Goat Facts

 

A basic guide for the care of goats

SHELTER

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.

CONTAINING

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

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.

FEEDING

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.

HOOF TRIMMING

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.

GOOD HEALTH

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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