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Windrace Ranch    

This excerpt has been previously published in my book, "The Dairy Goat Cookbook"
and is protected by all US and international copyright laws.
I do ask that, if you would like to copy or print it, please do so in it's entirety and include the proper credit.

Goat Information Sheet For New Owners
By Linda Tetmyer    Copyright 1998 All Rights Reserved

Goat "Facts"...
                           True or False?

1. Goats eat ANYTHING!

This is FALSE! Many people mistakenly believe that goats will eat just about anything, including tin cans.
Goats are actually very picky eaters, although they do like to taste almost everything!
It is often the paper that is ON the can that the goat tastes and yes, even eats. After all, paper comes from trees and THAT is something goats find quite appetizing!

2. Goats are SMELLY!

Well, SOME goats are smelly.
Male goats, called bucks, become somewhat strong smelling as they mature. They have a musky odor
which some people find offensive. This is particularly noticeable during breeding season (most commonly, but not exclusively, August through January). On the other hand, the female goats, called does, find this odor quite attractive.

3. Goats are DIRTY!

False again. The cartoon image of a "dirty old goat" is just not true!
When cared for properly, goats are in fact very clean animals. They love to be brushed and petted and they appreciate a dry, clean area to live in.

The Feed Barn
what do goats eat?

Goats are notorious for enjoying their "groceries". If allowed unlimited access to hay or
feed they will eat more than they need and become overweight.
Overweight goats can have breeding and birthing problems. Feeding too much grain can cause problems too. Goats can "founder" from overeating grain which means they can develop a condition (laminitis) affecting their hooves and causing MUCH pain. Even more serious, though, is the possibility of "bloating" after eating too much grain. This is often fatal if not treated promptly.

Following a regular feeding schedule with good quality alfalfa hay, alfalfa pellets, or an alfalfa/grass hay mix helps to ensure happy, healthy goats. Feeding twice a day is usually sufficient, the amount varies with how many goats are being fed. Watch how quickly they clean up what you've given them and adjust accordingly. Keep tabs on how each of your goats look, their overall body condition and adjust your feeding to that too.

Grains such as flaked corn, oats, and barley should be fed in moderation to goats. Wethers (castrated male goats) and bucks generally do not need grain. Milking does need grain to help with their overall condition and milk production. Usually 1/2 to 3 pounds of grain per day, depending on each individual does production.
All goats should have free access to loose minerals and/or a trace mineral block.
Baking soda should be available too as this helps to maintain proper acidity in the goat's rumen.
Most important though is that all of your goats have unlimited access to plenty of fresh, CLEAN water.

Your goats' need for exercise is often overlooked. If you don't have a large pasture or turnout area for your goats you may want to feed them on one end of their pen while keeping their water at the other end.
This way they will at least get some exercise going back and forth between the two.

And Then, There's Chores...

Goats are generally very hardy animals but they do need a few basic things to maintain their good health.

Goats need shelter, no matter what the weather. They need some place cool
and shady in the summer and warm and dry in the winter. Cover from wind and rain is essential as most goats are not fond of wet, windy weather. Their health suffers for it too.

Goats should be wormed at least once or twice a year. We alternately use
Ivermectin (injectable form, given orally, at two to four times the recommended
dosage on the bottle) and Valbazen (given orally as per sheep dosages on bottle).
Your vet can also recommend a good wormer and schedule for using it.

One part of goat ownership that most people are not too fond of though is hoof trimming.
The foot of a goat is strong and tough with a split hoof. The sides and heel of the hoof are what needs trimming, approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. Hoof trimming shears can be purchased at some feed stores or through mail order catalogs (a list is given at the end of this sheet) often for under $20.00.
Some people use garden pruning shears but these can be awkward.

Clipping the hair in the spring is a good idea too. The winter coat is shed
anyway and this aids in the control of lice if they are present.

If you plan on breeding goats and raising baby goats, called kids, you will probably want to disbud your kids (remove the horn buds). When done properly, this eliminates horn growth. This means the goats will not grow horns. This is usually desirable as they can injure other goats and humans, often accidentally. They also can become entangled in fences with horns so this removes that worry too. The two most common methods of disbudding are burning the buds with a hot iron when the kid is between 2 and 12 days old or so, and using a caustic dehorning cream. I do not use or recommend the caustic cream as it can get into the kids eyes causing severe pain and blindness. The hot iron is not painless but when done properly it is quick, effective, and the kids forget about it almost immediately after it's done. A warm bottle helps hurry that bad memory along!

There are a few vaccines that are recommended for goats too. Rabies and CD&T (this one covers Tetanus and Bloat) are two, some areas of the country are deficient in Selenium so you may want to give your goats a supplemental shot of that. Your local vet can advise you on that.

So Goats Eat...
  and eat...
   and eat...
But What Else Do They Do???

Goats are versatile animals. Because they are so smart and friendly, many people keep goats as pets.
Pygmy goats are small and easy for children to handle so they are used extensively in 4-H programs.
Dairy goats are popular in 4-H clubs too. They are also easily managed by children.
Many people use goats' milk for drinking and cheese-making. More people in the world drink goats' milk than any other type.
Soaps and body lotions can be made from goats' milk too.
Goats' meat, called chevon or cabrito, is delicious and very low in fat and cholesterol.
The hides of goats can be tanned and made into soft leather. Fiber goats produce hair that is used for spinning, weaving, and knitting.
Many people enjoy hiking with pack-goats. Any of the dairy breeds make good pack-goats.
Goats can be trained to pull a cart too.
As you can see, there are numerous ways to enjoy goats and the best thing is that they enjoy you too!

Goat Keeping Supplies

Here is a list of a few goat supply and veterinarian supply catalog companies:

Caprine Supply..............................................................1-800-646-7736

Hoegger Supply Company..............................................1-800-221-GOAT

Jeffers Vet Supply............................................................1-800-JEFFERS

Valley Vet Supply.............................................................1-800-356-1005

New England Cheesemaking Supply Company...........(413) 628-3808

Some Recommended Reading:

Raising Milk Goats The Modern Way J.D. Bellanger
Raising Milk Goats Gail Luttman
Your Goats A Kid's Guide To Raising And Gail Damerow
Dairy Goats For Pleasure And Harvey Considine
The Goat Keeper's Veterinary Peter Dunn
A Veterinary Guide For Animal C.E. Spaulding, DVM
Keeping Livestock Bruce Haynes, DVM
       Goat Health Thomas R. Thedford, DVM