An attempt to declare the Glory of God for what He has chosen to do with our lives. A legacy to leave to my children in the telling of it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Little Bit of Goat Wisdom

As a fellow blogger I am sure you all know how fun it is to get comments. It always makes me smile for the entire day to receive comments from the regular readers who feel more like friends but to find out there are all those lurkers out there, too, tickles me pink. Recently Mali asked me a question about the goats and since I am never quite sure if my email reply goes through or not I thought I would post the answer here, too, in case anybody else is interested:
"Hi there! I'm a long-time lurker, rare commenter, but I've got some goat questions for you. We're thinking of getting some goats - primarily for clearing land. Do you have any luck getting yours to eat brush and weeds? How much barn space do you recommend? Do you have trouble with them escaping? Thanks!!!! "
My response with the little bit of wisdom I have learned while trying my hand at raising goats the last four years:
Yes, goats love brush and weeds. Goats like to eat up rather than eating off of the ground. They do eat grass and pasture but they prefer brush and especially leaves, etc., that they have to climb or reach for. It would be good to do a web search about plants that are poisonous for goats and check out your area to be cleared before you put them in there just to make sure.

The best goat fencing advice that I have heard is that if the fence will hold water it should hold goats! I never quite understood that until we got goats, but it's almost true! Goats do like to escape for some reason, and they are a herd animal, so where one goes they all go. Ideally a nice, high woven fence will hold them in. We did have ours in a fence that had a calf panel and 2 strands of barbless wire stretched across one side that they stayed in pretty good. If need be they could sneak through even that so ideally a 4 foot minimum fence and/or electric fence would be best. We have tried staking the goats out but they don't do well with ropes~ they are certainly little Houdini's. Another thought to keep in mind is that goats are easy prey out in the wild. We have alot of coyotes and wolves in our area so our goats are kept pretty close to the barn unless we are out with them. In the future (when our goat pastures are complete) we will probably look at getting a full time guard dog to protect them.

Goats don't need alot of barn space. They do not like to be wet so they do need something to protect them from the elements, it doesn't have to be anything fancy. They handle winters fairly well but do need a shed that offers some protection. Goats are very susceptible to pneumonia and once you notice the signs of them being sick they are usually deathly sick. If allowed they are content to stay inside of a shed rather than venturing out into the open unless they can only eat outside.

As much as the belief is that goats will eat anything it just isn't true. They are actually a bit picky and unless their pasture is rotated they can easily get very sick with parasite infestations. Be sure to watch their body condition close to make sure they are getting enough of the right things to eat if they are only clearing brush and weeds. Plus make sure there a good loose mineral supplement available.
We love our goats! For most people there is no in between~ either you like goats or you don't. We mainly keep our goats for the pleasure of having them and also milk them to raise calves, make goats milk soap and some cheese, and the enjoyment and sales of the kids. Good luck on your goat adventure! Terri


the canned quilter said...

I love goats! Would so love to have them but O Wise One doesn't want to spend his retirement " fixing fences" ! So I live my goat fantasies vicariously through your and rebecca's blog ( :

~Tonia said...

Great post! We use electric fence here and as long as the goats are trained to it Electric works well.. You cant just throw the fence up and expect them to respect it right off.
And yes they are very picky eaters.. Well most of them some I think are actually little piglets in goats clothing.Lol

Sonja said...

Great info! We hope to get some goats some day too so this was very valuable!