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I need a crash course in goats: I've got 6 days to learn  RSS feed

 
Craig Dobbson
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A friend of mine has a small hobby farm and we often trade animals and plants with them.  Yesterday I gave them a Polish chicken that I didn't have the room for.  In return I was told that they have an adult female goat that they were looking to re-home.  I said:  I'LL TAKE IT!  Now I need to learn about goats. 

I've got 6 acres of scrubby happy goat browse and plenty of time for whatever attention she needs.  I was hoping to be able to keep her in the same paddock shift system with my chickens.  It's electric net fencing 4ft tall and roughly 6000 volts.  She's a small goat with her shoulders being only at about 2.5 feet high.  Could she jump the fence

Realizing that I'm just jumping into this, I do have a lot of experience with other animals (pigs, chickens, rabbits, ducks and more).  So I'm not a novice with animals... Just goats. 

I'm hoping all of you great permie people could fill me in of some of the details in goat care.  Tell me everything that you think I should know.  Resources would be great too. 

Thanks everyone! 
 
Travis Johnson
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Well you are already making a serious mistake; a goat is a companion animal and it really needs to be with another goat or she will be stressed her entire stay with you. Another mistake is getting an animal before you are really ready.

My advice to is to kindly decline the offer until you have really studied what it takes to raise goats and ensure you have their needs met before they arrive. Even with people who have done this, the average tenure of a goat farm is only 3 years because of the nature of them. What that means is, statistically people get into goats and then back out of them really quickly because they are not prepared for their upkeep. You are already starting with three strikes against you on this.

I have sheep and I planned for 9 months how I was going to make everything work out, and since then...9 years later now...the only time I have run into trouble is when I failed to follow my own farm plan. My wife and I talked about this very subject yesterday about a friend who never had a true farm plan in mind, just seizing opportunity upon opportunity, and because of that, never got anywhere. He had no destination, no plan, just worked hard and went down rabbit trail after rabbit trail with no success. I would hate to see you do likewise.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Thank you for responding Travis.  I should have been clearer.  I'm not intending to do anything further with this goat than let her eat all of the food that she can manage from the fields.  My fields are full of ticks (way too many) and I don't have the time to mow all of it to resolve the issue.  I figured a goat would be a good first step in that direction.   If it works out, I'll certainly consider adding other goats.  My next door neighbor is a goat breeder, so I'm sure I could pick one or more up quickly.  In an ideal world I would be getting multiple goats and would be setting up a breeding program.  For that, I would certainly take a lot more time to plan out everything.  In this case, it's more like I'm helping out a friend who needs a home for an already lonely older goat and I'll be getting the brush cut at the same time.  I've got more land, more time and access to other goats is just next door, so while it's not ideal, it's a start.   

Do you think if I put fake horns on my dog that it'll fool the goat into thinking she's got a buddy?
maremma-sheep-dog.jpg
[Thumbnail for maremma-sheep-dog.jpg]
I can be goat friend
 
Judith Browning
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it's more like I'm helping out a friend who needs a home for an already lonely older goat and I'll be getting the brush cut at the same time.


This is pretty much what we've just done except with a miniature donkey.  Our living conditions are many steps up from his past life and still not ideal, just much better.  He is lonely, I know, for companions, but well fed and for us, it is temporary until he has gained some weight and not malnourished anymore.

We never were 'ready' for goats, just like we were never 'ready' for children (don't tell my sons) ...so many things pop up along the way that we weren't ready for, you just do your best with the information that you have and learn along the way.
I think goat fencing was our greatest challenge.  Depending on how content your single goat is, she might test the limits of your fence and if your dog isn't used to goats that might also be a problem.  I suspect, though, that she will be happy to just hang out and eat your brush as long as it lasts.
 
Craig Dobbson
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The dog is a Maremma Sheep Dog, so I'm in the clear with him.  He loves other animals, as long as I let him know which ones are friends.  He only ever chases predators or pests- he's never killed anything- although he does raid fox dens and coyote kills for the meat that they save for later.  There are so many bones hidden all over my place... so many bones.  lol  He can jump over 4 ft electric fence, so I may find him cuddling with the goat if I'm not watching him.  He already jumps over fences to check on the chickens when they start clucking too much.  It's probably because he was born on a permie farm with sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys and ducks that he's so friendly with farm animals and kids. Human kids.  The goat is also used to being near dogs as the current owner has a couple of labs.  So, fingers crossed, things will go alright on that front. 

You're right about it being a better situation for all the parties involved.  It's certainly not perfect but there's a good chance for a better future so I figured I take a leap and make the effort.  It'll be a good learning opportunity at the least. 
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Your dog will be looked at as a companion by the goat if you work with the dog to be the LGD, shouldn't be hard since that breed is LGD.

Just "mowing the grass" isn't going to do much as tick control, guinea fowl are tick control as are some chickens.

Don't fret over it, the dog and goat will most likely become grand friends once the know each other.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Thanks Bryant

I've got a multi-part strategy for the tick issue.  I've got some barn cats on the way, to take care of the rodents (field mice and voles).  The dog takes care of scaring most of the deer, rabbits, chipmunks, foxes, coyotes, fisher cats, porcupines, woodchucks and squirrels.  I've got chickens working the wood edge, so that's covered.  DE all around the house and essential oils on the clothes of the kids to keep the ticks away from the house.  Guinea fowl will be in the mix at some point I guess.  I just have to tighten up the boarders so that they do their job where it counts.  I'm also not sure how much noise I can tolerate from them.   I'm not a fan of loud animals early in the morning.  Especially screaching ones.  LOL

The dog is a big baby and I kind of feel like he'd love to have a goat friend.  Currently he's focused on watching the spring chicks during the day and chasing a fox and her kits in the evening.  I think it's more of a game to the whole bunch of them. It's pretty silly to watch actually.

The dog is bigger than the goat but otherwise they look pretty much the same...   Four legs, white, calm attitudes and always friendly.  They probably will get along just fine.

My understanding is that the goat is really friendly, almost to the point of being annoying.  That's good I guess.
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Goats can become "pests" LOL, super friendly ones might look at you bent over as a "king of the mountain" invite.
The goat sounds like it will be very happy to have a canine friend to play with and with the dog bigger than the goat, the dog stands a chance.

Always good to have a multi layer strategy for ticks, we are still building ours.

Our rooster is far noisier than the guinea fowl are. Good thing we don't mind the noises I suppose, we have black copper marans and Mr. Roo is quite the noisy fellow as he watches over his girls.

Good luck and best wishes with the goat.

Redhawk
 
Craig Dobbson
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Bryant RedHawk wrote: super friendly ones might look at you bent over as a "king of the mountain" invite.
Redhawk


LOL  

First rule of homestead: Don't bend over in front of the animals.  It never goes well.   

Thankfully this is a small goat, and from what I understand she's more playful than forceful (kind of like the dog). This seems like a reasonable challenge given what I've already accomplished.

We'll see. 
 
Hans Quistorff
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I haven't been reading for a while so I suppose you have the goat now. Because goats eat high and chickens eat low, it should be a good combination. You mh wind up with stubble in the middle So I recommend being prepared to mow that down when you move the paddock.
Goats do like a companion and if there is no one else they will demand it of you. Being white it is possibly a saanen and they have the quietest disposition. If the chickens have become acclimated to the guard dog then they will probably adapt to the goat. In fact if the goat is in the habit of scratching a bed before laying down to chew her cud they would love that.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Looks like I'll be waiting an extra week for the goat.  I had an unexpected surgical procedure earlier in the week, so instead of prepping my new goat area, I'm healing and waiting for my leg to stop feeling like I've been shot.  I've got some extra time to get ready I guess. 
 
Liz Hoxie
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I agree with Travis; politely DECLINE the gift. This may be a problem animal if they are willing to GIVE her away. You're in for a world of problems even if she isn't. If you're determined to go through with this, AT LEAST get a a wether.
 
Taylor Cleveland
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I have 2 old nannies that my husband talked me into getting when we purchased our sheep. They do super well in electric fencing. I was reluctant to take them home at first but I'm glad we got them. They are handy for clearing. Wherever we have a weed/vine/brush problem we just set up an electric fence that they eat away. We are actually planning on putting them on rotation with our chickens. They are in electric fencing as well. We have really uneven land and there are always a few spots a fox could probably slip under. I think the goats are going to help be a larger presence around the fox. I know of a few people who have had success moving the goats with chickens for predator control as well. Ours have horns and have never had a problem with them getting stuck in poultry fencing. I actually called the fencing company to see if the goats would be ok in the poultry fencing, they said its even safer than the goat for them as far as predators go (i say this because a lot of people discouraged me putting goats in poultry net). I have also noticed that goats eat a lot slower than our sheep, which could be a good thing for you if your not wanting to move them as often. 
Thats all the info I got, not sure if any of it was helpful!
 
Dawna Clephas
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I once saw a post from a fellow decrying his "worthless goat".

My position:  If you're not a vegetarian, a goat is NEVER worthless!!  (Think coconut curry...)

Note-- I play mom to 15 dairy goats.  My horse fencing is a trivial challenge to the capricious capricorns, so I've resigned myself to doing without hostas, daylilies, azaleas, lilacs, tulips.....they're less important than my critters. 
 
Katie Jarvis
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Can you just pick up a free mini pygmy wether somewhere to be her friend? One more tiny goat won't cost you anything more to maintain, and they'll be so much happier. There are always free wethers around
 
Craig Dobbson
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Update:   the goat has come and gone.  She spent a little time with us and then moved into a much better situation with some other goats.  The basics gist of it was that she was stuck in a place where she was unable to wean her kids due to the housing set up.  She came here and had a few pretty stressful days while she dried up, but once that was over and the pressure was off of her teats, she chilled out and just went about eating and "playing" with the dog and human kids. She was super friendly and always happy to play.  After about ten days we found her a better situation with other goats and no mothering responsibilities.  And that... was that.

She's chilling out doing goat stuff at a  better spot than ever before and we're back to the status quo.  I learned a few things about goats that make me consider getting a  tiny herd of tiny goats in the future. 

Right now I'm just happy that it worked out for everyone... short lived as it was. 
 
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