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What Do Goats Need? The Starter Guide

Did you know that goats have a special digestive system that lets them eat almost anything? Even plants that may be poisonous to other animals are consumable by goats. One of the many unique things about goats.

Well, you’re here because you’re thinking of getting one of these fabulous creatures. Whether you’re a seasoned goat owner or just starting out, this guide will help you!

We’ll go over all the grooming and general supplies your goat needs and why it’s important to ensure they stay healthy and happy. So, grab your shepherd’s staff, and let’s dive into the world of goat care together!

Feeders

Let’s start with the absolute essentials.

When it comes to feeding your goats, there are a few key points to consider: food, water, and minerals (optional but recommended).

Hay Feeders

To feed your goats hay efficiently, it’s a good idea to invest in a hay feeder. This will help minimize wasted hay, as goats have a habit of tossing it on the ground and often neglect to eat it afterward. By using a hay feeder, you can ensure that your goats have access to fresh and clean hay at all times.

Feeders also keep it from contamination by dirt, feces, and parasites which can lead to health issues such as internal parasites and respiratory problems.

A good quality hay feeder keeps the hay elevated and clean.

The two most common types of feeders are ground feeders and hanging feeders. We recommend hanging feeders for convenience as they typically are easier to move around. Check out this video below to see if it is right for you.

Water Bucket or Trough

Providing a 2-gallon water bucket or trough for your goats ensures they have constant access to clean water. This is crucial for their health and well-being. Goats need to drink water regularly throughout the day to stay hydrated and maintain their bodily functions.

A 2-gallon water bucket is recommended because it is easy to handle and allows for fresh water to be provided twice a day. It’s important to refill the bucket regularly to ensure your goats always have access to clean water. In freezing temperatures, you may consider using a heated water bucket to prevent the water from freezing.

Mineral Feeders

Mineral feeders are essential for goats as they provide them with the necessary nutrients to maintain their health and well-being. 

You can easily obtain mineral feeders from online sources or farm supply stores. These feeders are designed specifically for goats and are usually made of durable plastic.

The recommended amount of minerals to place in the feeder ¼ to ½ onze, but always double-check the bag for specific instructions.

Grooming and General Supplies

If you’re caring for goats, you’ll need to know the basics of goat grooming and general supplies.

From hoof trimmers to thermometers, brushes to collars and leashes, it’s important to have the right items on hand to keep your goats healthy and happy.

With the right knowledge and supplies, you can easily care for your goats and make sure they have everything they need.

Hoof trimmers

Proper hoof care is essential for keeping your goat healthy. Hoof trimmers are an important tool for maintaining it. Hoof trimming keeps a goat’s feet comfortable and should be done regularly, depending on the goat’s individual needs.

Hoof issues can be a bigger concern when your animals walk on soft ground or surfaces. But don’t worry! If they have plenty of opportunity to move around on hard, dry surfaces, their hooves will naturally stay in good shape. 

However, for animals that tend to overeat or experience chronic laminitis or fast hoof growth, it’s important to consider hoof trimming about every 6 weeks to prevent any problems.

Factors such as the goat’s age, foot size, and activity level can affect the frequency of hoof trimming. It’s important to use sharp tools when trimming hooves. This Zenport pair is a good option. 

Dull tools can cause pain and even damage to the goat’s hooves. To ensure proper hoof care, be sure to invest in sharp, quality hoof trimmers.

Thermometers

Taking your goat’s temperature is an important step in ensuring its health. Livestock thermometers are specifically designed for farm animals and provide the most accurate readings. 

When you’re looking for thermometers, you want one with a soft, flexible tip so you’re not hurting your lovely goats if they need their temperature taken.

It can be really helpful to have a helping hand when checking the temperature of your adult or larger animals. They can hold the animal in a standing or reclined position while you do the temperature check. 

In case your animals are not very tame, you can make things easier by securing them with a collar and rope to a gatepost. Even when your animal is secured, it’s always a good idea to have someone there to assist in keeping them steady while you insert the thermometer and get an accurate reading.

To take a temperature, gently insert the thermometer under the tail, partway into the rectum about 2.5 inches and hold it there for three minutes. If your goat’s temperature is over 103 degrees F, you’ll want to call the veterinarian and let them know. Following these steps correctly will give you an accurate reading and help you monitor your goat’s health.

Brushes

Using brushes on your goat is an essential part of its grooming routine. It helps keep their coat and skin clean and prevent or eliminate lice. Good care is not just providing food and water, when you brush your goats, you get an up close and personal look at their skin which can help prevent future issues early on if spotted.

You also get the added benefit of bonding with your animal. By brushing them, it removes all of the loose hair and increases blood flow.

Why not take advantage of this time and look at the rest of their body to inspect for other health-related issues? We typically brush our gates later in the Spring time.

Taking the time to give your goat the proper care it needs will help keep it healthy and happy for many years to come.

Collars and leashes

Adding collars and leashes to your goat’s grooming routine is important in caring for them. Collars and leashes help with easier handling and control of your goat during grooming, transportation, and medical procedures. They come in various types, such as adjustable nylon collars and sturdy leashes.

Choosing the right one for your goat depends on their size and breed. You can ensure your goat is safe and comfortable with the right collar and leash. Always keep an eye on your goats while they’re wearing them, as they can become entangled in objects or trees.

With the right fit and regular use, collars and leashes can help you better manage and care for your goat.

Shelter

When it comes to providing shelter for your goats, there are several key points to consider.

First, you’ll need a goat pen or barn where they can be safely housed. Proper fencing is essential to keep your goats secure and prevent them from wandering off.

Additionally, choosing the right bedding material, such as wood shavings, is important for their comfort and hygiene.

If you have horned goats, providing them with more room to ensure their safety and prevent any potential injuries is crucial.

Goat Pen or Barn

To ensure the safety and well-being of your goats, it’s crucial to have a goat pen that meets their needs. Ideally, each individual goat should have around 200-250 square feet of living space in the pen, with an additional 20 square feet for their sleeping areas.

With Bucks, you’ll want about 27-40+ square feet per goat, and weaned kids will need around 5-10 square feet each.

Make sure that your shelter has proper roofing and can protect them from rain and snow. It needs to have at least 3 sides to the shelter with a roof.

Remember, goats are social animals and prefer living in pairs or groups. Having at least two or three goats in a pen is recommended to prevent loneliness and stress.

Plan ahead for the future growth of your goat herd by having the ability to expand the pen or having multiple pens when needed.

Fencing

Start with a secure fence, as goats are known for their ability to escape. Make sure the fence is sturdy and high enough to keep them contained and that the fence reaches all the way to the ground.

You can start with some welded panels based on the size of the pen you want to create. Typically you’ll want no larger than 4×4” strands in the fence that is at least 4 feet high.

Goats are notorious for testing boundaries, so reinforcing areas that are prone to wear and tear is a wise investment. Electric wire can also be used as a deterrent to keep goats from challenging the fence, though we recommend first getting the fence and trying it out and reinforcing naturally.

Play area

You’ll want to make sure that the goats don’t get bored (that’s when they start working at your fence!).

Here are some ideas for finding items or building your own entertainment for your goats.

Bedding

Goats typically like to climb higher as it makes them feel safer. You can build shelves on varying levels and add in some straw or other soft material.

We typically provide straw as bedding for our goats as they are pretty good at absorbing moisture as well, keeping the area clean and with fewer odors.

In cold climates, straw offers insulation and helps keep your goats warm during chilly nights. 

Horned Goats needs

Horns serve as more than just a striking visual characteristic; they are also vital tools for these animals. Horns act as status signals within the herd, helping to establish dominance and maintain order. 

Additionally, horns aid in dissipating heat, allowing goats to regulate their body temperature effectively. Moreover, horns provide a means for goats to scratch themselves, relieving any discomfort or itchiness they may experience.

Given these factors, it is important to make necessary adjustments to housing and handling techniques when caring for horned goats. Providing wider avoidance space and ensuring sturdy fencing are just some of the measures you should take to ensure the safety and well-being of your horned goats.

Goat Health at Your Homestead

Bringing up goats in your own green extended family requires careful attention to their health for a happy flock. Part of ensuring this is to vaccinate them, providing a shield against numerous diseases. There may be many vaccination options, but the primary ones center around Clostridium perfringens types C and D (enterotoxemia), and tetanus. 

Understanding Clostridium Perfringens Types C and D (Enterotoxemia)

Clostridium perfringens is a bacteria group responsible for enterotoxemia. This condition can prove fatal for goats if not controlled in time. These bacteria are usually harmless, as they live in the intestines of many healthy animals, but can become harmful if their presence excessively multiply or when routine precautions aren’t undertaken. They can release toxic substances that harm the intestines and other parts, leading to sudden death in acute situations. Administering the CDT or CD&T vaccine helps shield your livestock from this deadly threat. 

Understanding Tetanus

Tetanus, often referred to as “lockjaw,” is a harmful infection triggered by Clostridium tetani bacteria. It thrives in soil which has been soiled with manure and other organic scraps and can infiltrate the goat’s body via wounds or cuts, even from disbudding, dehorning, and castration procedures. Once these bacteria breach the body’s barriers, they produce toxins that adversely affect the nervous system, resulting in stiff muscles and paralysis, and frequently, death. It’s strongly recommended that a tetanus vaccination be given as a safeguard measure against this easily preventable disease.

Signs to Look Out For When a Goat is Sick or Unwell

If your goat is showing signs of illness or unusual behavior, such as not eating, having a hot udder, limping or staggering, or having a runny nose or eyes, it’s important to take immediate action and seek veterinary care.

These symptoms could indicate a range of health issues, from infections to nutritional deficiencies.

Not eating could be a sign of a larger problem, as goats have a hearty appetite. A hot udder may indicate mastitis, a painful infection that requires prompt treatment. Limping or staggering could be a result of injury or a hoof-related issue. And a runny nose or eyes may indicate respiratory problems.

Ready to goat?

In conclusion, taking care of goats requires proper knowledge and preparation. From providing a sturdy shelter to creating functional feeders, it’s important to address their needs to ensure their well-being.

Additionally, having essential healthcare supplies on hand is crucial for addressing any potential issues. Remember, ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ By being proactive and meeting the needs of your goats, you can create a comfortable and healthy environment for them to thrive.

-Jen

Heads up: while I always try to do my research for my articles, these are for entertainment purposes only. If you are reading this for the purpose of making major financial or life decisions, please consult a professional before doing so. By reading and using my website, you are agreeing to my terms and conditions. Thanks y’all!

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