Seriously! I know next to nothing about them except to make sure they have food or they will find their own...
DH has become slightly obsessed about wanting a goat or two* if we get the new place after seeing an adorable, little one at the humane society a month or so ago. My only experience with goats was one PITA large(?) white one at an old place I worked at. That thing would always get loose and could easily be found with its butt hanging out the grain bin... I really have no love for the creatures and was jumping for joy the day that one left, but I'm willing to entertain the idea.
What do they eat? Do you have to have a herd or is one OK? I imagine they need their feet trimmed, where do I find a person to do this or is it kosher to self trim? Fencing (this is big for me), what will contain them, do they respond to electric? Vet care, where to even begin?
*And a clydesdale... why? "Because they're big and cool!" I told him to find a farrier willing to do drafts and then we'll talk.
ETA: Our offer was accepted!!! We got the house/farm, whahooo!
Last edited by Heliodoro; Dec. 12, 2012 at 08:29 PM.
Goats are the most adorable things in the world but a major PITA! They are stubborn, they get into everything and even electricity does not guarantee they stay contained. We finally had to rehome ours.
well... keep reading past goat posts here on COTH and maybe check out the homesteadingtoday.com boards too...
If you don't know what you're doing and you can't roll with the punches very well goats are probably not for you. If you have a sense of humor and have either a very good fence or do not have a 60K truck you can really enjoy learning about goats.
You might as well start out with a good fence. The smaller the goat the more mischievous they are but the easier it is to out-fence them. The bigger the goat the more compliant they are but they're also bigger and taller and stronger.
My Saanan doe is kept in a three strand electric fence that hasn't been plugged in since the day she got here. She's sweet and kind and just wants to be a good girl. She comes from a line of goats that are bred to be good milkers.
I have a midsize goat that has some nubian and nigerian dwarf in him and he is personality PLUS but Satan personified when it comes to being fenced in. He's one of my best friends.
Intro To Goats 101 requires a good fence, a good read on fiascofarm.com, and a good sense of humor. And no bucks, under any conditions.
My goats do not jump on cars (even when they escape, funnily enough). They have never chewed on my ponies tails, and they were pastured together for many a year. My goats do not eat "everything" and in fact will not eat something that drops onto the ground (but I have a goat that drinks Dr Pepper.)
Most of my goats have very distinct personalities and even the ones who were NOT bottle fed have become my very good friends. I have a couple that appear to have no personality at all, but that happens.
I work for a much larger goat operation and run the dairy - milking and cheese making. It's an adventure.
Keeping goats as pets is fairly easy, get a couple of wethers (neutered males) that have been disbudded (no horns). Urinary calci comes from diet, NOT from being wethered, despite this being the popular opinion. Lots of really good info out there about it. Never keep just one goat - that's a recipe for trouble, unless you're lucky enough to find a goat that is very bonded with another species. I had one doe who preferred the company of my mare at all times.
Breeding goats is a whole 'nother ball game and NOT easy.
Remember, there is almost NO research done on goats except by those who actually raise them. Vets have no idea what they are talking about 99% of the time and I can't begin to count the number of stories from people who trusted their vet and lost their goat because of it.
Bottle-raising a baby is a lot of fun. Baby goats are quite delicate - a cold and wet baby goat is a dead baby goat.
Goats like to die, but generally only the ones you are trying to breed or keep alive. Pet goats seem oblivious to dying! (A generalization of course.)
So forth and so on...there are over 100 goats at the facility I work at (and soon will be living on the same property) and it's always an adventure.
I do love breaking open a new package of aged cheddar though, and we just finished aging some Brie. Not to my taste but others love it. Goat cheese is not limited to the soft white chevre you can buy in stores.
When we had Saanen goats we were told be prepared to do most of your own veterinary work- upset stomachs, vaccinations, banding, dis-budding, mastitis birthing, etc. The reason given was that most goats are not expensive so folks shudder at the fees associated with veterinary care. In my area there are vets who work on goats and the fees vary wildly. The old farm vet is so much less expensive than the 55 years old and under vet.
Trimming the feet is easy and yes, owners do it. Just read "how to" and practice.
A good fence is a must mostly to protect your goat from wandering animals that would chase or eat it. FTR, a running goat can jump like a deer. It is instinct for a goat to climb high so allow for a dirt mound or box for them to use. Remember, goats are native to the mountain regions so a high perch allowed them to see predators.
We kept our Saanens with our horses when they were not being milked or had kids at their side. If my goats had horns they would have never been turned out with the horses. In captivity/on the farm, horns get goats into trouble and hurt so I recommend disbudding them.
Unlike sheep, goats each have their own personality. They are a spiritual animal to spend time with as they chew their cud curled up somewhere.
Funny - this week I ran across photos of my two goats (mixed breed - small) I had a few years back. Buffy and Belle were littermates (? probably a better term for this) and they were adorable when I brought them home. Buffy (so named for her bravery and ability to slay vampires...) was immediately the one to hop up in my lap and curl up for a nap. Belle was more reserved and aloof. They were so much fun - until they learned to buffalo the horses.
Upon reaching adulthood they would chase off the horses at graining time. The horses would just stand back and let them gorge themselves. If they were stalled they would crawl under the gates into the stalls if we didn't get them in before they realized it was feeding time. I never in a million years imagined my cranky herd allowing it. It got to the point where we would never let them out of their pen because then we couldn't get them back in. So then they would SCREAM at feeding time.
They got so obnoxious that we found them a new home with other goats. If they never had learned what grain was they would have been much better - but they were like crack addicts!
my goats have never jumped on cars except for one, and it was the cheapest crappiest car we had so we didn't care. And the goats only did it one day when the car was parked close to their pen and they were young and full of it. And they have never chewed a horse tail. Most of mine have been very easy to keep in, except for Pigweed, the one I already mentioned.
I really have had very little trouble with my goats-they aren't that difficult if you like and understand animals. You have to be willing and able to figure them out b/c most of their meds and foods are, as Epona said, unlisted. They're very personable and the dog comparison is valid.
Goats. Well, the old guy down the road kept the Wandering Herd, so named because no matter what kind of junk he stuck in the fence to keep them from squeezing out, they'd figure out how to climb it. He went out and had a section re fenced and if he'd done the gates and the fence along the road he'd actually have been good, but he kept mostly pygmies with horns, and once they got to a certain size they'd stick their heads through the field fence along the road and get them stuck out there. I can't count the number of times I stopped and wrestled with goats to help them get their heads back in, then I got smart and carried wire cutters and made holes in his fence , so that meant carrying wire in the car and making X's across the holes. They are gone now, Hallelujah!
DH says that the first week he had his brand new license plates on his brand new truck he parked three feet away from the fence at a friend's house and the goat somehow managed to stretch itself far enough (and decided to do this too) to start playing with the plate on the front, hooking it with it's horns and bent it practically in half.
They are fun though. One guy we knew had a goat he kept with his beef cow and I used to feed them mulberry leaves. I also learned how to bleat and moo well enough to get them to bleat and moo back. (I was young. what can I say)
Secretly I want a La Mancha, a brown one that'll look just like the Dobie my DH's family had, she had badly cropped ears.
Check your area for a goat rescue. We have one not too terribly far from us that holds regular educational days for people interested in having goats. When we are ready fence-wise we are going to go there and adopt.
A warning about adopting, I thought about adopting once and was warned not to as many of them will be diseased. The diseases are contagious to other goats. If you do go that route, make sure you are allowed to bring it back if it tests positive. Keep it penned up until the tests come back.
There are two that are mostly tested for. CAE and..... I'm drawing a blank on the other one.
Go to the goat forum at homesteadingtoday.com. Great bunch of knowledgeable goat folk.
I have two right now. I started with two bucklings. I kept one a buck and wethered the other. They are mini-manchas. The buck was an escape artist but I finally got that fixed. I saw "was" because I sold him. I still have his brother and a doe. They stay where they should. I can even let them in my front yard and they don't leave. The buck would run up the road to visit the neighbor's goats. He was very personable so it made it easy to forgive.
Unless you are getting a milk goat, they don't need grain. Browse supplemented with hay if they need it is enough.
I have a pen for my goats. Only one horse won't share with the goats and one of the horses will actually let the goats (who are miniatures) chase her off her grain. So, the goats go in the pen with a handful of oats so the horses can eat in peace. The rest of the time, the goats run with the horses.
Goats like to die, but generally only the ones you are trying to [snip] keep alive.
Goats are super cute, they baa, they get into everything and poop everywhere and will snack on anything that doesn't snack on them first. The ones you want to kill will never die and the ones you love will randomly pop off for some reason you'll never figure out.
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Told DH about their penchant for climbing atop cars. We have a few classic restoration project cars sans goat dents at the moment and he's a guy that notices the littlest scratch on his daily driver... "So what kind of farm pets can we get that are cute to look at and pet, but don't destroy stuff?"
How about chickens! Cheap, fun to watch and USEFUL-- aside from the eggs, they eat ticks and all manner of bugs, and just about any kitchen food scraps you generate. And there are many very pretty, colorful varieties. They're not an affectionate pet, generally (there are exceptions, some breeds can be very tame and don't mind being held. But still, that's not affection).