Saturday, February 16, 2008

Walkin' The Goats

It was a warm morning compared to what we have had as of late - so when my wife suggested we take the goats for a walk I agreed and grabbed the camera. She walks them through the back 40 a couple times a week so that they can supplement their winter diet of hay and grain. In summer, spring, and fall, my wife just ties them out in the woods or pasture edges so they can forage for what they like. Goats are not cows - they don't graze on grass. They browse like deer taking a nibble here and a nibble there.

Our goats are primarily milk goats - they are all Alpines except one Alpine/Boer cross - she's the white one. Milk goats produce a lot of milk compared to meat goats and although their flesh is just as edible - there just isn't that much of it -they are skinny. Boers are meat goats and I'd like to raise some goats that are decent for both milk and meat. The black one is our Alpine billy goat.

Milk goats need to be "freshened" (have a kid) every year to keep the milk flowing. Around here you can either take your does to the billy or bring the billy to the does to get them impregnated. It costs $10 per doe either way. One way, your does "eat for free", the other way, you have to put up with a billy. Billies can be cantankerous, escape prone, mean - and they STINK (unlike other goats). Transporting your does back and forth can be a pain in the neck. To have our five does impregnated would have cost $50. We bought our billy from a family of homeschoolers for $50. I figure if we sell him for $1 we are ahead of the game. He was raised with a lot of family love and care and so far he is fine to be around. His only down side is that he stinks. So, we are going to keep him and stud him out next fall.

Right now we think four of our five females are pregnant. Our Alpha-goat (my term) got sick with parasites - bottle jaw - and although we had her treated and she got better we think she may have just not been interested in getting pregnant. What do I know - I have goats but I am by no means a goat expert. We'll see in a month or so. We keep the does and the billy together 24/7 so who knows. Each doe will have at least one kid and some may have two (and three is not unheard of though we have not been so lucky). We are expecting a whole passle of kids come March/April. Photos to follow.

The dog is our "goat dog". He's 3/4 Anatolian Shepherd and 1/4 Great Pyrennes. His coloring matches our Boer cross exactly. We got him from an Amish family and he really was not raised properly as a puppy - no human contact until we got him at twelve weeks old. His only food consisted of a rotting cow carcass in the field. He was almost feral. Hard to get close to. Impossible to collar or walk on a leash. He chewed on goats at first. Just a mess. I thought I was going to have to give him 230 grains of love but I'm glad we stuck it out.

He is now a wonderful guard dog and takes his job of protecting the goats and the family very seriously. He walks on a leash just fine although we have him voice trained and use the leash only rarely. His one major flaw now comes from us letting him in the house a couple times when it was getting down to single digits at night (not necessary, but my wife has a soft spot). He was naturally housebroken - he woofs to go out. But he was not naturally shy of human food. He has to date eaten two loaves of homemade bread right off the kitchen table when we were not looking. He ate a stick of butter each time too. He's big and he's fast. I was not happy...

So, no words of wisdom - just sharing my day.

And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens. - Proverbs 27:27

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Prepared Americans for a Strong America


At 24/2/08 09:23, Blogger prepbuff said...

Kept goats for 20 years, here. Bottle jaw means that you need to get your goaties on a routine deworming program beginning the first warm day in spring -- that's when the worm eggs start hatching in the soil. That'll kill the worms the goats already have on board. After 2 weeks of warm weather, deworm again -- that'll kill any they picked up in the field. Then, 2 weeks later, deworm again -- that'll get the stragglers and late hatchers. Then, deworm monthly for a couple months.

Use a "pregnant-doe safe" wormer (Safeguard used to be okay, also Ivomec), and change dewormers each time to a TOTALLY different kind (read labels). That way, if the worms start developing resistance to one wormer, the next one will get them.

After the worm-blitzkreig described above, deworm after the goats freshen, after the first frost (so the goats don't carry many into the winter), and again in the early spring 2 or 3 times. That'll be a good maintenance program, once you've got the worms under control.

Deworm the kids after wethering them or any stressful situation -- that'll keep them growing good.

If you prefer more natural methods of worming (which you can use along with the chemical methods, BTW), add a tablespoon of REAL apple cider vinegar (Bragg's - at health food stores) to every gallon of the goat's drinking water, grated carrots to their food (carrot a day each), and diatomaceous earth (DE) to their food (about a tablespoon a day per goat). You can get DE at

Also, begin culling out the goats who are more susceptible to worms -- just as nature would do. Or, at least, don't keep any of their offspring (except for the table, that is). Keep only the animals that can thrive in the most difficult circumstances, and you'll have a herd that can live even after TSHTF.

Thanks for a good read!


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