I see, so kind of like dogs. Interesting. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
My husband is seriously talking about getting some goats. I think I'm going to need to do some reading up on these little creatures. Lots of people have goats around here, but I've never spent much time around them.
I don't bathe my goats. They shed naturally in spring, so no shearing necessary either. I did bathe horses, when I had them as a kid, but we rode horses, so they got all sweaty and had to carry the saddles and such, so more of a need.
Did your goat get into something that requires she be washed? If not, I wouldn't do it. The only thing I do is clip out burrs and such out of their beards, because I imagine it is uncomfortable walking around with a bunch of mats tugging at you.
I see, I was imagining that they would get rather stinky if not bathed. And I wondered about the health and hygiene connection.
Around here it seems people fall in one of two camps, either they have pristine pens and seemingly well groomed goats. Think 4-H. Or they see their goats as pure work horses and do things like tie up their goats to dog houses. You see them standing atop the boxes looking rather unhappy Poor things look so lonely and unkempt. Perhaps it's just my take on things, maybe they are not as unhappy as I imagine them to be. But they seem like social creatures with high energy, and they ones that are allowed to pasture with company seem rather content.
They are VERY social creatures, and instinctively, flock animals, so they feel much more secure around other goats or similar animals. That is why you hear about goats and dogs becoming friends. A single goat, with no companion, is a very stressed out and unhappy animal.
Mine are pastured, and I have about 25 of them, so they are pretty content.
That makes sense, like I said, the ones that are pastured seem pretty content.
Do you think that two goats would be enough company for each other. I'm sure there'd be a dog thrown in the mix. I ask because I just could never see us have 25 goats. LOL But you never know, my thoughts are evolving on these kinds of things. I just am not one to bite of more then I can chew, and would be quite distressed if my actions made any animal unhappy or unwell.
Two goats would be very happy together, and that is a small enough number to allow them to bond with you, as well. I started with six, but had two years in a row where my neighbor's billy goat got over his fences and got to my girls. Goats typically have twins, so it doesn't take long to get from six to twenty-five!! Of my twenty-five, I have about a third who are little velcro goats and will follow me around, about a third who never tamed down and will run from me, and about a third who love me when I have cookies, and won't run from me, but who could care less about me otherwise.
Goats are generally low-maintenance, vet-wise. I did not have any issues with the birthing, although I did have one baby who did not thrive, and I had to take him to UC Davis. Goats develop a hierarchy, but get along well once that is settled. You don't want a billy. They get VERY smelly when they are in season - like, a smell you can pick up from a quarter mile away smelly - not pleasant. And unless you are willing to sell/butcher the kids, a billy and doe will produce up four to six babies a year. All my male babies became wethers as soon as was practical. Wethers and does get along just fine. Does get along just fine without a male around. Wethers get along just fine without does, but if you get wethers, I would get older goats, because the younger ones can have issues with bladder stones, as their urethra doesn't develop fully and is more narrow, causing more of a possibility of blockage. Two billies would most likely not get along, as all that testosterone gets them competitive and aggressive toward each other.
That's a lot to chew on. I'm going to spend a lot more time researching this before I let DH make any plans for goats. He's been talking seriously about this. I've always been afraid that any animal we bring in I would not be able to let go of, or send to the butcher. My Uncle had cows and when a dairy cow stopped being productive, off to the auction she went. Except for this one girl that he absolutely adored. She followed him around just like a dog, she lived the rest of her days in cow heaven. Even the most hardened farmer has their moments.
I understand my DH's is thinking of a working type homestead kind of thing, I just worry about my ability to follow through. I'm not entirely sure I can stay detached. I didn't breed a dog of mine (which was the original intent) because I was afraid that the puppies may be mistreated, abandoned and deposited in shelters, or bred irresponsibly. Just could not do it.
All of this requires lots of research, and thought. Thank you MadHen for sharing your knowledge with me, you've been extremely helpful.
If you find it, check out the Storey guides for goats. I think they have one for meat and one for dairy. They are VERY comprehensive.
If you are raising them for profit, they are a good investment, because of the twin birth thing. They procreate quickly, and there IS a market for chevon (baby goat), but once you've held a baby goat in your arms it is VERY hard to send it to the butcher. I don't think that there are few animals who are cuter as babies.
If you don't want the brutality of butchering, maybe you can convince your husband that fiber goats are the way to go. My goats are all cashmere goats, except for one (and her offspring) who is an angora-cashmere cross. Angora goats would have to be sheared annually. Cashmere goats (and all goats put out cashmere, but some have more) shed naturally. You can sell the raw cashmere or have it cleaned, dyed, spun, etc into cashmere yarn. Same with angora. An easier route, if you want to go the shearing route, though, is alpaca. More bang for the buck. I'd suggest finding out, ahead of time, if there is someone in your area who can come out and shear (and/or teach you how to do it), as alpaca require a little extra work than goats to shear. (I've always seen a shearing table used for alpaca, which makes the process easier and faster, but which requires skill to use.) I have a friend who keeps a small variety of goats, sheep, and alpaca and who blends her own yarns. She has 20 acres, and she holds a fiber festival once a year, for fund-raising. She also sells her yarns on eBay.
Thank You MadHen! I'll look for those books! Any good ones on chickens & rabbits?
I'm not sure what exactly my DH has in mind, but I'd like to be throughly versed before I open up a discussion with him. If he thinks for a second he knows more about a subject then I I get railroaded. I say this with love, but with a slight bit of irritation.
It's important to me that if we are to go in this direction that it not be by impulse. The undertaking of caring for another/other life/lives is serious, and I want it treated as such. I need to see the path clearly before I tread on it.
Fiber festival! Sounds like lots of fun! We have no where near 20 acres, just a little over an acre and a half. But, I've seen small working farms on just an acre out this way, complete with goats, chickens, hogs, and a few other animals. Every square inch is garden or livestock. I'm not sure we could tend to much more land then we have, given that neither of us were raised on a farm, just surrounded by them.
Several of my Uncles all had/have small farms, nothing massive, enough to fed their families and the bills. My Mother was raised on a farm, but was always tender hearted when it came to the animals and could not see herself living the same life as her brothers. My one Uncle still raises rabbits and chickens for food, which I know is what my DH is thinking. All my Uncles are too far away from me to give me any hands on advice so I can't thank you enough for sharing your knowledge with me. It's extremely helpful to get ideas from someone in the know, and from someone who understands my reluctance for the knacker man. Most around here would think I'd plum lost my mind to have any animals that were not meant for the supper table.
If you want to PM a mailing address to me, I have a couple reference books that I'd be happy to send to you.
My friend lives on 20 acres, but her structures are all in a small area, maybe half an acre. You could easily keep 1-2 of each fiber animal on and acre and a half. Chickens, you could raise them for eggs. I used to collect up their moulted feathers and sell them on eBay. You'd be amazed what people will pay for a bag of miscellaneous chicken feathers (and sometimes turkey feathers, if the wild flocks around here cooperated), and they were all cruelty-free on my part.
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