Goats make good pets and are pleasant dairy animals. They can be the extended members of your family as they’re friendly, active, and curious. When compared to some of the farm animals, goats are fairly easy to handle. They don’t need to be cared for constantly. You just have to provide them food, water, and shelter to make them happy.
As they’re herd animals, you must have at least two of them for their well-being. They always like to have someone for company. You might be considering adding goats to your homestead at the moment. If you’ve already decided to get some, you might want to know more about them. Here we’ve presented the five essential elements of goat care for you:
You’ll need to provide shelter to your goats. They love the warmth and might fall sick if they’re out in unpleasant weather. Don’t go for a fancy shelter. All you need is a simple, three-sided structure. Make sure that the open side faces south unless it’s where the wind comes from.
It’s absolutely important to have a strong roof. You must have a space of at least 20 square feet inside the shelter. However, additional space would be needed according to the size and number of goats. Make sure that you have a dirt floor inside the shelter. It’s the best for goats, as it lasts long and provides better drainage.
Sawdust or straw can be used for their bedding, especially during winter. You must either change or clean their bedding once in a week. In the colder months, you can clean or change it once a month.
You must install strong fences around the shelter of your goats. There are several options in fencing, such as welded wire, cattle panels, and woven wire. Make sure that the fencing is at least four feet high. The fences must also be strong enough to avoid them from being pulled down.
Once they get a good running start, goats can jump greater heights. They might also push the fence upon seeing you coming with some treats for them. Goats can also try to push the fence to seek your attention.
3. Outdoor spaces
A space of at least 200 square feet per goat must be provided in the fenced run. Of course, having more space would make them happier. They can be tied in such a way that they’re able to eat in different areas of the yard.
You must have an eye on them often when you tie them outside. There’s always a possibility of the goats getting themselves wrapped around things. Usually, this happens when they’re eating their way through the grass, leaves, or weeds.
Goats would need a constant supply of fresh food and water. They’ll appreciate a little warmer water during winters. It’ll be a good idea to use five-gallon buckets filled with water for them. Pregnant goats or the ones in heat would need supplemental feed. The amount of feed they require would greatly depend on their size and weight.
About three cups a day are required for pregnant goats. The ones that are being milked would need a lot more. Some goat owners allow them to eat as much as they want. Hay and forage must also be provided for them every day. You can also buy or construct a hay feeder. This can prevent the hay from getting wasted.
Many goats prefer weed hay and alfalfa as well. You can give these treats to your goat every now and then to keep them in a good mood. If you’ve got some weeds and trimmings while clearing your yard, they can also be given. It would be a good idea to let your kids feed them leaves, dandelions, and weeds.
You can bring some of the treats from the yard yourself. Goats might miss most of the stuff available in the yard while eating. Make sure that you clear your yard of any plants or grass that are toxic to goats. They’ll mostly avoid things that can make them sick, but this might not happen always.
Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals for goats can be purchased from a nearby feed store. Make sure that these foods are labelled for goats and not for sheep.
You need to provide your goats with some routine care, which would keep them healthy. This involves certain things that need to be done frequently. Some of them are necessary only when an urgent need arises. Here are some of the things involved in routine care:
Trimming of hooves: As humans need to trim their fingernails, the hooves of goats must also be trimmed. It would be great to invest in a nice and sharp pair of trimmers. This will help you keep their hooves in a good shape.
Vaccinations: Not every goat owner believes in vaccinating the animals. Although it might not seem important, it’s good to have the goats vaccinated for Tetanus. If this disease is detected early, it’s almost impossible for the goats to recover from it. It is, therefore, highly recommended that you vaccinate your, goats. You must do your bit of research and make an informed decision with regards to the vaccinations.
Deworming: You must certainly watch out for signs of intestinal worms in your goats. In recent times, there are herbal dewormers available that are much more effective and safer than chemical dewormers. You can get an effective herbal dewormer online or from one of the local feed stores. You must also ask for the doses of the dewormer that needs to be given to your goats.
Emergencies: You must always be prepared for an emergency. It would be great if you have a medicine cabinet with all the basic supplies. Additionally, you must have the number of a vet who has an excellent knowledge about goats. Generally, goats can take care of themselves, but they do get into trouble sometimes.
They might break a horn, get injured, or fall sick mostly because of worms. So, a good amount of preparation would avoid any untoward situations.