Goats/Thinking about getting a couple of goats
QUESTION: I have been thinking about getting a couple of goats to keep in my back yard for weed control. I have been researching feed, care, shelter, etc.. but I am still unsure if it is right for my type of situation. I have a large back yard that is fenced with an 8 foot wooden privacy fence. I have a smaller section fenced off with 4 ft field fencing for the dogs. I have free range chickens a geese in the larger portion. I want to keep the goats in this part to keep down the weeds. Will this setup be safe for goats? I am worried that they would chew the wooden fencing. Also, if I am grazing them, would I still need to feed grass hay and grains everyday?
ANSWER: It is never a guarantee that goats would not chew on the wood fence - if there was anyway to put another field type fence around the area or even to put up a hot wire on the fence to keep them away from it that could guarantee they would not chew on it. Re the height - that is great. Chickens and geese are okay as pasture partners but you might find that the goats will eat the chicken and geese feed/grain - and that is not good for the goats. Goats are really browsers and not grazers - that means goats like weeds and bushes and other things instead of grass. But that does not mean they would not eat the grass down a little. Also, depending on the size of the goats you get and the weather/seasons this will decide on what extra feed, if any they would need. Where are you located? Shelter is of course important for goats - not that they need a barn but do need a place out of the rain, sun, and a dry place too. Hope this helps - let me know - Donna
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: I live in Southern Idaho. Shelter is not a problem. I have the geese for the grass up keep, but they don't do much with the weeds.I can keep the flock feed out of the goats reach. In the warmer months would it be ok to just let them browse on the weeds without supplementing the grass hay?
ANSWER: Thanks for the info. Depending on how many weeds you have will depend on what goats need for maintenance feed. As a general rule a goat that is healthy and has a good lumbar score (not thin or not fat) can be maintained on a diet of 3% of its body weight per day - that would mean a 100 pound goat must have at least 3 pounds of total feed (of which at least 2/3 of that must be in browse/hay if you are also giving grain). An example of feed intake for a goat is the following - I have 23 goats (2/3 adult and 1/3 growing) and once a week I let them out on a 2 1/2 acre pasture that has grasses, trees, brush, weeds, etc. They are on it for about 4 to 6 hours and in that time period they all get enough for their feed intake of that day so do not get extra hay. Best thing to do is understand lumbar scoring of the goats so you can watch them to be sure they are getting enough food/nutrition from just the pasture/browse they are on. Lumbar scoring is from 1 to 5 where 1 is skinny and 5 is fat and 3 is where you want your goat to be. You check the backbone, the ribs and the tailhead - on the backbone and ribs you want to be able to feel these easily but not see them easily nor not have to push in in order to find them; re the tailhead you want a smoothness around the tailhead for a 3, if the area looks "inflated" then that is fat and if it is "sunken in" then that is skinny. That's the basics of lumbar scoring - let me know if that helps - Donna
Forgot to ask when you said shelter was not a problem - does that mean you have a shelter for them already?
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: This was very helpful. I now have a much better understanding on what is needed to feed a goat and maintain healthy weight. I do have several shelters available all ready. I would also have one exclusively made for the goat. All my critters get their own "condos". :)
I also read not to feed the hay on the ground directly. Is this true?
Glad I could help. Re feeding on the ground, it is a good idea to not feed on the ground - I use laundry baskets and other type of large plastic feeders/storage containers for the hay. Hope that helps - Donna
Forgot to say to keep away from "horse" type feeders as goats can get their heads stuck in them.