.

  17. says

    OK on your grain, you can supplement any grain that is available in your area. It does not have to be exactly the kind I use or any one Else’s recipe. Work with what ever you have locally in your area. All you need to be sure of is the protein levels. Most grain elevators if you show them your recipe and ask them for help they can come up with a comparable grain alternative that should work for your needs.

    Milking goat need oats. It is the only grain available that has that high of a protein level. I would suggest finding other elevators or looking at local farmers and looking around. We come from Iowa and Iowa has lots of farmers and lots of grain elevators so If I can not find something at one I can find it at another.

    Go to different groups. Yahoo has one that is just awesome. The people there are from all over the world and are extremely knowledgeable in a lot of areas not just goats. There you can post your questions no matter what it is and they will try to help you. You might even find someone who lives close who can help you out in your local area. It is

    Being a part of a group has really expanded my knowledge in all areas and I am ever so thankful for everyone who takes their time to help. See if they can help you I have no doubt that lots of people will give excellent advise.

  18. Angela says

    I just found this blog and appreciate all the helpful advice. Does anyone who feeds beet pulp soak it first? I have read conflicting directions on how to feed beet pulp to goats. Any advice would be appreciated.

  19. Angela says

    Thanks for the advice on the beet pulp. I’m going to give it a try. I’m going to see how the grain mixture listed by Jbruner7 works for my goats.

  20. says

    Great Blog, we have milking mini-nubians here in Portland, OR. I have not found a ‘natural’ mineral blend, they all have DiCalcium Phosphate & Synthetic Chemicals…what do you use?

  21. Danielle says

    Wow! I feel like the new kid in school! Thank you so much for this information. We just purchased a small mob of Nigerian Dwarfs and I have been going crazy trying to figure out how to feed them “properly”. This site has given me more of the information I am looking for than any other. Thanks again!

  22. Andrew in Oz says

    HI All,

    In answer to your question Wardee (and I do apologise for taking so long to respond-it’s been a rather eventful year), the wasting was a combination of a number of factors. We’d not had any problems with parasites at all on our property and had built up a sizeable herd, fat,sleak coats,healthy and very fertile!

    We had a change of neighbours, the new buyers importing sheep for a trial and the stock had been riddled with a variety of parasites. This was followed by unseasonable heavy rainful which resulted in everything hanging off the backsides of these trial sheep washing down onto our property and into our goat pastures. By the time our neighbour hurriedly disposed of his sheep (all the while complaining about the financial loss) our goats were dropping like flies. The amusing thing was he tried to blame our goats dying on the other neighbours spraying of crops!

    Anyway, the good news is we managed to stumble across a lady in a fodder store who used to breed goats and gave us advice on how to counteract the infestation brought down upon us by our not so considerate neighbour.

    We now supplement their diet with a mix of chaff, goat pellets, bran and pollard, dolomite, copper sulphate, sulphur and seaweed meal. We add a little water so it all sticks together and the buggers love it.

    Haven’t had to drench since!

    • R says

      Can you please tell me where you buy your chaff? I’ve been banging my head against the wall trying to find it here in the U.S.!?!? Thank you!

  23. says

    Hi Andrew,

    “We now supplement their diet with a mix of chaff, goat pellets, bran and pollard, dolomite, copper sulphate, sulphur and seaweed meal. We add a little water so it all sticks together and the buggers love it.”

    Can you give us amounts? I’d be very interested. And what are pollards?

  24. Kyle says

    Lots of good information and a great blog; thanks! We have Nigerian dwarf goats and have been trying to figure out a natural feed following Pat Coleby’s book, but are confused by some of her terms (oaten chaff?) and are having trouble finding some things. For instance, we found feed-grade copper and dolomite okay, but not sulfur. The only sulfur I can find is the 90% sulfur plant fungicide, which has all kinds of warning labels on it. Where do people find feed-grade sulfur?

  25. Kyle says

    Oh, okay, thanks for the source of sulfur, Linda. So where would someone get oat hay or chaff? No feed dealers seem to carry it.

  26. says

    I know a lot of people use the jolly German to buy their stuff from his prices are high way robbery. The best places to find all of these things Pat Coleby suggests is to do searches in your area for farmer coops, grain bins or elevators, farm and home stores or stores for farming. Any garden center might have them too as some use sea kelp as fertilizer. The farmers use all of these things to amend their soils o it is fairly cheap and reasonable. I could not afford to feed my goats if I had to buy my supplies from the Jolly German. There prices are ridiculous.

    You can also buy sulfur and a lot of these other supplies from chemical stores online. Hoegger goat supply also sells most of them and they are even cheaper than the jolly German. I am just warning you. You should not have to pay so much just to want to have a natural diet for your animals. There prices are very unfair and way too high.

    If you need some help let me know for I did extensive searches for these things to save money. Best of luck. God Bless.

  27. Kyle says

    Thanks, Jenny: we, too, are on a tight budget. I have not had much luck at area feed/farm stores, but I will take a look at Hoegger’s. Such a learning process . . .

  28. Gipsigal says

    I love Pat Coleby’s book also, but my all time favorite is one from which she quotes extensively–David MacKenzie’s “Goat Husbandry” FIRST EDITION. I actually stumbled upon Coleby’s book in a search for MacKenzie’s. I first read his from the library but it mysteriously disappeared and I had to embark on quite a search to find it again. The first edition is not cheap, but well worth it. Between the two books I feel like I have a good grasp on caring for goats “the old fashioned way.” It is too bad that we are all having to work this hard to learn what was once common knowledge. MacKenzie goes in depth into formulating rations and has a huge section on grazing, pasture mixes, grains, and forage mixes.

  29. says

    I have a sick wether. His name is Vinnie. He is 5 years old and is my beloved male goat. He cannot urinate or pass a bowel movement for last 24 hours. My vet is out of town till tomorrow. Gave him antibiotics, and betadine and an antiinflammatory.. I have been using homeopathics and herbs. He doesnt move around much, been giving him small amounts of water and cider vinegar, lemon juice.He will eat small amounts of food and hay. What else can I do? I am told that there is nothing much else one can do and he may not make it. Are there any natural remedies or herbs that can help?

    • says

      Stephanie — What food are you feeding Vinnie? I’d suggest only hay, no grains. Did you know wethers should have very little to no grain? In fact, having grain causes the symptoms he’s experiencing — that’s what we’ve been told. I hope he will pull through! I hope others will chime in with helpful advice. {{hugs}}

  30. says

    This sounds like urinary calculi. What is needed is to be taken to a vet immediately. You can give him an apple cider vinegar drench and 2 teaspoons of Vitamin C daily for two to three days. This might help but if it is stones you will need a vet asap or you will loose him.

    Apple cider vinegar given on a daily basis prevents urinary calculi but that is a preventative and not a cure once they have them. Sorry I could not be of any more help. There is an awesome yahoo group that is exceeding wonderful and full of knowledgeable people that may be able to help more and give other things that may work. I am afraid when it is this serious you need bigger guns than herbals. The group is:

    I do hope your little fellow gets better.

  31. says

    Hi Wardee! Do you have any updates on what you are doing for your goats? I’m especially curious as to if the kelp is enough minerals for them. I’m just now researching that today after deciding I really don’t want to give my goats anything chemical or inorganic. Have you had to supplement with selenium and copper? I live in Alaska (actually I’m a facebook friend of yours, Laura S.) and I know that the whole PNW is considered selenium deficient. Alaska is copper deficient also.

    • says

      Laura — We are pretty certain our goats are mineral deficient, so we have been supplementing with the homemade mineral mix recommended in Pat Coleby’s book. Our milking mamas have very little milk this year, not even much for their babies. We are not milking most of them. This has been very disappointing to us on many levels — not just the lack of milk, but the fact that they aren’t doing well because we care for them so much. We hope that TLC and time will bring them back to better health. So, your question is very timely, and even though I don’t know the answer, I’d say that kelp is not enough. It wasn’t enough for us, anyway. :(

  32. Grandmajo says


    I would look at finding some BO-SE from a vet in your area. That is the injectable form of Selenium with Vitamin E. Crucial to have the Vitamin E, since it makes the Selenium work better.

    I copper bolus my goats even though they have a good quality mineral that has copper in it. I use the copper oxide rods, which I put into size 00 empty capsules. The copper oxide rods work a bit differently than the copper sulfate in that they break down and release gradually instead of all at once. Usually I bolus every 6 months, unless they start to show signs of needing it more often.

    Also, look at your water supply. Do you have alot of iron in your water? If so, then you want to make sure that your minerals do not contain much, if any iron. Iron blocks the absorption of copper.

    You want your total feed ration to be about 16% protein for optimal milk production too. So, you have to factor in how much protein your alfalfa hay has and your grain ration. In other words if your hay is at 14% protein and your grain mix is at 12% protein then you average those 2 numbers and you have 13% for your total feed ration percentage.

    I actually quit mixing my own grain and went to using the Purina Noble Goat Dairy Parlor 16%. My milk production increased and has stayed steady even with our recent drop in temps. This is just what I prefer to use, so I’m by no means saying that this is what anyone else should do.

  33. says

    I just ran across this thread today in searching online for natural goat care. Currently, we feed a mixed goat dairy ration from our grain elevator that they mix on the premises. It does have corn (probably gmo) and I need to find out exactly what else is in there. We give a small amount of Calf Manna, some alfalfa pellets, loose mineral and bicarbonate of soda free choice. They have milked like gang busters this year. The one thing I am most concerned about is just how to keep them wormed. They are not on pasture, although I do sometimes take them into the woods when things are greener than right now. This topic seems to have a lot of interest and a lot of opinions. Knowing that cows fed only grass make the best milk, I was hoping to find something similar; for goats, but it sounds like that is not possible. I wonder about the health of the milk. It is wonderful stuff, but what about it’s composition?

  34. says

    I just found this article and found it very helpful. I’m deciding what breed of dairy goat to get and noticed you have nubians and nigerians both? Can you share why you chose those particular breeds? I was trying to decide between the nubians and french alpine, but I hadn’t considered nigerians or a pygmy variety so I’m not sure if you get much milk from them?

  35. Mary says

    Our goats really like tree trimmings-apple, mulberry and honeysuckle. We have enough to give each day in the summer. Haven’t fed them hay yet. They nip the seeds off grasses in their small pasture, and I give them goat feed with supplement. Will probably get alfalfa for winter.

  36. Willa Thompson says

    If you need to order any grains and other items – organic – check out – I order from them to make my Organice chicken feed.
    Willa Thompson – Texas

  37. Heritage Homestead says

    Thank you SO MUCH for this post! We are also interested in organic goat and chicken care. This has been a very valuable read!


  38. R says

    Check out

    They sell organic feed and supplements like kelp meal, BOSS, barley, oats, etc. etc. for better prices than I’ve seen non-organic. If they don’t have a dealer in your area, you can just ask your local feed stores to order it for you.

    Also check out

    We are buying our chaffhaye next week and are super excited!!! You really should read about that stuff, much healthier than dry hay, you can cut supplementation in half, non-GMO alfalfa, stores easily, costs about the same as dry hay in our area, etc. It is EXACTLY what we were looking for to change our goats to a healthier, natural diet.

    Can anyone tell me where they buy beet pulp? Thanks

    Thanks for your helpful post.

  39. Faith says

    Hi Wardee,
    I wanted to share with you and everyone else, two other books that have been helpful in natural raising of goats. “Goat Health Care” and by Cheryl K. Smith and “A Practical Guide to Small-Scale Goatkeeping” by Billie Luisi. The book by Ms. Luisi is old but it is really helpful.
    Also, here is a couple of links to possible places for all to find organic feed in your area:
    I love this site and all the friendly people!. Glad I found this!

  40. says

    Hi Wardeh,

    Did you ever have success planting some of the items you mention in your article. If so, how did it go? I don’t follow many blogs/sites anymore because we are so busy with our own homestead, so perhaps you talk more about your goats in another article. We are trying to figure out how to best feed our small herd on the homestead where we have very limited growing space for animal feed. Do have woods and the girls do browse there, but boy goats eat way more than I would have thought. Have you ever tried feed wheat (or Kamut more specifically)?

  41. says

    Excellent post! We are awaiting our first three Nigerian Dwarfs (a Mama in milk and two doelings) and are looking at alternatives to mainstream foods. How have your experiences been with feeding your goats a more traditional diet? Did you wind up growing some of their feed or find organic options nearby? Any updates would be greatly appreciated…and if you’ve written another post about it and I’ve missed it, please feel free to point me in the right direction!

  42. says

    vehement flame – We’re not on so much land as you; we have 5-1/2 acres. Someday, we want more. 😀 I would love to hear what your dad says and also what your book says! Thanks so much!

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