Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thinking about... goats...

Am I crazy?  I love goats.  I think they are the cutest critters ever.  Ever since we moved up to our little ranch, I've periodically brought up the subject of goats.  I never get very far.  BUT, this year we had record rainfall.  Followed by spring sunshine.  ...and a lot of lush green grass.  Brett has been going out of his mind mowing and weed whacking and mowing some more.  As soon as he gets the property done, its time to start all over again.  Soooo, I brought up goats again.  I timed it perfectly - after a dinner and a nice bottle of wine, when Brett was exhausted from mowing and whacking weeds all day.  He was splattered, he was sore, he probably had bugs in his teeth. 

He liked the idea.  Are you surprised? 

Now I need advice from all of you who have goats.  I'm not sure I want goats that climb as much as Danni's do at On The Way to Critter Farm.  Although her post cracked me up and made me want goats even more.  Personality plus!  So, what varieties are good?  I'm looking for easy, cute (aren't they all), not too huge, gentle... and any other attributes I don't know about. 

How high does the fencing need to be to keep them in?  I'm assuming they need a shed for shelter.  And that I need to put fencing around the aspen tree if I want it to live and not become goat food.  Books? Websites?

Leaving you with a picture from the road out of our community to the mountain highway.  There is one slope that is covered with purple flowers.  I took a couple pictures with my cell this morning on my to work. 


  1. Okay, first I wanted to mention unless you have the goats in a small area they aren't going to help our much on the mowing front. They are browsers like deer, not grazers like sheep. They will pick and choose at a bunch of stuff and yes they will taste everything so you'll have to protect anything you don't want damaged.

    Second the bigger the goat the easier it is to keep them in the pen. Little goats like the African Pygmy and the Nigerian Dwarf are almost impossible to keep in pens. The bigger goats (I had Boers and Kikos) are easier to keep in, but they do still escape. Electric wire can keep some in, but other completely ignore it. Barbed wire isn't good around horses so it's not really an option and besides it would have to be six or more strands. Field fencing can keep them in, but they do get their horns hung in it. Also if you do use field fencing they like to lay against it and rub their sides on it to scratch which stretches out and ruins fences. A single strand of barbed wire along the bottom (at about where their side would be when they scratch) can stop that but I would be afraid of a horse hanging a leg in it if they pawed the fence. If you haven't figured it out fencing issues is one of the major reasons I had to sell my goats.

    All goats will probably escape at some time or another and although they usually don't go far they can get into a lot of mischief. They can ruin a garden and if they find your horse or chicken feed they can kill themselves on it. When they eat too much concentrate it kills off the bacteria in their rumen and causes acidosis which can kill them. If you tube them mineral oil and baking soda water (separately) you can save them however. I've had to do it. This is why I finally got rid of my last goat because he actually tore the door off of my feed shed. Keep in mind he was a full sized billy goat that was not castrated with an attitude.

    Goats can be a lot of fun, but make sure you do tons of research. I had goats as a kid and conveniently forgot the trouble and drama they could cause until I decided to get more as an adult. It's not so fun when you're the one fixing fences and hunting escaped goats. If you have the time and money to put up a really nice, goat proof fence they can be wonderful. I unfortunately didn't have to money to completely redo my fencing and so it became to problematic for me.

    Anyway sorry this turned into a novel. I'm not trying to scare you away from getting goats, but I did want to share some of the drawbacks. :) If you have any specific questions leave me a comment on my blog with your email and I'll answer them.

  2. Well, I say GET GOATS!! :-)
    Pete and Reggie have been absolute joys in my life and make me laugh on a daily basis. Yes, there are challenges to having all types of animals and adequately containing goats is definitely one of the primary challenges to owning them.
    That said, however, my boys have never escaped (knock on wood) their primary run/shelter. The only place I've had issues containing them is in my middle pasture where it is merely surrounded by 7-strand electric fencing - they just scoot right under it. This was not a big surprise to me.
    Their primary run is fenced with 4 1/2 foot no-climb fencing and I've never had a problem.

    You must, must, MUST, however, be mindful of where you store your grain and food items. They are very smart and persistent about getting into these things and, as your first commenter mentioned, they will kill themselves with overindulging.

    My boys definitely prefer brush, blackberries, and shrubs to grass, though when everything else is eaten down, they will eat the grass.

    I don't have just one definitive book to recommend because I utilize the Internet so much. Fiasco Farms is a site that you definitely should bookmark. It is the #1 goat information site.

  3. No advice, but OMG GET GOATS!!!

  4. Goats I am a lover always have been. I grew up with them and have owned for years. I have a 1/2 pygmy 1/2 fainting goat and one of her babies and she is due with triplets any day now.

    I have heard all the horror stories and I am sure they are all true. It has just not all been my experience. I have a small fenced in area. It is feild fence 3x1 openings. They don't get their horns caught in it. But if I were you I would get ones that have been dehorned anyways.
    I would agree that they don't eat all you think they would. The pick and choose and they ALWAYS will choose flowers and plants that you actually care about. If you go with a well done fence to begin with you will probably not have any problems. Our fence up has been up for 5 years and we have never had to repair it. They do rub on it and it will eventually have to be replaced but it will be years down the road.
    My only other suggestion I would give is to decide if you want them for pets or to serve the purpose of mowing because I think you would be disappointed in their mowing abilities but you will fall in love with them. I sure love mine.

  5. Annette...I have had three goats and have kept them in a shed as well as in the barn with the horses. Much of the time, they were allowed to run free. No way could they be contained in a pasture with the horses...our board fencing was useless as they could get out. They liked geraniums more than grass...not mowers. In the winter, they went behind us while we were cross country skiing and would step on the back of our skiis. They would go for walks with us as tho they were dogs (in the good weather). I never had trouble with them getting into the feed or escaping. They were very sweet. You need to learn how to trim their feet. If you get them when they are young, they could have collars and learn to walk with you on a "leash." The way you do things at Aspen Meadows, I'm sure they would have a first class home. How many do you want? 2 would be pretty manageable. Get females.

  6. Hello I loved having goats but I remember that I never had a garden they really like gardens and I never had a tree they like tree leaves and I never had a clean car they like climbing. Have fun . I miss them they were so cute and so much fun. B


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.