Caring for Goats

Goats make things better. 

Are you thinking about purchasing a couple of 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 they require a lot of time and goats are not cheap to care for. A dog or cat is much simpler and cheaper in my opinion to keep care of and there are over 2 million healthy dogs and cats are euthanized each year.

Purchasing Goats

When purchasing goats. You must have two. They are herd animals and don’t do well without another goat. Preferably a buddy from the same rescue . It will reduce the amount of stress when going to a new home. Always try to call a goat rescue first. They are already in good health and just need a forever home. I wouldn’t purchase from a breeder at first. Not that they don’t take care of the animals. But, they are like little puppy mills, just the goat versions. I’m not a fan of bottle babies unless there was something wrong with the mom. You should never take a kid away from the mom unless mom is rejecting (never had that problem) or mom had too many kids and is unable to feed everyone. Which in those cases we bottle feed the smallest kid, but we let the kid stay with the mom. When you hear they make better pets, I call BULLCRAP. My kids are just as friendly as a bottle baby. The reason why, if you give the proper attention to the kids they will be super friendly just like a bottle baby who is dependant on you for feeding them. If you hear they bottle feed their kids so mom don’t pass on a illness to the kids. I would not purchase from them.

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.

Housing

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 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 ours 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 when the weather is bad. 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. I use a radiant barrier on the roof, to help keep it cool in the summer. It will reduce around 90% of the heat.

Feed

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. Goats will get fat from hay with alfalfa in it and alfalfa is not good for bucks or wethers because of the high calcium that can cause urinary calculi build up. We feed our does Purina goat chow. Our kids , wethers and bucks get Purina Noble Goat, which has ammonium chloride in it. All feed is measured out for that specific goat. Does get 1/2 cup twice a day. Wethers and Buck get 1/4 cup. We also provide free choice Kalmbach goat minerals to adults only, it also has ammonium chloride. Also free choice baking soda is provided to the does. Baking soda is not good for wethers or bucks. You want them to have a higher acidic level in their stomach to prevent urinary calculi.

Health

Most goat health issues are with nutrition, parasites, and the cleanliness of their environment. Parasites will be one of the biggest factors when starting out. We used to have fecal test for parasites done on our herd every other month. Now we never have a problem and only test if we have a concern with one of our goats. Knowing how to check the eyelids using FAMACHA chart is helpful. 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 was a challenge. Our padocs are kept dry with pine shavings. We don’t have any grass for them to try to eat. 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. But, we are parasite free for over a year now.

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 hooves, to keep up with them.

This is just a small snapshot of goat care. I would do your research before ever bringing home any goats for the first time.

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