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This whole Coronavirus isolation thing has given my mind a lot of time to wander and ponder increasingly random topics.

This time my mind wandered to an old friend who lived on a mountain and had a goat. That short, fat, old little Nigerian Dwarf would effortlessly scale steep rock formations while we walked the trails. He never needed so much as a halter, just followed us wherever we went.

It got me thinking about how many people use goats as pack animals and companions for hikes. The huge benefits being they follow without being led, can bravely traverse the worst of terrain, and of course, can carry things.

However, I have a harder time finding information about horse people bringing goats along on their trail rides. Does anyone ever bring along goats?
 

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When I hand-walk my horse and/or pony the goats come along. They are bonded to the horses more than to me. But I wouldn't ride with the goats, myself. They are too vulnerable. What if someone came along with an off-leash dog who chased them? That's what I worry about. If I'm on the ground I can do something (I imagine anyway). Goats also do not have the stamina or speed of a horse, although they are intrepid and agile.

It's quite a parade down the (rural dead-end) road, with the horse, pony, two goats, me, and the dog bringing up the rear believing she is keeping everyone together in a herd.

People backpack with goats. Usually wethers of a taller breed do the best with a pack.
 

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@Avna how much weight can a large goat carry?

I had actually wondered about this myself (backpacking with goats) a couple of years ago, but I never looked into it...
 

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Dreama - rescue from the local dog pound. Some type of gaited horse mix of unknown history.
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I went on a search because I wanted to see a picture of a goat carrying a pack and found this article: :lol:

https://gearjunkie.com/pack-goat-carry-gear-load

I was expecting more traditional imagery, I was thinking there were certain mountainous region indigenous peoples who used larger goats as pack animals, but I couldn't find photos of that so I may very well be wrong, I might have been thinking about alpacas or llamas.
 

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@CopperLove that was a great article, thanks for posting! I loved the picture of the goat taking a rest. He seemed so happy...
 
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@Avna how much weight can a large goat carry?

I had actually wondered about this myself (backpacking with goats) a couple of years ago, but I never looked into it...
No idea but it won't be much. If figuring the horse pack load of 20%, a big goat might weigh 150 to 175 lbs, that would be little more than fifteen pounds. There's a reason that people use ponies, mules or donkeys, not goats, for this kind of service. Goats are great companions on the trail though.
 

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When growing up a neighbor had a "guard goat" named Billie. He was a large white goat with wonderful curling horns. When we would ride the fields around his home he would often tag along - but he was easily distracted and would wander away. He lived with my friends horse Charlie Brown but was not herd bound like horses tend to be. He was very protective of his home though and people did not leave their cars if Billie was out because he was known to knock people down
 

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I recently acquired a Nigerian Dwarf named Flag. A ten year old wether. I was told he was raised with a dog and that he thinks he is a dog.


He is a very attentive and in your pocket little guy.


Walking Hondo in the pasture, I looked around and also saw a parade of a goat and two dogs following. Normally Roman insist that Meka maintain a greater distance from me than him. But now it is Flag who rules the roost. Roman obliges and stays where Flag says.


I've seen Flag run the full length of the property which is about 600 feet without seeming to be tired or out of breath. I'm thinking at a walk, he could keep up with a horse for quite a ways.


The thought of him going along on a short ride had crossed my mind which is what brought me to this thread.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
No idea but it won't be much. If figuring the horse pack load of 20%, a big goat might weigh 150 to 175 lbs, that would be little more than fifteen pounds. There's a reason that people use ponies, mules or donkeys, not goats, for this kind of service. Goats are great companions on the trail though.
The article posted says large males can carry 50+ pounds. They're very sturdy creatures! From my understanding, a large-breed adult male goat like an Alpine can easily be 200+ pounds.

I think the neat thing is they are much easier to feed on long trails/camping than horses or ponies. They often do not require any grain (less weight to pack along), and will naturally forage whatever brush they can find, rather than needing large amounts of hay or grass of some sort - which is much harder to find on the trails than brush. They also tend to naturally be less spooky and more sure-footed than horses/ponies. I can't necessarily say that for donkeys or mules, however.

I do agree with what was mentioned about speed, though. I had thought about that as well. I have seen my old friend's old fat Nigerian Dwarf FLY across a pasture, but that doesn't mean a goat could sustain a speed like that.
 

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There's a fair amount of information on the internet. 25-30% body weight seems the top weight quoted.
 

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In the comments after the article it was mentioned that using goats in the wilderness may be outlawed. The main concern seemed to be disease transmission where there might be bighorn goats. Bit of a bummer.
 
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