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Starting out with goats... Need all the help I can get! Goatlovers!!!

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

I'm looking into goats(a pair of boer goat castrated bucks), and I have the following questions:

What do they eat?  How much do they eat?  How much hay would it take to get them through the winter?

What sort of fencing would work for them?  Sheep fencing?

How much water do they need daily?  Can I use a cattle water trough?

What plants are poisonous to goats?

How much space does each goat require?

What are some common health problems?  How can I avoid them?  How can I treat them organically?

Any special minerals I'd need to provide?  Would a cattle salt block do?

I have predators.  Would a horned goat protect itself?

What would prey upon a goat?

What does goat meat go for?

Can a dairy goat be used for brush control?

What else do I have to watch out for?

Thanks, everyone!  I'm new and I want to make the best home for goats possible!


Edited by Skip - 5/14/09 at 6:36am
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post #2 of 24

Check out this site, it will probably answer most of your questions.

http://www.fiascofarm.com/goats/index.htm

post #3 of 24

It's great that you are doing your homework and learning before bringing your new goats home.

After spending a long time reading through FiascoFarms (mentioned above) you need to either buy or borrow from the library a couple of good goat books.  That will also help answer all your questions - you've asked some good ones.


I'm looking into goats(a pair of boer goat castrated bucks), and I have the following questions:

What do they eat?  How much do they eat?  How much hay would it take to get them through the winter?  First, wethers shouldn't get any or at least very much alfalfa hay.  It can lead to UC (Urinary Calculi).  So give a good grass hay for feed.  How much they eat depends on the goats.  I would start by putting out a flake in the morning and see how quickly they go through it.  If there's still some left in the afternoon you can give them less.  Try the same thing at night, give them a flake and see if it's gone in the morning.   Also - no grain or only as a occasional treat.. it also can lead to UC in wethers.


What sort of fencing would work for them?  Sheep fencing?  If the fence can't hold water...  it can't hold a goat.   Well, not really but that's a typical goat saying.   Make a proper fence to begin with - you won't be sorry in the future.  I don't have experience with Boers so I don't know if they are jumpers but all goats will rub and try and push through a fence.  So, a woven wire with small squares/rectangles, etc. would be best. 

How much water do they need daily?  Can I use a cattle water trough?  Goats need access to CLEAN fresh water all the time.   Many goats won't touch water that's been sitting and has hay or dirt in it.  Some will - you will learn by watching your new boys.  I  use buckets that are attached at neck level on the sides of my stalls for my goat water.   That way they can't poop in it (too high) but can easily get to it.   I clean them pretty much daily with a hard brush and rinsing.

What plants are poisonous to goats?   Go online and google that one. 

How much space does each goat require?  The more space you can give them the better.  Goats get bored and a bored goat can get into trouble.  That's one of the reasons you always want two together.   Give them toys to play on (rocks, tree stumps, wooden cable spools, etc.). 

What are some common health problems?  How can I avoid them?  How can I treat them organically?  FiascoFarms will talk about all this and they do treat organically/homeopathically.

Any special minerals I'd need to provide?  Would a cattle salt block do?  Goats NEED minerals and they do the best with loose minerals.   They have a harder time with a solid block although some goats will munch at them if offered.   The loose minerals is a much better idea if you can get it.   They need a good amount of copper so make sure whatever you give them has that in it.

I have predators.  Would a horned goat protect itself?   Goats are prey animals.   They may try to protect themselves but will usually end up on the losing end of any large predator attack.  A horned goat will have more of an advantage but that doesn't mean it will be safe.   Also, think through having a goat with horns.  There's a lot of controversy over horned goats so you need to educate yourself on both sides of the topic and then make the decision that's right for you.  I will just say that I've met and talked with people who've been seriously injured (almost always facial or eye injuries) because their goat just happened to swing it's head at the wrong time.  Nothing mean on the part of the goat... the person was just at the wrong place when the goat threw their head up to see something or whatever.  Young children are certainly a concern around horned goats.

What would prey upon a goat?   Dogs, coyotes and anything larger.

What does goat meat go for?  That's a very localized price - you would need to check with people in your area selling it.

Can a dairy goat be used for brush control?  Goats are much better at brush control than grass eating (yard mowing) and any goat may be great at brush control or not so much.   Some goats seem to mow right through everything and some seem to be pickier about what they eat.  They will certainly help in that area.

What else do I have to watch out for?   Realizing how much you love your goats and ending up with many more! lol

Australorps, Andalusian, Black Sex-link, Brahma, Buff Orps, EE, SS Hamburg, RIR, Red Sex-link, Silkies, Sussex, Welsummer, White Leghorns, Wyandotte and Guineas!
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Australorps, Andalusian, Black Sex-link, Brahma, Buff Orps, EE, SS Hamburg, RIR, Red Sex-link, Silkies, Sussex, Welsummer, White Leghorns, Wyandotte and Guineas!
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post #4 of 24

I think the only question that really went unanswered is the one about the fence.  Goat fence and sheep fence should be the same thing.  Get that.  Then put post every 8 feet or less.  One roll of goat fence (330') is plenty for two goats.  Actually I have 9 in that area and they are not keeping up with the growth.  Boers get big!  Get them young and halter train them right away.  Get sheep halters at your local farm store or TSC.  Handle them every single day!  Boers get big and strong, but if they love you they will not be a problem.  Wethered Boers typically go for more money at a meat auction than any of the other goats.  We just sold a registered buck to a meat breeder and he was shocked at how gentle our boy was.  Our primary focus is dairy, so we want nice goats to milk.  That means everyone else gets tamed down too.  We have three young boers that we are taming right now. 
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DW is telling me to go outside and get my little girl away from her roses...  lau 

Chris

We own a small farm in S.Central Virginia.  With goats, pigs, cows, rabbits, Guineas, Quail, Jacob sheep and plenty of chickens.  We make and sell goat milk soap, body lotions and lip balms.  At the farm we sell eggs for eating and hatching, goats and sheep.   See our Website www.griffinsark.com or visit us on FaceBook Griffin's Ark Animal Page.
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We own a small farm in S.Central Virginia.  With goats, pigs, cows, rabbits, Guineas, Quail, Jacob sheep and plenty of chickens.  We make and sell goat milk soap, body lotions and lip balms.  At the farm we sell eggs for eating and hatching, goats and sheep.   See our Website www.griffinsark.com or visit us on FaceBook Griffin's Ark Animal Page.
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post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip 

I'm looking into goats(a pair of boer goat castrated bucks), and I have the following questions:


Ready, set, go..  lol

What do they eat?  How much do they eat?  How much hay would it take to get them through the winter?


They're browsers by nature -- leaves and weeds -- but boers graze OK, too.  Supplement with hay, and good feed.  Not sheep and goat feed -- GOAT feed.  Sheep feed won't have copper in it, and goats need a little copper. 

Also, make sure the feed has a little added ammonium chloride to disolve urinary calculi..  Bladder stones, basically.  If they get one lodged, they get 'water belly,' which is where their bladder explodes and they die.

Not good.

What sort of fencing would work for them?  Sheep fencing?


I prefer electric, with a good grounding system.  The grounding system is half the fence...do that part right, and you'll eliminate 90% of the problems everyone else has with electric fence.

You can't even see my bottom wire for the weeds and I'm getting 6,000+ volts on the tester.  Our goats respect it tremendously.

How much water do they need daily?  Can I use a cattle water trough?


For two wethers, not so much that you'd need a big giant tank or anything like that...  Throw a short 40gal stock tank out there and you're good for a long time.

What plants are poisonous to goats?


Look here.

How much space does each goat require?


They'll take all you can give, but lots of folks keep them on small dry lots and feed hay and grain only. 

What are some common health problems?  How can I avoid them?  How can I treat them organically?


WORMS.  Goats are really bad about getting heavy worm loads easily.  Boers in particular are also pretty reknown for foot-related problems like rot and scald if you get a lot of rain..  There are a few goat specific diseases like CAE and CL you should be aware of, with CL being probably the most dreaded goat disease out there.  If you get a goat with CL, the best cure for you and every goat owner in your area is about 30gr of hot lead right between the eyes -- and CL is frighteningly common.

Any special minerals I'd need to provide?  Would a cattle salt block do?


We put out regular old loose mineral..  They don't make too much use of it, but they do sometimes. 

Ask other goat people in your area whether or not they supplement with Selenium..  Selenium (med name is "Bo-Se") is important, and lots of places in the US are deficient.

I have predators.  Would a horned goat protect itself?


It would try, but fail spectacularly.  We have a big livestock guardian dog.

What would prey upon a goat?


Around here, coyotes, but basically anything bigger than a goat that eats meat.

What does goat meat go for?


Depends on the time of year..  You can find market reports and prices for your area here , if you drill down a little..  Look for "market news" or something like that.. 

Can a dairy goat be used for brush control?


Absolutely.

What else do I have to watch out for?


What's coming next.  That's the best I can do for ya -- especially when it comes to goats.  smile

post #6 of 24

I'm a little pressed for time so I havent read the other responses, so bear with me if I'm repeating what someone else has already said.

I'm looking into goats(a pair of boer goat castrated bucks), and I have the following questions:

What do they eat?  How much do they eat?  How much hay would it take to get them through the winter?

Goats are mixed feeders, NOT strictly browsers, like most people think. They eat grass, weeds, leaves, bark, shrubs etc. They also enjoy fruit and vegetables. Wethers really dont need any grain if they are just pets, though a handful each per day is a good treat - use a horse grain, that wont get them over fat, but make sure the calcium to phosphorus ratio is 2:1, nothing under that. On the other hand, if you want to grow them out to put in the freezer, I would give them at least a cup each per day of good calf rearer pellets, at least 16% protein but preferably 18 - 20%. As far as hay, they dont need alfalfa, its a waste of money with wethers and can cause problems also. Give them a grassy hay or cereal hay - my favourite is wheaten hay but see what you can get in your area. I generally budget roughly 2 large biscuits of hay per goat (from a small square), if you know roughly how many large biscuits in a bale you can figure out how many you need for winter. Alternatively, I would give them 2kg of hay each per day, if you know how heavy the bales are again you can figure roughly how much you need. You may have to scale these rough figures up or down depending on the size, age and condition of the guys.

What sort of fencing would work for them?  Sheep fencing?

yes, sheep fencing (woven wire) is fine, all my goats stay within sheep fencing, I rarely have one get out. I have both horned and dehorned goats, and I only have a stuck head once every few months.

How much water do they need daily?  Can I use a cattle water trough?

Yes, you can use a cattle trough, ideally they would have ad lib water available at all times, but if that cant be done, I would water them morning and night, or only once a day is fine too. How much they drink will depend on the weather, hot or cold, how much they eat, what type of things they eat, how much exercise they get etc. If you ever intend to breed, dont use a cattle trough for does and kids, I have seen does birthing, drop kids straight into the trough, and also older kids lose their balance and fall in. Not pretty.

What plants are poisonous to goats?

do a google search on this one, there are plenty of compiled lists that surpass what I can give you off the top of my head. The few that spring to mind immediately are rhododendren, azalea, oleander, but there are many more

How much space does each goat require?

as much as you can give him, but if you are pen feeding really they can live in quite a small space - basically if you were pen feeding, two wethers could live quite happily in a standard horse stall, you'd need to let them out every day or every few days, for a bit of a run around. More space is preferable, but honestly they dont need a huge area.

What are some common health problems?  How can I avoid them?  How can I treat them organically?

common health problems with wethers - top of the list would be urinary calculi - prevent it by not feeding grain, not feeding alfalfa, and provide them with a stone block (ammonium chloride). Treatment - removal of urethral process or perineal urethrostomy. Bloat and scours from unbalanced diet - prevent by giving plenty of rough hay. Treat bloat by drenching with oil, scours by giving rough ray and electrolytes, probiotics etc. Grass seeds in eyes - leads to pink eye - difficult to prevent - remove grass seed at first notice, lot of the times if you get to it early you dont need to treat with antibiotics, but in advanced cases you do. Pneumonia is another one to consider. Make sure you are up to date on vaccinations for clostridial diseases. De-worm regularly.

Again, do a search, it will be far more comprehensive than I can give you off the top of my head.

If you want to go organic, then so be it. Just dont let the animal suffer just to uphold your organic status. If your organic remedies dont work, bite the bullet and either treat it conventionally or euthanase it.


Any special minerals I'd need to provide?  Would a cattle salt block do?

you should be able to get goat minerals, either block or loose. I prefer blocks. Make sure the mix has copper in it - my goat block doesnt so I add a copper block. I also give a calcium block but you shouldnt need that unless you have breeding does. Also for wethers, you should provide a stone block (ammonium chloride)

I have predators.  Would a horned goat protect itself?

Depends what your predators are, and how big the goats are. Small predators shouldnt bother them if they are already grown out. If they are still babies you should watch out.

What would prey upon a goat?

I can only tell you what we have here in Australia, and the list includes foxes, wild dogs, wild pigs, birds of prey, crows, occasionally a goanna. Most of the time, predators go for new babies.

What does goat meat go for?

Again, Australian prices etc. We sell wethers between 12 and 16kg carcase weight, and get $3.50/kg and upwards on the domestic market. We also sell cull does and bucks, and larger wethers, on the export market (the meat ends up in the US) and they can be any weight (minimum carcase weight 10kg), they get between $1 and $2.50/kg. But they are just culls. The domestic market wethers get cut up much like lamb, into roasts, chops, mince, cubes, etc. The export culls get sent to US either whole, or cut into a 6 way primal, and once they are in the US the whole carcase is made into bone in cubes.

Can a dairy goat be used for brush control?

Any type of goat can be used for brush control

What else do I have to watch out for?

Thanks, everyone!  I'm new and I want to make the best home for goats possible!

post #7 of 24

this may not be a lot of info.. but we had goats. 1  Boer doe and a Nubian male

The nubian male.. not sure on age was younger when we got him .. his horns where maybe 3 inches long or so.. anyway..

He  apparently  got a blockage in his urethra from eating to much calcium or some other mineral .He was on freerange plus goat feed while we had him. I took him to the vet and he snipped off the very end of his  urethra process I think you call it. He had a calcium marble stopping him up. It was painful for him but he finaly could pee again. And after about a week or so it happend again and vet couldnt do anything else for him. He said the blockage was way up in there and short of putting  a catheter in him and  and that would have prolly   would not have worked anyway cause they liek to pull on them. So i had him euthanized.. I really pained me.. I  didnt know enough about goats  back then to  make sure they eat right and not get to many minerals.Or at least not the wrong minerals. he was the sweetest little goat you could imagine.

Not sure  if you find this useful but they do get sick if fed wrong.
Prolly just an isolated incident but still possible.. Male goast tend to have a higher mineral  content in their pee as far as I understood..
Petra

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I laugh cause I just farted
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You laugh because I'm different...........
I laugh cause I just farted
A Chicken crossing the road is Poultry in Motion!
I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours
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post #8 of 24

Great advice from the other posters!

I can certainly put a firm YES on the fact that goats need absolutely fresh water and feed.

My five WILL NOT drink if the water is stale - even from one morning to the next...and if their hay gets on the floor it will be wasted.  I change their water twice daily and scrub the water buckets out at least once per day.  I have to scrub the feed buckets too - especially if one tiny little pooper gets on it!  wink

I also have a veterinarian out at least yearly to give innoculations and I de-worm regularly.

Hooves are a big thing for me.  I never feel like I'm trimming properly but I have good trimmers and trim conservatively

Read all that you can... smile   And enjoy your goats!

post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 

Thank you, everyone!  Quick question...  What's CL?  What's CAE?

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post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip 

Thank you, everyone!  Quick question...  What's CL?  What's CAE?


CL = Caseous Lymphadenitis.  Literally translated, that would roughly come to 'cheesy lymph node inflammation' which is a daggone fine description.  They get these big lumps of cheesy pus at sites along the lymphatic system -- under the jaw and on their chest near the 'armpit' are most common -- that grow and grow and grow until they pop, dropping ever more CL bacteria for the rest of your herd to pick up. 

It usually causes them to have lumps on the innards, too, and a goat with CL doesn't typically do very well.  People in the meat-goat world who produce for market don't much care about CL, which keeps it spreading..  Dairy goat people, on the other hand, will FREAK OUT if they see so much as a bugbite lump in one of these areas.. 

Frankly, I think CL should be a reportable disease, and that any animal found with CL should be shot and incinerated.. 

There's no CL vaccine for goats, either, though some people have reported some luck using sheep CL vaccine.  Sometimes the vaccine makes them lame, though, so it's kinda iffy.


CAE is Caprine Arthritis & Encephalitis..  It's caused by a widespread virus, but most goats with it are asymptomatic.  Symptoms in older goats manifest as arthritis, but it can cause encephalitis in kids..  They say they go down in the hind end and die pretty quickly after that.

There's a vaccine for CAE, but most people who care about CAE (0% of meat goat people, and about 100% of dairy goat people) just try to establish a CAE-free herd and refrain from bringing in a lot of new animals..  Your vet can do a blood test for CAE.

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