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Newbie - basics of sheep and/or goats

 
bridget piccioni
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New to raising animals of any kind, besides cats and dogs. We have 5 flat acres in Wilamette Valley (wet winter, dry summer) and are probably looking to add sheep and/or goats along with poultry. Goats would be for both meat and dairy.

We have about an acre of grasses, an acre of park-like forest and 3 acres of untended pine and madrone forest with a smattering of oak. Plenty of blackberry and broom.

Where do I start? I was thinking 2-3 of either sheep or goat and adding 2-3 of the other once established. What do I need to know about the rain? I am recently hearing goats aren't so fond...

Favorite off forum references?
 
Susan Doyon
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Location: Massachusetts
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goats hate rain , they need real good fences and a dry wind free place to bed . you will need to learn to trim hooves that is real important to keep their feet healthy .

there are some good goat web pages on line to gather info . they are in need of protection from predators .

Sue
 
Alder Burns
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On only an acre, I would only start out with two. They can be male and female, or two females (relying on "visitation" of one sort or another for breeding), a mom and kid, two neutered males (which you would eat at some point), or even one sheep and one goat. One animal alone will be lonesome and unhappy. I would try having two for a whole year and see what impact they have on your site, and then adjust. I would plan, too, as well as a good perimeter fence, to subdivide your site into several paddocks, so that the critters can be rotated from one section to another. This helps them utilize the forage better and helps prevent parasites. If you get lambs or kids.....young animals, you can teach them to walk on a leash like a dog and then you can tether them out during the day to eat in various places......this takes some learning to do well as they will want to tangle up and you have to beware of predators even so. But on a tight site with plenty of eyes (including a watchdog's eyes) on them this can work and saves a lot of fencing.
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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Ah, now I see you have 5 acres altogether! Even so, I would still start out with only a few....no more than a pair of each, since your learning curve will be steep and the animals will teach you what you need to do in order to have more....
 
C. Hunter
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I'd pick one or the other and get comfortable with them before adding the second species.

You've got some of the best farms in the country for fiber sheep AND dairy goats in the Willamette valley to learn from. Do you know what breeds you're thinking?
 
bridget piccioni
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I'm not sure about breed, for either. So much learning to do before jumping in!

I do think I'd start with goats first as we have a heck of a lot of goaty land and I'd like to get accustomed to keeping animals before having to figure out the shearing piece. Our perimeter fence is next on the list! It's a funny parcel - rectangular: 1/4 mile by 165 feet. I wonder about chopping it into strips. Would 2 lines of cattle panels running the short length perpendicular to the perimeter fence work?

It would sure be helpful to learn from folks in person. Or at least be working with a breed that is already known to be pretty well outfitted to hang in our climate/environment

For predators we definitely have the occasional black bear and big cat roaming through the general area.
 
C. Hunter
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Not just adapted to your climate, but if you are serious about dairy, you're way better off getting an animal who is bred for milk than trying to 'make do' with a brush goat unless you just LIKE working really, really hard for a pint of milk a day- some of the brush goats have udders that are just impossible to milk, and they don't give much, and it's just more hassle than it's worth. Talked to the county extension office yet? I bet they could givge you a couple of good contacts, since the 4-H dairy program in that area is VERY competiive according to friends who did it

Tall cattle panels seem to keep goats in if the goats have enough room and are happy. Bored or unhappy or crowded goats can go through any fence that isn't water tight.
 
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