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Basic Goat Care for New Goat Keepers

If you are thinking about getting goats it’s a good idea to have an overview of basic goat care.

Basic Goat Care Essentials

Goats can have a bit of a learning curve when moved, so get your basic goat care down first before you bring your new goats home. It’s always a good idea to have everything set up and prepared BEFORE you get a new animal.


-Educate yourself as much as possible before purchasing a goat. It is important to know what you are signing up for. Read through some books and reliable educational websites.

-Build your fencing and shelter (see below for tips)

-Have feed and any essentials from the feed store prepared. We like to go to Top Shelf in Duncan to buy our feed and supplies.

-Choose a local vet before hand. Make sure they have agreed to accept you as a client. 

Goat Proofing Your Yard

Goats really are escape artists. They can fit through tiny holes, and jump onto and over the most unlikeliest things. A good rule of thumb is that if your cat can get past the fence so can the goats. Chain link fencing is best. Electric can be good too. Nothing less than four feet tall will keep a goat in, and even then you may need to go up to six feet.


Feeding

Goats should not have full access to feed concentrates. Goats are very efficient browsers and can readily make use of many plants and growth on your property even if you don’t have grass pasture. They will stand on their hind legs to reach the branches and leaves they want and they have a high tolerance to plants that other species find toxic. People often utilize a goat herd to clear poison ivy as it seems to be a favourite food of goats, with no complications.


If you keep your goats in a barn or a dry lot with hay feeding, you might want to supplement with a small amount of grain. The amount will vary depending on the size of your goat. Goats can colic easily from over eating concentrate feeds. Keep the feed outside of the barn. Voracious eaters, as most goats tend to be, will eat without stopping, so make sure you secure the feed. Feeding hay should keep them happy and provide nutrition and roughage. Fresh drinking water should always be available.

Nutrition & Health

Keeping goats requires that their health needs are tended to on a regular basis. In addition to making sure that you are feeding a quality goat chow to supplement any grazing, and providing fresh water each day, there are vaccinations to be updated and occasional de-worming medication that needs to be administered. The vaccinations given and the worming schedule is something that every goat owner should read up on and make their own decision about. If you are going to take your goats to shows, county fairs and other events, your decision may be different than others who have pet goats.


Goats hooves need to be trimmed periodically to prevent infection and keep the animals comfortable. It can be stressful to trim your goat's feet if you've never done it before, but the process is fairly straightforward. Take your time, be gentle, and avoid trimming into the pink portion of the hoof.

Shelter

Goats hate to get wet! They need a sheltered place to sleep and get out of the rain because goats cannot control their body temperature when wet ! They need a dry place to sleep, eat and exercise in. They also should have some shade in the summer time, so consider how the sun moves across the sky above your pasture.


Their hay, feed and water need to be kept clean and dry. Goats will step in their feed when they can- causing contamination from feces and possibly spreading intestinal diseases. Keep feeders off the ground. 

Playground

Goats love to jump, so make sure they have some different levels they can get to.

Straw bales, the top of an igloo, picnic tables, custom built platforms or cable spools are all good choices. Playgrounds will provide your goats with better health and will help maintain their nail growth. Playgrounds are also great for stimulation, a bored goat is a sad goat. They love to run and jump.