There are many different ways to approach feeding goat bucks and wethers; however, here are a few
recommendations that many goat owners do seem to agree on.
How To Feed Goat Bucks, Wethers, & Buck Kids
To maintain good condition and avoid issues with urinary calculi (where the urinary tract becomes blocked by stones that have formed), bucks and wethers should be fed a diet low in protein with a specific ratio of calcium to phosphorus. To do this, they should get (free choice) good quality hay, goat mineral supplement, and water.
Good Quality Hay or Forage
As with all goats, the most important feature of their diet should be free-choice, good quality hay or forage. However, they don’t need the higher protein or calcium levels found in alfalfa or legume hay, so should be fed quality grass hay instead. The higher levels of protein and calcium found in alfalfa can actually contribute to the development of urinary calculi.
They should also have access to free-choice goat minerals with a balanced ratio of calcium to phosphorus. The calcium to phosphorus ratio in the goat mineral should be at least two to one, with some recommending ratios as high as four to one. We’ve been using the Manna Pro Goat Mineral (see below) which has a minimum of 16% calcium and 8% phosphorus.
Goat Bucks & Wethers Need Fresh Water
Access to a continuous source of clean, freshwater is also very important. Drinking plenty of water can help to flush excess minerals from their systems and discourage the formation of any stones that could cause a blockage. However, goats can be very picky about drinking water (they like it the right temperature, clean, no hay, etc.), so it’s important to monitor their intake and make sure they’re actually drinking plenty of it.
For growing kids and wethers, a higher protein grain ration is also appropriate until they’re about 6 – 8 months old. The calcium to phosphorus ratio should be similar to the two to one ratio of calcium to phosphorus in the goat mineral supplement, and grain medicated with a coccidiostat is typically recommended to help prevent coccidia in young goats.
It’s highly recommended that any grain ration fed to bucks and wethers of any age (bucks also sometimes need to be fed grain during breeding season to maintain condition) contain ammonium chloride, which helps prevent urinary calculi. We’ve been using Kalmbach Game Plan Starter/Developer which has 16% protein, a coccidiostat, and ammonium chloride.
We’ve had several bucks, wethers, and buck kids grow up on the farm, and so far, we haven’t had issues with urinary calculi and they’ve maintained good condition. We still monitor them carefully and look for ways to improve our practices though. For more information on feeding all types of Nigerian Dwarf goats see Feeding Nigerian Dwarf Goats.