Today I will share with you tips on ways that you can use for how to encourage your goats to drink more water.
When working on ways for how to raise dairy goats that are healthy and produce milk for you and your family, proactive healthcare is the key. And water is the main source of a healthy goat herd.
When an animal owner asks me for advice on how to help their sick animal I always ask about their water. More often than not their animal’s water source is not fresh all the time. And I totally get it, because not even on our homestead do we have that luxury.
But many folks believe that if the bucket has water in it, they are doing their part.
Unfortunately, this is not the case, especially with goats. Goats are such finicky animals. Contrary to all the old wives’ tales about how goats will eat anything, even a tin can. They eat what they like and skip what they don’t.
The same is true with their water.
If their water is dirty or stagnant, they will not drink it unless in dire need, and many times not even then. Unfortunately, by that point, you are probably already dealing with an ill animal.
Why do goats need fresh water?
I believe goats, just like people, drinking fresh clean water is the magic ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. Water is the healthiest option and will do its part to keep dehydration, lethargy, and even illness away.
Water flushes out toxins and helps to keep their systems running smoothly. And if you are milking your goats, water will keep that milk supply strong.
If you have pregnant goats, water will help not only the mother stay healthy so she can handle the stress of delivery but the kids she is carrying as well.
Water will help strengthen immune systems so they can fight off illnesses and even worms and parasites.
Dehydration is a common cause of many goat ailments, and of course, water is the key to keeping animals hydrated.
How do we encourage our goats to drink more water?
Our goal is to ensure our animals are always healthy and by doing a few things we can make sure that is the case.
Now, that doesn’t mean they will never get sick. There is just no way to prevent all the things. It does mean that you will be supporting a healthy immune system so they can stop and fight any issues that might come up more often limiting your intervention with medicines and vet visits.
Just like with our families, by encouraging healthy habits, our goats will be sick less often.
The number one most important thing you can do to make sure your goats or any animal for that matter is able to fend off illness is to always provide FRESH water.
Notice I said FRESH water.
Don’t just think that if the water bowl is full, everything is fine. That could not be further from the truth.
Remember above, I said goats are finicky. This is especially true when it comes to their water. Other animals may drink that is dusty or dirty or warm. Chickens, ducks, even pigs could really care less if their water is a little muddy.
Goats on the other hand is a whole other story.
Dirty or stagnant water will get ignored rather than drank and our goal is to make sure our animals are drinking all the time.
How to encourage your goats to drink more water every day
These tips are all that I have used on our homestead. Incorporate as many as you can with your own goat herd.
Tip #1 Keep it fresh
Every single day while you are out doing chores, be sure to dump out all the water from the previous day. Even if the bucket is full, dump it out and fill it up with fresh water.
When the weather is really hot or very cold we will do this more than once a day.
For us and the area we live in, by consistently offering fresh water at all times, our goats drink much more. And my goal is to get them to drink-drink-drink.
Tip #2 Keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter
The last thing we ourselves want on a hot summer day is a large glass of warm water. By giving your goats a cool fresh bucket you will find them drinking more often.
The opposite is true in the winter. Goats would rather drink a warm bucket of water over a very cold one. On our homestead, our goats love warm water in the winter so much, they will usually drink it as I am pouring it!
More Goat Care Resources:
- Build a DIY Goat Playground
- Pick the Best Goat Breed for Your Family
- The Key to Great Tasting Goat Milk
Tip #3 Add a little ACV
Goats love apple cider vinegar and just by adding a touch to their water you will find that bucket empty more often. I suggest adding one tablespoon per gallon of water and offering this to your herd twice a month.
Not only will they love the taste but adding apple cider vinegar will give additional health benefits.
- Thicker coat
- Decreased issues of Mastitis
- More milk production
- Decreased urinary calculi in bucks
Be sure that the ACV you use has the mother included.
“The mother is a thick, gelatinous layer is formed by the acetic acid bacteria on the surface of the vinegar. This layer is known as ‘The Mother’ because it is the catalyst that gives rise to the vinegar.” Source: The Bath Alchemist
SLCG Pro Tip: If your goats ignore the ACV/water at first, don’t worry. Like I said goats are finicky and it might take them a time or two before they try it and see they love it. Offer the water, and if they refuse it, simply dump it out. Try it again with a fresh batch of water and ACV in a week or two.
Tip #4 Sweeten it up
If you have a goat that is not drinking enough water or is sluggish or anemic, you might want to add a little something they love to get them to drink fast.
Most goats love molasses and will drink their water down when any is added.
Also, the molasses gives a nice sugar boost that will encourage eating as well. Another benefit is a boost of energy that may be needed, especially if your goats are milking, kidding, or breeding.
Just pour a bit of molasses, we like to use Black Strap Molasses, into a bucket of fresh water and mix it up with your hand. If your goat is not used to molasses I would start with a small amount. Let your goat lick your fingers to taste and lead them to the water bowl.
Once your goats become accustomed to the molasses, they will usually come running when they see the jar in your hand! We usually add molasses once a month or as needed to help get the herd drinking.
The molasses can really help in dire situations, so it is a nice trick to have in your natural goat care arsenal.
Tip #5 Give lots of options
I like to have one water source for every two goats. So, if I have six goats in an area I will have three buckets of water.
I also like to spread them out so there is no reason to fight for a drink. Two buckets inside the barn with an outside option works best for our setup.
Tip #6 Keep it in reach
Just like with adult goats, goat kids need that water as well. Sure, they get enough hydration while nursing or when they are bottle fed, but the quicker you introduce water, the better.
Keep a bowl down low for the kids so they can check it out. Just a little water is all you need. Goats are a naturally curious animal and will stick their heads inside to see what it holds.
Make sure to especially change this water out frequently to ensure it is not soiled.
Tip #7 Keep it clean
Each week you will want to wash out your water bowls to make sure they are clean.
On our farm, we like to do this chore on Saturdays. After we collect all the water bowls, we will dump them out and wash them rinsing them well after. We then fill them with fresh water and take them back into the barn.
Just this one act is usually enough to get most, if not all, of our herd drinking.
To wash out your water bowls, use a light water/bleach spray and scrub it all down both inside and out. Rinse well and fill with cool clean water.
When raising any type of animal promoting health is always better than waiting for illness to happen then treat. If water is a major game player in a healthy animal, why wouldn’t we take the time to make sure it is fresh and available.
Changing out water is so simple and yet one of the most effective ways to ensure our animals all healthy all year long.
Do you have a tip on how to encourage your goats to drink more water? Leave a comment below; I would love to hear from you!
More Goat Care Resources:
- How to Keep Animals Cool in Hot Weather
- Hay Feeders for Your Goats
- Turn an Old Shed Into a New Goat Barn