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Prospective newbie goat help, please?

 
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Goats, sheep, and llamas... Would it be possible to add alpacas to this? I've many questions about them!

Beyond that, I've been looking into goats. It's just the hubs and me, and while we'd really enjoy some milk, we don't drink much of it, and it would primarily become yogurt, gelato, and creamer, for our coffee - though sometimes, just a nice super-cold glass of milk is amazing, or a warmed mug, to help sleep come, can be just what the herbalist ordered, too! So, with minimal milk needs, that's not our *highest* interest, in goats, though a high fat content would be. I'm looking at goats as a 'triple threat' (milk, 'love-sponges'/pets, & fiber) with a possible 4th (meat), if I can manage to not get attached to *all* of them.

I have some sporadic physical limitations that mostly crop up in low barometric pressure situations, or under prolonged or very acutely stressful times (physical, or mental), due to a few disabilities. On a day to day basis, I'm generally fine to do physical labor, so long as it isn't TOO intensive (or it starts to fall into the acute stress category). So, with all those cards on the table, I'm leaning toward pygoras, for their smaller size and the things that I hope to get out of having them. We've plenty of space and penning them won't be an issue. But, I'm concerned about biting off more than I can chew, labor-wise. Thoughts? Suggestions? Flat-out advice? (I'm looking at this in the long run, probably not until next spring, but if we do it, I want to have everything ready, when they arrive, which is why I'm asking nearly a year before I'd get them).
Thanks, in advance...
 
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The labour involved in keeping goats will depend on how you've set things up for them - if you can move them or seperate individual goats by opening a gate it will be much easier and less stressful than having to get in the crowd and lead them individually (I usually have goat treats with me when I'm trying to catch a goat, so in my free-range system I get swarmed by full-size dairy goats in the process! It was much easier when I could put food over the fence and then get hold of one when she was already distracted.)

The smaller size of the pygoras will make them easier to handle than full-size breeds. All goats love food, so calmly getting them to move can often just be a matter of holding a bucket of treats in front of them. It is also much easier to deal with a smaller number of goats, so you may want to start with just two or three while you're getting used to them.

If you're after dairy all year round, you might need to kid different does at different times of the year, as the lactation cycle of the pygora would usually be shorter than for a dairy breed. This will be something to think about, as if you're keeping a buck, you'll need to keep him separate from the does.
 
Kate Downham
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I hope you will keep us updated on your goats - I'm interested to see how the pygoras go as milking goats, as it would be nice to have the fibre as well as milk, and the small size would help a lot of people.
 
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Hi, Kate and Carla!

We're also considering getting two or three goats at some point in the next few years (in the even longer run!), so I'm following this thread to learn and dream and plan. I have a very small amount of experience working with goats when I apprenticed on a small farm with them years ago, so I need a good amount of refreshing and of course more research. I'm doing some "thinking aloud" with this post.

We're in the high desert and would like to produce/provide-as-browse as much feed as possible ourselves. We have grasses and lots of mesquite, acacia, and things like that on our land. I need to do more research and testing but believe we have selenium here, as we've got these plants called locoweed, some of which accumulate such quantities of selenium that it's toxic to livestock (there are so many things called locoweed around here that we're still trying to determine for sure which ones are which and which we may have on our land).

We're primarily interested in milk, but I also work with fiber and would love it if a breed that worked for our climate and terrain and small dairy needs also had strong, soft enough fiber that I could work with it (it doesn't need to be like cashmere or anything). But would goats with spinnable fiber overheat when it gets above 100 here? It also gets cold in winter.

We do have coyotes and rattlesnakes and hawks and things here -- even big cats and what appears to be the occasional wolf -- and no fence would keep all of those things out, so I'm thinking we'd need to establish a relationship between our dogs and any goats we get, as warning systems and guards.

Also, we'd wait until we've finished digging the pond we've started (and protect the fruit and nut trees we'd like to establish around the pond) before getting goats. Would that work as a water source?

Thank you!
 
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We just got our 35 acres of forest land in Arkansas and are in the beginning stages of clearing some of the land to build and plant our perfect homestead. Goats will be part of that in the near future. So I'm excited to read these posts.
 
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Very new to keeping backyard goats but we had always had some on the farm I got it that I wanted goats 2 years ago for milk figured just one but of course you need 2 they are herd animals after all and 2 turned into 5. I had them paid for before they were even ready or the pen was even built. I literally had them fenced off while I installed the gate. I went with Nigerian dwarfs as they have sweet butter fat milk and they are smaller. One thing I can say is look into it an plan it out well don't do what I did because it was a lot of work fast and costly as I ended up going with all register able goats so I can sell the kids for more plus I noticed a lot of people want registered for all the paper work so you know what your getting. But at 400$ per goat on average it adds up fast. Plus the registration fees ADGA membership and if you name your goat herd. I installed a 40*70 pen 4' woven wire fence. Fence is one thing you def need to invest in I did most of the work myself and that is a lot. I stretched the fence and clearly shows I didn't know how to do it like a professional as it sags some but for dwarfs its okay but a larger goat I would worry.
So just some food for thought
1 Meds, your gonna need to get on hand meds for them best to watch youtube vids and see what people recommend and why.
2 Feed, you need to know what your feeding, I free feed hay about a slab a day so maybe 1 1/2 bales a week that is for 5 3 month olds but they waste a lot I need to make a better feeder. Also free choice minerals and I feed grains an some pellets about a handful for each goat once for an evening dinner treat I am working on making this a blended mix with less pellets.
3 Billies, if you are milking you need to have you goat bred depending on the goat that is only a few times a year they go into heat are you planning on having her serviced somewhere? I ended up with my own billy but he will need his own pen soon and I have a wether for his pen mate. Billies smell more so breed depending.
4 Kids, what do you plan to do with the kids sell them? if so pricing depends on the registration again unreg here goes for 100-200 reg 300-650 was the highest I saw this year for 4H quality.
5 Milking, have you ever milked? I hand milked cows when I was younger helping on the farm so for me no problem but if you have never do it before it will be a fun day lol
6 Time, while they don't actually take much time up you will find yourself spending it with them I just like to sit with mind some in the evening let my dog run in the pen and brush them when they walk over the more time you spend with them the friendly they will be an better at the milking stand, brushing tends to put them in a simple relaxed state I found. Along with that just time to care for them I am trimming the hooves 2 times a month as they are growing like weeds right now and I want to stay on them as it is another rainy spring. This like milking isn't hard just need to learn how to.

Don't let any of this stop you tho if you want them just put in the research and don't jump in all at once like I did lol everything online may be a lot to take in at once an d overwhelm but like most stuff you pick it up easy as you go.
 
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Lisa Jung wrote:We just got our 35 acres of forest land in Arkansas and are in the beginning stages of clearing some of the land to build and plant our perfect homestead. Goats will be part of that in the near future. So I'm excited to read these posts.



Hi Lisa, and welcome to Permies!  

Don't forget that animals can be a great help in clearing land while saving money and making meat or milk.
 
Carla Burke
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Hi,  Kate!! Thank you! Yup - I forgot some details, because I sometimes forget others really can't hear all the voices in my head as well as I do! ;)

So, here goes! I only want 2 or 3. Total. NO billies, lol. I'll pay or barter for stud service, but have no interest in keeping them. Thank you for clueing me in, on the rotational freshening! I didn't even know that was a 'thing'! Even if I weren't to learn a single other thing, this thread is worth it, JUST for that one tidbit!

@hunter: Thank you! You've raised some things I forget others don't know about me, that would have been good for me to include. On the medical score, I'm an herbalist, and while I don't totally eschew necessary medical intervention, even with my animals, it is a last resort. I guess what I'm asking on health is more breed - specific - Do Pygoras have health concerns different from/ in addition to the normal, general concerns of other goats? I grew up on a farm, including hand milking the family cow, so much of what you're addressing, is essentially already second nature, to me - thankfully. Otherwise, yeah - this whole concept could be very daunting, lol. We are a retired couple, with no family in the same state, no grandkids, and all our kids are grown, but we're critter lovers, and they will get loads & LOADS of affection.

@Lisa - Congratulations!!!

We have friends who have a Nigerian Dwarf herd, who are interested in bartering services and products, so stud services won't be an issue, as long as we aren't concerned about showing & papers - and I'm not, at least right now. Hopefully, by the time I might change my mind, I'll have had time to find a suitable buck to borrow or rent, lol.
 
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