So you want to own a goat?!
As I think about how many times I have been given that incredulous look, you have goats?! Then I get the people that look at me with wonder in their eyes, and wistfully say... I have always wanted a goat! Goats seem to be met with either a mystical sense of wonder or a distaste that is very strongly rooted. I try to use my position as a goat lover, breeder and owner to educate and talk to anyone that will listen to me talk about goats.
Owning goats is something that is very different. It is not like owning a dog where your parents and siblings have always had a dog so pretty much everyone inherently knows how to care for a dog. Goats are like some mythical creature, that people watch and enjoy on videos but they really do not know what it takes in order to raise and care for goats properly. One of the first questions I ask people when they say they want to get a goat is, do you enjoy toddler behavior? Because if you do, and you enjoy the mischievous nature that comes along with goats you just might be the right personality type to own them. The next thing I ask them, is are you prepared to care for at least two goats, because, being herd animals you need to have at least two goats. If these people are still determined, I look at them and ask... Are you prepared to build a fence that can hold water? Because if it can hold water it can likely hold a goat..... If those people are still persistent that they want a goat I try to explain to them what I call Goat 101.
This covers the shelter that goats need, the hoof trimming, pasture maintenance, hay quality, how much grain to feed, how to offer free choice minerals and clean constantly available fresh water. The other opportunity that I like to ensure new goat owners are aware of, is that that goats are prey animals. They need to be protected and locked up every night without fail, or be prepared to buy and train a livestock guardian dog to stay with them. Then we discuss about finding a goat vet in the area that the goats will live. It is essential not only to have a vet that is knowledgeable and will treat goats, but is what I call goat literate! The next essential step of the puzzle is ensuring that you have a fellow goat mentor that is willing to help answer any questions that you may have on goat rearing and care. This goat mentor will be a valuable part of your goat team moving forward.
Once you have all of the basics of goat care under control it is time to think about what the future with goats holds for you. This means beginning to understand goat parasites and what treatments are effective for them on your farm. Then I recommend working on ensuring that you have several goat first aide items on hand. The absolute basics, in my opinion are Red Cell, activated charcoal, Thiamine, a thermometer, banamine, an antibiotic, and probiotics. If you plan to have bucks or wethers I would also add Ammonium Chloride to that list. I pl
an to start working on a Goat 101 course that I will offer through my website to help people that are interested in learning more about the basics of goat care. Keep an eye out for this as I will be sharing it here in the near future!