I continue to surprise myself by the way I blunder into things without realizing what the consequences are. My new goats were show goats. That fact pretty much informs everything else. They arrived stunningly clean with perfect short curly coats. Their horns have an elegant sweep away from their faces that looks almost too good to be true. They have bright intelligent eyes. How could there possibly be any issues?
Well, yes, there are issues. Not bad issues, just things that need to be addressed and adjusted. The boys, not yet named but I'm thinking of Knit & Purl, Odin & Thor, Romulus & Remus or something else to be figured out soon, were raised on a dry lot. They did not romp in a pasture getting all sorts of grass seeds and sticker burrs and twigs lodged in their coats. They were never given any hay for the same reason. When your ranking at a show is determined, in part, by just how stunningly perfect their coats are, you take great pains to protect them. Washing the goats prior to showing is not allowed so you need to keep them clean along the way.
Item #1 - it takes a goat's rumen about 2 weeks to adjust to a different diet. If I were to toss these boys out in my pasture they would end up with horrible diarrhea almost immediately and a real possibility of serious bloat. My vet suggested one hour per day on pasture for the first week, then two hours per day for the second week. By then they should be good to go.
I have been talking to Lisa Shell of Kai Mohair. I love Kai Mohair for their wonderful goats (I've owned several) and because Lisa and her husband Randy are wonderful people. Lisa's suggestion was to start with 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15... A much slower start to the pasture process. She suggested this on day three of my one hour/day schedule so at this point going back doesn't make much sense. They boys are doing great on 1 hour/day so I'll leave them there for now.
These guys were fed a medicated feed. My goats have never had medicated feed because they don't go anywhere. Show goats are exposed to every parasite, bacteria and virus out there when they go to shows. The goats are put up in small pens right up next to pens of goats from all over the area, the region, the state or even the country. According to the breeders, and I defer to them since I don't show goats, medicated feed is a must. Lisa feeds all her goats medicated feed all the time. She has a large breeding operation with lots of beautiful kids throughout the year so it makes sense.
We pulled fecals on all the livestock on Tuesday and one of the two new goats has a particularly high coccidia count in addition to other gut parasites. Coccidia includes about 10 different species of a single celled protozoan easily transmitted from goat to goat. Not all of the species present problems but some do. Coccidia is almost always present in the small intestines of goats and only becomes an issue with very young goats, for whom it can be life threatening and life altering, or occasionally with older goats if found in high enough numbers. I've had some of my goats show coccidia in their fecal tests over the years and we never treated for it because it's mostly not a problem until it is.
Item #2 - Show goats are fed medicated feed which tends to limit the number of bacteria, virus and protozoa in their gut. That can be maintained with constant use of medicated feed but when they come off that feed, there can be issues. I've treated both the new guys with a general wormer and as soon as the coccidia medication arrives I'll treat them with that.
My new ex-show goats are not much interested in eating. I don't know if this has anything to do with them having been show goats or if this is specific just to them. They aren't interested in the goat chow I feed all my goats, nor Equine Senior which is a pretty good stand-in for goat chow in a pinch. They didn't like the wetted beet pulp either. They have been eating the hay that I bedded their stall with which makes me feel slightly better.
The first time I let the boys out of their stall, they scampered out the big barn doors and right up to the edge of the cement. They looked out at the grass in the corral with something akin to horror. I think they were both thinking - what the hell is all that horrible looking green stuff? By the end of their hour outside, they had walked around the perimeter of the corral but with the look a cat has when its trying to walk across snow without touching it. It's really hard to walk without putting any of your four feet on the ground. By the second day, the boys were walking confidently across the grass but I haven't noticed them eating much of it.
Item #3 - How do I get them to eat? I haven't worked out the answer to this one yet but they were given vitamin B complex which should stimulate their appetite and Goat Pro-Bios to encourage good bacteria in their guts. We did that Tuesday and again today. Lisa had a couple of suggestions on this topic, too. I've put a bin of goat minerals in their stall and I'm collecting some leaves to offer them. Goats are browsers rather than grazers so their natural diet consists of leaves and tender stems rather than grass. I know my other goats love roses, both the leaves and the blossoms, so I'll offer the new guys some. And Ron picked some grape leaves for them. Again, my other goats love them. I am optimistic all this will work.
We will pull fecals again the middle of next week to check on our progress with the parasites.