How To Get Started Raising Goats
So, you’ve seen the pictures of those cute dairy goats and now you wonder, “Could I raise some goats?”
Why yes you can.
10 Things You’ll Need:
1. Another Goat
Goats are herd animals and are happiest when they are living in one. Does that mean you need twenty goats. Nope. Two will do just fine. I know you’ve heard of people having just one goat that they tie to a post in a field. And that’s just fine for them, but the goat will be less apt to run off and eat your neighbor’s petunias if they have a friend. If you want to be a happy goat owner, you need more than one goat. Because a happy goat makes a very happy goat owner.
I know some people like to stake their goats out in a field rather than pay the expense of good fencing. But really, if a predator finds its way into that field, your goat doesn’t have a chance of surviving. If you’d like to keep your goat healthy, happy and alive, fencing is the way to go. We’ve found some really nice fencing as well as T-posts super cheap on craigslist. You want your fence to be at least 4 feet high. Higher is better to keep out predators. From what I’ve heard and read, the neighbors’ dogs seem to be the biggest worry for goat owners. A dog will kill a whole herd of goats in a matter of minutes. Whereas a coyote will kill one and then drag it off to eat it. If you feed your goats well and give them a companion, the only thing the fence is really for is to keep those dogs out.
3. A Three-Sided Shelter
Goats are not fond of the rain. I’ve read they can actually get pneumonia pretty easily if they get wet. So, they need a place to get out of the weather. This doesn’t need to be a complex structure. Look around on the internet for some ideas. We built the above shelter for just under $500. But you could buy someone’s old shed (or maybe you have one) and convert it to your barn. We have some friends who live in North Portland with 6 goats. They use Rubbermaid sheds. Face the front entrance South so the sun can bake any wetness in your barn.
The best quality you can buy. For your milking does, you’ll want 2nd or 3rd cutting alfalfa and a nice grass hay. The girls need the alfalfa especially because they need the calcium and protein that a good legume hay gives. Your boys really only need a good grass hay. Check around on craigslist. Many times you can find it much cheaper than at your local feed store.
5. Bedding Straw
We lay down a nice layer of bedding straw on the barn floor. This has a dual purpose. One, it gives a nice warm barrier between goat and dirt floor. And Two, it soaks up urine. We clean out the barn daily by scooping out poop and urine soaked straw. And then add a fresh layer of straw to the spots we cleaned.
6. Water Bucket
We like to hang our water buckets because Kathleen got tired of daily washing and sanitizing buckets that had gotten pooped in. It still happens occasionally, but not as frequently. We found our buckets at Coastal Farm and Ranch in Gresham. But you can find yours at any Wilco or Feed store.
7. A Goat Proof Gate Latch
I didn’t think it was possible, but goats can open gates. This latch is used where we keep our hay. And rest assured, if we happen to forget to latch this gate, there is a goat that seems to find their way into the motherload of hay. Just saying. You can find these latches at Coastal Farm and Ranch or Wilco. I think they’re only $4 or $5. Worth every penny.
For your girl goats (does) you’ll need some grain. We buy a molasses flavored mix of flaked corn, barley and oats and add some All Breed Feed. We buy ours at Coastal Farm and Ranch. The Grains are $11.99 and the All Breed Feed is about $12. How much grain you give your goats depends on the age and sex of your goats. Look here for some guidelines.
These can be loose or on a salt block. I’ve had other goat owners tell me that goats are not big lickers and so the salt licks are not as effective as the loose kind. We’ve only used loose minerals, so I can’t give personal testimony to the licks. The one thing I do know is that if you live in the Greater Portland Area (the Pacific Northwest), your minerals must have selenium in them. Our soils here are lacking greatly in this invaluable mineral. And goats really need it. That’s why I also try to buy hay from Eastern Oregon where the soil there has better selenium numbers.
10. A Good Goat Veterinarian
If you live in the Portland area, the best vet around is in Molalla at Woodburn Veterinarian Clinic. If you buy one of our goats, I’ll pass her information along to you.