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Goats in the Tropics

 
David MacKenzie
Posts: 10
Location: Big Island of Hawaii
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Hi Deborah,
I am considering working goats into a rotation with cattle and chickens on the Big Island of Hawaii. We are very small scale, with about 3.5 acres to rotate through, but the recovery time is pretty dang quick here. Only looking to work 3-4 dairy cows and laying chickens...question is how many goats would with that type of rotation (cow/goat/chicken)?

Also, would like to know best sources for dealing with health issues in the humid tropics.

Thanks for sharing your expertise here.
David
 
Deborah Niemann
Posts: 72
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Aloha! We lived in Hawaii in 1990-93 when my husband was in the Navy.

Excellent idea to do multi-species grazing! You will get a lot more out of your acreage by doing that because the goats will eat things that the cows and chickens ignore. Also, they all have different species of parasites, so you will have fewer parasite problems. For example, the cows will eat the grass that have the goat parasite larvae on it, and the worms will die inside the cow because it's a foreign host. In terms of parasites, it's better to keep the species separate in a leader-follower program, such as goats, cows, then chickens. You do the chickens last because they'll eat the fly larvae on the poop, so you'll have fewer fly problems.

You could have a lot of goats on 3.5 acres mixed with cows, if there are a lot of small trees and bushes. If it's just grass, then not so many. I always suggest starting small and then increasing if it looks like the land can handle it -- as well as you! You might start with two cows and 3-4 goats and a couple dozen chickens. Not sure if you want meat or dairy goats, but in either case, you'll be breeding them annually, and babies are so cute, you'll want to keep them all, so no one has trouble growing a herd. Cutting back, however, can be challenging.

Hope this helps!
 
David MacKenzie
Posts: 10
Location: Big Island of Hawaii
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Thanks for the quick response Deborah. A further thought, since I am planning on a mob-grazing approach using polymer enclosures on small plots, with daily moves, is there value in "bonding" the goats to the cows, to cut down on wandering, if that works? That way the goats and cows would then be mixed. And to clarify, we have basically grass over that parcel. I will be dividing it with treed swales, and plan to add some forage species to supplement the paddocks, but the goats would be primarily on grass.
 
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