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May 10, 2012

Getting My Goat

I'm in need of some good, solid advice, and am hoping my goat-keeping friends out there might be able to help. I've been pining for goats for years, and the urge is starting to overwhelm me. I would be happy enough just to have them as pets (in lieu of the second dog and/or cat my kids have been begging for), but would really love to produce our own milk and cheese one day. Pets with benefits, you might say.

cute-baby-goat-picture-germany

So my question is, when did you know it was time? Do you have any regrets? Do they require a lot of expensive veterinary care (my husband's main concern)? Can you recommend any indispensable resources (books? websites?)? What's your favourite breed? 

I'm really interested in Kinder goats, but haven't been able to find a breeder in our area. I've actually got my eye on an adorable baby boy (which would come in handy eventually), but hubby's concerned that a goat will tie us down way more than our chickens already do. 

Thoughts?


8 comments:

el said...

Hubby's right, Cheryl, in that goats will tie you down a lot more than chickens do. But he's wrong about veterinary expense: they're barnyard animals therefore you can do your own vetting (vaccines, worming, etc.). And you may have problems finding a vet who actually deals with goats; you'll need one to dehorn the babies and help with any horrible problems (gashes, toxemia) that you can't fix yourself.

I would caution you strongly against getting an intact male goat though!

They're herd animals, so you will need at least 2 or they will be very unhappy. And even then, you need STRONG fencing, preferably electric. And still they will get out.

The best website out there is dairy-goat specific but is a trove of information: http://fiascofarm.com/goats/index.htm and any of the Storey publications is pretty decent.

Go visit some goats and/or goatsit to see what-all is involved. I'm not discouraging you...just letting you know they can be work! But they're adorable, they're friendly, they can be smarter than dogs and the milk and poop are great returns on having them.

Denise Stone said...

I have been keeping goats (as pets) for 6 years now. I love my goats. They have wonderful personalities and are wonderful animals. I have a variety of Nubien goats and Boer goats. I mostly have wethers (neutered boys) but I do have one doe.

Things I have learned the hard way: if you get a wether, DO NOT castrate him until 6 months old and have a vet do it. The reason for this is that wethers are VERY prone to urinary calculi (kidney stones) because when castrated too early, the urethra stays the same size as a kid and never matures. Hence, stones get caught. Urinary calculi is a VERY horrible disease and a very PAINFUL death. When I get my wethers in the future, this is what I plan to do.

Regarding does, breed them atleast once. I adopted an older doe who was never bred, and now her ovaries have gone cystic. It is bad for does to cycle over and over again without being bred. In the future, I would adopt a doe that has been bred at least once. I have never desired to make milk or cheese myself. (Too scared!) But one day, I might try.

As far as vet requirements, you need to vaccinate them once a year. You can do this yourself, but I prefer to have my vet do this so that I can discuss any other concerns I might have at the time. You need to worm them twice a year (spring and fall). In the spring, you also must be alert for pinkeye infections (if you have foxtails on your property). Most things can be treated at home by yourself. The main times I have had to take my goats to the vet were because of either the urinary calculi or the cystic ovaries.

You need to feed them hay every morning before they go out to graze. That way, if they encounter anything nasty, their stomachs are already coated. Depending upon whether you have does or wethers, you will have to feed grain as well. Does get grains, wethers cannot because of urinary calculi. I do NOT recommend getting a buck. They smell, they can be dangerous, etc. If you want to breed, borrow a buck.

Check out these web sites:

http://www.caprinesupply.com/

http://www.hoeggerfarmyard.com

http://www.fiascofarm.com

Wonderful sites.

I also recommend these two books:

Caprine's Supply, Goatkeeping 101.

Gail Damerow's "Your Goats".

If you have any other questions, feel free to email me at:

whitemammothranch@yahoo.com

Cheryl said...

El and Denise, thank you so much for your comments, I knew you guys would be a wealth of information! I was hoping that our current fencing (which so far is keeping the deer out) would be sufficient for keeping goats in, but maybe I'm dreaming. My biggest concern is that they will run roughshod over my flower beds and orchard, and the chickens do enough damage as it is. Part of the appeal of the Kinder breed is that they are apparently easier to contain. Good advice on the intact male, guess I'll have to think on that.Thanks again!

janeywan said...

Lots of great info here. I'd love to have a goat or two!

Annie said...

No good thoughts but I love goats! I'm super excited that you would be getting one!

Looking forward to reading these comments.

Denise Stone said...

I eventually switched out my chicken wire type fencing for sturdy 2x4 inch galvanized horse fencing with 4x4 studs every 16 feet. The reinforcement is necessary not only for containment reasons but for fence longevity reasons. Goats *love* to rub their backs and buts against fencing (to get a good scratch), and over time, inferior fencing curls under the pressure of their weight. Don't forget to include housing in your costs as well. Goats need a dry, warm shelter to hide in when the weather is wet, cold, or windy.

Cheryl said...

We've currently got strong nylon deer fencing around the perimeter of the property. It successfully caught a full sized doe who tried to jump through it, but would goats chew through something like that? We'd definitely build a shelter, and aren't averse to reinforcing a goat pasture. Thanks, Denise!

Denise Stone said...

You could probably use it initially, but as experience tells me, it will eventually need to be completely replaced. The "rub, rub, rub" of a goat's body will weaken the current fencing, allowing them to move under, over, and through the fencing.

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