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Goats in the southeast US

 
Justin Koenig
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Greetings, so here in the midsouth everyone says goats need worming treatment and hooves trimmed. I was thinking that if I have plenty of woody browse for these guys that they won't be as acceptable to parasites or worms and if I have a portable shelter with areas to climb on they can maybe sort of need less hoof trimming. Are goats not accustomed to more rockier terrain? I thought that taking the sweetgums that are in there 2-4 growth to let the goats eat what they can reach and then go behind them and pollard them below and keep pulsing them on new growth. Thoughts? Is there certain breeds that are less succetpable to disease or more pest resistant in areas of avg 54 in rainfall?
 
Alder Burns
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Location: northern California
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I used to live in GA and kept goats on 2 different farms for 20+ years. Worms are the big issue. Sometimes they like grass and they will eat it even when there is browse available, but the worms are a lot worse if they are forced to eat grass and other low stuff. In that case you should rotate and use wormers. I had good luck with some herbal wormers ("Restore" is one brand I recall.....mostly wormwood....stands to reason) and occasionally resorted to ivermectin. The second homestead was much more woods and brush and the worms weren't much of a problem. But I still had to trim hooves. Goats are desert and mountain critters by nature and their hooves are being worn down (continuously, not occasionally) by sand and rock.....so I doubt you'll ever be able to do without that, at least on your breeders. (if you kill young goats at a year or so old for meat, these might not need trimming).
I found that cutting branches and hauling (I did this in winter from evergreen things....even loading my car up when I went to town!) and various forms of coppicing worked well. In the young woods I would whack a sapling halfway through and bend it over so they could reach the top....and later could reach the sprouts from the base. Any vines of honeysuckle, grape, kudzu, etc. are favorites too and can be dragged down out of the trees with a hook on a pole. If you cut prunings, stand them up in circles of fencing or hang them in bundles....don't make them eat it off the ground if you can....this spread worms, which are the main pest of goats in damp climates....
 
Deborah Niemann
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Lots of great info on here already! On the subject of hoof trimming, there is a huge genetic component to this. I have some lines that need trimming every month or two and some that are fine every six months. You have to watch their hooves. Certainly if they have rough terrain to climb on, that will help. In fact, what I see is that some goat hooves obviously wear down easier than others. The ones that need trimming more often are thicker.

A lot of researchers are saying that the reason goats seem to have so many problems with internal parasites is because we've forced them to become grazers when they have always been browsers throughout history. Their guts are not usually as resistant to worms as sheep and cattle. We also have sheep and cattle on our farm, and the only deworming they've ever needed are some ewes after lambing when they're 8+ years old.

I have been breeding for parasite resistance in my goats, which is pretty much unheard of. But when goat shopping, I'd suggest asking potential sellers about their deworming protocol and find someone who is only deworming when necessary so they can tell you which goats are the most resistant -- who needs to be dewormed the least often.
 
Justin Koenig
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Excellent info thank you. So in regards to slaughter, at what weight or week or year or years do you typically butcher? To borrow from the another livestock animal the pig ( totally aware it's a different beast and different marbling, fats, etc) but most old timers here think you have to slaughter most animals young to be "tender " but some of the older animals are much better for curing, charcuterie, or just a better flavor. We all know some of the high production models of big ag has commandeered flavor in order to cut feed and have higher turn around, so with that in mind, when are goats prime for butcher? Thanks. Again really great stuff here.
 
Deborah Niemann
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I personally would stick with young goats. We butchered a 6-month-old one time, and it was amazing! The tenderloin was like veal. We once butchered some 5 to 7 year old wethers, and we tried preparing the meat three different ways, and all gave us horrible indigestion and gas that lasted for hours. My butcher said that you have to have an acquired taste for older sheep or goat, and I'd agree. Someone else bought some wethers from me and later sold one as meat, and the customer raved about how it was the most delicious and most tender goat he'd ever had. I'm pretty sure that the goat he'd had before was older. Most of the goat in this country is imported, so who knows how old it is.
 
Justin Koenig
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Thanks again Deborah. 6 months sure helps from a marketable and management standpoint.
 
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