Free range goats?

Discussion in 'Goats' started by nuby, May 19, 2004.

  1. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    Can you have free range goats? Say on some property with LOTS of acreage up in the mountains with lots of brush, private dirt road with little to no traffic?

    How do you do it? Can it work for milking goats?

    Do you keep them penned up for say the first week or so, so they know it's home and they will come back at milking time when you set them free?

    Free range chickens are so cool! Save on food and fencing :D
     
  2. Jim S.

    Jim S. Well-Known Member

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    For milking, forget free range goats. It's a meat deal.

    Out in the desert West, they run them free range with a trained dog or dogs to guard them, keep the herd together and bring them in.

    You can expect predator loss.

    It is not a practice easily adapted to the East. Fences are best there.
     

  3. NewlandNubians

    NewlandNubians Well-Known Member

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    Free ranging goats is not a good idea. You really need them in some kind of fence to keep dogs/coyotes out (especially dogs). It really doesn't matter if you free range milk goats or meat goats, so long as you can get them to where they need to be milked easily (if you want to do this with milk goats). If you have time (and money), get yourself three or four rolls of the electronetting that premier sheep supply sells, get yourself a solar charger, and make a portable pen. Move that pen around as they eat stuff up. You'll also have to have a portable shelter too. It can be done but it would probably be a pain in the butt. Goats are good at getting into trouble and will destroy good and bad trees/plants. One really great thing about free ranging is it will REALLY cut down on the worm load.
     
  4. okiemom

    okiemom Well-Known Member

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    I TOO HAD THOUGH ABOUT THIS. Here, there is a market to lease goats to improve pasture or cattle etc. Noxious weeds ceder brush etc.the problem I have is the fencing. goats won't stay in barbed wire which is all cattlemen have. the labor is too much or me to electrify each property. What I have mulled areound is the theory of hiring someone to stay w/ the goats and make sure they stay in. A herder of sorts with a herding dog and LGDs. The problem there is: its is a 24/7 job. how do you pay that person and how do you arrange off times. I guess they could be pened at night letting the herder have evenings off. My goats at my FIL's are trained to come up at 5pm for food. The herd would just have to be big enough to pay for his salery. It could work but the details are the killer. If anyone else has ideas I would love to know. This would be great for worm load and the leasing of the goats would help pay for the herder. I just have no idea on how to find someone willing and able to tend to a herd of goats (500+).
     
  5. NewlandNubians

    NewlandNubians Well-Known Member

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    Contact your local employment office and inquire about H2A workers. They are migrant seasonal workers from other countries on a work visa to work here. Usually they pick fruit, etc. but I think they could also herd goats...
     
  6. okiemom

    okiemom Well-Known Member

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    That might be a very good idea. My spanish is rusty..OK very limited, and i never learned any French. How would I know what to charge? I am just wondering how to actually go about this. My idea would be to have a travel trailer so it could be a family friendly affair. Some of the lands that would be grazed could/would be fairly remote. How would electricity, water and sewage be worked out? I think I am hijacking a post. I'm sorry for any bad manners. I can finish this in another thread. Thanks for all the ideas. I have slowly been working on this for a year and am really trying to see if I can make a go of this.
     
  7. NewlandNubians

    NewlandNubians Well-Known Member

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    contact your local employment office, they should be able to answer all of these questions for you. Interestingly enough, I may soon be working with the H2A worker program soon. I currently work at the employment office and I applied for a job as a farm placement specialist. From what I understand, there are various regulations regarding their housing, wages, etc., so you should find out more with the employment office. They would fall under OSHA and child labor laws, etc. I don't know whether or not you need to know spanish, it was not a requirement for the job I applied for. Look on the internet and do a search for your local employment office and then look around for H2A worker related stuff.
     
  8. ByGraceFarms

    ByGraceFarms Member

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    We have a similar problem with fencing. Our smaller pasture is fenced by barbed wire already. What we decided to do, was to get some 3 foot field fencing to go along the bottom of the barbed wire. Our theory is, that the goats mainly want to go under everything, rather than through it. As we haven't yet had the time to fence our larger pasture, I'll let you know if it works.
     
  9. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    I freerange my goats and milk more than I need even without supplimental grain. My goats cover some 10 acres of native grass and forbes along with forested areas. (they seem to give a bit more milk with grain, but not alot more) they graze and browze at will along with the horse the pigs and chickens.

    For preditor protection I have 3 blue heeler dogs and the goats are shut up in pens at night or hang out at the back of the house after dark.

    I think training them to know where "home" is for a few weeks when they first arive is importaint, it is easy with water and food near the home base.

    If you wanted to, I belive they could be trained to veiw a small trainer as "home" as long as that is where the food and water is and they where shut up in it at night for a few days. Add a LGD or two and you would have a portable herd.

    edit:LGD= bad spelling I meant LGD= Livestock guardian dog, and I really don't recomend blue heelers they are hard to train and will kill/mame stock if you can't call them off.
     
  10. nuby

    nuby Active Member

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    That sounds awesome! Just what I want! They would need to go a long way to get water. So maybe that would keep them closer. We were wondering what kind of dogs to get. I will look into the blue heelers. What should I look for when looking to buy these dogs? What's the price range? Any good dog training tips?

    So, what do you give the goats, instead of grain, so they have something to do when you milk them? I read that the concentrated grain is not that good for animals anyways. Do you use a stancion? Do they come back on time? Do you call them?

    I guess I'm full of questions. Any more tips on doing this would be great! :D

    P.S. What is LDG?
     
  11. Echo

    Echo Member

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    I sort of free range my goats, I have 65 acres of woods, in the Ozarks ideal for goats but not much count for anything else. I live on dead end dirt road. I have commerical dairy and have 61 head of goats milking 48 out of those 48 I shipped 1255 lbs of milk yestrday for the last 5 days so you can see that free range is not hurting them. They get there water up by the barn and stay in field by barn at night get milked in the morning then go off into the woods to browse they will come back up in the earlier afternoon for little nap time then back out to browse then are back up in the lot for evening milking. The only problem that I have had with this set up is that a couple of the girls slipped by me when they were ready to kid and went and hid before I could get them in. Thankfully these were older does and they had no trouble kidding and came up with babies in couple of days but found that searching for them was pretty much lost cause they hide real good.

    Echo
     
  12. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I sort of do a little of everything with my herd.

    During the month of May I let them have the unfenced lawn and also take them for walks in the woods around my house. My dog is a german shorthair and the neighbors is a mutt but both are well trained and keep the goats protected. I do leave one shed open for cover.

    I milk over grain but I dont use a lot of grain. I do buy good quality hay. Milk production is noticably better when they have good forage. about 1/3 more on days that I take them out for about 3 hours. I do have a pasture but it is pretty well used up for when I have errands/work.

    Fresh water is super important if you plan to free range. I also prefer my girls to kid in the barn so they are kept in when their time is near.

    I guess you have to play the hand thats dealt to you. Whether its a pasture, free range, or hay/grain in a barn. They adjust well to most any situation when their needs are met (food, water, shelter).
     
  13. outofmire

    outofmire Well-Known Member

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    This may be slightly off topic, but I think it still relates. If nothing else, I thought it was interesting. ;)

    The other day while driving down a fairly busy, 45 mph paved road, I noticed a pygmy buck running free in someones adjacent unfenced yard. I turned around thinking that the owner should know that their goat was out. As I drove past him again, this time he was nearly in the road, but then got out of the way as my vehicle came close and then bounded and frolicked after a butterfly.

    Anyway, I got out to tell the owner. I said, "Do you have a goat?"
    He said, "Yep." I said, "Well, he's out" He said, "Yeah, I know."

    Anyway, as it turns out, they let their goat run free. They have a little lot, with houses all around, and the paved road is 20 feet from the house. I was surprised the goat didn't get run over by a car. I asked the guy out of curiousity how it was he stayed out of the road. He said that he does get in the road, but gets out when cars come....."he's like a dog," he said.

    Even more intrigued, I asked the guy if he had only that one goat. He said, yeah, but a neighbor has a goat that the pygmy goes to visit further down the road. Ha!

    As I pulled out of his driveway, I noticed the buck trotting down the road to go visit his friend.
     
  14. mpillow

    mpillow Well-Known Member Supporter

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    They are smart little boogers!

    My neighbors feed my goats their old bread and fruit and veggie scraps when they happen to visit. No wonder they go visiting!

    One neighbor has her children pick up the apples in her yard (crab apples) and bring them to the girls. She also sends them at bottle feeding time so they get that experience. She has asked me to bring some goats to mow her lawn....My babies have climbed into her vehicle a few times and they have also climbed into the UPS truck! :eek: Luckily they didnt poo!

    Our place is well off the road so I dont fight that battle but it is a main highway so if they got adventurous they'd be dogfood in a hurry!
     
  15. MelissaW

    MelissaW Well-Known Member

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    If a goat is foraging in the woods, does it change the flavor of the milk? We are learning all we can before we decide on milk goats, and, if I could use part of my woodlot for them, they could have a lot more space.
     
  16. Thumper/inOkla.

    Thumper/inOkla. Well-Known Member

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    If anything ours taste better than when they got grain. I can now drink it warm strait from the goat, I have even kept a small amount out on the table (covered with cloth) and drank and used it through the day never having chilled it, used in cooked stuff, coffee, on strawberries. I dont' have a fridge yet and I take probioics regularly, so I have had time to adjust to the microbes around here. So I don't intend to recomend against chilling. I'm just saying it taste good without it.
     
  17. JanH

    JanH Well-Known Member

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  18. big rockpile

    big rockpile If I need a Shelter

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    The time before when I had Goats I didn't have any Fence they just hung around the house like a bunch of Puppy Dogs.But they would get into stuff like eating the Plastic off my windows in the Winter,Eating my Hot Pepper Plants,eating Bumper Stickers off my Truck,eating Apple Trees.

    big rockpile
     
  19. zharzhay

    zharzhay Member

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    Hi echo, what sort of goats do you have? I am in NC and looking for a breed that does well on browse only... especially hardy, I don't want to medicate much.

    Thanks,

    Erik