Managing and caring for goats can be fun. It can be a better experience if you prepare by reading up on the basics and by arming yourself with knowledge. Some common questions about keeping goats will help you feel more confident as an animal caretaker and will help reduce the challenges of goat keeping.
Goats are herd animals
Keeping this in mind, you need to know how many goats you should keep safely, for a breeding program or for optimal milk production. You may wonder how many goats you should begin with and whether your climate affects milk production. You will also want to know what to feed the goats and whether grains or grasses or healthier for them.
Consider your options when planning
You may want to start out small and expand your herd as you gain confidence. Will your property be able to sustain a larger herd? You will also want to keep in mind what you want to do with the goats, the plan properly for the future.
Keep in mind that goats are animals and can face health issues. You need to know how changing weather can affect health and which diseases to immunize or watch for in the herd. Many illnesses can spread quickly from one animal to another. You will need to establish yourself with an appropriate large animal veterinarian or one that specializes in goats and herd animals, to assist in maintaining optimal health. Each goat may also come with its own set of health issues, depending on heredity.
Comfort, shelter, and water
You will want to plan for at least a shelter from the elements, if not a fully functional barn for the goats. They need shelter from winds and rain. They will also need a constant supply of water and land for grazing. If natural water sources are unavailable, you will have to supply this on a regular basis, at least a few times a day. Adequate grazing helps with milk production, disease control, and in achieving optimal health of the goats.
When considering grazing areas, fencing is another issue. It should be sturdy and safe, to prevent injury or escape. Neighbors may not be as fond of your goats as you are, especially if they get into gardens, animal feeds, or areas where they can cause damage.
Choosing the right breeds
As there are over one hundred goat species, you will want to research the best ones for your climate, to meet your goals, and for space, you have available to keep them. The various breeds may affect size and coloring as well. Some breeds are better known for milk production, while others are not.
Buy from a reputable breeder or farm
When selecting your goats, make sure you buy them from a reputable breeder known within the goat farming community. This will help reduce the number of health issues you may face, keep veterinary bills to a minimum, and will ensure good milk production, if this is desired. You also want to make sure each animal you bring home is healthy, up to date on immunizations, and is given a clean bill of health by a knowledgeable veterinarian.