Goats are complicated animals. They are not lawn mowers, don't cope with stress well..They get sick easy and die fast. They need quality, clean, mold free food, hay and loose minerals, not blocks, they are not garbage eaters! They need to be checked daily for worm load, cysts, injuries and need frequent hoof trims. Goats are not something you buy, throw in your back yard and hope they do well. Goats need at least one other goat buddy, protection against weather and predators including the family dogs! ( are you willing to re-home your dog if needed?) Goats need you to have medicine and emergency treatments on hand, because once you see them sick..their is likely no time to go shopping. Goats will need you to reinforce fences, clean up garbage, debris and rusty metal or wire as well as remove all ornamental plants trees and shrubs that can be toxic to them, even if its not in their pen, because they will get out and end up in your yard!! You will need to walk their pasture and check for toxic plants. Vacations are a thing of the past unless you have a trustworthy Hand to take over while your gone, and we all know, no one will do as good a job as you! Leaving the home for more then a few hours is risky...If they dump their water over or drink a full bucket...If one gets stuck in the fence...heat stroke is deadly, cold brutal and predators opportunists. And what about the goats? Well. Bucks pee on themselves and each other and stink, Does scream bloody murder when in heat, they can bump you, ram you, jump on you if not trained well, get their head stuck in fences ( and if horned you almost always have to cut the fence!). Goat can be mean to each other, bashing to the point of death! Not to mention they live for 10-12 years and longer! There are several reasons why you don't want a goat. Be sure you understand each one BEFORE you dive in. While this may sound exaggerated, its not. This is life with goats, you should never get goats on a whim. Goats are amazing animals..I can not imagine my life with out at least a few..but they are not for everyone. Be sure what you are getting into.
So you still want goats? With all their challenges, there are many joys. Goats can provide milk, meat and fiber. They can make wonderful pets. Clean up brush, and make you smile with their antics. You want to do your best for them, so be prepared, plan a head... Before you bring them home:
*Read all our Files!!
*Find a mentor that is successful
*Prepare a shelter...enough to get out of rain and wind..does not need to be closed in, often 3 sided shed placed correctly work. Make sure bucks have their own pens..
*Scout the pens for toxic plants and weeds
*Clean up the area of all wood, nails, wire, string, plastic etc..
*Place feeders for feed and loose minerals off the ground
* Water buckets should be shallow and easy to clean
* Build or purchase hay basket * Check fencing..no holes small enough squares that heads can get through..especially if you choose goats with horns!
* Begin to build your medicine chest with emergency supplies
* Get several thermometers!!
* Purchase tools you need, like hoof trimmers, brushes etc...
* Have ready, loose minerals, feed pellets if needed and quality hay and alfalfa source
Once you are ready, know what you want out of the goats, study the different breeds, the pros and cons to know what appeals to you and fulfills that need. To help avoid problems, buy from respected breeders who have proven tested herds, see the whole herd and farm..avoid sale barns, which are disease infested. Buy the very best you can afford, and get at least 2. Unless a pet is your goal, don't start off with a buck! If a pet, wether him as soon as he's old enough ( 3-6 months old). Bucks should not run with the ladies, so he will need a companion wether or other buck and his own shelter and pen..Remember they can breed through a fence line so have space between the buck pen and the does' pen. Have your goat mentor help you find a trustworthy source and to look at the animal before you buy. When you start with healthy animals..you have a better chance at success. If you choose bottle babies...please know how to feed them properly. Feeding all they want is a death sentence, don't end your goat career before you even begin, read our bottle feeding file.
Oops, I put the cart before the horse and got my goats before I had anything ready!! This happens all too often and nothing we can do but move forward. Don't wait until you need a thermometer or antibiotics to get them on hand! Make the shelter, safe pen , ( free from debris and toxic plants); meds, thermometer and hay/alfalfa priority. Every chance you get..read a few files.