Are you ready for Goats
Are you thinking about purchasing goats for the first time? Just make sure you do research to see if they are right for you and your zoning laws allow it. No matter what people say, goats are not cheap to care for, unless you plan on neglecting them. A dog or cat is much simpler and cheaper in my opinion to keep care of. If you first goat purchase is a cheap deal that you can’t pass, then chances are you will pay more in the long run with time, money and heartache. You will find that there a lot of opinions and information on how to care for goats. But all usually follow the basics.
When purchasing goats for the first time always purchasing from a respectable and clean breeder. I would visit a few breeders, look at their goats and the way they keep care of them. Again you will find that you will have less problems that way if you take your time.
If you’re looking for pets. A couple of wethers (fixed bucks) will do. They usually make great pets and are much cheaper. Bucks do not make good pets at all and unless you have 4 or more does it is not worth the trouble. If you want goat’s milk then two does or a doe and wether will do. You can find someone with a buck to breed your doe and then you don’t have the up keep of a buck. Goats are a herd animal and do best when there are two. So if you don’t want an animal that is depressed or cries all the time, make sure you get two.
If you’re looking for a lawn mower. Think again, goat’s don’t eat everything and can get sick or die from eating the wrong stuff.
Yes, they will clean up an area of brush and trees. But in the long run it is less upkeep to do it yourself than to purchase and take care of goats.
You don’t need a lot of land to have a couple of goats. Even less than an acre. But they do need some room to run and climb for exercise. You can even take them for walks on a leash. It just takes some training. They will need a shelter to get out of the elements. Most goats do well in cold weather, but don’t like rain or snow. Keep in mind if you live in a cold climate, they will stay inside a lot during the winter. So, don’t make it too small and I would insulate it. Being insulated will also help keep it cool during the summer and warmer in the winter.
Each situation is different. Our goats do not have fresh pastures to graze on. So we provide 1st, 2nd and 3rd cutting hay that is a mix orchard and clover with some timothy grass. For does that are in milk they will have hay with some alfalfa mixed in. We also feed our goats Purina goat chow to does and the kids. Our wethers and bucks get Purina Noble Goat. All feed is measured out for that specific goat. They have free choice Purina goat minerals to adults only. Also free choice baking soda is provided.
Most goat health issues are with nutrition, parasites, and the cleanliness of their environment. Parasites will be one of the biggest factors. We have fecal test for parasites done on our herd every other month unless we have a concern with one of our goats. Knowing how to check the eyelids using FAMACHA chart. We check every couple of weeks. If you have large pastures and are able to rotate them, then it might not be as tough for you. But for us, with a few dozen animals and less than a acre, it is a challenge. Our pens are kept dry with now growing grass for them to try to eat. Our yard where they come out to play everyday, the grass is kept real short to discourage them from eating it. Plus I use a yard vac everyday to vacuum up any goat poop to try to eliminate the parasite life cycle in our yard. Yes, it is a lot of work.
Anyone new to goats, I would check out on facebook Goat Vet Corner https://www.facebook.com/groups/1516191428627267/. Tons of information from Vets who the best in the field. You will find it hard to find good vets that have real knowledge on goats, even in rural areas. We now travel and hour away to Ann Arbor Michigan to Animal Kingdom Vet Clinic. In our area they are the best, from household pets to livestock, and to zoo animals they do it all. My biggest reason for my vet choice is not just their knowledge but their facility to be able to do it all.
On nutrition, we have tried a few goat feed brands, even Non GMO. Our goats overall body condition and coat quality is the best using Purina Goat Chow. It is not the cheapest, but you get what you paid for.
On the first of every month we trim our goat’s hoofs, to keep up with them.
Kidding season is one of the best parts of raising goats. But can be a little stressful. We now have cameras in all of our stalls. I schedule vacation time during the scheduled kidding season. I am there 100% of the time when the kids are born. The first year that we had goats the first set of kids that were born had problems. We did not catch that she was in labor. She had 4 kids and the first two we lost. She was having problems and we were not there. That was a few years ago, and we have not needed to help because of problems. But we are there for the kidding even if we have to sleep in the barn to make sure if needed we can help. If you are around your goats enough, you will be able to tell that she is in labor. Plus the change in the does hip ligaments, it will tell you she will be going into labor within 24 hours.
This is just a small snapshot of goat care. I would do your research before ever bringing home any goats for the first time.