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Goat Care Basics

When well taken care of, goats can live for 12-14 years on average, while some can live much longer. Here is some basic information about them, in case you consider keeping goats.

  • Goats are very social creatures and will need the company of at least one other goat in its space. Among the animals that goats get along with are cows, horses, sheep, and donkeys. They have some potential issues living with pigs.
  • Goats can get along with cats and dogs but hunting dogs will sometimes see them as prey. It’s best to keep dogs away.
  • They like a varied terrain. When arranging your goat’s habitat, ensure it has lots of boulders and hilly areas.
  • Goats are very inquisitive animals, and they use their mouth to investigate, be careful they aren’t able to get into anything they shouldn’t.
  • They can experience stress from pain and unpleasant experiences such as sudden movements, make sure you always approach gently to avoid stressing them out.
  • Goats like calm, affectionate care. Repeating their names and talking in a reassuring voice while feeding and grooming will increase their affection for you and make them more playful.
  • Check local zoning laws. Before you acquire your goats, check local laws to make sure they’re allowed where you live.
  • Goats like your attention. Make sure you have the time to take care of them, and you have effective caretakers for when you are away.
  • Get the right vet. Ensure you have a vet the makes farm calls and includes goats, make sure you have one before you adopt your goats.

Feeding Your Goats

You always need clean, fresh water for your goats, its best to use heavy, durable containers so that they don’t break or spill. One of the key parts of your goat’s nutrition is minerals either in blocks or loose.

For feeding, remember that goats have multiple stomachs and rely on hay and pastures for their diets. They will graze for at least eight (8) hours a day. Grain has a lot of fat and shouldn’t be used very often.

The best pastures for goats are mixed grasses and clovers with an occasional brush, trees, saplings, and twigs. They love tree fruit prunings, dead leaves, and wild grapevines. Make sure all poisonous plants are removed from the goat’s area.

If the goats are adults, they will need between two and four pounds of hay every day. Timothy hay is the best all-around type of hay while alfalfa hay is extremely high in protein, being the best feed for sick or hurt animals who need to fortify their strength.

Keeping Your Goats Healthy

Your goats should optimally have a check-up with basic procedures done every 5-6 weeks. This should include:

  • Ear cleaning,
  • Hoof trimming
  • Feeling the body for lumps and bumps
  • Checking udders of female for hardness
  • Heat or swelling
  • Discharge
  • Check the eyes for injury
  • Ulcers
  • Checking the horns
  • Checking the teeth

Symptoms to look out for in case your goat has an illness, loss of appetite, limping, listlessness, diarrhea, labored breathing, discharge in the eye or nose, abnormal body temperature.

Vaccines to make sure your goats have:

  • Rabies
  • Clostridium
  • Tetanus

Goats aren’t too difficult to take care of, as long as they have good quality pastures, healthy food, sanitary housing, lots of healthy sunshine and an attentive owner.

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Creating Shelters and Fencing for Your Goats

Indoor Shelter

Goats can stay in a barn or a large shed. Make sure there is at least 25-square-feet for every goat. Make sure the building has good ventilation, but no drafts that will directly hit your goats.

Keep all the straw for bedding clean and dry and remove all damp or soiled straw.

Grazing Area

The areas that they roam and graze on will need to be fenced in. This is especially important for areas that have wandering dogs, as they can kill a goat in a few minutes. The stress of being chased by a wild animal can also kill a goat in and of itself.

Goats are excellent at escaping enclosures, so do not use cattle fencing. Goats can stick their heads through and get stuck. Make sure the fence is tightly woven, and at least five feet high, never use barbed wire or electric fences. These won’t keep out predators and can hurt your goats especially if they become entangled in them.

It isn’t recommended to tether your goats because they can become stressed and they may hang themselves while attached.

The ratio to follow for land to goats is ½ acre for every two goats. If there is warm weather, make sure there is plenty of shade available. Keep trees you want protected fenced because goats are known to destroy them if they aren’t guarded.

Diseases that Goats Can Transmit to Humans

Goats can you transmit a couple of diseases to humans and some, to other animals:

  • Leptospirosis: A bacterial infection that infects humans and animals
  • Cryptosporidium: A microscopic parasite that causes diarrheal disease
  • Q fever: An infection caused by the bacterium Coxiella burnetii that has flu-like symptoms.
  • Psittacosis: A zoonotic infection that can cause fever, headaches, and a general malaise
  • Contagious ecthyma: Highly contagious skin disease seen mostly in goats.
  • Rabies: Deadly virus transmitted through saliva
  • Escherichia: Can cause kidney failure or severe anemia.
  • Salmonellosis: Bacterial disease that commonly affects the intestinal tract.
  • Ringworm: Skin infection that is caused by a fungus living on the dead tissue on your body.
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My Essential Goat Supplies

This list contains affiliate products. Affiliate products do not cost more but helps to support BestFarmAnimals and our goal to provide farm animal owners with accurate and helpful information.

This little giant bucket fits on a fence and this one’s easy to carry.

A sturdy dog collar is essential. Don’t do rope (they’ll break and tangle) or chain (injury!).

A Black Water Tub is way nicer than buckets that tip over. I like to get a 20 or 30-gallon in each pen so my goats have plenty of water, but you can get 100-gallons if you have a lot of sheep in one pen.

Loose minerals in a small bag or a Purina 50 lb bag, and a mineral feeder for free-choice is the best option. One side holds minerals, and the other holds baking soda. Don’t feed sheep goat minerals because it usually contains copper- something that is fatal to sheep.

Hoof trimmers are a necessity because you’ll need to trim your sheep’s hooves every few months. These are nice for the price.

Don’t make the mistake I made by waiting to order a drench gun before you need it. I was surprised by how often I use it. It helps with bloating, dehydration, and other ailments. Here’s a good drench, but you can also drench a bloat solution or water if dehydrated.

Digital Thermometor for when your lambs act sick. You’ll need to know if their temps are too low or too high so you can accurately diagnose the issues.

Vetericyn for wound care. It makes a big difference in a speedy recovery.

Check out this list of goat milk supplies you need if you have milk goats.

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