Probiotics and Healthy Boer Goats

 

What are probiotics?

 

Probiotics can potentially be lifesaving supplements for goats.  Many veterinarians recommend probiotic supplement to boost the nutritional intake from feed and to optimize the overall health of the animal.  Goats are small ruminants that digest feed with the aid of live bacteria which normally lives and reproduces in the digestive system of the ruminant to assist in the normal digestion of feed.  Occasionally things will happen which will hinder the growth and reproduction of these bacteria, including illness, medication and stress.  Probiotics are usually given to animals to:

 

  • Manage digestive issues such as bloating and diarrhea
  • Clear up diarrhea after treatment (mainly antibiotics)
  • Minimize the effects of weaning stress, stress from transporting, showing and environmental changes.
  • Maintain health and vitality in geriatric animals, growing animals, breeding bucks and pregnant does
  • Improve nutritional absorbtion of feed
  • Assist in a change of diet (weaning, change in hay and/or grain, fresh spring grass)

 

Digestive issues (bloat, diarrhea and overeating) can be life threatening in a goat and prevention is better than treatment,  (Remember the saying "An ounce of preventions is worth a pound of cure"?).  Antibiotics and other medications can negatively affect the natural bacteria found in the digestive system, so any time you treat your goats you should consider providing probiotics.  Stress induced by weaning, transportation, showing or even a simple change of environment (moving goats from one pasture to another or introducing a new animal to the herd) can also negatively affect a goats physical health.  By offering probiotics to stressed animals you assist in maintaining the natural level of good bacteria in their rumen and helping them make a smoother transition.  Older animals, very young animals, pregnant does and breeding bucks all benefit from the added nutritional intake that probiotics provide.  Probiotics are also given to newborn kids to increase bacterial count as their rumen develops and allow them to maximize their nutritional intake from day one.  (We often leave probiotics out free choice for our goats when we are adding animals to the herd or during other times of high stress and we give probiotic paste to newborn kids as soon as we can.)

 

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Almost all goat illnesses are associated with changes in the rumen; maintaining a healthy and functional rumen at all times is crucial to your herds overall health and well being.  By allowing each animal to digest and absorb more nutrients from their food you will help to maintain their health during high stress periods.  The added benefit of providing high quality probiotics is that you will feed less while improving the health and the ADG (Average Daily Gain) of your animals which means a lower feed bill and healthier goats because you will need to feed less grain to get and maintain finish and bloom. 

 

We have used probiotics on our horses, goats and ourselves for years with great results.  Some of the animals (hard keepers or show animals) get probiotics year round, our easy keepers or non-working animals get them ‘as needed’ and our growing animals, breeding bucks and pregnant does get them daily during high stress periods of breeding, kidding and showing.  If you’d like to learn more about how probiotics are incorporated in to our feeding program send me a message using our CONTACT page.