Tell me about goats?
So, on the eve of Lady's departure, I'm starting to think of possible companions for Lacey (mostly blind, 27 year old mare).
In the last few years every time she's around other equines, things go badly for her (stressed, etc). During the last two winters she's been pastured with a pair of llamas (our usual routine has been: horses during the summer, llamas the rest of the time) and that has seemed to really work out. They mostly stay out of her way, they're there when she wants companionship, etc etc. She just has really relaxed around them and it's been great.
However, this winter she's not in the same pasture as the llamas anymore. She shares a fenceline with them but not the pasture. This "new" pasture is MUCH better for her vision state (much flatter, real stalls, no land owners "fussing" - they're retirees who have A LOT of time, haha, etc) so I don't want to move her back. The llamas can't come join her because their owner, the land owner, is worried that they'll be "impossible to catch" if one is ever needed to be caught (wild llamas, they'd be impossible to catch in their current field but that's another issue) .
ANYWAY, this all has led me to think that perhaps goats are the answer. We do have coyotes, and lots of them, here but I've been reading and it seems like there are larger breeds of goats that won't be as in danger from the coyotes as say, one of the mini breeds?
The other thing is that I'm not sure how "goat-proof" our fences are. The pasture is a total of 5-6 acres so space-wise, for 2 goats, they would not be cramped.
One possible major problem though is that I'm pretty sure that the lower half of the pasture is not fenced. I'm not entirely sure but there's a bank at least 30ft wide, at the narrowest point, of blackberry bushes down there and no visible fencing.
Would/could a pair of goats do enough damage to that to make fencing it a necessity? Obviously, I'd need to fence it at some point but is it a case of one day, 30ft of bushes, next day, 0ft? Or would it be more like one day, 30ft, 2 weeks later 20ft, etc...with some warning?
The other slight fencing quandary I have is that the fence separating the llamas from Lacey is high tensile wire with about a foot of "sheep fencing" (large holed chicken wire-type) at the base. If I added another layer of some kind of similar wire mesh fencing, maybe 4 ft tall, would that be "enough"?
Basically I want the goats to stay in. We live in the middle of a suburban "farmer"-type neighborhood and I can guarantee that I would hear about it for MONTHS if my goats were out, wandering about.
The llamas fencing is not really secure at all so if they got in there, they could go where ever.
Not to mention that if they got out, that would be very scary for Lacey - something I don't want happening.
The front gate area is super secure (metal gate down to the ground next to a wooden fence, also solid down to the ground) so I'm not too worried about that area.
Then, beyond that, what kind of care do goats require? I'm thinking 2 is better than one since they will be left alone when I take Lacey for rides (might take them too, upon occasion, of course!) but other than that, I know nothing. I'd like females but which gender is "best"?
And, just for funnsies, if I were to have a pair of goats and take them on rides with Lacey and I, would they keep up "off-leash" if "trained" to do so? Or are they not adventurous like that?
I'm going to the state fair next weekend and, while I'm there, I plan to stop by and peer at the goats, to get a feel for their sizes, etc...
Hopefully goats can work out. Even if Lacey moves somewhere else/dies/whatever, the goats will be able to live with the llamas (if I decided against selling them) so there is a plan...
Thank you!! :)
Well, first off I'll say that I absolutely ADORE my goats. Too bad you're thinking minis won't work cause they are the cutest! After that however....if there is any question at all about your fence holding a goat in, then, trust me....it won't. LOL If one end is "fenced" with blackberry bushes....the day the goats find it, they will be out. If you can keep the goats OFF the sheep wire, and keep the top electric, it should hold them. As soon as they figure they can climb on the fence, they will tear it down.
I don't think male or female will matter as long as you don't get an intact male cause they STINK. Many people have wethers for pets and they can become just like dogs. They can be trained to go with you. Get them young so they'll bond with you and tame them completely before turning them out into pasture or they'll be wild. I like the Nubians (milk goats) for temperament. My nubians are all really loving...sometimes too much so.
Coyotes will still be a problem for a mature full-size goat. If the goat stays near the horse tho, they should be ok. I would also consider only getting one as they are herd animals so will want to bond with your horse more if there is only one of them. Just be aware that if you want to ride without the goat, it will need to be penned up somewhere secure....and it will holler as tho it's being killed the whole time you're gone, so somewhere it won't bother anyone with noise either if possible.
They won't require any more "special" care than you give your horse. Worming and vet when needed. They'll eat whatever your horse eats.
BTW....it IS fun to have your goat walk with you. We took a 1 month old mini with us to Dallas for my BIL's funeral (at the request of my mama-in-law....she had already arranged for a goat-sitter LOL) You should try walking a goat in downtown Dallas sometime just for giggles! :rofl:
I'll post some goat pics at my profile page...one of Moon on the piano even.
We have 21 boer goats. They are all very friendly and social. As Kccjer said, nubians are also a very nice breed and would be a good choice as well.
You will definately need to fence in the black berry bushes. They will eat them away, but I see them pushing through and escaping as more of a problem. They can be taught to respect electric fencing.
We had kept a group of goats with our one mare and they all did well together. There were about 7 with her and they would follow her everywhere, so I dont' see a problem bonding with the horse if you get a pair. When we first got into goats it was for a companion for a horse and we only bought one goat. She was NOT happy and would scream and scream and was constantly slipping through our fence. We bought one other goat and she was content and stayed in the fence.
As far as feeding them, if they aren't breeding animals they should be fine with the same hay you feed Lacey and they should also have a good loose mineral out for them (they can't get enough from the blocks).
If they get attached to you and Lacey they would probably follow along for a ride.
Here are a few of ours:
Oh my… where to start ( like llamas, I have goats too)
I agree with everything kccjer posted. I’m not sure your fence and brambles will hold goats. They can be escape artists and LOVE bramble bushes… as in one day- look at the pretty bushes… next day- bushes no more!
Goats are browsers, not grazers. Horses, sheep, cows graze, and alpacas, goats, and llamas browse. Anything from about 12 inches high to as high as a goat can get is on the menu.
Now not all goats get out of fences, IF the fencing is done with goats in mind. Usually sturdy 2 x 4 or 4x4 mesh type or fences work and it is what I use. I haven’t had a goat escape yet, but I’m super anal about my fencing as dog packs and coyotes are a real problem here.
Goats do respect electric, but I know keeping the juice on all the time may be a problem with Lacey’s vision. Cattle panels work well… 16’ long with 4x4 or 4x6 inch squares, but it is expensive.
With all you have to offer a goat to eat, 4’ should be high enough to contain goats as they are more apt to crawl through something than jump it. Just don’t have an object next to the fence they can hop onto, then jump over the fence from.
Care wise, about as difficult as a pet dog who is healthy. Since they are ruminants, having them on pasture with a horse is good because there are parasites that will be stopped in the goat system and others that will be stopped in the horse’s system. But of course there will be some that they share, but worming is super easy.
Trimming their hooves are also super easy.
Pet goats can be fed the same hay and feed (in smaller amounts of course) as horses. Unless one intends to milk the goat, many times just quality browse is fine in fair weather with any concentrates being saved for cold. A good mineral block will also go a long way to keep goat healthy. While a loose goat mineral is best, goats can lick off a horse block and be fine.
Goats can be “leash” trained if started as a youngster. It is common for goats to be trained to carry packs for hikers or pull carts. They can wear a break away collar (like a dog collar) and you don’t need a fancy goat halter.
Hmmm, if the fencing is right a goat or two could be a great companion. If fencing is an issue, perhaps a sheep or two would also work. Obviously not to go with on the trails, but as companions they are as easy to care for as goats. There are “hair” breeds out there that actually grow hair coats instead of wool so you wouldn’t have to worry about shearing.
I don’t remember seeing any hair breeds of sheep when I lived in OR, but I also wasn’t paying attention to what kind of sheep I did see, which were plentiful.
And because you know I just have to….
I’ll PM you oodles of links. J
Although it may not be until later this afternoon.
You goats are beautiful!
I have mostly Oberhasli and love them to bits!
^^^^ LOVE the moon spotted one!! Your billy (red one...LOOKS like a billy anyway) is gorgeous! I wasn't sure about a pair of goats bonding with the horse, just knew that only one would scream bloddy murder when left alone. I truly do love my goats. Most of them are true sweethearts. I was just thinking nubian because most of them get handled way more than a boer just cause they are milking goats. We have a mix of breeds out here....Dwarf Nigerian (my favorites LOL), Nubian, Kiko mix, Boer and boer mix, and now we're adding some Savannah in with a new billy.
Beware of sheep. They CANNOT have ANY copper at all. Since most horse feed and horse minerals contain copper....well....let's just say one lick (and that's all it truly takes) and bye-bye sheep.
I also respectfully disagree with the not jumping over fence thing. MINE jump over all the time....with or without a "helping block". Goats are very hard to keep in. I have some friends who have a goat that "times" the electric fencer and goes out between the beats (and they have 2 fencers!!) If they get out once, they will be harder to keep in after that because then they KNOW they can get out. Most are super smart (although there will be times you cuss them and call them stupid LOL) While goats DO prefer browse, they do fine on graze. Mine don't get much browse (not a lot of brush out here in NW Ks hehehe) and they are ok.
Very good point about the nubians (or other dairy breeds), you will probably have better luck finding a friendly one. Not many boer breeders handle their goats as much... except for us lol. We have bought quite a few that were extremely wild for months until they got used to us. I still have one doe I can't get within ten feet of before she freaks out and runs off and I've had her over a year.
Yes the big red guy is a buck (or billy). He is 15 months old there and 270 pounds, and thinks he is a 40 pound labrador:-)
And thank you. Lockwood your goats are beautiful as well!
As for the getting out... I have Obers, LaMancha, and Nigerians currently. Have also owned Boer mix, Alpine and Nubians and have never had one get out or jump over a fence.
All depends on the goat.
Some of my fencing is only 4' high too, but I do know they will crawl through just about anything given a chance. My goats are as smart as any others (Really.. dairy breeds are smart too :wink:) but the thing about many of the dairy breeds is that they are respectful, as a whole.
Nigerians?.. Pfftt forget it. Might as well try to corral about 20 kittens! They go wherever they want to.
All of my goats think humans are the greatest thing since wonder bread and will rub on you like cats and mob you for attention. That is why my breeding buck lives with a friend who does not mind the buck smell. I myself am not a fan of Ode de Buck.
Thank you all for your information!
Hmmmm, sheep, tell me more? I like the idea of having a sort of pet - goat, but if the goats are going to be constantly getting out... And there's so much area that needs fencing, I have no idea how much that might cost. However, the LOP (Little Old People - landowners) might already have the stuff to do it - they used to keep sheep until said sheep were continously mauled by a neighhbor's dog, even with 2 gaurd llamas (dog has since died). I'll talk to the LOP today and see what they have to say.
It would be easy enough to create a really secure pen area attached to the stalls so that much would be "easy". All it would really take is just dropping some sturdy posts in the corners, and putting up a fence. Could be harder. lol
As far as breeds go, I'm leaning towards Nubians. I've been around Nubians before and I like their personalities/size/etc. At least the ones I've met seem to be pretty classy in their attitudes.
However, I'm not a huge fan of unexpected behavior...maybe that's a nix for goats no matter what? I much prefer animals that learn the rules and then stick with said rules. No aberrant behavior cuz it's "fun" or whatever. At the same time, I have a cat that I've successfully trained, from a kitten, to this^ way of being so perhaps a goat would be similar on the "differently motivated" scale?
Lacey will pretty much be fine with whatever I get her. Basically, as long as it is there, she's cool. It doesn't even have to be especially friendly (never saw her or the llamas even even touch!), just another body.
On the other, "pro-goat" hand, it would be easy enough to totally block off the unfenced pasture until it can be fixed up. The rest of the pasture (4ish acres) would be easy enough to do...I think. However, just thinking about that, again, the fences all the way around my pasture are high tensile wire, covered in blackberries. So if they decided to go through, they totally could... >.<
Maybe I should look for some sheep. lol
Would a pair of sheep be in super danger from coyotes? I think there's only one coyote that actually live in my pasture but he's there ("Duke"). There are tons of bunnies around so I figure he's eating those. He's very standoff-ish and the deer (who also live, part-time, in the pasture) constantly chase him off and Lacey doesn't take particularly kindly to his presence either...
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