Wednesday, March 31, 2010

::mini goat housing and care::

I love my goats!  They are really smart and funny.  The are at least as bright as a dog if not more so.  Their little mouths are so dexterous that they can undo most latches and they can really get up to some serious trouble.  They are fun to train and enjoy the interaction.  On the down side - they can be very loud and stubborn.  They drive Josh crazy because they refuse to listen to him.  Which shouldn't be funny, but is.

bob the goat - dead last
this was our first year and the judge told us Bob was in "poor condition"  
We have learned from that

the next year we did much better

We have two nigerian dwarf's and two pygmy goats.  Three are whethers (neutered males) and one pygmy is a doe.  We hope to breed the doe some day.  She was the first baby goat I every helped birth and I can't wait to help dry off her babies some day.  My grandbaby goats.  (Josh would cringe horribly at this point)

I am no expert.  All the information that I have about goats in from my own experiences, the two books I read about it, and any website that would teach me about it.  Take these tips with a grain of salt.  They only thing I know for sure is that you must train your goats to come when called.  When they get loose I have taught them to come.  If I shake some grain they come RUNNING from anywhere.  

In my barn we have a 6 foot by 12 foot dog kennel that has a trimmed out hole leading to a paddock that is about 14 feet by 40ish feet.  The dog kennel has a rubber mat floor and the door has to have a hook thru the latch to stop the goats from opening it.  Which they love to do if you forget to put it on, then they happily eat all my strawberry's.  This size pen seems to be fine for the four goats, but was too tight when we had six goats.  

baby bob

When they walk out of the inside they have an extra scrap of rubber mat to stop them from turning that area into a mud hole.  My goats hate bad weather and only come out when the weather is good.  They don't really care about cold, they just don't like being wet.  They like being able to get in or out as they see fit.  It has a high outlet that I can plug a heated bucket into in the winter.

To maintain the pen we scoop out the inside area and fill it with fresh shavings about every three months or so.  It would be better if we did it every two months or so, but that is a super crummy job.  We rack out the outside run about three times a year.
see the toys for them to play on?

During the winter I sometimes move them into a 12/12 foot horse stall so they have more floor space, since they will not go outside for most of the winter anyway.
grazing in the shade and living in harmony with the dogs

People think that goats eat anything, but that is very far from the truth.  They are very picky and with their little mouths they can pick around just about anything.  I give them one-two large flakes of hay every day.  If the weather is even close to decent I put the hay outside, but if not I throw it in the dog kennel.  

Around late spring I start feeding them Show Goat feed.  About one scoop in two different floor buckets., two buckets so they don't fight over the feed as much.  Then about three weeks before fair I double that amount of feed.  During this time period I also double the amount of hay I give them.  I want them freshly fat for fair.  As soon as fair is over I start taking away the feed slowly over the course of a month.  

Last year I let them roam the yard when I was home.  They loved the exploring, but I am too focused on the garden working this year to let that happen right now. They never left the property.  

Maintenance grooming:
They don't need regular baths.  They hate it and so do I.  But they need their feet trimmed about every other month.  (Man, are they overdue right now!)  They go thru an entire process to get show groomed but I will post on that when we get to that time of year.  If you think I am crazy wait till you see that whole process!
tasting the halloween hay ride

They are cheap to keep and easy to love.  If I had my way I would buy 6 or so hog panels and a big dog house, and make that into a portable summer pasture.  I could just move it around the farm letting them summer graze on fresh green grass, which is good for their spirit and all those good nutrients makes them fat and sassy.  Maybe next year.  Too many pots on the fire this year.   

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