I have recently been asked “If you love goats so much, why do you tell people not to get them?” The answer is simple, if more people would educate themselves before buying animals, I wouldn’t tell them not to buy goats. People do not do the research, and they end up getting a bunch of animals that they are not prepared to care for. But the reality is that goats are not for the feint of heart and they are not beginner livestock.
Goats are NOT beginner livestock
I wrote my post about goats coming to the homestead and I will be honest, I left a lot of information out. Mainly because it was a piece designed to give a brief snap shot of why and how we have come to love our goats. But I feel, especially after what I said above, that I needed to be a little more clear about why I feel this way.
The plan truth is that it is easier to kill a goat than keep it alive when you are just starting out. When we first bought Bella and Voldemort, we knew that he had worms. But we had absolutely no idea what that actually meant. If a dog has worms, you give it a pill and repeat again in a week. After that you should be good to go. With goats it’s not that easy. In fact, goats will easily die from worms and quickly.
Goats Die Easily
There is a treatment protocol that is now in place because farmers have overtreated for parasites and it has caused resistance to these dewormers. Instead of two doses of one dewormer, it is multiple doses of several dewormers over several days/weeks. If you don’t know these things, you will lose goats before you are ever really comfortable with them.
Then there are plants are toxic and can kill them or the predators out there. Or that if their rumen gets out of whack, they could die. I have an entire book of treatment protocols that I have gone over with my vet to make sure I am doing the right thing.
That being said, once you understand what you are doing and why, it is extremely easy to keep them going. With regular herd checks and individual checks, your herd can thrive. We’ve had some touch and go moments since owning goats and we have managed to pull most of them through.
Having Medications On Hand
Unlike your dog, cat or even chickens, you need to have medications on hand for goats and know how to use them. Goats can take Aspirin, but if you don’t know how often or the dosage you could kill them. You need to have antibiotics on hand for things like pneumonia, antitoxin for injuries, thermometers for temp checks and minerals for their general health.
Good luck finding a vet that will treat your goat. Seriously, we got incredibly lucky that not only does our vet treat ALL of our animals, they are goat owners themselves. So they know how to take care of small ruminants, which is huge when figuring out how to take care of these creatures.
I have a tool box that I carry when doing herd checks. It is packed to the brim and a binder that lists medications, FAMACHA scores, weights and much more. I conduct herd checks weekly to make sure that we catch any possible illness before they happen. Even with all that, we ended up with two pregnant goats that we didn’t catch until a few weeks before delivery.
But once you learn what you need to do to care for them appropriately, they are worth it. Every time they bleat when you come into their pen. Their antics when they are playing fighting, and more is so worth every ounce of heartbreak when you lose one.
Goat People vs Everyone Else
There are two types of people when it comes to goats. There are people who have goats and people who love their goats. I know many people who have goats and they are just that, a goat. Goat people truly love their goats. I have chickens, I like them and they’re pretty cool but I don’t love them. I am not a chicken person. I’m not going to snuggle my chickens. I’m not going to check on them constantly. If one goes missing? I’m not going to be upset.
My goats? I cried when we lost Voldemort and Texas. My kids bawled with Texas. I refused to entertain the notion of another goat after that for about 5 minutes because I love these goats. I am a goat person. I have spent untold hours researching everything I can about them. I have spent more money on them then I care to admit, but they are my babies.
So No Goats are NOT beginner livestock
They just aren’t. But that is coming from a goat person. Someone who truly loves these animals and wants you to love them too. So if you want goats, by all means, get goats. They are really cool critters that have absolutely stolen my heart. But understand what you are getting into. It’s not all sunshine and roses.
Sometimes it’s recognizing that your goat isn’t acting right and getting in there with a thermometer, FAMACHA chart and figuring it out. Or collecting poop and storing it in your fridge until you can get it to the vet. It’s keeping goats in your house because they could die at any minute and you need to be there to try and stop it. It’s realizing that despite your best efforts some may die and there’s not a lot you can do to stop it.
But it’s also having your goats sing to you as you come down your driveway- RIP Texas
It’s getting snuggles from your best girl- Champ
It’s playing, getting headbutts, and dodging a buck in full rut- Midas
It’s slowly, so slowly winning the affection of Queen Bee- Bella
It’s watching two girls grow and start to play and call out for you- Oakley and Bailey
It’s helping deliver the first goat born on your homestead- Stella
It’s wethering your first buck- BeeBee
It’s being surprised by a new kid on the ground and not realizing your girl was that close- Bailey and Sebastian
It’s doctoring a sore shoulder because he jumped off a log- Finnegan
It’s listening to a tiny bleat from a huge goat with a comb over- Spike
It’s watching 2 little girls melt my husbands heart with every whiny bleat and nibble- Jade and Sapphire
So while they may not be beginner livestock, they are absolutely worth the time, energy, effort and money that goes into their care and keeping.
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