thomas rubino wrote:Hi Gail;
Years ago I had a good friend who would take his goat (on a leash) hunting with him!
Seems all he had to do was walk along until his goat stopped and then look where she was looking... always was something there looking back!
Needless to say he was never lacking for game meat!
So, I would say taking your goats hiking is a fine idea. Camping with them overnight ??? I would be aware of the possibility that a carnivore might think they are a convenient dinner.
Lion's, Tiger's and Bears OH NO!
Don't let me scare you, I happen to live where cougars , grizzly's , wolves and coyotes outnumber the people... most places are slightly less dangerous.
thomas rubino wrote:Hi Gail;
Everybody's idea of "camping" is so different.
In my mind you , the kids and goats are several miles off in the woods...
Never entered my mind that the RV might be nearby:)
Yes , your dog being around will certainly warn off predator's.
Jen Fan wrote:I love traveling with my goats!
Are these goats you already have, or are you going to be getting them? My first recommendation would be get a bottle baby or get one as young as possible. Every adult goat I've gotten has been aloof and unconcerned with me outside of food, which makes for bad chemistry when you're hiking or traveling. Your goats needs to love you and love being with you, otherwise it's torture for them.
I raised my pack goats taking them on car rides at least once a week, usually much more. I trained them to walk on a lead with the dogs. I trained them on soft packs, and they graduated to proper cross bucks at 3 or 4 years old. When they were still tiny goaters I just threw em in the back of my subaru and drove away. Eventually they discovered the back seat, so I had to put a divider up. I'd put a rubber liner and tarp down, and put straw down for them. If I ever stop while we're driving I zip out of the car ASAP and open the hatch and pull them out just as they're standing up, because I know they're going to pee the second they stand up. So to reduce the urine in the vehicle, I stop every 20-30 minutes and rush them out of the back and onto the shoulder of the road for a wee. I've got them on halters, and they're extremely tame, so there's no issue or threat of them acting out, running away, or being unmanageable.
These days though, the boys are 200+lbs. It's rough on them being in the back of the Sub. So I use a 4x6 utility trailer that I customized with high side walls and solid horizontal pieces in the front and back to keep them from climbing or jumping out. It has a rubber liner on the floor of the trailer and I designed it to where I tie their halters off on the railing, so they have just enough room to bed down and get out of the wind, but can't be rockin' the trailer while I drive.
IMO, if you're choosing a mini as a milker/packer, that's a fine utilitarian idea. I personally have sworn mini's off. I had a doe I got as an adult and she couldn't give 2 sh*ts about me, no matter how I worked with her, she was a goat's goat. Didn't wanna be touched or milked. I handled and raised all her kids- aside from bottle raising them, they were darn near hand raised. And ya know what? They didn't give 2 sh*ts about me either. They were more tame and easier to approach and pick up then their mom, but they wouldn't follow me if I tried to take them hiking like my big boys do. My big bottle boys are like dogs (really naughty dogs that don't care about pleasing me, but still dogs).
So if you're set on mini's pick stock that's tame and friendly. Raise them yourself if you can. Bottle feed them if you can. If you already have mini's, then you're probably comfortable with their ability to heed you and follow you.
So actually taking your goats on the trail... With mini's it will be different for one important reason; dogs. My big boys have no fear of dogs and will calmly run a dog off on the trail. Or bash it in the side if it doesn't take a hint. But they don't act like prey, and they know to cling to me when there's a predator threat, because I'm safe, they know this. A mini is way more tantalizing to a random dog and will have a less domineering effect on them. I'd get minis with horns in this case, so they can hold their own a little better if needed. I had my big boys disbudded and don't regret it for even a second. I wouldn't be able to keep them if they had horns. But every goat and situation is unique.
If you have goats that love you, trust you, and WANT to follow you everywhere you go, you can basically treat them just like dogs on the trail. Leash them if you want. Or don't. I don't, generally, but I know how they're going to behave. I keep a lead clipped to their halter and leave it resting on their cross buck if I need to grab them in a hurry for some reason.
In camp, I like to tie my goats to a run line- I take a length of dog-tie-out-lead and afix it about 5' in the air between trees, then clip a short 3' lead to that as a run line. This gives them room to move around, graze, etc, without tangling on everything. They each get their own run line so they can't tangle with one another. I tie them out as close as I can to the tent/camp site without giving them access to the camp itself. One of my boys is trustworthy in camp, the other will eat the tent first chance he gets. So sometimes I only have 1 goat tied out. When I go fishing, hiking, or exploring for the day, I just unclip the goaters and bring em with me. This has been the routine I settled into. The tie out leads weigh jsut a few pounds and the goats pack those themselves, as well as our stuff. These big boys can pack 50-75lbs pretty easily.
So the electric fencing question; a decently powerful electric solar charger is going to be half the size of a miniature goat and weigh at least 15lbs. The panel is delicate. You could bring a piece-meal setup, with a charged battery that you hook a lightweight DC charger too, but then you're packing in a 20-50lb battery (depends on how much juice you need). You could then pack in a rugged trickle charge panel to top it off while you're out and about. That's one option. But then you have to pack your hot wire and insulators and/or fence posts. Are you using trees? If so, you can use twine in a pinch to string hotwire. Or you can use twine to temporarily afix an insulator to a tree, then string your line on the insulator. Step-in posts might be easier, but then you're packing in step-in posts. that are as long as your miniature goats. Then there's the matter of grounding the fence- you could improvise by running a big long length of grounding wire into soggy camp ground and weighing it down with rocks? But really you'd probably want to also pack a small grounding rod and the ability to pound it into the ground (mallet or hammer or something- or a rock I suppose). If the unit isn't properly grounded, you won't get much of a pop off that fence. And if you're trying to pop wildlife, you'll want alternative hot and ground wires on your portable fence, since most wildlife is exceptionally fluffy and that hair is very insulating against the electricty unless they hit it with their nose.
Then the matter of security; electric fencing is only protection if things respect it. A random coyote that decides to bolt towards your goats will hit the hotwire and may or may not get fried. Even if it does, it'll just keep barreling forward, because it doesn't know it's the fence that hit it. Animals that hit hotwire for the first time generally bolt forward into it. They don't know to turn around and leave, for all they know there's suddenly a swarm of wasps attacking them, they're just oging to run straight forward as fast as they can.
If you couldn't guess, I'm going to say this is why I tie my goats out, rather than use a charger and fence. My goats are never left alone when I backapck, camp, or hike, so I don't worry about the fence helping protect them. I also bring my dogs with me, who are part of the goat's herd, and the goats are part of their pack, so the dogs will protect my goats if needed.
As far as packing ability of mini's; yes, they can pack! You'll be hard pressed to find a cross buck that will fit them, let alone panniers, but any quality soft dog pack will work, as long as it has 3 straps; a chest strap, and 2 belly straps. The rear belly strap can be used as a secondary belly strap or as a britchen. It won't be as secure or solid as a properly made cross buck, but they suffice and are affordable. A full grown mini could probably pack 10-25lbs? DEpends on how mini your mini is. If it's a doe in milk, I personally wouldn't ask her to bring much more than that. Maybe just 2-5lbs of her own gear. Afterall, she's packin' the milk!
As far as food is concerned, I have a hard time imagining anyone hiking in a place a goat couldn't find food. I don't pack goat food or hay on the trail, I make sure they have ample opportunity to eat though. I go slow and allow them to browse as we go. If they're doomed to be tied out in camp all day, I pick a spot where they can browse or I bring them a heap of forage from the surrounding area. The only thing I bring is a little jar of grains, my "bribe jar", just in case we have a difficult incident. A shake of the Bribe Jar will override almost any other thought on my goats' brains and they'll come runnin'.
My last thought of the moment is your goats etiquette on the trail. I've had a lot of people afraid of my goats, but they are rather large. Minis may have a different reaction. But you don't want your goats jumping on passersby or grabbing a mouthful of their clothing or gear!