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So, you’ve decided to bring home goats- great! But are you prepared? Bringing home new goats can be incredibly stressful both for the goats and the goat keepers. Making sure you’re well prepared can make a world of difference for both of you.
Basic Goat Needs
At the very least, before you bring home goats for the first time, there are some basic supplies you will need:
- Another goat. You can not own just one goat. They are herd animals and need at least one goat companion. I cannot emphasize that enough.
- Plentiful good quality hay to be free fed at all times, and a safe and stable feeder to put it in
- Water bucket
- Mineral feeder that can be wall mounted
- Goat specific loose minerals, free fed at all times. Goats do not care for mineral salt blocks due to their lack of upper front teeth, and will not get the minerals they need from them
- Baking soda, free fed at all times. This helps the goats to keep their rumen regulated again bloat and general acid upsets
- Hoof trimmers
- Rubber bowls or wall mounted feeders if you plan to feed grain
- Good, draft free shelter with ventilation. A three sided shelter is good in more moderate climates, but in areas where there are very winters, it’s best to have a four sided shelter than be closed up against sub zero temperatures. If the goat are shut outside of their primary shelter during the day, they will need some kind of run in to get out of the rain. Goats hate rain. For real.
- A well fenced, outside area for them to be able to get plenty of sunlight, fresh air, and safe forage
- Basic medications/treatments for common goat ailments, such as electrolytes and probiotics.
Bringing Home Baby Goats
Most people start with goats by bringing home babies. This can be one of the most challenging ways to get started with goats. If you’re getting damn raised kids, make sure they are over 8 weeks old, and fully weaned before you bring them home. Make sure they are drinking water and eating hay and fully prepared to be away from their dam.
If you take home young bottle babies, make sure you know the basics on bottle feeding, and you are prepared to commit to the time and attention they need to be fed often, on a regular schedule.
Bringing Home Adult Goats
When bringing in adult goats, it’s always nice to bring them in with another adult goat from their previous herd if possible. This will give them a buddy they know, and keep them from being lonely if they need to be quarantined before entering your existing herd. Be sure you are familiar with the personalities of any adult goats you will be taking on, as a wild adult goat can be a challenge to tame, and established bad habits, hard to break.
Starting with a few mature goats can be a great way to go, as they will he heartier and less dependent on you. It’s easy to be excited about cute baby goats, but mature goats can be just as much fun, and far more relaxing.
Do your Homework First
Before you bring home goats for the first time, make sure that you are zoned to be able to keep them on your property. Nothing is more disappointing than investing the time and money into getting goats established, only to be told they have to go.
Find a good veterinarian in the area that sees goats. There will come a time when you will need one, I promise.
Read! Make sure you’re getting the right kind of goat for what you’re looking for. Do your research to make sure you’re buying from a well-established breeder with a disease free herd. Do what you can to learn about basic goat behavior, proper nutrition, basic health concerns, and more, so that your goat keeping days are only filled with good surprises.