Have you been thinking about getting some goats? Fear not, it’s not as hard as it seems. I have some goat keeping tips to share with you today.
If this ex city girl can take care of four goats and keep them in one piece, you probably can, too.
But first, there are a few things to know about before you bring those cute goats home. If you’re curious, our four goats are Nigerian Dwarves. They supposedly make a good amount of milk for their small size, and have really sweet personalities. I’d say they are much sweeter than my four dogs, who can be really obnoxious. We haven’t bred them yet, and the girls only make milk after being bred, so we haven’t made any cheese. Breeding and milking might be a future post.
The whole animal thing around here started off with the chickens. The gateway animal. Then we got some more dogs, various bunnies and rodents, and of course, goats were the next stop on the slippery slope of animal husbandry. Lily is joining 4H this year and wants to raise a steer. We’ll see!
- Make sure you build a sturdy fence around where the goats will live. Make the posts on the outside of the fence so the goats don’t rub on it so much that it gets loose and comes out of the ground. They love to rub up against things. And be prepared to often fix problem with the fence. They will often keep working on and head butting a section until it’s bent.
- You need space. Goats need plenty of space to roam around. We have about a half an acre of fenced yard out back under our oak trees. We let them out in the morning and they play all day. We also let the chickens out with them. They all get along quite well. I’d love to give the goats the entire 3 acre property to roam in, but there are still some areas they can get out of, and I don’t want them trampling the gardens. They do also need some structures to climb around on. We have a ladder that goes up to an old playhouse that they love to go in.
- You need a secure structure to keep them locked up at night. Goats are gentle and perfect prey for coyotes and mountain lions. We converted our kids’ old rickety play structure into a goat house by adding doors with secure latches and grating to the windows. We added little feeding troughs to the inside to give them their oats , which they love to eat at bedtime.
- Once you decide what types of goats you will buy, you’ll need to have the baby males dehorned by a vet or othe experienced goat person. Otherwise they can do serious damage to each other. They love butting up against each other when they play.
- Dairy breeds: Nubian, La Mancha, Alpine, Oberhasli, Toggenburg, Saanen, Sable, and Nigerian Dwarf goats. We have Nigerian dwarves.
- Meat breeds: Spanish, Tennessee, Boer, and Kiko goats. Which you won’t be buying if you’re not interested in raising goats to sell at market or eat.
- Fancy-pants breeds that produce fibers for fabric: Angora and Cashmere goats. Cool for you knitters and weavers.
- Pet only breeds: Pygmy and Fainting goats. Cute little guys…
- If you keep male goats, make sure to have them neutered. An unneutered male goat can become aggressive and start to go after the other goats in the herd. Leave the breeding to professional goat breeders.
- Be careful with snacks. Goats aren’t like chickens, who can eat most anything. Their stomachs, or rumens, are quite sensitive, and they also don’t know when enough is enough. One of the goats once over did at his last home and ate an entire watermelon that was left out, and his stomach became so extremely bloated a vet had to be called in. He was OK, but they thought he was a goner for awhile there. Goats also don’t like to eat anything that has been on the ground an I actually find mine to be quite picky when it comes to trying new things.
- Which brings me to the major point that goats are HERD animals, not domesticated pets, as cute as they are,, and need to be around other goats, so if you don’t have room to keep a few together, don’t get any. They can die of loneliness. and the company of a human isn’t the same as the company of another goat. Our neighbor across the road had a lone goat they kept tied to a rope. The poor thing cried day and night. and yes, it actually cried like a baby human. All day. We once were tempted to go and cut the rope but there was no fence so the poor goat would have probably gotten run over by a car if we had.
- What our goats eat: Our goats eat Timothy hay in the morning. We put a big slice into their main feeder outside, and then in the evening we give them a large scoop of oats which we put into their separate feeders that we installed in their bedrooms. they love going to bed at night because they know they’ll be getting their favorite thing, oats! We also give them a few snacks. Bolted lettuce from the garden, a banana peel, and ginger snaps from Trader Joe’s, their favorite. They also will need a fresh supple of water and a mineral block to lick.
- Goats hate to get wet. Goats do not do well in wet, swampy areas. You need to provide them with ample dry shelter and dry paddocks or pasture before you bring goats onto your property. which isn’t too hard here in southern California but we do have the shelter we put them in when it occasionally rains.
- Goats are true creatures of habit and like to be let out and put to bed at the same time everyday. So someone always needs to be home. Or on call.
- Baby goats are kids. Un-neutered males are bucks, females are does. Neutered males are wethers.
This structure is really cool. Jim, who we bought the goats from, built it of pallets. It’s perfect for feeding them their hay.
I know I’ve been posting sewing only posts lately, and you’re probably wondering why the heck I’m writing about goats . I’m getting a little burned out on sewing so much, and then my machines were in the shop for over two weeks. I’ve been working on a dress for about two weeks now, and making lots of dumb mistakes, so that’s a sign I need to slow down on sewing. We’re doing a major home renovation as well, so my creative energies are going toward that. So I’ll be posting a bit more about DIY and homesteading things. Hopefully I can get back to a regular sewing schedule when the kids go back to school .