We are just starting our third week as “Goat Owners” and at this point have been made very aware that there was a lot we didn’t know about getting a goat before we started raising goats. Since the information is so fresh in my mind, I thought it would be good to share our tips for new goat owners, with some suggestions of how to walk into goat ownership, and what you need to know about raising goats, so you can be even more prepared than we were!
First things first, a run down on our path to raising goats. We purchased 2 adult female Nubian goats from 2 different farms. One of the does is pregnant and due in 3 months.
Why did we do it this way?
We wanted the experience of milking a goat, without the commitment of having an “in milk” dairy goat. We also were keen to experience having a kid goat, but kids only leave their moms after a min of 3 months. When the option of a pregnant doe came up, we felt it was the best of both worlds. We could experiencing a birth, have an option to milk (or not) and get a taste of everything “goaty” in a short span of time.
Of course, finding a friend her was the challenge!
Goats have unique personalities
While this may seem obvious, and of COURSE goats have unique personalities, we were amazed at how different our two girls were. Our Older girl “Blackberry” is dominate and (probably) too smart for her own good. This goat has an eye on everything, and is rarely settled. She is food obsessed, and we need to watch her around our children as she will bully them a bit (head butting and even rearing a few times) We spent 40 minutes with the goats in their pen after they had spent 8 hrs free ranging on our property and while the other goat settled into chewing her cud, Blackberry spent the whole time pacing, exploring, looking over fences, rarely “settling”. I am not sure if goats can have ADD, but she sure seems to.
Our other goat Hazel seems happy to be a goat. She often seems lost in her own thoughts, peacefully lying in the meadow chewing away. She is highly skittish, especially compared to the loving dog like nature of Blackberry who will rub against you, nuzzle your hands and who is always keen for human companionship.
Goats don’t “actually” need that much space
Our plan was to give our goats about 1 acre of ranging territory, but do to time constraints they ended up in a smaller pen. Granted, this pen, and the goat shed are still fairly large, but the goats seem to use only a small portion of it. Their favourite spot is to hang out in the area by the goat shed and gate, rarely exploring much farther. They love to be brought out and tied up to “range” on the salal and native plants on our property, but our ideas of how much “space” they require for daily living really changed in the 3 weeks we have had them.
They Don’t Devour EVERYTHING
We were expecting the goats to act like locusts on our property, when in fact they have been fairly selective about what they want to chew on. Since we are able to move them around to graze we are able to keep greenery growing. Of course, their first choices aren’t usually ours (ahem, no apple tree for you ladies) but they still seem content to nibble vs raze the ground cover.
They are Needy
This could just be our goat, but we have noticed she is needier than we expected. She NEEDS human interaction daily, with oats and pats and brushing, otherwise she tends to get “irritable”. If she has had a high dose of entertainment, the odds of her trying to “play” with the kids (i.e. head butt) is greatly reduced.
She also seems to want the attention from my husband and I vs the kids.
We are used to raising chickens so have spent the last 2 weeks deep diving into goat maintenance. Hoof trimming, de-worming, mineral assortments, special grains, hay, and snacks. We have had long conversations with a variety of goat experts, each telling us what their MOST IMPORTANT information is, most of it conflicting of course. We now have a tack room filled with goat hoof spray, vitamins, medications and brushes. After 3 weeks we feel we are but a step away from owning a race horse! Some of the BEST info we have found, and a site that was referred to us again and again was Fiasco Farms! If you are getting a goat, check it out!
The good news is, the goat people we talk to are passionate about their animals, which gives me hope that after we get schooled, it will all become second nature to us.