Sensible Advice for Greenhorn Please!

Discussion in 'Goats' started by frugalwilady, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. frugalwilady

    frugalwilady Well-Known Member

    May 24, 2005
    Western WI
    Hi everyone!

    I have reseached, read, and made a friend with goats. I still feel nervous about my decision to become a goat owner. I want to be prepared and give them a good (and functional for me!) home. We have land for them a plenty but no buildings or fences. I need some practical advice on preparing a home for 2 goats to start. I would like a a dairy/ meat breed for home use. I am going to a local small animal auction to get an idea of where to buy (friend has none for sale!), prices, what breeds appeal to me,ect. I need cost effective ideas for housing, fences, and what I need before I buy some. I need to buget this stuff and need an idea of what $ I need. Ideas of feed and cost for 2 goats for 1 year, health care supplies, equipment, anything else experienced owners suggest I need. If you could please include the one main thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you became goat owners, I'm guessing those alone will help me alot!

    Thanks in advance!
  2. moosemaniac

    moosemaniac Well-Known Member

    Mar 7, 2003
    North East, PA in Northwestern PA
    Start here.
    Lots of ideas for shelters, etc.

    Then just jump in like I did. It's an experience you will not regret!


  3. coso

    coso Well-Known Member Supporter

    Feb 24, 2004
    I would look to Nubians for a milk/meat breed. 16' cattle panels make some of the best fencing for goats that I have found, around here they are about $16.00/panel. Field fencing will work but you have to have the know how and the equipment to stretch it right. As far as medical cost; wormer ivomec 100cc bottle is about $25.00. 10 dose of CDT won't run you over $6. If you want to get just enough to do a couple of goats go to a vet and let him sell it to you on a per/dose basis that way you don't have medicine going bad. I would suggest going to a breeder and not going to a sale barn. There are good goats that go through the sale barn but most are just somebody elses problem(eg. CAE,CL, mastitis, chronic pnemonia, genetic problems,breeding problems etc). I know because that's where my problems go.Plus even if they are ok when they get to the sale barn there are so many pathogens there they may get sick on you later from something they picked up at the salebarn. Look at the ADGA website they will have breeders in your area and also will have breeders in your area. As far as housing a little shed from Lowes or Home Depot would work for a couple. Or just build a shed yourself. As long as they can stay dry they will be ok. You will want a milk stand. I would anyway. Squatting to milk would not be my cup of tea. Plans are on the internet for milkstands. A bucket to milk in preferably stainless steel, but you can milk in glass etc. And a strainer. You can buy one at Caprine Supply or Hoeggers , or just use a coffee filter and a funnel. May want to see what breeds are in your area, so you know what kind of buck you can find to breed your does. If you bought Nubian does and didn't want any more milkers you could breed back to a Boer buck if you could find one in your area. This would make an excellent meat cross. Sorry I'm rambling now. Good luck!!
  4. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Verndale MN
    Hi Kelly!

    -I would like a a dairy/ meat breed for home use.

    Nubians and Lamachas are considered more "dual purpose" than the Swiss breeds. Any breed will provide wethers made of meat! Wisconsin has all breeds so buck access shouldn't be a problem. If you PM me with your town I can send you a list of breeders.

    -I need cost effective ideas for housing, fences, and what I need before I buy some.

    Goat housing needs to be free from drafts, but well ventilated. If they are let out once a day for a run, you can keep 4 goats comfortably in an 10 x 12 stall through the winter. Enough space along the hay feeder is more important than floor space. I'm planning on adding a bench 3 ft wide and 3 ft tall along one wall. The goats can lie on it in the summer and crawl under in the winter. I do use a heat lamp in my barn if the goats shiver- around 30- below.
    There are books with good small barn/shed plans that you could get from your library. The cheapest (almost free) source for building materials is demolition landfills. Visit and talk to the guys and tell them what you are looking for (2 x 4s, plywood, shingles, whatever) and ask them to set some aside... When they do, bring them a treat like cookies or jam & fresh bread.

    The cheapest and most effective fence I've made is 6 strand electric with the plastic step-in posts with built in insulators. These are about $1.50 each, every 15 feet. You'll need 4x4s for the corners. Wire about $20 for 1/4 mile, fencers $55-90.

    -Ideas of feed and cost for 2 goats for 1 year, health care supplies, equipment, anything else experienced owners suggest I need.

    Feed costs can vary a lot depending on what your pasture is like and how much milk you want. Most goats will do fine on pasture and some grain all summer. My girls are on milk test so they get good alfalfa when in milk. ($$$$!) Figure on about 7 lbs of hay/head/day. They will eat 5 and waste 2. Hay prices vary a lot, you'll have to check what's in your area. Most small square bales weigh about 50-55 lbs.

    I feed half cracked corn half rolled oats $13/100 lbs and feed about 4 lbs/head/day-more or less according to production. If you are feeding grass hay or pasture you'll want to feed a higher protein feed like a calf starter without urea or sweet feed.

    If $ for winter feeding is tight, best to buy best dairy quality hay (alfalfa or clover) and no grain at all.

    Other feed costs: 50 lbs dairy trace mineral salt $6 and 50 lb. bag of rumen buffer mix $10. The rumen buffer is baking soda, mag. oxide and sodium bentonite. It's a lot cheaper than buying baking soda at the grocery. 1 bag should last a year, feed free choice.

    List of what I consider minimums:
    Equipment/health care:
    Hay rack (build yourself)
    Grain feeder (need a bowl/bucket for each or a trough with about 18"/head)
    Mineral feeder (wood box will work)
    5 gallon buckets for water or a stock tank
    Water bucket heater for winter- birdbath heater $15
    Heat lamp for a cold spell
    3 prong hay fork for cleaning out pens
    Collar or plastic neck chain for each goat

    Iodine teat dip concentrate $6/gal, lasted me 2 years so far. Use stronger concentrate for wounds & navel dipping
    Teat dip cup $9
    Brush to brush off hay from around udder $4
    Dairy towels $15/ case of 4000 to wash udder before milking
    Milk bucket or stainless stock pot to milk in.
    Dish for grain while miking
    Canning funnel for milk filtering
    Milk filters $3/100 you can also use coffee filters but it takes longer.

    You can build your own milk stand or have a clean place to tie the goat up and milk her. Stands are easier on back & knees though.

    Health care:
    CD Tet vaccine $6 (once a year)
    Epinephrine $5
    Syringes .20/ea
    Jar of Probios $6
    Antibiotic cream or sulfur powder for cuts
    Fly spray
    Sticky String fly catchers (best for barns!)
    Bloat drench
    Blood Stop powder
    Coflex bandage aka Vetwrap
    Medical gauze
    Wormer of your choice- recent study found Hoegger's herbal as effective as other wormers in a cold climate.
    Rectal digital thermometer $10
    Treats/bribes: Chewable Vitamin C, Fruit Flavored Tums, aspirin, Altoids.
    Fisker's Pruning Shears for hoof trim $12
    Surform for hoof trim (hardware store) $10

    Kidding and raising kids on CAE prevention is a whole 'nother (long) list! I'm sure other breeders will have lots to add to the above.

    -please include the one main thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you became goat owners, I'm guessing those alone will help me alot!

    That it is worth it to buy the best animals you can afford, preferably ones with official milk records behind them, or at least their parents. It costs the same to feed a $400 goat as a $75 one. You'll have to breed to get milk- why not get kids worth $250+ with a national market as opposed to kids that might bring $50 at the local auction? Then if you decide to really get into goats you'll have started with good stock, or if in a few years you decide to get out of being a goat slave, you'll have a ready market.
  5. lgslgs

    lgslgs Well-Known Member

    May 30, 2005
    Southeast Ohio
    This is what we used for housing for our first two goats. Plenty of room (6 adult goats and 2 kids can tuck themselves into it). We recently got the larger sized hutch as well, and 8 goats and a calf have plenty of room to spare in there. The combination of the two will give us sufficient housing for 8 adult goats and a full grown cow.

    You can rig the hutches up with plastic strip doors for lousy weather, but for the first few years we just had two goats we just used plenty of bedding straw and the smaller hutch with open front door. It stayed nice and cozy in there. We put a little bench in there as well so we could go hang out in their house with them.

    The hutches come with a 10 year warranty. We like them enough that we order them from the manufacturer in Wisconsin and pay the freight to get them to Southeast Ohio.


  6. AnnaS

    AnnaS Well-Known Member

    Nov 29, 2003
    Verndale MN
    Kidding Stuff List- a lot of this stuff you will never need, but if you do need it, it better be on hand or you can loose an animal. List assumes you get everything on the other lists I had, like iodine & vaccinations.

    Kid puller aka piglet snare $6
    Ob lube $4
    CMPK Drink $9/qt Treats & prevents a lot of kidding related metabolic problems.
    Disposable scalpel $1.50
    Navel clamps $1/ea. I lost the first kid born here to navel bleed out. Now I clamp every navel.
    Velcro collars to ID kids.
    Tape measure or scale for birth & growth weights

    Feeding (if dam raised)
    Weak kid syringe $3
    Biosol $14

    Bottle feeding/CAE Prevention
    lamb nipples 4/$5
    glass pop bottles
    bottle brush
    heat lamp
    towels/old blankets/hair dryer
    Lamb feeder pails $10 Start on bottles, then switch to buckets about 1 week.
    Dairy /candy thermometer
    stock pot for pastuerizing milk
    Aureomyacin for bacterial scours
    Johnne's free cow colostrum (buy from certified dairy) or colostrum replacer- in case you overcook 1st colostrum you will have some to feed in the critical 6 hours after birth.

    Hire a breeder to disbud, tattoo and castrate your kids. Much cheaper than investing in your own equipment if you're just raising a few and you can watch and learn.
  7. frugalwilady

    frugalwilady Well-Known Member

    May 24, 2005
    Western WI
    Wow! Great advice and websites! We happen to live about 1/2 hr from Loyal. Anna S, my hand was cramping from copying your awesome lists. Printers on the fritz, of course. LOL I can't wait to finalize the buget and start shopping!
  8. Lazy Daze Farm

    Lazy Daze Farm Active Member

    Jun 14, 2004
    West Central WI
    I live in WestCentral WI (Ellsworth) and raise Nubians, Boers & Fainters. I do have a Saanen, Oberhasli & an Alpine/Oberhasli cross too though :rolleyes: You are welcome to visit if you'd like to see the different breeds first hand. It's amazing how different each breed is- personality wise, although it varies with each individual goat as well. If you spend a little time with each breed you'll find one that meshes with you & your needs. When I first started I wanted Pygmies & Alpines- or anything other than Nubians & Boers. Well, somehow or another I ended falling into the two breeds I didn't think I'd like & they are the ones that pull my heartstrings the most. So try to keep an open mind when you are looking. The best advise I can give you is to be picky! Get a goat that is for sure healthy, came from a breeder you know gives their stock good care, and don't settle for any "oh well, good enoughs." If you start with sound, healthy stock then you can spend your time enjoying them, rather than running to the vet for help or meds. The better goats cost more to buy (usually) but are worth every penny, IMO. Personally, I'd avoid the sale barn, but I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that have gotten nice animals there. It definitely involves a bit of risk though. Good luck to you, and like I said, if you'd like to stop over to visit with my goaties, just give me a call (715) 273-3095 or email me