Goat questions: Best breed for us, nanny vs wether, auction goats, debudding, etc

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by amama, May 28, 2016.

  1. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Midwest US
    We have not owned goats before, currently just have chickens, but are really wanting some goats to clear brush for us (plus they sound like great farm animals for the kids too). We have a large acreage with lots of blackberry brambles (which are great for blackberries, but just not in some spots), locust trees, poison ivy, etc.

    I have read that most goats will eat brush/foliage, but are there any breeds that are better? We don't need milk goats, will want to do meat goats eventually, but these goats will be longtime residents hopefully.

    We'd like some that aren't aggressive around our children, maybe even friendly.

    I also was only looking for does, but then found out wethers avoid most of the problems of male goats, is that correct?

    The other problem is around here most people seem to only have show goats, and we aren't going to pay 150/200 for each goat. There is a popular livestock option in our town that people come to each month, but would goats there be okay for our purposes, or are they most likely to just be goats that have problems? I would have no idea what to look for in a goat at the auction.

    Do they always need disbudded? We have children that will be around them helping with their care, so if that's necessary how do you find someone to do it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. waddles99

    waddles99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You made a great choice in choosing goats. They are friendly, relatively hardy, and purposeful animals. They will clear brush for you, but keep in mind that some plants are poisonous to goats, so watch out for them. Here is a full list: http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/goatlist.html
    If I were you I would go around and check every shrub just to identify it and make sure its not on the list. Most of the time they will know not to eat something poisonous, but I wouldn't want to take that risk.

    There are breeds that are better suited to clearing brush. Larger breeds, obviously, would do better since they can reach better and consume more. Also, some breeds aren't used to woodsy climates and wont do as well.

    Goats can be extremely friendly, depending on the breed and individual personality. I have yet to meet a goat(besides bucks) that is truly nasty. Some can be a little defensive at times, but most really are friendly. They will follow you around, ask to be petted and fed, and stand up on the fence. I used to let my 2 nigerians out of their pen to get some excercise, and they just would follow me around. If I sat down, they would hop up into my lap. They were great brush clearers, too.

    Wethers are (arguably) better than does for pets, since they are less expensive and don't go into heat. I have owned does and wethers in the past and honestly I didn't notice them going into heat. But does will definetly be much more expensive.

    Also, I hate to say it but $150-$200 is pretty much the going rate for a "pet" goat. And that is most certainly not show quality. Most show quality goats will go from $800-$5000. A good pet quality goat will be anywhere from $100-$500. You get what you pay for. Good genetics and exhibition prospects will go for much higher than a lower quality goat. I can see that you don't care about genetics or showing, so it is a lot less for a pet. If someone is giving away a goat for a price that seems too good to be true, it probably is. I know someone who thought she got a steal on a pair of goats, well, they ended up being infected with worms. One was so bad the vet had to put her down, and the other one was able to be saved but was very weak. You could see her ribs. Don't go to the auction. Find a nice, reputable breeder who is knowledgable and can guide you into purchasing good quality stock.

    Disbudding is a matter of opinion and situation. If you have little children, it would be best to disbud. My goats have horns and I wouldn't have it any other way. But, you have to be very safe and responsible. The horns on some of the larger goats can be massive and sharp. As I said before goats are not aggressive, but If they turn their head or accidentally hit you, you can be injured. They can be better enjoyed as pets without the horns. A lot of breeders will sell you them with them already disbudded. If not, ask around and see if a vet or someone can do it.

    If you have any more questions, feel free to ask [​IMG]
     
  3. HnkyDnkyZZFarm

    HnkyDnkyZZFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We have a small flock of three nigerian/nubian dwarf crosses, all horned.

    I will add a qualifier here. The disbudding debate amongst goat people is as hot as the circumcision debate in new parents or the decision to crop a dogs ears and tail.

    Research around and make your decision. If you choose to go hornless, your entire herd should be hornless. As a new owner it would be worth your investment to purchase already disbudded. It looks simple online, but in all reality, if the idea of giving shots or doctoring a ripped ear sounds like it is totally new and uncharted, burning off horns might not be something to just jump into.

    We have a sheep that was disbudded, but the issue in rams/ males is that they often have enough testosterone that the continue to grow horns even without the core intact, called scurs, loosely anchored horn tissue that grows in oddly shaped curls or in unicorn like protrusions and break off and bleed. The bleeding is profuse but superficial, and easily handled with a bit of styptic powder and blue spray, but if you have an animal that will let you mess with a bleeding head wound, then you probably have an animal that would have been just as easily handled with horns. Our sheep grew back all of his horns, but the cores are superficial and any impact whatsoever, a bump or brush pops them off and he looks like a car accident victim, bleeding down the side of his head/ neck.

    My bunch are EXCELLENT with children, horns and all, and we have a no roughhousing policy to keep my buck sweet. Main rule, you don't get on head to head level with a goat you don't have firm control over - if ever, usually only if you are treating an injury or examining eyes/ face etc. They learn tricks very easily, like to climb barrels, play teeter totter, and can learn not to put their feet on you or fences. A pinch with your nails on their shoulder or ear and making an "aaaahnt" noise in a really nasally and annoying tone teaches them that the sound means no, so eventually you will only have to make the angry herd boss noise and they get it. My bunch responds to verbal commands, so "not on me" results in feet on the ground or if they are standing up, turning their feet away from me. My 7yo manages them without problems, but she has already learned how to "act big" with stock, not to hide her hands (they think you have treats) or to get low on the ground.

    Some will say they hate to have their horns touched, but I find my goats to be the opposite. Having your horns scratched is WONDERFUL! But again, we've never encouraged and have strongly discouraged any play that would cause the goats to think it is even remotely acceptable to put their horns to a human, so horn scritchies is something only humans can help with. Some suggest vinegar water as a training tool, but we haven't had to use it. Unless you have a large herd, they are at very little risk of harming each other, a little rock em sock em here and there over treats is pretty normal. Goats are built for being goats. Getting stuck in fences is just as easily solved by weed wackering down the plants on the other side of the fences that are appealing enough to put their heads through after it. Cow panels are the big offender for stuck heads. If you use pig wire or chainlink it's pretty hard to get stuck in.

    They are escape artists. Ours go UNDER the fence. They can squeeze through places you'd never think possible. They push gates open with their butts, not their heads. We have to have ties around the bottoms of all gates or they go a free ranging.

    If you have a boy, he is your herd management friend. If he loves you, most of the girls will do as he does.

    Cost... $200 is pretty cheap, disbudded usually means better quality, someone already put some effort into getting a little more for this goat and keeping it out of the slaughter market, so you will pay a little more for that. Not always though, at auction you will also see every manner of disbudding attempts gone wrong.


    Auction is an adventure. I would try local sellers first. I got the sheep at auction and bidding is crazy. Especially when you are competing with slaughter for an animal. Auction can work out well for you, but I would advise coming early, finding out how the pricing works, whether it is based by hundred weight, (Cwt) or by the head, and whether the animals will be sold in lots or as individuals. Also this way you can scope out the ear tag numbers of the animals you're interested in, and get organized. Have a hard limit as to what you are willing to pay at auction per animal. Bidding can be competitive and it's easy to get caught up and run up, but it is a personal victory when you walk away with what you came for.

    Anyone coming home from auction should be quarantined and wormed. Ask about scrapie tagging. Chat up the auction staff. They can help you out. March and August are good seasons for auction. March is weanlings and you can sometimes get some decent stock from someone elses over production. Check for good teats (not split) clean butts and clear eyes before you buy.


    [​IMG]

    It's boo-bear-i-see-you-bear! Little man! I will get you a dog door on amazon dot com. Will you give a goat a cookie? I came out to find him eight feet in the air on top of a grape arbor one day. Had to do some serious fence remodeling.

    [​IMG]

    Sugar and spice are everything nice... Actually spicy (white stripe) is a dumb bunny and gets stuck in the cow panels often and wants to play chase me every time she gets out and refuses to be motivated by treats. Sugar is the herd boss and is generally the best adjusted and has the best shape - conformity of the girls. She is also much smarter and gets a kick out of smashing up anything she can get on top of and jump on till it breaks. She also does pirouettes on her back legs for goat feed.

    They get graze and free choice mineral and baking soda in the spring as long as the graze holds. About July we will switch them to a flake of decent hay per day each cut with half a flake of alfalfa before the end of summer. We have goat feed as well but the only get about a cup each every other day. Treats are bread, veggie leftovers and yard trimmings.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2016
  4. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you so much for the replies, they were very helpful!
     
  5. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    You got some good advice. For brush goats I personally would select a Boer or Boer cross. My Boers were pretty laid back. However, just about any breed will do.
     
  6. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Do goats lose weight when the heat of summer starts? There is a woman who is selling her herd because she has cancer and can't care for them anymore, but she said they will lose weight/look thin until the heat breaks then gain their weight back. It has gotten very hot/humid here and she said they've lost about 5 lbs since the heat started.

    Is that true? Just trying to learn before we get them, thanks
     
  7. cassie

    cassie Overrun With Chickens

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    They won't if they are properly fed. I had a goat dairy in the San Joaquin Valley in California for many years. Temperatures in the summer were routinely over 100 degrees. My goats never lost weight. Milk production may drop some but not their weight. My goats did have access to plenty of shade, though.
     
  8. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Midwest US
    We got our goats last weekend! Two wethers, 1yr old Boer/nubian and 2yr old Boer, eating brush like champs. The bigger Boer is friendly and easier to be around, but the littler one is pretty shy and takes off pretty fast when we come in the pen. We also got a GP/Anatolian mix that is used to being around them. I have a few more questions if you have time.
    [​IMG]


    The flies are biting them like crazy, I have some fly traps out and they are working but not fast enough. Our chickens are free range and poop everywhere, so keeping their poo cleaned up to prevent flies isn't an option. I made a fly spray and it works well, but they both run (especially the little one) when they see me coming with the spray bottle. The little one actually is running now each time he sees me even without the squirt bottle.

    1) Can I put collars on them and then use a rope tied to a post to spray them each day? I also need to check their hooves as I'm sure they need trimmed and will need them to stay put for that as well.

    2) How much water do goats usually drink? We have a 2 gallon bucket hung on the wall where they can both drink out of, (and the livestock dog too when she's in there), and the water is never more than half empty at the end of the day. We are dumping it and refilling it in the morning, but I thought they would drink a lot more than that in this heat?

    3) We have fields where we grow the grass long and cut it and let it dry out, we put that in their pen for bedding, and they are eating it as well as pooping in it. Pretty sure that's not good, but the pen floor has pallets to keep them up off the ground (it will get muddy as most of our property is hilly and rain washes down). We put a lot of it in there to cover the pallets. What should I be doing instead? Or maybe just set up a feeder with some in it and hope they eat it?

    4) The younger goat is pretty feisty, and I could see his behavior becoming a problem later, esp. since he has horns growing. He really likes to butt the dog/bite her ears if she gets near the water (even though he's not drinking from it then or going to). He also gets a look in his eye towards us that I don't like, but I'm completely ignorant about goats so maybe it's fine. He lowers his head sometimes when we try to go near, and really seems like he's thinking of butting. I thought I had read somewhere about ways to show you are dominant and didn't know if I need to start doing those now.

    Thanks!
     
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  9. HnkyDnkyZZFarm

    HnkyDnkyZZFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    1. Collars are something that some people do. I find it easier to hang mine up in a cow panel. They stick their heads in, they can't get back out - horns... haha. Then I get them out and do whatever I have to do. Injections are easier when they are still stuck. I use a rub for flies, Permectrin in coconut oil, diluted by the instructions for a rubber for horn/face flies. I usually give em a good going over once a week.

    Hooves... a natural hoof if they have good solid ground doesn't always need trimmed. Putting roofing shingles on their climbing structures - or skateboard grip tape can help naturally "trim" hooves. If they need trimmed, then they probably were pretty confined where they were previously.


    2. We have a ten gallon bucket and two five gallon buckets for water for our bunch. I change it about every other day - more because of mosquito abatement than anything else. The goats drink about a gallon each a day. We have three because I don't want them to be laying in the shade and to decide that it is too much trouble to go drink, or to have conflict if someone else is drinking. Some goaties are more bossy than others and will give the others a hard time. Once they settle in they will probably drink more.

    3. We don't really do "bedding" per se, but that's a west coast thing I think. When we were on the east coast, putting stock up with no bedding would have seemed outrageous. Out here, they seem to bed down wherever they like. I don't close them in at night and more often than not I find them out in the pasture together after dark. They will get up and go snack in the night. Grass hay they will eat and once there is enough droppings in it, they will loose interest and move on. If they have a choice they wont eat hay contaminated by droppings. Ours seem to use the shed more for shade at the heat of the day than anything else.

    Be super careful with palates. The spaces in between can catch a leg and cause injuries.

    We have a secondary lean to on the other side of the pasture that they also use to this purpose. I've never seen them actually look for "bedding" and it seems to serve more of a purpose of absorbing droppings in a shed - something you would use to make clean up easier. I would use plain ol straw for this, since they aren't really going to get as gung ho about eating it as they would grass hay. They have a certain goaty sense about how much waste in an area is too much and wont eat there once it's too pelleted.

    4. Depends. If the dog is going to be "part of the herd" as a stock guardian they're going to have to figure out their herd order, a stock dog will usually have a good sense for how to integrate into the herd without being a threat. All of the intervening in the world wont prevent the herd from finding its hierarchy. Sounds like feisty has decided he is going to be the herd boss. The goat is telling the dog in no uncertain terms that he is in charge - and if he is your intact male, that's the natural order of things. The dog will have to concede control of the pens to the goat and either stay away or learn to keep a close eye on the goats - which could lead to accidents if the dog gets fed up. The goat will tell the dog what the rules are. Unfortunately, dog is not built to participate in goat herd order struggles. If the goat is not receptive to dog, then I would keep dog in a separate area. Goats don't really enjoy being herded, and if he's had bad experiences with another dog, he sees dog as a threat to his herd.

    The goat is doing what you would want a herd boss to do if they are foraging. Running off "predators" and defending his herd and if the goat was never taught to see dog as a friend, he may never decide the dog is okay. Which could result in the dog getting hurt. I would keep dog with you at all times around the goats, and demonstrate that dog is under your protection. A leash might be a good idea in the early stages. Correct any behaviors towards the dog that happen when you bring him out, (ear pinch/obnoxious ehhhnt noise) demonstrate your control over the dog - this will go miles in getting street cred with the goats. That was how I won my herd sire over, he saw that I was in charge of dog, and dog was a threat, therefore I am USEFUL!

    Sounds like goat is still sizing you up. Are you friend or foe. I would work on softening him up with lots of treats and fostering a really tight relationship with him, because if he is going to be your herd boss, then where he goes, the others will go. The more he is willing to work with you, the easier it will be to do things like move the herd or introduce new members. Get him to like you, and then set terms on that relationship. You will not put horns or feet on me. If you do, there are consequences. Be consistent - just like training the dog.

    Much like the chickens, you can't really enforce a pecking order that the peckee's can't maintain without you enforcing it. They have to feel out the new order in a new place. I personally wouldn't bring out the dominance stuff till you've bonded a bit. Otherwise, they will see you as dominant, but they wont want any part of a relationship with you. You are in charge, but they will run from you unless you have food, and then they will stay just out of reach and you will find yourself chasing them every time you want to do something with or to them - which further cements the idea that while you may be dominant, you are also a threat.

    Usually once I have everyone willing to be hand fed, brushed and petted I start doing things they don't necessarily enjoy and then rewarding heartily when they tolerate it. F'ex, putting them on their sides on the ground, playing with their hooves, rolling them around, standing over them, holding them, or bringing(dragging maybe? sounds way worse than it is) them with me - oh... if you collar and leash a goat and take him away from the herd, he will scream bloody murder in the most annoying way possible till you return him, and then he'll avoid you like the plague for a long time.
     
  10. amama

    amama Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you, very helpful. Okay, I'll work on befriending the little one before anything else, and since he doesn't mind me petting his sides too much, maybe I'll dip a rag in the homemade fly spray and rub it on him instead of the squirting, I wouldn't like squirted either:)

    Yes, they seem to only go in the shelter as a last resort, or to use the bathroom:) Haven't seen them sleep in there yet.

    Thanks again
     

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