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Thursday, February 26, 2009

For the love of GOAT!

It was requested that I write up a tutorial for goat neophytes. Not sure about a tutorial, but I can give you a basic run down of being a goat herder.

By now you all know that goats are quite handy to have around a homestead. They are used for milk, meat, fiber, lawn mowers and companions.

There are more than 200 goat breeds out in the world, I can't cover them all (I could, but than I might bore myself to tears)

Meat goats to look at;

Boers, Kiko and Spanish (more info on these and others here)

Milk goats;

Alpines, La Mancha, Nubian, Saanen ( more info here)

Fiber Goats;

Angora, Cashmere, ( having a difficult time finding a link to fiber goats, I know there are more out there like the pygora)

There are lots of mixed breeds out there as well. Some mutts do just fine, like my Nubian/ Alpine mix. Do a little research, don't take a breeders word that their breed is the best, and decide what breed or breeds would be best for you and your family.

Now that you know what breed you want, how many of them do you need? When it comes to dairy goats, you want 1 per person to fill all your dairy needs. Meat goats you are looking at 35-60 lbs of meat per goat. How many of those you want to butcher is up to you and your families taste.

What to ask;

When answering an ad for a goat, there are some things to ask.

If you don't know already, ask what breed it is.

How old?

Is she Bred?

Yes? To what type of goat?

Has she kidded before?

How many kids did she have?

How long has she been milking and what is her temperament when being milked? (ask if you can see her milked)

How many teats does she have, and how much milk does she give?

Is she an escape artist? Easy to catch?

Does she bite? Butt?

Udder health? (tumors/abscesses)

Has she been tested for TB or Bruccelloisis? Can I get that in writing? (those are rare in goats)

If you can watch her being milked, check the stripping and see how the milk looks. No strings, clots, blood. (blood can happen if she has recently kidded, and hadn't been milked for awhile before hand. Test for mastitis anyway)

Remember that goats can be hard on one another. New goats will be mistreated by your established herd, but usually will get along over time. If you have a sick goat, separate it out. The other's might not allow her to eat.

Goats should get 1/4 acre each. Check your fencing, the height should be no less than 4 1/2 feet in height (although they have been known to clear a 6 ft fence) Wrap any trees you wish to keep in chicken wire. Keeping them well fed should keep them in their pens, but sometimes they will get out, just 'cuz. Make sure your fence doesn't lean, that there isn't a step up too close, and that there isn't a vertical gap greater than 14 inches and no horizontal gap greater than 8 inches. Solid wood fences (like privacy fences) work well. Make sure the "bark" side is facing out. If they can get a hold of it, they will destroy it. They can loosen up just about any nail.

Goats don't need anything fancy for shelter, just something to get them out of the wet. Goats are hardy, as long as the shelter is draft free, they will be fine in the cold. However if your temps drop lower than 20F below, a heat lamp is a good idea.

Lots of fresh water, and a mixture of grass, hay and grains for feed. Goats need a variety of food stuff, including vegetables. Do not give them any chicken layer mash, it could be fatal. Goats are actually very finicky about their food. I know it doesn't seem like it, as my Mother had a goat that ate nuts and bolts. Goats will nibble on everything, just to taste. Grain should be fed 1 lb to every 3 lbs of milk produced.

That would be the basics for starters. I will cover more on goats tomorrow. Any questions so far?

Dog just came into the house!!!!oh ohoh! He has been sprayed by a skunk!!!!


Carolyn Evans-Dean said...

Good information, Phelan...Sorry about the skunk!I don't even know what I would do in that situation. Can you divorce your pet?

Phelan said...

Divorce? More than likely. A good scrubbing in Tomato juice usually works, but so does keeping him outside until it wears off.

SkippyMom said...

This is incredibly informative [you are GOOD!] I am printing it out and saving it in my journal for the one day [fingers crossed] we actually have enough land for a couple of goats.

Thank you!

FarmerGeek said...

Good info, Phelan. The only thing I would add is to make sure that if someone is looking for fiber goats, that they realize that angora goats do not put out angora wool. You get mohair from them. Angora wool comes from angora rabbits.

Other than that, really good post! Do you have any books you would recommend about goat info? (feed types, breed differences, etc.)

Phelan said...

Farmer Geek, angora wool does come from the goats as well, but only up to about a year or so old. Mohair is from adult angora goats, and it is a mix of goat and sheeps wool. The older your goat gets, the less "stretchy" the fiber becomes, and you have to mix it with wool to spin it properly.

Phelan said...

oh, sorry, books? I haven't found any that are indepth about all the breeds. I would talk to a breeder, a good breeder of the breed you want. And hit the library to look at various books. Most are the same info, just worded differently, some better than others.

Gizmo said...

Great information!
I would add to your list of questions - how long is her lactation?? And why?? (I have a couple that milk almost a full year - by my choice.
Also, how often do you worm her, with what and when was the last time??
I'm looking forward to tomorrow's information. :)

Phelan said...

Gizmo, you are right, that is also a good question. a goat will need to freshen every 1-2 years. As for worming, you should ask that as well, because you can't use the milk if the worming happened recently. As for worming yourself, take a look at your fields, if you have signs of dung beetles there is no need to use chemical wormers. The dung beetles take care of infestations, and chemical wormers will kill the beetles, causing you to have to constantly use the chemicals.

We will get more into these topics in future posts.

bauer zoo said...

hi, i'm delurking to tell you to use peroxide, baking soda and dish soap on the dog. mix it together and (i can't remember the amounts sorry) and it will take the smell totally out. our golden got sprayed one night and she smelled so bad it brought tears to my eyes. this totally took the smell away.

Gizmo said...

I forgot to mention - we've starting using copper boluses for the girls that are in milk. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

We do use a chemical wormer - but not more than twice per year, and only on the dry goats.

ChristyACB said...

OMG, you had me laughing out loud when you mentioned the goat eating nuts and bolts. That is so hilarious!

I used to come home with my shirt and shorts all ripped every single time I went to visit this one particular goat. She used to fling me all around! She wasn't mean, she just LOVED children and did not want us to leave.

Goats are the best. Such silly heads.

Great tutorial..more anytime you feel like it...yes, more please.

Celeste said...

ur neighbors goats got out today. They were all over the road. That is a bad thing nowsdays. people are using our road for a shortcut now.

white_lilly said...

Excellent post! I am seriously thinking about getting a couple of goats for milking. What would be a good age? An experience milker or a young one in kid?

Unknown said...

On worming ~ do you have Verm-X over there? I think they were having FDA issues or something last time I asked them. They make wormers for Goats, Poultry, Sheep, Horses, Dogs, Cats, Rabbits & the wormers are 100% natural. I've used it with the poultry, goats & dogs. The goats eat it up in their food & I had to fight the poultry OUT of the worming tub! The dogs like it, as well. Since my last order they've added liquid as well as the pellets for dogs & poultry. Just an idea for those that don't like chemicals. You add the pellets for 3 consecutive days/month for goats & fowl (dogs get a treat a day).

[Note to self: order more asap]

Phelan said...

White Lilly, if you have no experince with milking, I would get one already trained. Trainging isn't difficult, but having a gal that already knows the ropes to begin with, helps out.

Killi, I will look into that.

Anonymous said...

I was hoping you had more info on the problem with layer mash, we came home tonight to find the kids hadn't latched the gate properly, and our boer doe had eaten the chickens ration of layer mash/scratch! Why is it bad? How much is bad? will it also affect her nursing kids (only 4 days old)? Please help!

Phelan said...

Amanda, look at the bag, is it commercial or do you buy it from a local grower? If it is commercial, does it say rations or mash. Scratch isn't a problem. All it is made of is seeds and husks. hopefully you have RATIONS, there is no problem besides bloating with the rations. Some mash uses weeds such as sheep kill that normally a goat would nibble but not eat enough to be lethal. Cicken feed suppliers are not always as picky as goat feed is. A lot of these weeds grow in with the grains.

As for the babies, they should be fine. Mother nature built a wonderful filtering device called breasts :) they might get a little but not enough to kill them.

Watch for bloat. That can be just as lethal. If she is off put by her food and water, I would call a vet.

And congrats on the babies.

I was attempting to find a full list of deadly plants for goats. But I am having trouble finding a good list, unless you know the exact scentific geneology of said plant. But I think she should be fine. Bloated, but fine.

Phelan said...

Here we go, for goats with white fur, there can be problems with some of the following ingredients,

rape, alsike, clover, buckwheat, lantana, St. John's wort. This can caus a sun burning effect that can be lethal.

The following is said to be poisonous to goats (said...because not every goat reacts the same way)

Arrow grass Black Locust Blue Cohosh Broomcarn Buckeye (Horse chestnut) Cherry Choke Cherry Corn Cockle Dogbane Elderberry Hemp Horse Nettle Indian Hemp Ivy Johnson grass Kafir Laurel Leucothoe Lily of the Valley Maleberry Marijuana Milkweeds Milo Nightshade Oleander Rhododendron Sevenbark Silver Sneezewood Sorghum Stagger brush Sudan grass Velvet grass White snakeroot Wild Black Cherry Wild Hydrangea Aconite Allspice Black Snake Root Bloodroot Blue Cohosh Boxwood Celandine Common Poppy Crotalaria Crow Poison Death Camas Dicentra False Hellebore False Jessamine Fume wort Hellebore Hemp Horse Nettle Indian Hemp Indian poke Jimson weed Larkspur Lobelia Lupines Marijuana Monkshood Moonseed Night shade Pink Death Camas Poison Darnel Poison Hemlock Poison rye grass Rattleweed Rock Poppy Spider Lily Spotted cowbane Spotted Water Hemlock Stagger grass Staggerweed Sweet Shrub Thorn Apple Varebells Wild Parsnip Wolfs-bane Yellow Jessamine Baneberry Buttercups Crowfoot Ground Ivy Lobelia Snakeberry Spurge White Cohish Bagpod Coffee weed Purple sesban Rattlebox Soapwort Inkberry Poke weed

Once again, not all goat react badly to all of the above. This is just a general no no list.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Phelan! Daisy doesn't seem to be suffering any ill effects from her great escape yesterday, but tonight I noticed she seems to have an upper respiritory infection-snot nose and sounds raspy. After all my years of raising all kinds of babies, my first goat kids (or should I say thier mother) has me nervous as can be. Hopefully my vet can tell me if I can give her an antibiotic safe for nursing mothers.


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