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Goat Cart Training

 
Posts: 112
Location: So Cal - Inland Empire
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Ok everybody, I've looked thru most of the pages of threads in goats, sheep and llamas, and used the search feature and have not found a thread specific to the training of goats to pull a small cart for maybe a person or 2. Am I the only one who thinks this would be a cute entry to the local county fair or town parades? Especially if one had some mighty fine looking goats!!?? (Think dappled Boers)

Is it just not done? Has anyone tried? If so, what breeds, what methods were used? I've been to the site of the guy who trains pack goats to be pack goats. But there is nothing there regarding pulling of a cart.

We (my youngest daughter and her family, and I) will be living together on some hilly land in the near future. We want to raise meat goats for ourselves, along with the requisite chickens every homestead needs. We have alot to learn before the experience begins, and plenty of infrastructure to build before the critters come home, so there is time to learn what can be learned from reading and other forms of input.

I did read the thread about training to be pack animals, and wonder how much of this sort of training would lead into pulling a cart?

goat-cart.jpg
old photo (not mine) showing a goat pulling a small cart
old photo (not mine) showing a goat pulling a small cart
 
Posts: 75
Location: Oklahoma Panhandle
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There are several videos on you tube pertaining to goat carts and training them to pull them.  I haven't taken the time to watch them but they are there.
 
master pollinator
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Looks like someone has thought of this already.



I've no clue as to training methods though. 🙂
 
Mother Tree
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Meet Port and Starb'd, Boer x British Toggenburg crosses who belonged to a very dear friend of mine.

Port is in the red harness, Starb'd in the green. As you'd expect!













The boer goat society has a little article about them, which reads as follows...

You know the old saying, "You can't teach an old goat new tricks"? Well that's what Margaret Shackles is doing, except that her goats aren't old.

Margaret, who is in her seventies, lives on a smallholding in rural mid-Wales. She began breeding British Toggenburgs in 1971 and started a changeover to Boer goats twelve years ago (she sometimes enters a goat or two in the Online Show). Without a BT male to do the necessary, the final BT, Parcmawr Eldorado, is put to one of the Boer males each year. In 2005, Eldorado produced triplets, a girl and two boys; the girl was sold and the boys, who had been castrated at birth, were kept.

They were such nice kids and so well matched that it didn't seem right to eat them; instead Margaret conceived the idea of trying to break them in to harness, having previously broken two Welsh ponies (one at a time) to harness. This was going to be a bit different, however, because in addition to the change of species she had to get them to work as a pair.

Bottle-fed, they always lined up for their milk one on the right and one on the left. Inevitably, they became known as Port and Starb'd and they wear red and green collars, to show which way round they go. In the autumn of their first year they learned to be led one in each hand and words of command.

In the spring, training started again, first with a refresher course about commands. They started to be taken further afield, as they rapidly became bored with doing the same thing every day or doing aimless manoeuvres. The difference between horses and goats in training is that horses take life seriously and soon obey your every whim. They are also quite willing to go on in front of you. Goats, on the other hand, tend to fool about and are less good about 'boldly going'. If you don't keep them well occupied, they tend to sit down. They also have a habit of trying to eat anything new you want them to wear!

During the winter, Margaret sewed harness for them made from nylon webbing (red for Port, green for Starb'd) and a refurbishment job was done on an old hand trolley which had been lying around for years - new wheelbarrow wheels and a pole made from an old TV mast to replace the handle. While husband Derek and son Austin fashioned the metalwork Margaret, being the woodworking person of the household, made the sides from planed 2" x 2", with verticals made from sections of lightweight broomstick. The farm shop was somewhat amazed when she went in to buy six broomsticks!

March 24th was the big day when the boys were attached to a couple of motor cycle tyres, which they proceeded to pull round as though they'd done it all their lives! They were so good, in fact, that their next outing a week later saw them pulling a heavy log with big eye-bolts through it to hitch to the traces. Again, they took it all in their stride, so the next step was to hitch them to the trolley in 'skeleton' form with just the chassis and no bodywork. Panic was beginning to set in as there was still some finishing to do on the woodwork and they had rashly agreed to attend a (horse) Driving Show on 6th May, but the varnish was dry by the time the trolley was loaded into the trailer the day before the show.

There was some apprehension that the first public appearance was to be at such a prestigious event, but a team of helpers was on hand. The boys had never been in the trailer or traveled anywhere away from home and had never appeared at a public occasion of any sort. The only 'crime' they committed was that Port jumped out of their pen and followed Margaret the first time she walked away from them, so he had to be tied up. When it was their turn to go in the ring they behaved beautifully.

In mid May a further challenge awaited. They were booked to attend the Smallholder Festival and make an exhibition of themselves. This time, Port and Starb'd had a double-sized pen as they would be staying for two nights. Port only jumped out once. They proved an enormous attraction, as did the two baby Boer kids who went too.

The next task was to bring in hay from the field. The boys are very intelligent and soon worked out that they were actually DOING SOMETHING USEFUL; their efforts were rewarded by being able to do a bit of quality control while the trolley was being loaded. After that, things ground to a halt due to the Foot and Mouth outbreak which prevented all movements off-farm. By the time that was over it was winter and things were on hold again.

All last winter, Derek has been constructing what has become known as the Poncey Show Wagon. It has bicycle wheels, the rear ones with drum brakes linked and connected to a Sherpa handbrake; the front spring is from a Reliant three-wheeler, the rear one from a Land Rover; the pole was another TV aerial, the front rail bits from a seriously gale-damaged gazebo of Austin's; the whip holder is a length of plastic tube which came with welding rods in it; the base of seat is two seat-frames from an ex-bus of A's and the bodywork is the outside skin of a dead washing machine! Only the aluminum treadplate floor and the steering turntable are new materials, acquired from the local forge - oh, and the seat cushions and vinyl covers were sourced from a couple of firms on the internet.

As a refresher course, the boys were harnessed up in the spring and taken for a walk along the road without anything behind them. It was a bit of a battle as the road isn't all that wide and there are lovely edible hedges on both sides! "What's the point of walking along this boring road when there's all that lovely breakfast over there?"

Training mostly happens on the quarter mile straight (Sarn Helen, a Roman Road) so that they can see the traffic coming and the traffic can see them. They are very good with traffic really - what really caused a stir on that first boring outing of the year was one of the locals with about six Welsh Mountain ponies on fairly long leads. The goats were fascinated, but the ponies tried to climb into the hedge, nearly knocking Dewi over in the process!

Eventually the PSW was rolled out. Yet again, the harness had to be adjusted (alterations had to be made to it during the winter as it had become patently obvious that the boys were out-growing it) because they'd grown again since last year. They were put to and set off with a couple of handlers, one each side. About quarter of a mile out, they were turned round and Margaret gingerly climbed aboard. The handlers 'cast off' and she was on her own. It took a few moments for it to dawn on the boys what they were supposed to do and then they set off home quite briskly. Sometimes the direction of progress was a bit wavering, but as a first attempt, Margaret was well satisfied and looks forward to going out on her own without handlers - if it ever stops raining.

The only problem is Starb'd. He sees no reason to have to work so long as Port is doing it for him; he is constantly hanging back in the traces. Margaret judges that this is probably because it is not a natural action for two goats to be side-by-side; they are always following the herd leader.



I'll try to get get my partner (Margaret's son) to chime in on the thread as I'm sure he has plenty of relevant memories of them an their training. Possibly also of making the harness and modifying their farm wagon.
 
Cindy Haskin
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Oh Burra! Brightest of blessings to you for the post. I saw the pictures and was exclaiming, "yes", "yes, yes" "omg yes!"  I am overjoyed that you are reaching out to the son to make a post, thank you.

Exactly what I wanted !
 
Burra Maluca
Mother Tree
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Cindy Haskin wrote:  I am overjoyed that you are reaching out to the son to make a post, thank you.

Exactly what I wanted !



Well to be fair I didn't have to reach out very far. He's been my partner for the last two years and is sitting in the next room eating his breakfast while I'm tweaking the post and picking his brains for any memories.  He'll have a bit to say later, I'm sure.
 
Burra Maluca
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Aha - he's just asked me where I found the photos, and seemed surprised that it wasn't from the Harness Goat Society.

So I googled it and it might prove to be a useful source of information for you - link above.
 
Burra Maluca
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Austin's been trawling the back-ups of the old farm computer and found these, which may be of interest.

There is a close up of the harness, one of the early training pulling a log around, and some sketches of the harness design.  This is for pair harness, based on designs for horse pair harness but modified for goats.  The bridle especially is very different to what a driven horse would normally wear.























At one point, Port broke his leg and had to take some time off. They modified the Poncey Show Wagon to have shafts rather than a pole so Starboard could work alone while his brother healed.





The harness needed a bit of modification too.



I hope some of this will be of use to people.  Margaret would have loved that.

 
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Hi Cindy, glad to assist with your project.  

The one thing we found with the goats, they ain't bred to be draft animals.  'most any animal pulling a cart, when you look into it, has a hundred generations or more of selective breeding behind it.  That said, I believe the Boer goats are a bit more laid back then some, but they're still goats at heart and want to follow a leader.  It's probably easier with one, especially if you can pick out one who is naturally a leader not a follower.

Port and Starboard were castrated when very young, as was our standard policy; only prospective breeding males (i.e. the ones with the "right" bloodlines) were kept entire.  I'm sure you know what entire male goats are like :D  

Ordinarily, the surplus males were grown and then turned into meat.  My late mother's Boer goat thing was about cross-breeding swiss-type milking strains with the meat-oriented boers, with the idea of producing a decent general-purpose animal, and I'd say it was a good start to that but really, she'd have needed to start 20 years earlier as old age and cancer put an end to it.  The point is that Port and Starboard weren't pure Boer and also weren't bred or selected with harness in mind, so you might be able to get better results with different breeding or selection.

 
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