As we have some weed problems (aka trees, brambles, ...), I am considering a few goats to go with our sheep (about 700 in 2 bigger herds and several smaller groups).
As we do highly intensive rotational grazing in nature reserves, a shelter is never available.
We use our local, rare breed of sheep and I know there is a local breed (veryvery rare) of goats, so that would be the obvious choice.
Now, we use electric netting to control the sheep during the night, during the day, often wit a volunteer/payed shepperd. Our sheep do not have horns, but our goats would have. Is there someone with experience in this combination? Goats VS electric netting.
Do goats always need a shelter, or can they as well go without one if you keep them outdoors all year round (Belgium) or only in summer?
I would take only one or two in at the beginning to try anyway, but finding out the hard way can be expensive as the most obvious place to start, is the (recreational) training area of a military base
Horned goats and electric netting are a very bad idea as they get caught in the net very easily. You could still go with your local breed of goats but get them from someone who disbuds them so that you don't have a problem with the horns. Also horned goats and hornless sheep together could be a problem as it is advised never to keep horned and non-horned animals together.
Goats need shelter as unlike sheep their coats are not waterproof. They are fine with cold conditions but not rain. We have a mobile shelter that is on skids and moves into each field as the goats go into it. We are in the process of adapting it to go on an old trailer so that it is easier to move around.
As was already mentioned, horned goats and electric netting are not a good combination. Horned goats and sheep are not a good combination, either, unfortunately. Twice I've tried to keep a horned goat along with sheep, and both times had a sheep gored by the horned goat. (Just broke the skin on the belly, didn't penetrate any farther, but still!)
Another issue with keeping goats and sheep together is that goats require quite a bit of copper in their mineral, but copper is toxic to sheep in all but tiny amounts.
Also, rams can breed does, and bucks can breed ewes, but the fetuses will abort after a few weeks.
If you do decide to keep a few goats with your sheep (hand-feeding the goats their mineral several times a week), I would recommend getting goat kids and raising them with a few ewes and young lambs. Bottle-raise the goat kids, so if (when) they get loose they will be easy to catch. But keep them with the sheep, so they will be bonded to them, and not attack them.
As for shelter, yes and no. I live in a fairly dry climate, but with cold to very cold winters, and my goats have had almost no shelter over their heads for the last three winters. They have been fine -- but I make sure they have plenty of food, and carry hot water to them in freezing weather. Summer rains shouldn't hurt them. Where you would probably need at least a minimal shelter in your climate would be in your winter pastures. I will be building a shed for mine this year, and I'm sure they'll be happier in bad weather!
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