Caring For Your New Baby Goat

2015-06-22 12.23.46Baby goats are adorable and fun, but contrary to what most people think, they are not all that easy to care for!

Bringing home your first baby goat/goats is wonderful!  They are such a blast to watch as they run about with their hop-skippity-jumps! One could spend way too much time just watching and playing with them!

If you have bottle fed babies you have already realized that they are a fantastic companion.  Maybe more-so than you had in mind!  They will follow you everywhere and bellow when they do not see you.  When they find you they will happily bounce up to you wagging their little tail to tell you how happy they are that you are fine and not lost anymore!  You may have already found that they will cry for you when you leave them in their pen.  Yes, it is heartbreaking, but that is their intent.  They will be fine.

They will love to be in the yard with you and will stay right within your sight.  Actually, you will be within their sight!  Nibbling on everything is what goats do, so do not be alarmed when they nibble on something they shouldn’t.  Most likely they will just pull on it and play with it.  They will, however, nibble on any plants.  Be sure to research plants that are poisonous to goats and search your surroundings for them.  Goats do die from eating poisonous plants, and they usually die quickly!  This is a serious warning because it is very heartbreaking when it happens!

Of course there will be adjustments for you and your new friends so have someone you can call with questions!  You will have them!  Here are some frequent problems that people run into:

  • Changing from milk to formula, or brands of formula, can cause diarrhea and the goat may not want to eat. This is not good so do this gradually by mixing the 2 together over the course of a couple of days.  ** Helpful tip – a whole raw egg in the milk will generally firm up loose stools in 1 or 2 feedings.
  • The same problem can occur with a change in the grain so again, change it gradually. Once I did not do this and even though the goat was mature, I almost lost her. I feel very blessed that she did not die.  Most do.
  • Hay is generally not a problem. They may not eat it at first, but should adjust as long as it is a good quality.  Nothing dusty or moldy!
  • Baking soda given free choice in a place that they cannot step in it is very helpful during these changes. I keep it out for my goats all the time and they eat what they want.
  • Make sure they cannot get out of the pen/pasture. Of course they have fun bouncing and jumping about the barn, but they can get into places that they cannot get out of.   A couple of times I had to rescue them after they had fallen into a gap between hay bales.  One was almost suffocated!  Since they are creative they will also find ways to get into things you thought were safe!
  • Make sure you have a good vet who works with goats. If you do not have a regular vet already, find one you like and be sure you can call when you need to.  A sick goat usually needs to be cared for quickly and if they are, they can usually survive.

These are just some things that come up most often.  Do your research!  There is a lot of good, helpful information on the internet.  Most of all do not hesitate to ask someone.  Most “goat people” love to help each other out.

Which Dairy Goat Breed do I want?

Now it is time to decide which breed of goat to add to your family!  They can easily become part of the family since they are so responsive and loving.  Many people say they are just like a dog and sometimes better!  It is best to keep them in the barn though.  They don’t seem to house train well.

Goats seem to respond to their environment so it is important to choose a breed that fits you.  They are all very cute and tempting, but if you do not get the right breed neither you or the goats will be happy.  Of course what I am going to say is a generalization because there are always exceptions.

Sannens And Alpines are generally steady, even tempered goats.   They will quietly love you and generally will follow you peacefully wherever you go and want them to go.  They are patient and do not seem to stress out too easily.

Toggenburgs and Lamanchas seem to be creative.  I think the Toggs may be a bit more this way than the Lamanchas though. They both have an air of confidence about them more so than the other breeds.  The Lamanchas that I have met carry themselves with  elegance while the Toggs are a bit more carefree.  They both JUMP well!  (In my experience anyway)

Nubians have those adorable ears!  Who can’t love a baby Nubian!  They are wonderful, delightful  goats!  They are NOT the thinkers like the Toggs and Lamanchas, and they are NOT patient like the Saanens and Alpines. They do have amazing “brakes” though!  They will want to be with you and will follow you anywhere (almost) but they will be nervous about it unless they know the environment.  They generally do not like new or strange places.  Getting a baby is best.  It can grow up with you and that will eliminate the adjustment.

There are also Nigerian Dwarfs.  They are adorable and little, about the size of a Pygmy goat but not as wide.  Those that I have met have a great temperament but I do not know too much about them other than what I have seen at shows.  They seem to be an easy-going goat though.  Milk stands need to be adapted for them but there are lots of ideas for that in the Internet.

As for milk production, Saanens, Toggenburgs and Alpines are said to be high producing breeds while Lamanchas and Nubians have a higher butterfat content which gives the milk a richer flavor.  Of course again, there are always exceptions to this generalization.

There are a couple of breeds that I am not familiar with and those are Guernsey and Oberhasli.  I am sure that both are worth looking into though.

I believe the most important thing to pay attention to when choosing a goat is the disposition and production of the “family” line. Temperament is passed on through breeding.  I have seen it many times and my babies are not raised by their mothers in order for them to learn it.  If you are buying a baby please meet the parents if possible. This will tell you much about what you are getting.  Compare this to your family and see if the personality fit is good!

One more important note!!  Goats do NOT like to be alone!  Getting 2 is very important for them and you!  They complain loudly or they may pout and not eat.  Goats have been known to starve to death because of loosing a friend or being alone.

Goats are great but do your homework before purchasing one!

Baby Saanen
Baby Saanen

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Baby Nubian
Baby Nubian

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Enjoying the babies!

 

Getting started with Dairy Goats – Are You Sure you want goats?

Part 1: Keeping goats in – or at least trying to!

Goats are great, but make sure they are for you!  They are very social and enjoy companionship. Yours or another goat. Even if they have goat friends they may still want to be with you.  Many goats are “thinkers”. They like to figure out how to accomplish what they want.  It may take a while, but they will usually make it happen.  You need to be sure you and your neighbors are ready for this!

This being said, do not go cheap on fences!  Electric fences are great as long as they stay working.  You have a very short time to get it fixed before they will discover they can get out.  Short cuts will only make more work in the long run.  The goats will greatly enjoy the freedom and exploration time, but you likely will not.

Another item that needs to be carefully chosen are latches. Goat lips are amazingly agile!  They can carefully sort out their feed and eat only what they want and they can undo many types of latches. Of course this should go without saying, but if you forget to latch the gate, they WILL get out and it will be your fault, not theirs!  Unlatched gates mean play time!  You have been warned!

I am sure you2013-06-15 17.31.31 can tell that this is a voice of experience talking! Even though my whole herd has escaped more times than I can count, they always come when called.  Over the years I finally discovered that if I calmly call them they follow me to the gate and quite a few go right in.  This leaves only a few obstinate ones to catch.  I usually get a workout with them, but at least I am not frantically chasing 25 goats around!  If you notice, I did mention that I lead them to the gate.  I mean pasture gate.  The first thing I do when we have a break out is close up the barn!  A herd of goats loose in the barn is a disaster!  A great time for them though!

Goats need and want to go outside. Please do not be temped to keep them locked in a barn stall to avoid having to put up fencing.  If you do not want to have fencing put up maybe you should not have farm animals yet.  It is work, but so are they.  You will have a happy, content barn if they have a good environment.

A New Year and so is this!

I have decided to give this a try!  Since blogging is “the thing to do” and I like to talk, this could be a good project!

All is fairly calm in the barn right now.  The weather has be fantastic, at least compared to the last several winters!  The goats are enjoying the extended pasturing and comfortable nights.  Granted, today has been a bit cooler, but I still have no complaints.

This year will bring new things for my Skin Care business.  I have been working hard on developing new products as well as a new look.  It should be ready to go around the end of January, just before babies start coming!

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