Goats are probably one of the most important and most versatile livestock in the cattle industry. The traditional milk cow, sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, and turkeys all have their particular uses, but none will provide all of the following: milk, cheese, meat, cashmere, and a hiking trip companion. Goats come in a variety of breeds which are defined by their three main uses. There are hair goats, meat goats, and dairy goats such as Alpines, Oberhasli, Saanen, La Mancha, and Nubian. All kinds of goats can be butchered, milked, or used for packing, but most homestead goats are dairy goats.
Raising Goats and Caring For in Summer Heat
If you are planning to acquire and raise goats, you should be aware of the various diseases your goats may obtain during the course of their lives. Like any other livestock animals, goats need constant health checkups to get the quality produce homesteaders want. One sick goat can greatly affect a whole herd of goats if it has not been addressed immediately. Goats’ illnesses can vary from lungworms, liver fluke, and insect infestations to vitamin deficiencies, tetanus, encephalitis, and a lot more. A female goat’s average lifespan is about eleven years. They can live longer of up to eighteen years if they survived giving birth by the age of ten. Castrated male goats or wethers can reach the same number of years which longer than the bucks’ lifespan in general—male goats have a tendency to get stressed out easily. During their lifespan, goats can have many serious problems when it comes to health—one of which is climate related.
Heat Stress in Goats
Like with people, extreme heat can cause stress to livestock animals. A recent study conducted in Bangladesh Agricultural University shows how heat stress affects some behavioral, physiological, and blood parameters of goats. The researchers; M.M. Alam, M.A. Hashem, M.M Rahman, M.M. Hossain, M.R. Haque, Z. Sobhan, and M.S. Islam found out that the goats’ over-all performance (i.e., reproduction and dairy and meat quality) were negatively affected when exposed to high temperatures.
Caring for Goats during summer
Every beginner homesteads should have a vast knowledge of goats and caring for in the summer heat. The following will provide you information on how to take care goats during summer.
1.Know the signs of heat stress.
Goats don’t sweat. They breathe in and out through their nostrils to try to keep their body temperature down during hot days. Clinical signs of heat stress includes a higher rectal temperature which is over 105ºF/40.6ºC. Normal temperature should be 102.5ºF-104ºF depending on the temperature of the goat’s surroundings. Goat’s may die of hypothermia (with rectal temperature of over 107ºF (41.7ºC)) because their cells begins to degenerate at this point. Other signs of heat stress include rapid breathing, continual panting, inability to stand, and weakness.
2.Have a shed ready for summer
The first thing you want to do during hot days is to lower their body temperature. Goats suffering heat stress should be immediately moved to a cool and shaded place with good ventilation or air circulation. A goat shed under a big tree is more preferred but not necessarily required. Trees offer natural cool air. The goat will immediately feel refreshed when placed under a tree.
3.Give them ample amount of fluids.
Dehydrated goats should be given sufficient amount of water intake. However, owners should only encourage their goats to drink small amounts of fluids from time to time. Otherwise, they get bloated or they will urinate often causing them to get stinky—especially the bucks. Bucks urinate on themselves during breeding season and many people find the scent very unpleasant. You may also sprinkle them with water to lower down their temperature. Dark colored goats tend to feel hotter than the light colored ones. It is very important to spray dark colored goats with cool water from time to time to keep their temperature at a good level.
4.Consider changing their dry in takes
In the study conducted in Bangladesh Agricultural University, the researchers found out that during summer, goats’ dry intakes drop significantly. Goats that were exposed to heat take more time eating than the goats exposed in moderated temperature. Feeding goats and caring for in the summer heat will require you a bit of research when it comes to their feeds. In summertime, goats need a high amount of salt and minerals. You may increase the protein component of your dry feeds by adding more Lucerne and reducing oaten chaff. You may also add apple cider vinegar, linseed meal and wheat bran to your dry feeds. Since goats are browsers of non-irrigated plants by nature, you may also want to supply them with feeds that has the nutrients that are found within the soil profile such as dolomite (calcium and magnesium), sulfur, magnesium, zinc, boron, copper, and seaweed (kelp). Heat makes your goats susceptible to many illnesses. A small amount of each mineral on their feeds will boost their immune system.
5.Milking your goats during the summer.
It is important to milk your goats under a well shaded and cool area, or when the temperature is not completely hot like in the mornings. Since dark-colored goats feel hotter, you may cover them in cool blankets while milking to lower their temperature down.
Heat stress can cause decrease in milk production and milk quality in goats. You may give your goats a dilute solution of seaweed to provide those micro-nutrients and minerals that act as tonic and hydrant for heat-stressed goats.
These are just some of the key points that you should take note in having a goat and caring for in the summer heat. Herding goats may cost you extra during summertime but, ultimately, your goats will earn you more than what you spent for them. As mentioned in the beginning of this article, goats are one of the most versatile animal in the livestock industry, so taking extra care of them is just even. There are still more things to know about goat homesteading so make sure to learn them all even before you look for a goat breeder to get your goats from.