encourage your goats to drink more water

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Use these tips to encourage your goats to drink more water so they stay hydrated in the hot summer sun as well as in the cold winter.

How to raise dairy goats that are healthy and produce top quality milk for you and your family. Proactive healthcare is the key to raising hardy livestock, and water is the main source of a healthy goat herd.

Nothing keeps a goat herd healthier than freshwater. But sometimes getting your backyard goats to drink is easier said than done. Use these tips to encourage your goats to drink more water. #goatcare #backyardgoats #goatswater #goathealth

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 I find that the water that is out for their goats is at least a few days old. And 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?

Drinking fresh, clean water is the magic ingredient to a healthy lifestyle; this is true for all animals, including us. Water is the healthiest option and will prevent dehydration, lethargy, and even illness.

#1. Water flushes out toxins and helps to keep an animal’s system running smoothly. And if you are milking your goats, water will keep that milk supply strong.

Goat on a milk stand. How to encourage goats to drink more water for a better milk supply

#2. 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.

#3. Water will help strengthen immune systems so they can fight off illnesses and even worms and parasites.

Mama goat and kid. Healthy goats need water. how to encourage goats to drink more water

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 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 is always to 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.

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Remember when I mentioned earlier that goats are finicky? This is especially true when it comes to their water. Other animals may drink water that is dusty, dirty, or warm. Chickens, ducks, and 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 the same ones 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, you will want to 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.

Goats eating in a barn. how to encourage goats to drink water

Tip #2  Keep it cool in the summer and warm in the winter

The last thing we 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 than a very cold one. On our homestead, our goats love warm water in the winter so much that they will usually drink it as I pour it!

More Goat Care Resources:

Tip #3   Add a little ACV

Goats love apple cider vinegar, and just by adding a few splashes 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.

  1. Thicker coat
  2. Decreased issues of Mastitis, a condition in the goat’s udder
  3. More milk production
  4. Decreased urinary calculi in bucks, a deadly condition that prevents them from urinating.

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

apple cider vinegar used to encourage goats to drink water

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, is sluggish, or is anemic, you might want to add a little something they love to get them to drink fast.

Most goats love black strap 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.

a tan and white goat drinking water out of a bucket

You can pour a bit of molasses into a fresh bucket of water; we like to use Black Strap Molasses 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 at least 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.

DIY Pasture Waterer Setup

You can make a water option for the pasture using a few supplies you may already have on hand, an old tire and a water bowl.

  1. Place an old tire in a shaded area of the pasture.
  2. Measure the interior opening to ensure you get the correctly sized bowl.
  3. Place a rubber bowl inside that fits the tire.
  4. Fill daily with fresh, cool water.
a goat climbing on a toy in a pasture near to a goat that is grazing in grass by a DIY pasture waterer

Tip #6   Keep it in reach

Just like with adult goats, goat kids need that water even very young kids. While they are nursing they do get enough hydration, but the quicker you introduce water to them, the better.

Keep a bowl low so the kids can check it out. Just a little water is all you need. Goats are naturally curious and will stick their heads inside to see what it holds.

Make sure to change this water frequently to ensure it is not soiled.

Tip #7  Keep it clean

As mentioned earlier, clean, fresh water is drank more quickly than stale, dirty water. Therefore, you should wash your water bowls weekly to ensure they are clean.

On our farm, we like to do this chore on Saturdays. After we collect all the water bowls, we dump them out and wash them, rinsing them well. We then fill them with fresh water and take them back into the barn.

get your goats to drink more water

Just this one act is usually enough to get most, if not all, of our herd drinking.

DIY Water Bowl Cleaner

Use this simple mixture to get all the buildup out of your water bowls.

  1. Mix water and bleach together inside a spray bottle.
  2. You want 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
  3. Spray the inside of the water container.
  4. Using a brush for cleaning, scrub it all down both inside and out.
  5. 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 one of the most effective ways to ensure our animals are all healthy throughout the year.

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:

Dealing with worms and a herd that is not at its optimum health? It just might be in the water. Follow these tips to encourage your goats to drink more water. This will lessen worm outbreaks, increase milk production and strengthen the health of your herd. #goats #farming #urbanfarming


  1. Hi Tracy
    I’ve read your article before and really appreciate all the help you give prople. We have 3 acres in the Umpqua Valley in Oregon so we only have 7 goats–three are rescues as our two donkeys are.
    My female Boar/Saanen is 12 1/2 And has had urinary stop start problems. She is seperate from other other goats so she can eat drink with out competition. Close by us too.
    The vet wants us to bring her in to the clinic so she can get more fluids. I do make sure all the animals have fresh water, but will start steadily using molasses. And apple cider vinegar. Before the vet appt. We’ll kerp using our drench gun. She eats pretty well still and walk alright. But she has gotten much thinner over the last year. She’s had urinary tract problems before. But they seemed to have been solved by 60 ccs of water in a syringe at 5x several times a day for about a week. Callie is a bottle baby we’ve had since she was a week old. Any other suggestions to help her and the others, besides whst you talked about in article would be well appreciated.
    Jon Morris

    1. Hello, Jon….sorry to hear about your girl.
      If the vet wants to administer fluids he means with an IV. This is different than drinking and gets the the problem much quicker. Weight loss is something to really take seriously. I would have her tested for parasites and take her in to the vet to be sure she is fine. Did the vet say why they want to administer fluids? What does the vet suspect? If money is an issue, then ask the vet and see if you can set up a payment plan.
      Good luck!

  2. I have two bottle babies….they will be 4 weeks old this weekend (6/6/20). I have yet to see them drink water. The female loves to suck my finger, so I have tried to get her to sip some water while sucking my finger and she gets some, but it hasnt helped her to drink on her own. The little buckling has no interest at all. Since its been in the 90s a few days, i did give them some water with a bottle. When should they be drinking water? Any tips for me to get them started? i am using and ice cream pail for the water and have that in their area all day. Thank you so much for your help!

    1. Hello, Kelly!

      It’s okay, as long as they are drinking milk that is fine for now. As they get older they will drink water and eat grain. Are they eating grain yet? that will help them drink the water.

      What about hay, are they eating hay yet?


  3. Majid Latif says:

    Thanks for your tips
    Can I add salt and sugar together, my goats love to drink that.

    1. The problem with putting salt in the water dish is it is very hard to monitor how much they are getting. They also prefer to lick salt free choice, and by putting it in the water you are instead of forcing them to drink it.

      I would only put molasses in the water to encourage drinking and only do it if you see they are not getting enough fluids. It is also quite helpful for goats that are not feeling well or undernourished.

      I hope this helps!
      Tracy Lynn

  4. Stephanie says:

    We just got 2 10 week old weaned wethers yesterday. I don’t think they have drank anything yet and have only eaten a small amount of hay. We have changed the water a couple of times and put their noses by it to encourage them but they are having nothing of it! I’m getting worried they will become dehydrated. Any suggestions?

    1. Hello, Stephanie,

      Usually, it can take a bit for the young ones to drink water. If they look good and have nice pink gums and eye rims then they are probably drinking and you are missing it. 🙂 Sometimes they can be a bit sneaky!

      Tracy Lynn

  5. Hello! I have a 3.5 month old bottle fed baby goat. He is no longer drinking milk and is eating grain, corn, hay, and grass. I started giving him water in a bottle towards the end of bottle feeding him to introduce him to water, and he loves it. But now I can’t get him to drink out of a bowl or bucket. I have 4 bowls of different materials and size in his pen full of water but as far as I know…nothing! I am giving him water in a bottle several times a day to ensure he stays hydrated but I need new ideas. Can you suggest anything in order to get him to drink on his own.
    Thank you,

    1. Hello, Angela!

      What a stubborn little guy! I would Eliminate the bottles cutting back slowly and encourage him to drink from the bucket. Eventually, he will catch on but remember it may take a bit. Just keep watching his gums and eyelids to be sure they are nice and pink and that his behavior is unchanged. And hang in there!
      Tracy Lynn

  6. Is it okay to give my goat tea everyday with sugar? She really likes it . She is not drinking anyother fluid we tried a lot. Now she has a baby which is one week older now. Nd we are giving her tea everyday 2 times per day morning nd evening and iam concerned if its okay?

    Hope you.will reply

    Thank you

    1. Would be hesitant to give sugar in the water all the time. This will only cause her not to drink regular water, and that can be dangerous. I would give it once a week as a treat or if there is a health issue and she needs the extra boost that Sugar can give. Just like with all nutritional aspects of our animals, healthy always…. treats sparingly. 🙂

      I hope this helps
      Tracy Lynn

  7. Is it true goats prefer room temp water over cold?

    1. Hi, Zoe
      Goats prefer freshwater. When it’s hot they prefer cold out, when it cold out they prefer hot water. But most importantly they prefer freshwater. With that being said, goats are the pickiest animals I have every raised so what my goats like your goats might just hate. 🙂

      Hope this helps!

  8. I encourage my goat with pouring a little apple juice in some water he loved it.

  9. Do you know about liver enzime problems in 2 day old goats

  10. I’m having a hard time getting my 2 month old goat to drink out of a bowl or from a bottle. He just had urinate calculi surgery and he’s peeing and pooping really good but hes not drinking anything to replenish what comes out. Any tips to get him to drink? I can’t get him to drink anything and I don’t want him to he dehydrated again

    1. Oh, no Morgan I am so sorry to hear about your goat.

      You say a bottle, is he still bottle-fed? If so, goat milk or milk replacer that you are feeding him will keep him hydrated. If he is refusing his bottle you can try a bit of black strap molasses on the nipple to get him to suck

      How is he acting otherwise?
      Is he playing? Jumping around? or lethargic and away from the herd.

      Also, are you sure he is not drinking? Can he be drinking and you are missing it?

      I am assuming if he had surgery you have a Vet in your area that knows goats. Give them a call and see what they suggest.

      Good luck!
      Tracy Lynn

  11. New Goat Mom here!
    I appreciate you taking the time to give this information! I will definitely put your tips to good use. Thank you again for passing on the information.


  12. Jocelyn Cole says:

    I have a 7 week old Nigerian Dwarf Goat. He was 4 weeks old when I got him so I had to bottle feed him. But now he is simply refusing water. I’ve tried everything I’ve read. He will drink water from a bottle but I am trying to get him off the bottle. Please help!! The lady I got him from says he was drinking water before I got him. He is eating plenty of hay and grain.

    1. Hello, Jocelyn!
      I know it can be frustrating and we worry so much about our little ones. Here’s the thing. If he gets thirsty he will drink. I would let him be and watch for signs that he is getting dehydrated. Watch his behavior. Is he acting week or depressed? Do a skin test. Lightly pink his skin and see if it goes back or stays tented. If it stays tented he is dehydrated. Watch if he is urinating. If he is not, dehydration may be the reason. Watch his weight for any unexplained loss, his eyes to see if they suddenly appear sunken in, and his nose. Is it moist or dry?
      More often than not he may be drinking without you realizing it, I would watch him closely and see how he does.
      Tracy Lynn

  13. Hi I have a 6 month old female goat she is not eating or walking she drinks a little bit of water yesterday she was throwing up today still laying down went to check on in the morning with her head in the water bucket water is fresh.
    her popp is solid and she peed fine yesterday she is making a wiping sound
    What do I need to help her no money for vet bill

    1. Hello, Cheryl,
      if she is not eating or walking then, yes, something is wrong. You said you saw her head in the water bucket, does that mean she was drinking or she collapsed and you found her in the bucket? And I am not sure what a “wiping” sound is? I just want to be clear.
      It is really hard to diagnose things remotely, but please remember, you can call your vet and get advice without being charged. They may suggest a shot of B12, a fecal test for worms, or some other solution depending on where you live and if there are deficiencies in your area.
      Good luck, so sorry to hear your little goat is not doing well.
      Tracy Lynn

  14. Melanie mccammon says:

    My baby doe 8weeks old has started to squat to per and nothing is coming. She is eating ok and jumping and taking but I don’t think she is drinking water much. Mom is in with her and is not providing very much milk anymore. I am now trying molasses. I hope it works. Yes their water is always fresh.

    1. Are you sure she is not peeing? Sometimes it can be hard to see. I would call a vet if she is not and talk to them via phone. Remember a call is free to veterinarians and most will happily help you out.
      Good luck
      Tracy Lynn

  15. Hi! You know what? I totally agree with you when you pointed out that it’s always a smart thing to provide easy access for the goats to quench their thirst. This reminds me of my uncle who’s been planning to expand his farm next year. I’ll ask him to keep this tip in mind so he’ll make the right rearing later.

  16. I’m new to goats, I got a young billy yesterday evening and I don’t know how old he is or anything. He’s eating very well I’ve just been letting him eat whatever he wants to eat in my backyard but I can’t get him to drink any water and it’s hot outside. I tried putting my hand in the water and putting it to his mouth and nothing so I don’t know what to do. Please help me thank u

    1. Hello, Charles!
      If your goat is peeing normally, with no straining when he does, then there is a chance he is drinking when you are not seeing him do so. You can also supply a small container of loose minerals near the water. If he eats the minerals it will make him thirsty and encourage him to drink. Be sure to only give about 1/4 cup at a time and use a mineral that is specifically for male goats.
      I hope that helps
      Tracy Lynn

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