Goat Facts


A basic guide for the care of goats


Goats do not have a waterproof coat so they need access to adequate draught free but well ventilated accommodation, not only at night but during hot or inclement weather. They require a warm, dry bed; this can be of straw, wood shavings or any other similar bedding. The deep litter bed is suitable, whereby you top up the bedding each day and just muck out once a week or month, whichever suits you best.


The most difficult part of goatkeeping is containing them, especially when you first acquire goats. If you only have a couple of goats they may think you are the herd leader and try to follow you into the house or garden – not a good idea. Until they have settled in their new home and established their own herd structure, you will need excellent fencing. Sheep fencing will need an extra strand of plain wire to make the height of the fence to at least 4’6”. Electric fencing is often effective, but do not use barbed wire.


Tethering is not recommended as there is a great danger of goats strangling themselves. Goats that are tethered will seldom thrive and tethering should never be regarded as more than a short term emergency measure. It is also very labour intensive as you have to move the tether posts at least daily and also keep taking the goat in when it rains, etc. Kids should never be tethered.


No domestic goat is able to find for itself enough food to keep it alive. Goats are not adapted to crop grass closely like sheep. If a goat crops grass very short, they are being underfed and likely to get parasite infections. There are many factors to consider when working out the correct feeding of a goat. Size, condition and production are all factors to be considered. A basic guide would be as follows:
   • Goats need a year round supply of good quality hay.
   • Milking goats need a daily ration of appropriate concentrates.
   • Goats need daily mineral supplements if not included in mix.
   • A supply of seasonal green stuff and branches or roots in winter.
   • Goats need a daily supply of fresh clean water – some prefer warm water. Contrary to popular opinion goats will only eat clean wholesome food and any dropped on the floor is disregarded. Goats like a varied diet and are inclined to have individual likes and dislikes just as we humans have preferences.


A goat’s feet will need to be trimmed every month, using either hoof trimming shears or some type of knife, whichever you are best able to use. The outer edges of the hoof need to be trimmed back so that the sole of the hoof is flat.


A healthy goat is alert looking with clean bright eyes and glossy coat. It should have a good appetite and regularly cud after eating. The droppings should look like currants; signs of diarrhoea (scouring) should be treated very seriously. If in doubt contact your Vet. To keep the goat in good health you will need to carry out the following:
   • A regular worming programme to include rotation of grazing.
   • A regular vaccination programme against clostridial diseases, which includes tetanus.
   • A regular treatment for skin parasites such as lice. Further advice can be found on the British Goat Society’s website – www.allgoats.com

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What are the benefits of Goat’s milk?

Goat’s milk is closer to human milk in composition, and so is more easily tolerated by many people with allergies. This is because it contains less casein, a protein found in cow’s milk that have proven to be very allergenic to some people.

The fat in goat’s milk is quite different from the fat in cow’s milk; the fat molecules in goat’s milk are smaller and more evenly mixed throughout the milk, which is more easily digested thanks to the elimination of agglutinin that is in cow’s milk. Goat’s milk also contains higher levels of the essential fatty acids linoleic and arachnodonic. Because of the mix of different fat acids the milk is known for its gentle effects on the digestive tract.

The protein in goat’s milk is also a bit different that in cow’s milk. The protein in cow’s milk forms hard curds that clump in the stomach and make it harder to digest. The curds formed from the protein in goat’s milk are much softer and more easily broken down by the enzymes in our digestive tract. This makes consumption much more comfortable to many people who have dairy sensitivities.

Goat’s milk has lower levels of lactose, the sugar naturally found in milk. Cow’s milk contains about 4.7% lactose where goat’s milk contains 4.1%. The difference may seem minimal but to people with slight lactose intolerance, it can make a big difference.

Goat’s milk contains many minerals that are lacking in cow’s milk. Higher levels of calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin A, potassium, miacin and copper are found in goat’s milk when compared to cow milk. Goat’s milk does contain less folic acid than cow’s milk, so if you are relying on milk alone for folic acid, you will need to supplement with another source.

Goat’s milk is also an excellent choice for young children due to the ease of digesting. If a child is allergic to cow’s milk, goat’s milk may be a suitable option. Always consult your GP when making nutritional decisions in your child’s diet.

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Why is Goat’s milk good for your skin?

Cosmetic chemists call goat’s milk “nature’s liposomes” because of its amazing healing capacities. No wonder Cleopatra used to bathe in it! Goat’s milk is well know for its ability to relieve acne, psoriasis and eczema, as well as balancing the skin, whether oily or dry. Its low pH helps maintain the slightly acidic mantle that healthy skin generates to prevent bacterial invasion. Its molecular composition (closer to human milk than cow’s milk) allows goat’s milk to actually soak into the skin’s barrier instead of just sitting on top, carrying these healing goodies.

Raw goat’s milk contains alpha-hydroxy acids such as lactic acid when help remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface. This leaves new cells on the surface on you skin that are smoother and younger looking. The alpha-hydroxy acids are so effective because they break down the bonds that hold the dead skin cells together. Removing dead skin cells will help many skin conditions by removing irritation.

Raw goat’s milk contains many vitamins but is particularly high in Vitamin A, which is necessary to repair damaged skin tissue and maintain healthy skin. There have been several medical studies showing that creams made with Vitamin A reduce lines and wrinkles, control acne and provide some psoriasis relief.

Fat molecules are an important part of making good soap. The cream that is present in goat’s milk helps boos the moisturizing quality of goat milk soaps. Since many people suffer from dry skin, particularly in the winter months, this is an important quality for soap. Goat milk soap will not dry your skin out like many other soaps. This is important because keeping skin naturally moisturized helps keep skin healthy.

Goat’s milk contains important minerals for the skin such as selenium. Selenium is believed by scientists to have an important role in prevent skin cancer. Selenium can also help prevent damage to the skin from excessive time in the sun.

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Points to look for when buying a goat

25 years ago a very clever and wise woman Christine Palmer gave me this advice so now I pass it on to all new would be goat keepers.

Starting with the head:

1. EARS - should be erect and alert (this does not apply to Anglo
Nubian types of goats).
2. EYES - should be clear, bright and sharp.
3. MOUTH - this should be neither over shot or under shot, in other words the bottom teeth should rest on the top pad.
4. CHEST - must be broad with plenty of space between the front legs.

The next part should be thought of along the lines of wedge shapes:

5. When looking sideways on at the goats body, think of a large wedge, the narrow part being at the front of the legs and the wide part of the body being under the back legs.
6. Run your hand along the back of the goat, starting at the
shoulders, again think of a wedge, for as you run your hand along the hips should be wider than the shoulder.
7. Back legs, when looking from behind, again think of a wide wedge, narrow part up by the tail and widest at the feet. This allows room for hopefully a large udder and this will allow for the legs to move without damaging the udder.
8. Using a horse person’s expression ‘the goat should stand foursquare’ meaning well spaced between all its legs and a leg at each corner. The next thing to look for is that it is not down on its pasterns.

Now one of the most important item, the goats UDDER, it should not be lopsided. In other words, one side larger than the other. Feel the udder, if it feels hard, not just firm, walk away and don’t buy. The goat may well have had mastitis.

Some of the things stated may seem a bit harsh, but they will save you heartache and money later.

I wish you all good stock purchases. by Barbara Richards.

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Before you Call the Vet

For beginners, it is difficult to determine the difference between life and death situation; one which needs immediate attention or a minor problem which can wait until daylight hours. Here it is often beneficial to telephone an experienced goatkeeper for their opinion.

One common cause of alarm is when a goat that has kidded one or two weeks produces a bloody discharge - very worrying for the novice - but a phone call to an experienced goatkeeper will assure you that it is quite normal.

Whenever you call the vet, try to have as much information as possible about the animal’s condition so that they can assess the urgency of the situation. The more information you can supply, the better your vet will be equipped to deal with the situation. Here are a few things to check before calling the vet:

1) Take the animals temperature; whether it is low or high or normal will say a lot to the vet (39 - 40 degrees C)

2) Is the animal drinking and eating normally - is she off concentrates and or hay?

3) Have you seen the animal cudding?

4) Has the animal passed water and stools and are they normal?

5) Is the animal up or down, grinding her teeth, coughing or twisting her head?

6) Is the breathing rate normal? (15-25 per minute)

7) When did you last worm the animal? What product did you use?

8) If a milker - is her udder red or hot; are there any lumps present - is the milk normal? When did she kid?

9) If pregnant, when is she due/

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