Goat problem-they are eating my barn!!

msjay2u(7)February 15, 2009

I am having a problem with my goats eating the wood on my barn!! I had a couple of rotten boards and now I see they have eaten them and there is a huge hole in the barn. I will be repairing it but is there a way to STOP this behavior?

First they ate the pile of wood laying on the side of the barn and now that it is gone they have commenced to eating the barn.

Should I be supplying them rotten wood to eat or what is missing from this equation? I never heard of goats doing this before.

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Are you keeping a salt or mineral block out for them? You can get some chew stop of one name or another from several suppliers. But I'd see if they are missing something. Could just be a bad habit too.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 4:15AM
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Put out a tub such as Sweetlix goat (not goat & sheep). It will supply limited minerals & keep them busy because it takes so long for them to eat it, plus the tub is great for uses around the barn. The tub should not be their sole source for minerals-supply a good loose mineral or even kelp for their mineral needs. Putting out branches (non-poisonous) will make them happy, Christmas tree branches are great, you'll probably find very few this late in the season though.

Do they have toys? An old tire or two, a rock, or a wooden structure will do.

Goats have a tendency to mouth everything, clothes, hair, barns. This could mean a deficiency, I doubt it though. Re-direct them & it should stop. Keep in mind when you fix your barn loose pieces they can get their mouths around are fair game.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 5:25AM
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yeah I notice they eat anything loose. I been putting off fixing the barn but it is getting pretty bad so I guess I am going to have to suck it up and fix it in the cold.

What kind of hay an I supposed to be feeding them? They do not eat any of the hay I buy for them, just the straw bedding. Maybe that is the problem. They are Nigerian Dwarf whethers and I have gotten conflicting info from the feed stores. No matter what I buy all they do is make a mess of itand use it for bedding. Like I said all they will eat is the bedding straw. I put it out one day and most of it is gone the next day.

I have a salt lick block (white) and it has been in their pen for months now and they have not touched it.

So lets get to the basics, How do I make them know they are supposed to eat the salt and minerals I put out for them? I brought the loose minerals and they did not touch it either.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 5:16PM
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First off, where do you live? How old are your wethers? How long have you had them?

What you feed them will depend on your weather & mineral content in your forages (this includes forages from your hay supplier, too). Are you deficient in Selenium? Copper? other minerals? You can find this information out by calling a local goat breeder, preferably one who's raised goats 4 plus years, any issues would have surfaced by 4 years. They should be able to tell you. Here is a link also:


Whethers do not need ANY grain, if they are growing you may give them a little bit, say 1/4 cup each for small breeds, but be SURE to supply Ammonium Chloride to prevent Urinary Calculi-you can buy this from several online suppliers, or perhaps your local TS or Agway carries it-our doesn't but yours may. Ammonium chloride is the one thing that might save a wether from UC-if caught early enough. Bottom line: Prevent UC. When they reach their adult size, discontinue all grains, feed snacks like raisins, carrots, cheerios & such if you feel must give them treats. If you are buying bagged grain, see if Amm. Chl. is in the feed.

Forget the feedstores. Unless they have an employee or long-time owner of goats they havn't a clue except what the feed manufacterers tell them. Besides-they're in business to sell their shelved supplies and are not always the best resource.

A good grass hay works well(timothy, clover,rye). Alfalfa is expensive for wethers, and is usually given to lactating does or growing kids, if I recall correctly Alfalfa corrects some phoshorus/calcium imbalances & helps prevent UC, but don't quote me on that. Soooo many types of hay available in different areas, I'm not familiar with a lot of them(peanut & some others).

They won't eat hay that is moldy, dusty, stepped on, rained on, etc. I'd check your hay. Offer a horse-quality hay. Straw won't hurt them, and it's good they are getting some long fiber as they need it for good rumen function, but the nutritional level in straw is not the best, hay would be better. If that is what was available to them from a past home, it may take a while for them to understand normal hay is good to eat, too. I bought 2 young bucks from the drought-stricken south last year. It took MONTHs before they understood grass was edible, even when the others ate it constantly.

Make a cheap hay feeder out of a 55 gal plastic drum. cut 3-4 slits/openings, vertically, about 4-6 inches wide holes/openings around the barrel-use your judgement based on their horns and/or size. Make SURE they can get their head out if it should get stuck! The slits should either allow ONLY their noses to enter(best way), or their entire head with ample room to remove their head. Place the barrel on top of a piece of plywood, and place the plywood on top of an old tire. The barrels with screw-top covers work best (olive barrels), or cut the closed ones & clamp the cover on/off as needed to keep the rain/snow/sleet off the hay. Make sure there are no holes in the plywood & tire where they can get their hooves caught in it. Screw it down. This will keep the hay off the ground, above worm-level, and keep it dry. Yes you will have waste, but not as much particularly as they grow (if they are still young) into the verticle openings you cut.

Remove the salt block. Salt is a limiter, and is not needed-salt is in the minerals naturally. Supply the Goatlyx tub as described, AND loose minerals, preferably something formulated for your area. Put out a small amount of loose minerals for them. When it gets wet or pooped in, add it to your garden & replace with fresh minerals. They will eat it when they need it-mine prefer the red loose minerals, love kelp, but won't touch the black loose minerals. You can use any hard-plastic container bottom, cut about 1-2 inches high so it makes a dish, and screw it to any inside wall above the poop-line. Place a cinder block for them to step on so they can reach the minerals. If they are not eating the minerals they either don't need them, don't like them, or they are soiled.

Hope this helps

    Bookmark   February 16, 2009 at 7:54PM
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Thanks for the great advice

I live in NC
Have 2 Nigerian Dwarf whethers that are not quite a year old. No horns and no jewels either LOL

I am going to try your idea of using a trash can with holes in it for the goats to eat the hay out of. Maybe they will like that.

I been giving mines a cup of feed (Nutrena Goat food) each day to share. I put a capful of vinegar in their water and I was told that helps to prevent kidney stones.

I called a few places about the Ammonium chloride. so far no one heard of it. I will check online sources.

Thanks for all the advice. I printed it out at work today and I am studying it. This was a great help. Wethers are so different from does.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 7:52PM
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Glad I could help. I forget which one carries it, but I mainly order from just a few sources: Jeffers livestock and Hoeggers Supply-I got it from one of them, can't recall which. Anyhoo it will last a long time and worth it's weight in gold when and if you need it most(UC).

There is no scientific evidence that vinegar helps prevent stones or will sway the sex of the kids born towards females. It will, however provide micronutrients in the diet & to some extent help keep water from freezing at a higher temp. Some will swear by it, I'll stick to proven techniques especially with a beloved pet or breeding quality animal.

Other basic things to keep in mind are worming, vaccinations, and of course changing feeds s l o w l y. Baking soda out free choice can help prevent bloat & rumen acidiosis, again as long as it is fresh & not soiled, they'll eat it when the need it, cheap insurance if you will.

Geez I'm rambling now. Enjoy those boys, goats are such a hoot!

    Bookmark   February 17, 2009 at 8:42PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Vinegar will dissolve lime, increasing the calcium intake of the goats. More calcium means that Calcium Oxalate will form in the digestive tracts of the goats more easily, preventing the oxalate from entering the blood stream, preventing it from getting tothe kidneys where it can form kidney stones.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 1:11AM
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No where did I see it was harmful to goats. What I have found is:

Many herbalists recommend the use of raw, unpasteurized, unheated, organic apple cider vinegar as an important dietary ingredient for humans, farm animals and pets, including birds. The Encyclopedia of Natural Pet Care describes apple cider vinegar in this way: "Long a folk remedy, cider vinegar has been shown to improve the health of dairy cows, horses, dogs and other animals. It reduces common infections, aids whelping, improves stamina, prevents muscle fatigue after exercise, increases resistance to disease and protects against food poisoning. Cider vinegar is rich in the vitamins, minerals and trace elements found in apples, especially potassium; it normalizes acid levels [pH] in the stomach, improves digestion and the assimilation of nutrients, reduces intestinal and fecal odors, helps cure constipation, alleviates some of the symptoms of arthritis and helps prevent bladder stones and urinary tract infections."

"You can add unpasteurized cider vinegar to the drinking water. Cider vinegar is meant to help prevent kidney stones in bucks, help with kidding and the general health of the goat."

"We add apple cider vinegar to our goats water all year around. It seems to repel flies in the summer and causes the water not to freeze as fast in the winter. We only add about an eigth of a cup to each 5 gallon bucket. Some people told us that this would give the milk an "off" flavor, but we have yet to find that. Maybe it would if we were giving them white vinegar. Anyhow, the bonus is that our goats LOVE it!"

"True apple cider vinegar is brown, not clear. It has many nutritional qualities all by itself. It is high in potassium, which aids in keeping the blood flowing properly very important in our pregnant does, most especially when she is carrying multiples. I add ACV to livestock water to assist in keeping down the algae growth, assist in preventing hatching of mosquito larvae, as well as help my bucks keep from getting urinary calculi and kidney stones. This works for humans, too, by the way."

"You can also give your wethers/goats a cup of Apple Cider Vinegar in their water or slices of apples, this helps keep the urinary tract clear and helps with controlling the sex of offspring. Supposedly vinegar will lead to more does being born than bucklings. "

additional note: Should not be used in a metal container

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 2:45AM
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Good Morning,

I fore-saw your posts coming as this has been discussed often on many lists.

I never said it was bad for them, and I acknowledged there were good nutrients in the AC vinegar which are beneficial.

What I did say is there is no scientific study regarding ACV and the prevention of stones & the prevailance of female does. Over the life of the doe, the kidding ratio is still 50/50, some years does, some years bucks, but overall it is 50/50 over the does lifetime. I have a soft-cover book called "The Vinegar Book", It makes the same claims, however it does not provide the source of it's claims (that I recall).

If the buck/wether is fed correctly (proper phosphorus/calcium ratio) they won't need preventative measures such as Amm Chl, unless the uretha is abnormally smaller than normal after the banding/castrating procedure.

I'm not looking for a debate, but I (and many in the goat world) would be very interested in a unbiased scientific study regarding ACV. If you have a scientific study link, please post it and I'll stand corrected. I'd love to have an all-doe crop for the life of a doe, as would many others I'm sure.

btw Cranberry Juice also supposedly helps with people & preventing stones.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 5:37AM
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The link associated with "Why?" brought me to a definition of an Internet Troll, not an article on Apple Cider Vinegar. Was that meant for me?

I can't help if you feel I was trolling, and I found it offensive. I've always tried to share information that I thought others could use, and that have worked best for us over the years. We've been a family farm here since 1910, so we are not newbies to farm life, however some of our practices may not be in conjuntion with others ideas/ of raising animals, and alas not all ideas are applicable to all farms/animal husbandry, as we all know. Each must decide for themselves what works as I've said before.

I've always tried to post in a respectful manner regardless of whether or not I agreed with the poster, and when I didn't understand the why usually ask as I'm open to better ways of doing things. My posts are given off the top of my head, certainly not by trolling for information, unless I know of a link that might be useful such as the mineral map I've posted & referred to personally on several occasions.

Geesh, I can take criticizm & suggestions for better ways, but I found the trolling thing a bit out of form.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 5:55AM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

Brenda I think perhaps she was accusing me of trolling, Presumably she did not read my post and there for did not notice that I was saying good things about Vinegar.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 11:01AM
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Brenda Sue that was TOTALLY NOT for you. Why would you think that when I had already addressed you personally thanking you for the good information. Your posts were and are GREAT!

Sorry for the confusion.

No you are not the troll on here. Maybe I misread the post following yours but it sure sounded like someone was saying that vinegar after successive steps cause stones and I reacted to it. I was sound asleep, forgot to turn off the phone and when it rang letting me know I had a message and I read that last message, not from you, I reacted.

I am sorry if I offended you even though it was not meant for you. Friends again?

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 6:07PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

The Key is where I said "preventing it [oxalate] from getting to the kidneys where it [oxalate] can form kidney stones." Please read more carefully in the future.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 7:18PM
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Well I guess I was a bit sensitive this morning & was rushed due to time constraints. I've been away from the forum for a while & recently came back, things have changed a bit, new posters, and an undertone I havn't quite figured out yet. Thank you for the kinds words and I should have interpreted better.

The best we can do is try something, and if it doesn't work for us, well we try something else. The great thing about the internet is we can all be connected & brainstorm about ideas & better ways. Makes things much easier, and we can learn from each others mistakes & successes.

msjay2u course we're still friends, no grudges here.

Besides, you have goats & I LOVE to talk goats!

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 8:54PM
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I just wrote you a personal note and I guess while doing so you answered.

I love this forum and most of the people on here. I have gotten a lot of helpful information on here and even though you don't have 100% confidence in vinegar I did not take offense to that at all because of the way you stated everything and I did not get the impression your reaction was intended to upset anyone or get attention.

Lordy knows I need help with these kids and I do value your opinion so it is officially squashed between us now. THANKS.

BTW I got a Hoeggars catalog in the mail today. I am going to look in it tomorrow for that ammonium chloride after I ask the guy if the feed I am giving them has it in it or not. I already burnt the bag so i can't check the label.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2009 at 10:05PM
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There is a blog that I enjoy reading where the owner has dwarf nigerian goats. Her one male youngster had a stone and she was told to give him vinegar for it.

It's called "Chickens In The Road". Google it. Very intertaining reading! I would think especially so if you have dwarf nigerians (I don't - yet).

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:02PM
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I googled it and found the blog. I could not find the thread you mentioned yet. I bookmarked it to go though it. I found her writing to be VERY funny. You guys have to read the thread Clover takes a Trip. It is hilarious!!!

Humor just makes my day!

    Bookmark   February 21, 2009 at 9:23PM
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brendan_of_bonsai(4b AK)

I feel like I am owed an apology here.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 4:31AM
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I no longer read anything that sounds negative or argumentative or even correcting if it's not necessary. I just skim over it and skip it altogether now.

I really like that Chickens In The Road blog. She is an excellent writer. I have read back quite far but not all the way yet.

If you scroll down past the story and look on the right, you can see where she has divided it into different sections. You can go to each section to read the archives for that section.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:21AM
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    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 8:20AM
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For a second I thought your title said goats are eating your brain. Shouldn't have gotten that Zombie breed :)

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 6:43PM
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MsJay, I just had a thought---maybe you could put up some of those scarecrows around your barn,on second thought maybe not they might eat those too! but then again if they are busy with those maybe you could get the barn fixed before they noticed.

canuckistani-ROFL her goats were eating her brain? Zombie breed? Thank You for the laugh I really needed one tonight

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 7:30PM
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runningtrails thanks for that link. That blog is faboulous!!
I tried something today that someone mentioned which was giving the goats warm water (with the vinegar of course) and they sopped it up like no tomorrow. That made me REAL happy. So it is warm water from now on.

canuckistani no they are not eating my brain but if I put it before them I am sure they would. They do eat anything. I found one eating the sting from the straw bale the other day and when I told him to give it to me he ran away like a kid. oh he is a kid. you know what I mean. It was hilarious. We played tug a war for a minute and I got it from him.

Nelda they would eat it for sure. they ate a hole in one of my cousins shirts. She did not think it was so funny. I did though...

    Bookmark   February 22, 2009 at 11:22PM
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