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tethering goats

Posts: 61
Location: southeast SD (zone 4b/5a)
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a neighbor has a wether he wants rid of. naturally i jumped at a free goat and am picking it up next week. it has been on a chain attached to a heavy counter weight all summer with no problems and i intend to keep it the same way until butchering this fall. what im wondering is how long is the perfect goat chain and/or how often should it be moved? obviously i wont overgraze my high quality pasture but the length of chain will decide when to move my anchor. should i be moving my goat every day or every week? any help or thoughts would be appreciated. thanks
Posts: 3375
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Watch him really close to begin with, stress of a new place etc. can cause problems that weren't problems before.

I would use the same length chain he is used to. Move him when he has eaten the grass down a third of its height. That may be a week, day, or hour depending on the length of chain and quality of grass.
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I think having a tethered goat would be a great opportunity to clear out scrubbier parts of a property rather than putting him on high quality pasture.

That being said I have no idea how long the tether should be.

Best of luck.
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Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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I have a goat tethered for brush control. Things to consider.....

...the length of the rope/chain depends upon what obstacles exist. More obstacles = shorter tether. My own goat has a 15 ' tether. That doesn't mean that your goat should have that length tether. I started with 20' but that proved to be problematic. If using a rope, make sure it's strong enough. Don't buy the cheapest rope. Once a goat busts it's tether, he's learned a bad habit. I prefer a rope over a chain. Chains just got caught on the lava rock and shrubs here.

...move the goat daily. Reasons? That way you can catch problems like tangles, foot caught in tether, other issues. If the goats foot gets bound up in the tether for too long, he can lose his foot. He'll go through pain and discomfort, and end up in your freezer before you planned. But if you treat his foot properly to encourage it to heal (goats lower limbs don't heal very well) then you can't butcher him for food due to the antibiotics and drugs you gave him.

...browse. Goats are browsers and prefer to eat just the growing tips. So plan on moving him DAILY. Otherwise he won't eat enough to grow muscular and fat for slaughter. If not moved daily, he won't starve. But he won't be good eating either. If your goal is brush control, still plan on moving him daily. He will eat far, far more if reintroduced back to that spot repeatedly than if he is tethered there permanently.

...goats never eat as much volume when tethered as they do when free. When free they go around nibbling here and there, fulling up on what they deem the good stuff. When tethered they are forced to go against their nature, thus only eating what is available. It's not as appetizing to them. Therefore a free grazing goat reaches slaughter condition far faster and better than a tethered goat.

These are just some thoughts for you to consider based upon my own experience with a tethered goat. While I use my goat for weed control, I also let him run loose one or two days a week. That way he can choose to eat things he normally doesn't have access to. Goats tend to eat toxic plants which act as parasite control. When tethered, they cannot access them.
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