by Lylah Ledner
I get asked often questions about goats and raising goats and what I do, so I thought I'd do a VERY LITTLE post on a few of the things that matter to me in caring for goats. Before I digress, you MUST know I am NO expert and OFTEN consult, as a quick question of goat owner friends who know WAY more than I do. That being said, IF you are getting a few goats - I'd suggest you also get a mentor/coach. The world of goat people is one of the best.
MY ADVICE IF YOU WANT TO HAVE GOATS - JUST SOME BASICS
#1 - Remember, they are livestock. Remember, they are DAIRY ANIMALS which means they are ruminants and it's not true that goats eat ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. They are picky. When a goat overeats, they can get sick. When a goat eats the wrong kind of forage, they can get sick. A sick goat stinks. You can lose them. I had two goats that broke through a gate and ate from a plum tree. Stone fruit tends to make goats sick. Mine got so sick and the treatment to bring them back and normalize their rumens was a nightmare. It took constant injections several times a day. Goats are browsers not grazers like sheep.
#2 - Fencing. Fencing. Gates and Gates. Housing. Adequate housing. Goats need to be protected from their own curious nature. They need to be protected from predators and they need to be protected from the elements of rain, snow, intense heat, etc. Different goat owners, depending on their herd management style will have different opinions on what all that looks like. I have learned that I listen to my older/wiser friends - I ask questions and then I put that info through the grid of MY farm and space that I have. You don't always know - except through trial and error and more trial and error what system works best. Trust me, we have thought a system worked, and then something would happen that we had to step back and reconfigure things a bit.
#3 - Each breed of goat will offer you a little something different. I have owned several breeds and just happen to LOVE the Nubian.
#4 - Plan on making $$$ initial investments of "stuff" before you get your goats.
meds, antibiotics, syringes, hoof trimmers, feeding racks, mineral supplies, baking soda (do NOT be WITHOUT baking soda ever!), buckets, watering systems, shade systems if no trees exist, straw or sand for bedding. Caprine Supply is one of my favorites along with Jeffers Livestock.
#5- Read up on goats from forums like - Goat Wisdom and Fiasco Farm (one of my main "go-to places"). Connect with other "goat people" who will be willing to talk your through any issues - you'll definitely need this when it comes time for kidding - if you breed. You always need back up support if something goes wrong.
#6 - Get ready for kids. Our first goats came from Black Mesa Ranch and they have taken an amazing amount of time making sure all who purchase their kids do it well. Connect with other goat owners/breeders in your community/state. It's invaluable what you can learn from and share with each other.
#7 Definitely read Goat Song by Brad Kessler here. It's his love story with goats.
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by Lylah Ledner
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