Goat Care Basics
Goat-raising and caring can be a lot of fun because goats have peculiar characteristics that set them apart from other farm animals. Goats can be exciting pets and perfect for business. Goat care is actually quite simple. All it takes is patience and the love of goats.
The Goat Family
The male is called a Buck. Males have a strong odour which can be quite unpleasant to humans but very attractive to the female goat the Doe. However, if bucks are left with does, this musky smell will affect the milk which will produce a specific odour. Their off-springs are simply called Kids.
Goats are curious by nature and very playful. When handled at a young age, goats make fantastic, entertaining pets.
Raising Goats as Pets
Goats for pets? It may sound quite odd to have goats as pets. Goats have indeed evolved from being just farm animals for milk and meat sources. Goats are intelligent and funny animals. They like the company of humans and it is very easy to keep them as pets.
Because goats are herd animals, you should always have a minimum of 2 goats to keep each other company.
Goats are voracious eaters. Feeding them with nutritious hay and leafy greens are enough to keep them chewing all the time. As ruminants, goats do have this penchant for chewing to regurgitate food. They thrive on leaves of small trees and shrubs. Be mindful though as they tend to chew pretty much anything! Also check which plants are poisonous to goats and remove them from their reach.
Goats, like any other animals, react to the way they are treated. Most often, goats are placid and relaxed and they like to be scratched on their necks and patted. This gesture makes them secure and responsive. They don’t like to be in a small space. Goats need to be in an open space where they can go about with their prancing, and independence. They like to climb and trot around.
Goats are a good source of milk. In fact, goat’s milk is highly nutritious and can be used straight or in cheese.
As pets, goat care is very important. Goats have a natural smell that can be repulsive to humans. Containing the goat’s smell can be achieved with grooming. Pet shampoo should be used with caution though.
Regular check-ups by your veterinarian are important to your goat’s health. Regular worming and vaccination are necessary.
Goat Care Needs
Goat care, whether as pets or for business, does not take too much time. When goats are cared for appropriately, they are a source of joy for the entire family.
Shelters and playground– Goats need shelter where they can rest and stay away from bad weather. Provide the goats with blankets to keep them warm during the cooler months. Goats dislike mud, rain, cold, snow and wind. Their shelter must be kept clean and dry to avoid health issues.
As mentioned earlier, like to climb and jump. If you are keeping your goats in a small yard, you can pile up some rocks and various object for them to mount and hop.
Food and water – Basically, goats feed on anything. But the typically, goats eat hay, usually a mixture of lucerne (alfalfa), Timothy and orchard grass which can be bought from feed supply stores. These are the types of hay that are highly nutritious. Since goats eat anything, make sure that goats don’t ingest spoiled or rotten food from waste bins.
For goats that are not able to freely graze, you can buy goat pellets at the produce store. Some people add crimped oats and sunflower seeds.
Goats need water all the time. Clean and fresh water must be placed on water troughs so the goats cannot immerse their hooves into the water they drink and spoil it.
Open Space – The independent and free-spirited goats love to roam and prance about the yard. Make sure that the fences and gates are high and sturdy to secure the goats but also to keep predators away. It is best to use dog or sheep wire fence instead of barb wire or just plain wire. This way the goats won’t be able to escape and predators like wild dogs and foxes won’t find their way in.
Good Health – Regular visit to the veterinarian will keep your goats healthy and strong. Goats are quite resilient and sturdy but giving them their regular de-worming 4 times a year to kill internal and external parasites.
Baby goats should be immunized, usually with Bar-Vac CDT (clostridium perfringens types C & D tetanus toxoid). At one year old (and every year thereafter), they should get a booster Bar-Vac CDT injection.
If you overfeed your goats, they will get gas. This can be alleviated by giving them baking soda. As goats instinctively know how much they need, you can offer baking soda ad-lib.
A goat with teary or cloudy eyes might mean there is some infection. A goat in good physical shape has clear and vivid eyes, a soft and shiny coat, with an excellent appetite, and alert.
A dull coat means the goat may be infected with parasites. Hunched backs and droopy tails indicate something is wrong, especially if they refuse to eat. Any goat who refuses to eat is a sign of illness. Consult your vet straight away.
Grooming – Wash the goats in warm weather and in the middle of the day and use pet shampoos with care. A goat brush which can be bought from veterinary suppliers is good for grooming.
Regularly have the goats’ hooves trimmed. Most often, bacteria growth happen under the hooves.
Goats are lovely animals. They are affectionate and love to be around people when handled early. Once you know your goats, you will notice that each one of them is different, has its own personality and character. Kids are cute and so playful! I hope you’ll have fun raising goats.