There are a ton of ways to get a goat. You could go to your local livestock auction, look on different market places, or find a breeder local to you. Goats are not difficult to find, but what you see is not always what you get. At least with the goat itself. There are questions you need to ask about your prospective goats and if you are not well versed? You are probably going to get taken advantage of. Before you learn what to ask before you get goats, you need to ask yourself some questions first. A goat health checklist if you will.
Before we get too far into this, I have a great course on the basics of goat care. I call it Goat Crash Course: Goat 101. In this course, I explain things like types of shelter, types of feeds and hays, basic assessments and so much more! Check it out!
Why do you want goats? Is it for fiber? Land clearing? Diary? Breeding? Just because?
Do you have a secure area for them to be in? Is it safe from predators?
Are you willing to get and do all the things that they need to be healthy and happy?
Are you squeamish with blood, guts, poop, or birthing?
Now What Do You Ask A Breeder?
When I was thinking of all the questions I would ask a breeder, I struggled for two reasons. 1) There are a ton of questions that I ask. But they are based off of what my goals are for my herd. 2) A lot of people raise their goats in different ways and their philosophies with raising goats may not be the same as mine or yours. That being said, no matter what your philosophy is, these are some pretty standard questions to ask before buying a goat.
When was the goat born? How many kids did the doe have?
Any complications to the doe or kids during delivery?
Is the goat horned, polled or disbudded?
Are they registered or registerable?
Do you worm your entire herd or just those with a positive fecal? What were the results of the last fecal?
Are they up to date on any vaccines, bloodwork, or whatever is applicable in your area/ philosophy.
As A Breeder
I am pretty bougie when it comes to my goats. I would rather hold onto a kid or goat than see it go to someone who isn’t up to my standard. To be honest, my standard isn’t that high. There are just some foundational beliefs that I have. Beliefs that comes from a ton of research. That person could be a brand new goat owner or someone who’s been doing this for a hundred years. While I care about their experience level, what I actually care about is simple. Are my goats going to a home that I want them to live in? So what are the answers to those ten questions?
First, our goats started out as “long term lawn mowers” to quote Jared. The longer we had them, the more we fell in love. Now, we breed for dairy as well as land clearing and *gasp* meat.
Second, we do have a safe and secure area for our animals. But we also allow them to free range from late spring to mid/late fall. We have a barn that will be rebuilt over the summer/fall. Our barn protects our females from predators. Our bucks do not have a barn but do have predator lights and a clear line of sight. They are also huge and normally a coyote will not mess with them.
Third, it took us a second but we have pretty much everything they need. It’s not just having food and water for them. Though you can definitely get away with that for a while. You also need medications, syringes, and more. If you are going to get goats to have them “rot in a pasture”, I guess you don’t need those things. But you also won’t be getting one of my goats.
Fourth, when you have goats, you will have poop and blood in your fridge. When they kid, you could have your arm elbow deep inside them, trying to reposition a kid. Giving an injection to a screaming goat is not for the faint of heart. Are you ready for all that?
Now, as a breeder I’m going to answer these questions. Because the answers are extremely important.
I know when every goat was brought or born on my homestead. I have a herd health sheet that tells me everything that has been done to those goats. If someone was to ask, I can tell them all about the parents genetics, polled/disbudded, last fecals, and more.
I’m also going to tell you that I think that if you want a breeder that will stand by their goats, you want registered goats. Usually, and yes this is a blanket statement, if someone takes the time, money and energy to register their herd, they are serious about their goats. I feel strongly that if I am going through a breeder that has a registered herd, I can all but guarantee the health of that goat. Especially if that breeder will also talk to me and answer any question I have.
When it comes to worming, vaccines, and bloodwork, I recommend doing your research first. I do not give dewormer as a preventative because it is causing resistance. I also do not deworm the entire herd unless there is a need. Goats have worms. They are supposed to, since it helps with their gut health. But by giving dewormer every month, you are creating more resistance. And they are not creating new or stronger wormers.
With bloodwork, I would strongly advise asking your vets or the goat owners in your area. Our vets are extremely knowledgeable goat owners. They said that there is not a need right now. We do not have issues with CL, CAE, or other diseases IN OUR AREA. If and or when that changes, we will start getting bloodwork done. We do vaccinate for tetanus but that’s about it.
Bonus Tip: No matter how well socialized your goat is at their farm. They will not be social at yours, at least at first. Our newest two girls and buck were extremely social while at their home farm. When they came to us, they wanted nothing to do with us. So be prepared to give them plenty of time to adjust and follow these tips on bonding with your goat.
Do What’s Right For You
At the end of the day, these are going to be your animals. You need to make sure that you are comfortable and happy with the care you are providing. These questions are just a checklist for brand new goat owners. But if you use common sense and don’t get suckered into buying a goat because they’re cute or in distress, you will be fine.
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