Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Getting into Goats : A First-Timer Questionnaire

 Here is a questionnaire that I think is important for all people to go through who are interested in getting into goats but don't have any experience with them or other livestock:

What type do I want – meat/dairy/fiber? 

What breeds do I want?

Is there a buck of that breed available locally that I can borrow/buy/use? A very important question considering the fact that most people choose not to keep bucks permanently at their farms. Extremely important when considering miniature breeds because the buck must always be smaller than the doe in order to avoid birthing complications.

Am I willing to crossbreed?

How much milk/meat/fiber do I need per year?

How many does do I need to breed per year to meet my production goals?

What will I do with the extra kids? Is there a market for them (pet/breeding/meat)? Goats must have kids each year in order to produce milk so having a consistent outlet for extra kids is essential.

Will I register my goats? Do I want purebred?

How much am I willing to pay for a goat? What defects am I willing to tolerate for a less expensive goat? Non-registered, non-purebred goats are generally cheaper. CAE positive goats and less healthy goats are also cheaper.

Do I want to show my goats? They have to be registered in order to show.

How many goats can my property sustain?

Where will I house the goats?

Do I have room for kidding pens and milk stands in the barn?

Where is my milk stand/dairy area in regards to where the goats are and where the house is? Is it conveniently located near both areas? Very important, especially in bad weather. You don’t want to be milking outside in the rain or having to hike your fresh milk all the way across the property to get it in the house.

Does the barn have water? What about in winter? If it gets below freezing in your area, then a garden hose won’t work.

Does the barn have electricity and lights? It gets dark early in winter and a headlamp/flashlight is a drag to use to do chores.

Is there enough room for hay storage? Goats eat lots of hay, especially in winter. Hay must be kept dry and ventilated in order not to mold or rot.

Where will I get hay? How will I transport it? How often will I need to get it? Do I have money for it? Hay isn’t always easy to find and if you don’t have enough storage to get you through the winter then you have to be prepared to haul and put away hay when there may be lots of snow on the ground. 

Where will I get feed? How will I transport it? How often will I need to get it? Do I have money for it? Feed prices fluctuate greatly between feed stores. 

Do I have a place for feed storage that is dry, cool, and rodent-proof?

What type of fencing do I want? Will it work all year round or do I need an alternative during winter? Some fencing doesn’t work well in deep snow. Electric fencing doesn’t always work if it is very dry out during the summer.

How many pastures/outdoor pens do I need? Remember you have to have somewhere to keep your adult does, your young kids, and your bucks.

How many indoor pens/stalls do I need? If you breed your goats then you will need kidding pens. 

Is there a vet in the area who will do house-calls for goats? Not all vets are willing to look at a goat. Some charge a lot just to show up on your farm.

Am I willing to learn to do veterinary basics (vaccinations, blood draws, disbudding, tattooing, castrations, hoof trimming, fecal sampling)? 

Do I have money to buy veterinary supplies (dewormers, vaccines, disbudding equipment, etc)? This stuff is expensive but important to keep on hand in case of emergencies.

Is there someone local who is willing to lend supplies and support to do veterinary basics? Look into your local goat clubs and livestock organizations. There may be people willing to help.


IsobelleGoLightly said...

Make sure you put on your list that goat owners MUST have a ready supply of peppermints, apples, carroty-bits and other delicious snacks for their charming and beautiful goats! Tee hee.

Lora Goulet said...

This post is so useful! The information here is invaluable for new goat owners and will save much time and expense in the startup process.