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More goat questions...

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  • More goat questions...

    After reading some of the threads about goats I called the 'local' dairy and asked what they do with their retired milkers. I was told that they sell them and that I was in luck because they would be selling some in a few weeks! Oh joy!!

    So, now I really need help. From the posts here and my talk with the dairy man, it sounds like my fence should work with minor adjustments. The goats are large and most of my fence is livestock wire with a few sections of four board all topped with electric. My gates are galvanized tube and livestock. I guess I'll have to find a way to make the people pass-thrus inaccessible to the goats. Does anyone have any suggestions about that?

    I have three big pastures, a paddock, and a dry lot at the farm. The pastures range from 3-5 or 6 acres, the paddock is about an acre and the dry lot is considerably smaller. The guys don't mow as often as I would like and aren't very good at mowing around the trees and along some of the fence lines. As a result, we've got some pretty healthy weeds. Is there anything the goats won't eat? I read somewhere that laurel is poisonous to them. Does that include cherry laurel (I think of that as more of a cherry)? Do they like virginia creeper? I have a tiny bit of honey suckle and a fair bit of pesky morning glory, Will those appeal to the goats?
    I'd really hate to bring some goats to the farm and have them turn their noses up at our weeds!

    I'm sure that in order to see the best results the quickest, I'd need a whole herd of goats. I was thinking about starting off with two and hoping I could rotate them through the pastures. How much would two big goats eat (assuming they like what I have to offer)? Do I have more than two goats can handle?

    Also, I'd appreciate anything you can tell me about care that hasn't already been discussed. I know they'll need vaccinations and regular worming. How often do their feet need to be trimmed? A vet I know was trimming goat feet the other day, do you guys get your farriers to trim your goats? I'm imagining that conversation with my farrier What about housing? My horses are out 24/7 and do not have access to the barn when I'm not there. I think the gates will keep the goats out too. There is a big run-in in one of the pastures. Will I need a goat house?

    If you're still with me, THANKS!
    Y'all ain't right!

  • #2
    Muahaahahaaa! You too will soon be converted to the wonderful world of goats! Sounds rather like a goatie paradise at your place.

    I took in a retired dairy goat and her two month old doeling a few years ago. The dairy goat girl, Narcissa, did NOT know how to eat at pasture. It took her months to sample and wander around in comfort and usually I had to walk with her. I have five goats now (see what happens ) and the wethers came here knowing how to eat so they've taught Narcissa how to browse.

    Milkweed in quantity is poisonous to goats. For some strange reason mine will eat a little of it if they can find it. I've eradicated it from the pasture.

    You'll find that goats are very picky eaters. Mine will not eat anything that has touched the dirty old ground and will only drink out of the BLUE bucket.

    The goats will want shelter from sun and rain and do enjoy napping on clean bedding. Mine also like sun baths and one little wee wether of mine rolls around like the horses in the dust. Mine browse on and off all day. I don't have the extensive pasture that you have. My five took a three acre pasture and within one season had it completely devoid of tasty weeds...and grass. Mine receive a goat grain ration and also good hay. I have to trim my own because my farrier will NOT touch a goat. I have a good goat vet and they receive shots and deworming just like the horses.

    They will chew the barn. You will love them anyway.
    Last edited by maunder; Jul. 8, 2010, 05:55 PM. Reason: spelling


    • Original Poster

      I have to admit that I'm really not wild about taking on more beasties to care for! I'm hoping they'll be content to do their own thing, but I'm worried that I'll buy a couple goats and they'll escape all the time or eat everything except what I want them to eat....
      I told the dairy guy that I wanted friendly goats who were used to being around people, but weren't pushy and always under foot. These goats are out on a lot of pasture, so they should be up to the job. Not to worry, we don't have milk weed down here but I'm sure we have plenty of other poisonous weeds.
      Y'all ain't right!


      • #4
        I LOVE my goats!!!!! Have a herd of 6 pygmys and I love how they talk to me.

        I was surprised to find out how finicky they are!

        We trim our own goats' feet - pretty easy to do.


        • #5
          I'd do a search on poisonous livestock plants. I think Purdue has a good one.
          save lives...spay/neuter/geld


          • #6
            I have the tube gates as well. I think I replied to one of your other posts. I just put the no climb across it(Both panels for my driveway, it is wide.) Sometimes I have to clip a piece accross the small opening so they dont come through if I am on the other side of the street. ( Ghetto, I know...)
            Come to the dark side, we have cookies


            • #7
              Damn, I'd have sold you some of mine! I love my goats, but they are high maintenance. We can't keep them out of the poultry feeders, so they're drylotted. As maunder said, they won't eat anything that has touched the ground, browse only, even when it's lovely hay. Trimming hooves is really easy. Keeping them contained can be an issue. They'll let you know if there are any weak spots in your fence. Enjoy!
              "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer


              • #8
                I've never had a problem with my goats trying to escape. If they are content generally they will not try (but then again goats will keep you guessing sometimes) My wee Pygmy wether came from a family that couldn't keep him contained. They complained he jumped out, climbed out, crawled out and burst out of any fence or stall they put him in.

                Turns out he was mistreated. He's never tried to get out of my pasture and I KNOW he could jump and scale the five foot fence if he wanted to. My big LaMancha boys use the slam tactic if they want out of their stall in the morning. Bash it and see if it gives...then keep bashing to try to knock it down. My stalls are 2" thick hemlock so good luck boys!


                • Original Poster

                  The guy I talked to said these are big goats. I asked him if they were about 3' tall and he said taller! Maybe he means when they're standing on their hind legs?! Anyway, I looked into dairy goats because they seemed to be taller breeds and I hoped that would mean they'd be more likely to be contained by the same fences & gates that kept my horses in

                  I'm sure the farm owner would prefer that I not ghetto up the gates and the dairy guy said it sounded like the goats would be content and contained in my pastures (once I figure out how to close the people pass-thrus).

                  How often do you have to trim goat hooves?

                  I'm thinking I'll build a separate goat house and discourage the goats from coming into the barn.
                  Y'all ain't right!


                  • #10
                    I've had goats with my horses for many,many years. They have been great companions. From my experience, they will usually not eat anything bad for them if they have adequate food. Mine eat hay with the horse, so do not do the weeding I hoped they would. I have lots of nettle and they will only eat it after I mow it and it dries. My farrier will trim hooves as needed,, but it's not hard. If fyou're getting a dairy goat, she'll probably be used to being handled, so it shouldn;t be a problem. That said, I had a wether who lived to be 17 and never had his hooves touched. He bounced off rocks all his life and kept them nicely worn. Still, good to handle them . My goat vet advises against worming too frequently, especially since mine live with the horse and don't cross contaminate. Mine are just pets, so they just get Tetanus and Rabies shots each spring. I prefer the larger breeds,, myself and have Sanaan and Toggenberg and her daughter, a dwarf cross, but almost as big as mom. They need shelter - HATE to get wet and like to lounge in the shade in summer. My vet says NO grain but I do give them a handful once a day, just to make me feel better. They get good hay with the horse and seem happy to see me every day and walk with me as I check fencing or will come to be petted if I sit on a rock for a time.


                    • #11
                      My LaMancha boys are taller than me (5'4") when they are standing on their hind legs.


                      • #12
                        cattle panel works for fencing the pen

                        and use STRONG posts. They like to scratch their sides by leaning all their weight into the fence and walking along it. That, and of course the daily routine of standing with front legs up on the fence baaa-ing at the house to demand treats.
                        One caution with cattlepanel-- if they're not dehorned, it's possible for them to get their horns stuck in the fence. (They push their heads through to graze the other side, and then can't figure out how to back out. That happened a few times with each goat, but they learned the lesson and never happens again. We've got all wood posts, I really don't think metal t-posts would hold up very long.

                        The tube or panel gates are fine. Not sure what you have for people pass throughs, but basically you'll need to close those off with a gate of some sort.

                        They often like to sleep up on a pallet or some other raised surface -- we've gotten several large cable spools from a construction company, and usually that's where they nap. They love the spools-- jump from one to the other all the time, use them to get to the delicious tree leaves above.

                        And once the low-hanging leaves are gone, they somehow balance on the spool on their hind legs, on tippy tippy toes, for several minutes at a time, to graze the next "layer" or branches. It's pretty amazing to watch. Suffice it to say, you will never meet an animal more motivated by food than a goat.

                        We converted a grain bin into their shelter--they love it in there. (but in the winter they get to sleep in the barn, it's warmer and i have outlets for the heated water bowl.)

                        We have two large goats and they do a good job keeping their 50x30' pen weeded, but I don't think two goats could make a dent in big pastures.


                        • Original Poster

                          They won't be staying if they can't stay in the fence I already have! The only adjustments I can justify are changing the people pass-thrus. I'm getting ready to replace a fair bit of fence already and will not be building any special goat enclosures! A goat house, I can do Tell me I don't need to have a dedicated isolation pen for goats - please!

                          These gals do not have horns and we don't have any rocks to speak of at the farm to keep hooves worn down. My farrier did say he's help me out, though.

                          Good to hear about the hay. I don't feed hay in the summer because the gang is out 24/7 and the grass is good. Maybe that will encourage the goats to do some weeding during the growing months. I'll add a few bales to the hay order for the goats this winter.

                          I'm planning to start with just two goats and see how it goes. I need to get a feel for what they'll eat and how much of it. I'd love for them to get to the farm and have the weeds cleaned out in a month, but that would mean they'd start eating my grass, or tree bark, or I'd have to start feeding them. So, I'm hoping to find a balance. Maybe if I can get some of it cleaned up with the bush hog, they can maintain it..... That's not unreasonable, is it?
                          Y'all ain't right!


                          • #14
                            I just got 2 Nubian wethers in May...they were only 2 months old and were just weaned a couple weeks ago. I LOOOOVE these little guys! I got them to keep with the dry-lotted pony so they literally learned to graze from watching him (his dry lot has a peach fuzz on it). The goats don't eat the grass though, they eat any weed that pops up. It's wonderful!

                            For the fencing we have 3 strands of braided wire and they are terrified of it. That's my experience though - the breeder told me they would be and hey are. They also follow the pony's lead and he won't get too close so they try not to.

                            I need to trim their feet now. The clippers are like a sturdy scissor and they're only like $20...I did trim a tiny bit off with a tin snip just to see how hard it would be (it was easy to trim, NOT easy to hold). Fortunately you'll be dealing with milkers who are used to being trimmed and standing in a stand.

                            I don't have much else to add but that I had NO idea goats were so absolutely wonderful little creatures. They are smart so smart - they look you in the eye, look up at birds and airplanes, they're ultra curious and cautious and love to play like puppies. I can't imagine life without them now . Enjoy!


                            • #15
                              Oh yes, mine bleat like they are being tortured when it rains (I bring them and the pony into dedicated stalls when it rains)...and they do eat hay with the pony. Right out of his mouth sometimes.


                              • #16
                                They may chew on your tree bark "just because"... hee hee hee

                                You will forgive them and love them anyway....


                                • Original Poster

                                  Originally posted by maunder View Post
                                  They may chew on your tree bark "just because"... hee hee hee

                                  You will forgive them and love them anyway....
                                  Of course they will! A couple of my horses chew on the trees 'just because'. It does take me a while to forgive them though - the brats!!
                                  Y'all ain't right!


                                  • #18
                                    oh no, you don't really need a dedicated goat enclosure. Because secretly, deep down, you've never really wanted those flowerbeds anyway. Such bother. And if you live anywhere like I do, you'll know that goat hoof marks on your car hood are a prized status symbol.

                                    Just kidding. If by livestock wire you mean some kind of square grid (we call that field fence), then you'll be fine. We have 5-wire hi-tensile (not hot) so that will not contain the goats and therefore they have their own pen. Besides we wanted to focus their weed-eating superpowers in an area that was just impossible to mow-- the weeds were always chest-high and just awful. So we built a pen around that area and it looks like a golf fairway in there now. On weekends and evenings when I'm around, I do let them have free run and graze wherever they want. (and BTW maybe my goats are weird but they do graze on grass and clover in probably equal proportion to woody-stemmed weeds and saplings, etc).

                                    I have to say that I absolutely love the doe--very sweet and kind-- but the male goat is just an abnoxious pig sometimes. He's the offspring of our doe, was castrated right away, was handled correctly from day 1, etc, but still, now that he's a *very* large adult he's just not fun to handle. He's a boer cross, at least 200lb. We didn't dehorn him (which at the time I thought was cruel, but you know what, frankly I wish I had done it-- even just in play, his horns are definitely dangerous and I won't let kids near him). So, if I could do it again? No male goats.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by HungarianHippo View Post
                                      oh no, you don't really need a dedicated goat enclosure. Because secretly, deep down, you've never really wanted those flowerbeds anyway. Such bother. And if you live anywhere like I do, you'll know that goat hoof marks on your car hood are a prized status symbol.
                                      ha ha Years ago I had a lovely Toggenburg/Saanen cross doe that would climb into the cars of visitors. She once climbed into the police cruiser of a trooper that stopped into my driveway by mistake. Wow...was he surprised at his welcome!


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by BeastieSlave View Post
                                        Of course they will! A couple of my horses chew on the trees 'just because'. It does take me a while to forgive them though - the brats!!
                                        It has been just a wee bit hard to forgive my Nigerian Pygmy wether, Gimli, for chewing off off my Thoroughbred's tail.