Updated: Aug 19, 2020
So you're about to bring home your first little goat... Now, what do you need to do to prepare. Trust me, we were there just a few short years ago.
Let me start off with we do not and will not ever claim to know all there is to know about goats and the best care for them. The only thing we can do is share our experiences and what we have learned.
Here are a handful of supplies that we suggest you have ready before you bring your little goat home.
Hoof Trimmers (Garden Shears)
Rasp and/or Carpenter’s Plane
Ammonium Chloride (feed supplement for wethers/bucks)
Minerals (Kelp Meal, Baking Soda, & Goat minerals)
Feed for does (Poulin Grain 18% Sweet Goat Grain, Alfalfa Pellet, Black Oil Sunflower Seed)
Feed for bucks or wethers (Poulin Grain Meat Goat Pellet)
Fine 2nd cut hay & hay feeder or hay net
Water Bucket (make sure they can’t tip it over)
Shavings for bedding
Lime (put down under bedding)
Tools to clean shelter (Square shovel, manure rake, pitchfork, etc)
Things to climb! Get creative, but just make sure they are solid & secure. Watch some of our videos to see some of what we have built.
Your goat(s) will have 2 doses of CD&T vaccines before you get them. You can give it to them yearly at 2cc's subcutaneously in the shoulder/elbow area (or have your vet do it).
We will also give them a good dose or two of Probios to help get the rumen developing and help with moving stress.
This is just a probiotic that helps boost the rumen at any time. I use it before something traumatic (rehoming!), or just on our girls every couple months or so. The little ones only get a small dose (5ml or so), and more when they get bigger approximately 10 ml. If they ever have diarrhea or dog-like fecal matter, give them a dose. These fecal changes can occur with rehoming and/or diet changes.
Grain for does:
Right now they are getting some grain at night. They get an equal mix of Poulin Grain Sweet Goat 18%, Alfalfa Pellets, and Black Oil Sunflower seeds. Most people feed them a ration of grain until about 6 months or so and through the winter (so they can grow properly) and then switch to hay only. However, we also know a lot of people who continue to feed out a small amount of grain everyday especially if the hay quality available is not so great. You just have to do what is right for you and your farm, you don't want an overly "fat" goat We do a max of 1/2 cup a day by the time they are 6 months old and stick with that amount even when they are full grown.
Grain for bucks/wethers:
Poulin Grain Meat Goat Pellet, this is what they will be getting at night when they are separated from their dam. They will be grazing and having some hay during the day. You can eventually switch to whatever goat feed you'd like, but it MUST CONTAIN Ammonium chloride if you have bucks or wethers. This will help prevent the production of urinary calculi (stones) in boys. It is also helpful to just have some ammonium chloride on hand in case you need to treat them for stones. Do not feed bucks or wethers "sweet feed" or alfalfa. Does can also eat meat goat grain and stay on it as long as they are not pregnant/lactating or becoming overly overweight.
Goats are browsers, not grazers so be sure to have their hay up so they have to reach up toward the hay to eat it and not on the ground or in a low container. Once the hay is on the ground, it is very unlikely that they will eat it.
Goats tend to like finer 2nd crop hay
About 25 bales per goat per year
We suggest the Sweet Lix brand (come in 50 lb bags) if you have a larger herd, but for just a few goats that might be overkill. There is also the 8 lb bag of Manna Pro (orange bag) brand from most feed stores and let them have it free choice. It just needs to say it's for goats. It should contain extra copper and selenium since Maine is pretty deficient in those minerals. You can also get a Bo-Se (copper/selenium) shot from the vet or from Valley Vet with a prescription. You may want to do this every so often based on veterinary prescription & guidance.
Manna Pro Goat Mineral https://www.mannapro.com/products/goat/goat-mineral
We give this free choice all the time. We use a double feed hanger on the wall and on one side put the minerals and the other the baking soda. They eat this whenever they feel a little bloated.
Each goat on our property is tested at least once per year. The dam & sire of your kid will have blood tests completed between the time of your deposit and the pick-up date. The tests will check for the following diseases, Johnes, CAE, & CL. You should disease test your kids once they are 6 months old for Johnes, CAE, & CL. We don’t expect any problems, but it is a good practice and it is not overly expensive. Well worth the peace of mind! We suggest that you continue testing on an annual basis especially if you have new goats added, you visit another farm within that year, or other farmers visit your farm. For more information on disease testing, visit: WADDL - www.vetmed.wsu.edu or speak with your vet.
With all of this said about diseases, you should always practice good biosecurity measures. You either should have guests bring separate shoes to only wear on your property, have visitors wash/sanitize their shoes on your property, or have slip-on boots for people to wear on your property.
The wethers will be banded just before they head to new homes. This is to give them the maximum amount of time to "grow" before they are castrated. So, they will be going home with their bands on. They might be a little depressed/sad, but they will be ok. It can take quite some time for the testicles to actually fall off. Some will fall off in a few weeks, but others can 'hang on' for up to 6 weeks! Be sure to keep an eye on things as they progress.
At least 20 square feet enclosed for two Nigerians & a fenced paddock/pasture that is at least 260 square feet for two Nigerians.
Be sure the structure is draft and leak-free
Clean the shelter regularly
We are on a plan with our vet to only treat if there is a problem. We use a variety of techniques to help keep our worm load down. Some people really like to use a herbal wormer regiment, others worm on a semi-regular basis. Fiasco Farms is a GREAT site to read on goat care here's what she says about wormers:
We suggest doing 2 to 4 community fecal tests each year. A community fecal is where you take a sample from the majority of your herd. Your vet can provide a kit or you can take/send the fecal sample to the UMaine Diagnostic Lab in Orono. https://extension.umaine.edu/diagnostic-lab/ We have found that the UMaine lab is much more affordable and you get your results faster. Having a fecal sample will tell you exactly what parasite you need to treat for. Do not do a blanket wormer as you will most likely spend more money and may not even treat the parasite that the goat has.
We do suggest that you quarantine your new kids for two weeks prior to introducing them to the herd. Do a fecal test when you first get them home, treat with Ivermectin orally (0.5ml for three days), and then send a send fecal test out a week after you have completed the ivermectin doses.
We suggest having shears, small rasp, and file/plane. You can purchase these supplies either on our website or at your local Tractor Supply. Pruning shears work well for most of the trimming. Be sure to trim hooves every 4-6 weeks. Trimming hooves will most likely require two people if you do not have a milk stand especially with the little squirmy kids.
Here is a great link showing the process of hoof trimming. https://fiascofarm.com/goats/hoof-trim-rf.htm We can show you how to trim hooves when you pick up your goat as well.
All goats from H&M Homestead will be disbudded within 10 days of being born.
We do suggest that you quarantine your new kids for two weeks prior to introducing them to the herd. Do a fecal test when you first get them home, treat with Ivermectin orally (0.5ml for three days), and then send a send the fecal test out a week after you have completed the ivermectin doses. lts faster. Having a fecal sample will tell you exactly what parasites you need to treat for. Do not do a blanket wormer as you will most likely spend more money and may not even treat the parasite that the goat has.
Most of what our goats get for treats are animal crackers or apples.
Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats by Jerry Belanger
Raising Goats for Milk & Meat by Rosalie Sinn
Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. You never know what will come up with having goats.