Goats have long been a part of the American farming tradition. While goats are great for milk, meat, and clearing acres of brush and weeds, they do have their challenges. We chatted with a Northwest livestock expert about her goats and what you should expect if you plan to add a goat or two (or more) to your daily routine.
Emily Ruckert is an Albany, Oregon native and lambing expert who helps run her family’s clover, grass seed, and sheep farm. She’s a busy woman. She also has a small pack of goats that take up a fair share of her time.
Goats are Social Creatures
As Emily found out, goats like to be around other goats. When they are not, they tend to get spoiled.
“Maude was my only goat for three years,” Emily said with a sly grin. “She’s the worst goat in the world. You don’t just want one goat, because they don’t develop proper goat behavior.”
That Saanen dairy goat is still with Emily and has given her many kids (baby goats). Emily suggests getting at least two goats, but also says the number of goats depends on what you plan to do with them, and how much work you want to do each day.
Coastal vocabulary: A male goat is called a buck, unless he’s neutered, then he is a wether. A female goat is a doe.
Milk, Meat, or Ground Clearing
Goats excel at a few things, including milk production and clearing brush, weeds, and other vegetation from your property. According to Emily, there is a market for goat meat as well.
As you might expect, milking can take up a lot of time. Dairy goats need to be milked daily, every day, all year long. As Emily will point out, country life isn’t easy. It also doesn’t allow for many vacations or any days off.
Daily Feeding and Watering
Like any animal, goats need plenty of food and water. Emily feeds her goats once a day with alfalfa and orchard grass hay.
“They love it,” Emily added. “If they’re hungry, they will scream at you. That’s how you know you need to feed them more. If they’re bedded down and chewing their cud, they’re happy.”
Goats that are out all day grazing might not be getting enough nutrients. Be sure you are prepared to supplement your goat’s feed to deliver the proper nutrients and keep them healthy. Emily also suggests giving goats a 15-pound Vitalix Goat Choice Tub for plenty of protein.
“They eat them like candy.”
Goats Can be Delicate
While goats are hardy creatures that will jump and climb everywhere, chew on almost anything, and push their way into any area with green grass and delicious vegetation, they can also get sick rather quickly.
“Goats need their shots,” Emily said. “They can get sick and die in a day. It’s important to learn how to take care of them or you’ll have some huge vet bills.”
Goats Pick on Each Other
The more headstrong a goat, the more likely he or she will be to pick on the smaller goats. When introducing new goats to your herd, try to do it in pairs. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep like-sized goats to avoid one goat intimidating the others.
You Might Want a Goat Guard Dog
When Emily started taking her goats out to other properties to help clear brush and vegetation, she also got herself a goat guard dog named Everest.
According to Emily, Everest is there to keep the goats safe and contained.
“The dog does her job, but you need electric netting to keep goats contained,” she said with authority. “They are generally unhappy creatures and want what they cannot have. You can have them on the best possible pasture and they will want to eat out of the ditch if they cannot reach it.”
Get Your Goat Supplies at Coastal
You’ll find fencing, feed, medications, and plenty of goat-specific answers at you Northwest owned and operated Coastal. Stop by your local store and go home with everything you need for your farm, ranch, or bit of country paradise.