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Goat care

 
Alice Kaspar
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Welcome to the wacky world of goats!

Remember that goats MUST come in twos, as a single may grieve itself to death.

If you have them in a small space, they may not get enough exercise to be healthy, and you increase the intestinal parasite problems.

Never, ever tether a goat unless you will be there ALL the time to untangle it. It simply is not a good idea.

Those things aside, goats are wonderful, entertaining, intelligent critters. They are escape artists, and they will figure out how to get in trouble without any encouragement.

They will also get into your heart.
 
Andrew Osborne
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Can you guys tell me more about what you do to care for your goats? Mine have hay and water available in their pen free choice, have the run of a 1 acre pasture all day and I give them enough grain to lure them out to the pasture in the morning and back into the pen at night. I keep a little baking soda in their feed trough, sprinkle them and their pen with DE and change out their straw once a week. Anything I'm missing or going overboard on?
 
Alison Thomas
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Well Andrew, that's about what ours get too though they don't need to be lured out... they meet us at the gate - they just LOVE their handful of grain. They have big hedges surrounding 'their area' which is supposed to be about an acre but they sneak through the hedge and munch up the other side of it making their access area more like 2 acres. They like to be near their house though so they tend to stay 95% of the time in 'their area'.

Welcome to the forum by the way
 
Alice Kaspar
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I'm assuming you have meat goats? They don't require quite the micro-management that dairy goats do. But, they do need a good high copper mineral. Cargill's Right Now Onyx is a good one.
 
Alison Thomas
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Ours are very definitely dairy goats not meat goats. They produce loads of milk both for their babies who stay with them constantly and more for us besides. We're not doing dairying commercially, just for our own family's needs.
 
Alice Kaspar
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My comment/question was for the gentleman who asked the question.
 
Taylor Stewart
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Goats are not as parasite resistant as sheep, so if you are grazing them in a pasture I would highly recommend paddock rotation. They evolved to eat brush, shrubs, and trees (growth that is off of the ground) so when grazing a short grass pasture they tend to develop a parasite load faster. They will do just fine on the grass and broad leaves of a pasture as long as they are rotated before they nub it down too low. We have fainting goats and they have a nice resistance to internal parasites. We also move them regularly and use cattle and horses to break the parasite life cycle.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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Glad I found some goat experts here.
I have a few questions. Actually quite a few I am new to goats and need some help/advice.
I just got a 3 month old Alpine doeling (I know, I know, I'm working on finding her a companion right now) who is to be used for brush clearing. I tether her to a tree in the morning and then move her to another tree at noon, so she gets lots of forage. I have 4 acres so I can always see her and check on her quite a bit to make sure she is not tangled. BUT she pretty much cries her head off when I go into the house. She is crying right now. She follows me everywhere when she is off the tether. So my questions- Will she get over this crying thing? I know getting a companion goat will probably help. Luckily I am home all day and last time I had to go somewhere she rode in the car with me, but I cant do that forever!!
Another question- would an electric fence "tractor" work for goats or would they escape? I originally went with the tether because there are baby fruit trees all around that if she got out would get eaten in about 2 millasecods.
The movable electric fence tractor seems way better for the goats- more exercise, no tether to get caught in, etc. If anyone has had success with this- if you could please tell me how you set it up, that would be great
Thanks so much!!!
 
Alice Kaspar
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I use electric net fencing. It is easy to move and works great.

HOWEVER.... yes, your goat needs a friend. Goats are herd animals, and she is MISERABLE alone.

Where are you located? I'm in Oregon County, near Alton.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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Alice, you're near me!!! Kind of!
I am in McGee, about 20 miles west of Advance. I know I have got to find her a friend asap. She and my border collie hang out right now but she needs a real friend that is her same species. She is on brush/forage, goat milk replacer, and a teeny tiny bit of grain, and hay at night.
How many strands of electric do you use?? What kind of fence (brand) ??
My email is barnwellart@gmail.com if you want to email me.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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OH- sorry, I just saw electric net fencing. OK off to the internet to buy some. Do you have a favorite brand?
 
Taylor Stewart
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Kencove makes a good electric net. I don't care much for the pos/neg nets. All positive seems to work pretty well, even in dry conditions as long as you ground it properly. We have pretty good success using poly wire and plastic posts. We run 3 wires, one at 6-10", one at 16-20", and one at about 30". However they have to be hotter than the netting to keep goats in.

Check out the Gallagher smart fence, it's more expensive than the netting but won't get beat up like the netting can with heavy use. I prefer the smart fence to netting, it's much easier to put up and take down and is much easier to move around. It allows you to run 4 wires at one time and because they are all tied together, they stay really nice and hot. I used the smart fence to train fat lambs to electric fencing as I was able to keep it hotter than the high tensile permanent fencing.

http://www.gallagherusa.com/electric-fencing/permanent.component.aspx?mktprodid=5970
 
Alice Kaspar
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I've purchased from Kencove and from Premier 1. Much prefer Premier 1.

http://www.premier1supplies.com/fencing.php?species_id=2
 
Taylor Stewart
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Some nets have posts with only one prong, others have posts that allow you to step them in. I find the single prong posts a real pain, especially if the soil is dry and hard. The step in posts are much easier to use, especially if you move them very often.
 
Katya Barnheart
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Location: SE Missouri, Zone 7a
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Great info, thanks you guys. I am going to look more later but this looks like exactly what I need. Very reasonably priced too.
http://www.premier1supplies.com/detail.php?prod_id=732&cat_id=53
Now, maybe I need to post this question in another forum but... my house runs solely on solar power... So could I just hook it up to the house with an exterior wire cord?
Thanks all, really appreciate it and so does my goat
 
Alice Kaspar
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You need an electric fence charger.
 
Lloyd George
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getcha a solar fence charger and move it with the fence...OR, as I am probably going to do, I will pull an aerial along the axis of my pasture areas, and just hook in as I move the fence,,,
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Some people simply shouldn't own animals.

So a neighbor's son gets two baby Boers for a 4-H project, to be judged and then auctioned at the country fair in late August. He ties them up (with clothesline) & pretty much forgets about them; no water, no shade and little food. Of course they hog-tie themselves to the rail fence and spend most of the day like flies in a spiderweb, waiting for me to walk across the canyon & unravel them. The final straw was last week when the whole family took off to visit relatives and didn't come back for three days. The morning of day two I taped a note to their door, kidnapped (pun intended) the two babies and turned them out on my fenced hillside. I had to, they were dying.

When the neighbors finally came home I talked them into leaving the kidlets over here until fair time (wasn't hard, they obviously don't give a shit) and they're happy as clams eating oak brush, serviceberry, clover and all the other yummy stuff on my hill. I keep lots of fresh water for them and they're getting pretty tame which is good, because they're about to grow out of their collars & I'll need to remove them. I told the neighbor kid to come over any time to check on them and haven't seen him since, no surprise there.

So I realize I have the ideal situation for happy goats plus they're doing a bang-up job of fire suppression by eating the brush. IF the neighbor kid remembers his project and takes them back for the fair I will promptly find two more of my own. If he doesn't, I'll offer to buy these two and either way, invest in some more fencing so I can rotate. Couple of questions from a goat newbie:

This is lion/bobcat/coyote country. Not too worried about bobcats or coyotes taking out a full-grown Boer, but a mountain lion? And I might end up with a smaller breed and guess I'd need to think seriously about a Great Pyrenees or some such to live with them, yes? Can't go with a burro or donkey as I have no grazing, only hillside.

I've reserved a ton of good alfalfa hay for winter feed but wonder if that's going to be enough for something as big as a Boer x 2?

Grain or mineral upplements for summer or winter or both?

TIA for any input from goat folk!

 
Lloyd George
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Good on ya....depending on how long and harsh your winter is, you ought to be good...Goats tend to require less feed than you think, they are pretty efficient...plus, they will continue to scrounce and eat dry leaves, brush twigs etc during the winter..boers don't seem to scrounge as hard as, say pygmies tend to, they seem to like leafy grazing better..but still they are goats.

watch their hooves...worm as needed, spend time with them often...they will certainly enrich your life...goats are a smile a minute.


Oh...if you have a lawn which is not heavy on teh chemicals and fertilizer...save your grass clippings...dry them as hay...and feed it to the kids every so often...they will love to see you coming with a handful or two...my girls will demolish it.

I would bet if you just leave the kids where they are...the neighbors will forget...it is certainly correct to offer to buy, but me, I would say there is a cost of caring for the animals and keep my trap shut..I would pay for the animal, but if the owner simply abdicates responsibility...oh well.

 
Lloyd George
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oh..minerals... keep a block of goat specific minerals in the pasture, which you may supplement with a protein tub...they love sticky sweet stuff...and there is a mineral balance which goats need to help prevent urinary calculi...I for get, but...also..getcha a copy of Storeay's guide to raising meat goats...

Predators...hmm..outside of having a companion animal,, which, for just a couple is probably overkill...I would do what herdrs have done for centuries...put them in a secure shelter at night..easier to feed them and check them over that way too...
 
Jorja Hernandez
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We're in southern Utah at 6200 ft. Winters are c-c-c-cold and several feet of snow is the norm. They're living on a rocky hillside so I'm hoping the hoof trimming will be minimal, at least in the warm seasons.

We have the beginnings of a nice, sturdy pole barn right next to the fenced area. I've called a fellow to give me a price on turning the last third of it into a proper shelter with hay mow above. That one's a priority for both predator and climate reasons. Up until a few months ago we had big, loud dogs and the varmints learnt to stay away. Sadly, our last two ancient guard dogs have recently gone to the Rainbow Bridge and I bet it won't take long for the wild things to figure that out. Do goats learn to come back to the barn at night like chickens or dairy cows? That would be cool.

I'm due for my monthly trip into town and will score the minerals and wormers at the Farm & Feed, also some hoof trimmers and will order that book if the farm store doesn't have it. I love Storey publications.

We don't use chemicals of any kind here at the Haphazard Homestead but don't have a lawn either. However, I can forage all kinds of yummy stuff from the meadow, that'll be fun. The little doe is still really timid but the wether warmed up to me right away. He bites like a naughty little foal! I'll whomp him on the nose & he just comes back for more. You're so right about the smile a minute, these guys are a hoot.

Fingers crossed the 4-H project is forgotten but whatever. If I lose these two I'll get two more. (I haven't named them for that very reason. I can't let myself get attached or consider them 'mine' until fair time.) Lloyd, thanks so much for the reply and great info. On my way to becoming goat-savy.
 
Lloyd George
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oh..yer gonna love this one...I give my girls a ration of Noble Goat morning and evening..they son't need much, as it is rich, but that few mouthfuls is mandatory now...If I don't show up when they think I ought to..oh my god...you would think those poor goats were being dragged through a keyhole...so...feed them a little ration of pellet (also helps with that mineral balance..) around the same time very day...in their loafing pit in the barn...then if they cannot get to it of an evening they will tell you..believe me...goats are pretty easy to automate..

one of my neighbors feeds and milks at six every morn...they see that bedroom light on (she has maybe sixty goats..) and they line up at the fence...and they know how long that coffee pot takes...five minutes too long...you can hear them in the next county...

your standoffish girl...when you feed them a pellet ration...and they know what is smells like...not every time, but approach her with a little bit in hand, and hand feed her..believe me, not too often...goats are crackheads about sweet feed..every so often will bring her right to you. too often, and you will forever have her in your pocket...pygmy goat that likes to cuddle..good...150 lb boer that likes to cuddle...not so much...

and yes..they make goat treats..not needed unless you are training them to drive or pack (yup draft goats...)

When you get them a hay rack..make sure it has a pan underneath..they will pull hay, and waste it...won't eat it off the floor...but if they pull it out in the pan, just stuff it back in the rack...they won't even notice...this will save you some bucks...

consider also, goat walks..if they are in the habit of following you..it is nice to amble around while they browse...
 
Lloyd George
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oh, the biting thing..if he is not clamping down, it is not all that big a deal...just don't let him get your finger into the back of the mouth..that gets a nose tweaked...it is probably a latent nursing impulse...two of my girls will taste and nibble at my fingers, but they know not to try and grind or they get bit back...we have turned that into goat kisses...My herd queen will nibble my finger to ask me to play with her nose ans give her a scratching..

Do not ever let a bottle baby goat drink from your gatorade bottle...they love that stuff..and will climb you to get it..oops...created a monster...
 
Alison Thomas
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Jorja - good for you. It's heart breaking when folk do that to animals. And yes, it's easy to fall in love with goats. I know we have too many but I love them so much it's hard to think of selling any.

Lloyd - it's wonderful reading your posts and it comes through that you sure do love your goats too. I'm not so sure that our buck does goat 'kisses' - he's a cheeky biter, normally on our bum as we're walking off!!

I can't add any extra info as Lloyd has more than covered everything I would have said. Happy goats make happy goat-keepers. Have fun!
 
Lloyd George
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yeah...some are ornery biters...they just have to learn not to...

I am going to do the noon herd walk and sit by my littel pond while the grrls graze on poison ivy and other nasty crap back there...


Coming soon to this space...dexter cattle and Southdown babydolls...wanna see stiupid cute lawnmowers...google babydoll sheep...
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Ohhhh, little cows! So jealous, can't wait to hear all about how that goes. We can't do cow or horse - zero grazing, that's why goats fill the bill so well and with that, here is my goat saga update:

They're mine! As I'd hoped, the kid lost interest in his 4-H project and his parents took my offer to buy the pair. So as of this morning, I'm minus $150 and plus two young Boers - Sid and Nancy. We rigged up a temporary enclosure with chain-link fence panels under the roof of what will become a proper goat barn. Now they can get out of the rain; cold won't be an issue until well after the snug barn is done.

Lloyd, you are so right about the 'automating' factor. They come running when called, and the little (formerly) stand-offish girl is now climbing up the side of me for treats and they both let me handle them all over. I owe it all to goat crack (raisins). THANK YOU for that tip! We're still working on the 'scaling Mt. Momma' thing. Right now they're probably <> 50 lbs. but yeah, at 150 lbs. I'm gonna have a problem - I'm 98 lbs. with my muck boots on and pockets full of asst. hardware.

I'm reading that goats hate water. Will they cross creeks? If not I have one permanent boundary in place and will just have to bar the bridge. I've learnt about a system of movable fencing from a man who rents his herds for a living:

http://www.thesurvivalpodcast.com/episode-910-mike-canaday-on-grazing-goats-electric-fencing-and-working-dogs

I figure a couple rolls of that plus the recommended charger and I can rotate them over most of our hillside in the warm months. From another neighbor I've reserved a ton of third-cutting alfalfa for winter. It's lovely stuff, grown right here in our canyon.

And what would be the least traumatic method of removing their ear tags?

Thank you all for the nice comments and extremely valuable information. My philosophy on animals is, even if you're going to eat them, treat them with care and kindness. I know Boers are meat goats, but Sid & Nancy will life out their lives as pets and brush burners. I'll get some pictures soon, 'K?
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Sid (L) and Nancy (R) in their fugly but temporary shelter:



In the driveway on walkabout with Daddy:



 
Alison Thomas
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Ahhh Jorja, they are SOOOOOO cute. And we could do with some of those gates!!! You all look very happy What a nice story.
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Thanks Alison! I was so happy the neighbors were willing to sell because in spite of myself, I'd gotten attached.

Our permanent housing will be much more aesthetically pleasing but the chain-link is serving the purpose for now and the price was right - we got it for free when Best Friends upgraded some of their dog runs. Glad we had it laying around.

Apparently they're runts. I tracked down the breeder and had a chat. She was happy to hear they're now being cared for but was shocked by their small size as the parents are HUGE. These little ones are almost 7 months old and only 42 & 44 lbs. Not that I care - so long as they're healthy but it makes me sad to know what a shakey start they endured.

 
Guy Hawkins
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Apologies for jumping into this thread, but seems a shame to start a new one. We have two dwarf goats, around 6 months old. They are completely tame and have the run of our property (9 acres). We don't have any fencing or gates but they never stray away. The edges of our property are effectively fenced by deep brambles all round (it's a blackberry heaven) and we are surrounded by miles of farm land. There is tons of natural food and fresh water for them, and we give them a few goat pellets, more for training purposes than anything else. The property has lots of stones that they jump up and down on, and so far we've never had to clip their hooves.

Anyway, the problem is that we will be going away for Christmas for a couple of weeks, and want to leave the goats here. We have a neighbour who will look in on them every two days, but since we've never left them before, and they are the first animals we have kept, we are getting a bit nervous. We are in Northern France, so no predators that we are aware of. I'm fitting a gate onto the entrance so they can't just wonder away, and we have an automatic feeder so they will get their pellets twice a day. What else should we be doing, or are we panicing over nothing?

All advice gratefully received.
 
Alison Thomas
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Guy Hawkins wrote:Anyway, the problem is that we will be going away for Christmas for a couple of weeks, and want to leave the goats here. We have a neighbour who will look in on them every two days, but since we've never left them before, and they are the first animals we have kept, we are getting a bit nervous. We are in Northern France, so no predators that we are aware of. I'm fitting a gate onto the entrance so they can't just wonder away, and we have an automatic feeder so they will get their pellets twice a day. What else should we be doing, or are we panicing over nothing?

All advice gratefully received.


Hello Guy and welcome from another France-based person.

No you're definitely not panicking over nothing - if you have animals you have a responsibility to ensure that all their daily needs are taken care of and that they are safe.

In my experience goats are creatures of habit and they seem to like routine. Ours (we have 9 currently) know us well and are looking out to see us at certain times of the day. Yours may well do the same and will definitely miss you. However, you say "we will be going away" so there doesn't seem much flexibility in the arrangement there. So, things you might want to think of...
Do your goats have a house/shed? A cold wet goat is a dead goat.
If they do, can your neighbour put in fresh bedding? If the weather is wet then goats spend a LOT of time in their house.
What about La Chasse? Do they cross your land? It may be as well to contact the local leader of La Chasse and tell them that you'll be away.
Tell any neighbours that have land bordering yours in case your goats wander off looking for you.
Can your neighbour pop in each day? Goats MUST have clean drinking water every day.
What if it turns icy? Their water will need to be defrosted. In Le Grand Froid last February we had to defrost their water 3 times a day!!!

I realise that the list looks long but keeping animals is a serious undertaking.
 
Guy Hawkins
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Alison Thomas wrote:
Hello Guy and welcome from another France-based person.

No you're definitely not panicking over nothing - if you have animals you have a responsibility to ensure that all their daily needs are taken care of and that they are safe.

In my experience goats are creatures of habit and they seem to like routine. Ours (we have 9 currently) know us well and are looking out to see us at certain times of the day. Yours may well do the same and will definitely miss you. However, you say "we will be going away" so there doesn't seem much flexibility in the arrangement there. So, things you might want to think of...
Do your goats have a house/shed? A cold wet goat is a dead goat.
If they do, can your neighbour put in fresh bedding? If the weather is wet then goats spend a LOT of time in their house.
What about La Chasse? Do they cross your land? It may be as well to contact the local leader of La Chasse and tell them that you'll be away.
Tell any neighbours that have land bordering yours in case your goats wander off looking for you.
Can your neighbour pop in each day? Goats MUST have clean drinking water every day.
What if it turns icy? Their water will need to be defrosted. In Le Grand Froid last February we had to defrost their water 3 times a day!!!

I realise that the list looks long but keeping animals is a serious undertaking.


Hi Alison, Many thanks for coming back to me.

We are forced to travel for work fairly regularly, so we have to make some permanent arrangement.

La chasse already knows about our land and our goats, and they keep well away from both. We let them park on our land when they use the neighbouring areas, and they check for the goats.

The neighbour can only come every other day, but the goats can drink from the stream, which is direct from a source and has never frozen (we're in Brittany so it is never really cold). We provide them with water buckets as well, but I've never seen them drink from the buckets. The goats have a shed where they spend the night, but they also have the run of the land, which includes two huge barns, a stables, a granary (their favorite) and a longere. They never go back to their shed unless we tempt them back there with some pellets, so we are moving the shed into the granary, which is their preferred spot in any case.

We have to leave the house every day in any case, and the goats have never tried to follow us or leave the property, but that doesn't mean they won't in the future. The idea of the auto pellet feeder is it will encourage them to return regularly for a snack.

The alternative is to take them to another farm whilst we are away, but in this case they will be stuck in a field with some sheep, and a shed, with nowhere to climb and play, whereas now they spend their days running around the place chasing each other up onto the window ledges and other perches, and generally having fun.
DSCN3413.JPG
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Alison Thomas
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Guy, sounds like you've thought it all through and that they've got what they need. Lucky you to have a stream. Have a good holiday.
 
Guy Hawkins
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Alison Thomas wrote:Guy, sounds like you've thought it all through and that they've got what they need. Lucky you to have a stream. Have a good holiday.

Thanks Alison, but it won't stop us worrying!! My son is already in tears every time he thinks about leaving them.

Because we've banned hunting and dogs on our land we have a bit of a menagerie of wild animals in residence, including a herd of deer, rabbits, hares, badgers, and what looks like a pine martin, though I didn't think they lived this far south. We've seen a few foxes as well, but don't seem to have a permanent resident. The goats are pretty wary of the wild animals, and pay attention when they wander by, but generally the wild stuff stays away from the buildings most of the time. I keep telling myself that if the deer can survive without any help, then the goats should be OK with their own house and a ready supply of treats. They have bales of hay and straw in their shed as well, so if they are snowed in for a day or so, they won't starve.
 
David Haught
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Location: Chatsworth Georgia
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Im wanting to get some milk goats in the spring, and was wondering for some ideas for fencing... if I go with a 5 foot non climb fence ill only be able to fence in about 200 feet total... But I have about an acre total that I have access to... would anyone recommend electric fence. And how many strands high Im new with goats, and been trying to learn all I can.
 
Jorja Hernandez
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Guy, those two little doorkeepers are beyond adorable!

David, I have no first-hand experience with this fencing but have heard it highly recommended by other goat folk: http://www.premier1supplies.com/goats/species.php
 
David Haught
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Location: Chatsworth Georgia
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Thanks Jorja!!!
 
Doug Mac
Posts: 79
Location: Humboldt County, California [9b]
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David,
I use 14 gauge aluminum wire strung on t posts. I run 5 wires, the bottom one being a ground. That way you can put one ground rod near the charger and one on the opposite side of the fence. If you have 120 volt ac, use a 120 volt ac fence charger. I don't so I use a 12 volt dc and a deep cycle battery. I also have a couple of solar fence chargers but don't like them that much. I buy wire from www.farmandfleet.com. Everything else I get locally. I usually put a t post every 50 or 60 feet with step in posts in between them if the terrain isn't level (mine isn't level). These are more permanent paddocks than the elctro mesh type. Harder to move but stroger.

Another thing to consider is predators. I don't use LGDs. I built 6X12 sheds that they get locked up in at night. A lot of people say that goats don't need shelter. They at least need some place to get out of the rain and wind if you live in a cold climate. I figure that all the calories they burn trying to stay warm aren't being used to make grow and produce for you.
 
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