for people who love the littlest dairy goats
Okay, I've always had the boys wethered and have not kept them because of my limitations (City code). I have two bucklings, born mid-April, that are too thin. It is winter which is undoubtedly why. Sister to one is not, but is a little tubby but is also still with mom. The oldest doe is a bit tubby also. Neither sister nor oldest doe get grain, only orchard grass hay. They all get snacks each evening, a few pieces of banana or apple.
What can I safely feed the boys without risk of U.C. to put some weight on them? Because they are so wooly, I didn't realize they were thinner than the doeling and oldest doe - they are on basically the same diet.
I do give my buck and buckling 1/4-1/2 cup of grain once a day through rut and winter when the grass is dead. I make sure it has a 2:1 calcium:phosphorus ratio and they get ACV in their water. Mine get peanut hay and coastal hay free choice. I have successfully fed Chaffhaye to them as well and have never had any UC issues. From what I understand it's more about an imbalance in the cal:phos ratio that causes the UC (higher calcium is okay, higher phos is not).
Maybe try getting the boys a little bit of timothy or alfalfa hay that is higher in protein than the orchard?
Considering how well loved your goats are, I have a hard time believing that these boys are not getting enough food. Have you checked eyelids for possible anemia (internal parasites)? Are they pooping berries?
I gave them some timothy pellets which they basically turn up their nose at after eating just a few. I have given them some alfalfa pellets and sunflower seeds. They eventually eat the alfalfa pellets but, of course, go after the sunflower seeds.
We are currently going through some very cold weather for our region accompanied by winds. The boys have shelter but not as good as the barn which is why I am concerned about them being thinner than the girls. In the barn, I can put a heat lamp up high to raise the temp a few degrees but, of course, not outside.
My goat care person was here last week. She said they are thin but not bad, that she would like to see them a bit heavier with it being winter but they are healthy. No eyelid issues for anyone and poop is normal (as is their bucky behavior!). The thing that is most frustrating to me right now is they have also gotten very much more picky with their hay at the worst possible time!!! They have massive amounts of hay out there and seem to be ignoring it which makes absolutely no sense. I gave them the Victorian manger to cut down waste. They are just leaving it in the bottom which means they are pulling it out of the top to dump it on the ground to not eat it.<big sigh>
Then, in addition to the weather and the fussy eating and the end of rut, they are still growing boys. They seem to be thinner than the doeling the same age which is why I am concerned. I am likely being an over-protective mama. I've never had bucks/bucklings so have no idea how they should look.
I gave them a handful of dairy grain and they gobbled it right up. I'm hesitant to give them very much (like more than a couple tablespoons). How much harm could a little do for just two or three weeks? Should it be okay? They drink lots of water and have warm water at least three times a day. I just don't want to set the stage for U.C. problems.
Bucks do tend to lose some weight during breeding season, but it's tough to explain what's normal without actually getting my hands on a goat. And bucks are so hairy that it's possible for them to be really underweight without you realizing it. I know you're very conscientious, so maybe you're just being overly protective? I'm glad you have a second opinion from someone who has seen them in person.
Years ago my bucks got really skinny every winter because we had poor quality grass hay, and I was scared to give them alfalfa or grain because of the risk of UC. One year I couldn't find any grass hay at all, and they wound up getting nothing but alfalfa. Some did have a problem with zinc deficiency (foaming at the mouth and blowing their coats in January), but no issues with UC. I have also given them a small amount of grain during the winter sometimes, and they've also been okay. There is probably a genetic component, and some are more susceptible to UC than others, but you may also be able to find a goat feed or mineral with ammonium chloride in it, which is supposed to prevent the formation of stones.