Newbie Seeks Advice About Goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by victoriafarm, Mar 22, 2005.

  1. victoriafarm

    victoriafarm Member

    Mar 22, 2005

    My huband and I are 50-somethings who have purchased our four acres after keeping "5 acres and independence" by the bedside for decades!

    Wow! It's not quite like a backyard garden, is it?

    Bear with me here, this post IS about goats!

    About 1/4 acre of our land will in a few days have: 4 foot tall fencing , 4 15 year old pear trees and a plum, a wee chicken house which the prior owners left behind. In "a while" it will have other NEW fruit trees that we will plant.

    GOAL 1: we feel we are drowniing already! Last thing we want to do is mow grass with the hand mower (blew budget on a tractor plus rototiller, now way are we going to afford a mower attachement for it) SO WE INTEND TO GET SOME CHICKENS TO KEEP THE GRASS UNDER CONTROL FOR US

    GOAL 2: keep the chickens alive and happy and get some eggs

    GOAL 3: DO WE WANT OR NEED A GOAT? I remember a dear goat that a friend had many years ago, she was so sweet tempered except when she had newborns. I wonder what breed she was. BUT I also remember they could never go anywhere b/c she needed to be milked. On the other hand, I'd LOVE to have goat milk yogurt and whatever. On the other hand, I'd hate to take on a living thing and then not have the time or money to care for it - vet bills if it gets sick, etc. And I'm clueless if pasture plus table scraps is sufficient for goats for most of the year, or if there's a lot of expense for feed.

    SO THERE YOU GO. Told you we are NEWBIES!
    Thanks for your advice,
  2. LuckyGRanch

    LuckyGRanch Well-Known Member

    Jun 30, 2002
    Polk Co Wisconsin
    Hi -


    Goats are wonderful creatures and really quite easy to care for if managed correctly. Do any of your neighbors have critters? It's quite hard to find someone to do chores to get away on vacation so, if your neighbors are at all like minded...they'd be thrilled to get to know you and have the option of having someone do their chores so they can get away! That takes away the dread of "always" having to milk/be there/etc!

    You'll need to feed a little grain and of course hay when you don't have pasture. Some minerals are also in order.

    If this year is primarily a grass control issue, you might find a couple lambs...have them do the mowing...and put them in the freezer for winter! Spend the winter doing more research since now you'll have a little experience actually on the land and go from there! There's nothing more rewarding than growing your own food whether it be meat, fruit, veggies, eggs, etc!

    Welcome to the country life!


  3. windyhollowfarm

    windyhollowfarm Well-Known Member

    Mar 2, 2005
    Goats need hay too. I give mine hay year-round, and grain. They need loose minerals out at all times.

    You need at least 2 goats. Goats need compainonship of other goats.

    They need annual vaccinations and deworming.

    Proper shelter is needed.

    Goat milk is wonderful. If that is your intention I would get a dairy goat. If you wanted a smaller dairy goat, Nigerian Dwarfs are great. Of course, you would have a smaller supply of milk, but you may not need a lot.

    Here are some links:

    You need a buck close by where you can breed does so that they will give milk.

    Goats are escape artists, and will love eating your fruit trees :haha:

    Proper fencing is a must too as they love to get loose, and will if the grass is greener on the otherside.

    By the way plum leaves are posionous to goats. Posionous plants is something you need to think of with all your fruit trees.

    You want to be careful with what scraps you feed goats. Goats arent garbage disposals. Their nutrition and health will be reflected in the milk they produce. From taste, to quantity.

    Goats are work, and can be expensive. If feeling overwhelmed now I wouldnt get goats or wait on them.
  4. elly_may

    elly_may Well-Known Member

    Aug 26, 2004
    Goats are wonderful companions. They are gregarious, so you would need to have at least two. One alone will not be happy, they are herd animals and thrive with other goats or llamas.

    Feeding a ruminant is different than feeding monogastric livestock and cannot tolerate some plants, sweet feeds, and must have fresh water at all times. I provide hay year round too to provide all the necessary nutrition that is needed by a ruminant along with browse. They are very picky eaters and contrary to what most people think will not eat just anything or everything when it comes to grass and weeds. There are parts of their pastures and yards that I still have to mow by hand to keep the bugs down (lol).

    They can be expensive, like Danielle said, especially when it comes to medications one should have on hand. They can take up quite a bit of time during seasons when you must do worming, hoof trimming, and vaccinations.

    All in all, like any animal - we must take responsibility to be sure they have the means to thrive in our environment that we provide.

    There is so much information with the internet available, you may want to do some research before you go ahead to decide which breed would be best. As was mentioned, the dwarf breeds are easier to handle and need a little less space than your regular dairy breeds.

    Good luck on your quest and venture. It can be lots of work, but lots of rewards and love as well.
  5. Jen H

    Jen H Well-Known Member

    Jun 16, 2004
    Honestly, with the set up you're describing I'd go with the lamb recommendation. Goats really are browsers more than they are grazers - meaning goats really prefer trees and shrubs to grass. The goats will eat your fruit trees - they actually strip the bark off of them and eventually kill them.

    Sheep on the other hand are born lawnmowers. They do eat brambles and weeds, but really prefer grass. They'll still chew on the lower branches of your trees, but they don't do enough damage to actually kill the trees (usually). They also aren't nearly the escape artists that goats are.

    With either critter you'll need to buy a pair. Goats and sheep really don't do well alone, they're very much herd animals. They'll need free access to a mineral supplement, and a 3 sided shelter so they can get out of the weather.