kid care guide
Adding goats to your farm family is such a great way to bring so much love and joy into your life! If you grew up on a farm and are familiar with raising goats then this guide might be a refresher for you! If, however, like most of our customers, you are new to raising goats then this is a great place for you to start!
Below you will find lots of tips and advice on what you will need in order to get ready for your new goats and how to care for them so that they remain happy and healthy!
- A well-built barn or goat shelter is the best place for your goats! Make sure there is lots of space for your goats to move around in as well as relax!
- There should also be adequate ventilation for the flow of fresh air as well as a few windows to allow sunlight to come in.
- A good, strong door with a latch on it is a good way to keep your goats from exploring and to keep anything else from getting in! Goats are very strong and like to stand on their hind legs with their front hooves on the door (they want to see if you are coming to visit!) so make sure your door can stand up to their weight!
- A concrete floor is great as nothing can dig up under it (i.e. Rodents) and it is easy to clean!
- When it comes to bedding, there are a two different options that we recommend: straw or hay. Either one makes a nice, soft bedding for your goats to rest on!
- Straw is generally considered bedding and hay is for eating but we find that the extra hay that our goats don’t consume each day creates a nice soft bedding for them to hang out on! This saves having to bring straw in and they are reusing the extra hay that you would otherwise toss into the manure pile!
- In the winter, we tend to let the hay continue to build up until it is a few feet deep as this creates a system known as the Deep Litter Method. The theory behind this method is that the build-up of hay underneath starts to decompose (don’t worry, it doesn’t smell!) and as it does so it emits heat. This keeps our goats nice and warm all winter and provides a wonderful form of insulation! Come spring, we clean out our goat barn and start all over again! Each fall we clean out the goat barn again in order to allow for all of the winter build up that will accumulate. This method works beautifully for us and our goats stay warm and cozy all winter!
- A high-quality Goat Ration (Goat Grain) will keep your goats healthy and strong all year long! We feed our goats a very high quality goat ration by Masterfeeds. If your local feed store doesn’t carry this brand then they should have another good brand on hand!
- Each of our goats gets 1 cup of grain twice a day in the fall, winter and spring and ½ cup twice a day in the summer. The grain is meant to be a supplement to their diet in addition to the hay – never feed grain alone, goats need hay too!
- Goats love hay! They are ruminants and need hay in order to aid in proper digestion. If you don’t grow your own hay on your farm then be sure to source out a high-quality hay from a nearby farmer.
- Our goats eat a mixture of Timothy hay and alfalfa hay. You can purchase or bale hay in different sizes: large round bales (approx. 600 pounds), large square bales (approx. 600 pounds) and small square bales (approx. 10 pounds).
- The shape your hay comes in doesn’t really matter but we prefer our hay in large square bales. These can be pulled apart in flakes (pieces) and this makes it really easy to measure out how much to feed your goats. With two goats, you will likely go through about 1/2 a flake to 1 flake of hay (from a large bale) or 4 flakes (from a small bale). The more goats you have the more hay you will go through so plan accordingly when purchasing or baling your hay!
- Fresh water is a must! Your goats will drink quite a bit of water each day (especially in the summer!) so be sure to have a fresh pail of water for them each day!
- We provide our goats with heated (plug in) buckets that can be purchased at your local feed store. In the winter, they can be plugged in to keep the water from freezing (so make sure you have a plug or extension cord nearby!) and in the summer the cords can be neatly tucked into the bottom of the bucket. Your bucket should be easy to clean and made of high quality, durable plastic.
Salt/Copper Blocks and Minerals
- Your goat ration will likely contain a certain amount of salt, copper and minerals but it is always a good idea to have a salt and/or copper block available for your goats to lick as they see fit.
- Salt blocks are generally blue in colour and copper blocks are brown. These can also be purchased at your local feed store. We find that our boys prefer the salt blocks and our girls prefer the copper blocks!
- It is also a good idea to have loose mineral on hand for your goats to nibble on. Goat mineral comes in a loose form (as opposed to a hard block) and can also be purchased at your feed store. Our girls absolutely love their mineral and go through quite a bit each year (usually about 2 bags)! Our boys munch on it here and there but consume far less than our girls.
- It is very important to have baking soda on hand at all times for your goats! You can purchase special dishes that screw into the wall at your local feed store that contain two sides: one side for mineral and one side for baking soda.
- Goats need baking soda in order to aid in digestion; it prevents them from getting bloat (too much gas in their stomach) which can be fatal.
- You can buy boxes of baking soda at your local grocery store; we find that, again, our girls seem to go through much more than our boys – roughly a box a month.
- We love to shower our goats with love and affection as well as the occasional treat every once in a while! We have found that our goats go crazy for apple treats!
- We purchase horse treats at our local feed store in apple flavour. Next time you are at your local feed store ask what they have in the way of horse treats (there are no treats specifically targeted at goats but they can eat horse treats!).
- There are a few different flavours but our goats simply love apple flavour the best! You can also feed your goats raisins or dried cranberries – these two are also favourites!
- You are most likely going to have to become your own goat vet! There may not be many large animal (i.e. Farm animal) vets in your area and after calling the vet a couple of times your bills start to pile up! Learning to become your own vet can save you lots of money and worry! Don’t get me wrong though, there may be times that you have to call a vet – there are some procedures or diagnoses that only a vet can provide – but for the smaller stuff be prepared to do your research and learn the signs and symptoms of different maladies.
- There are lots of great books out there, you can do online research or you can find an experienced breeder (like us!) who may be able to offer some insight! We offer lifetime support to anyone who has ever purchased a goat from us so don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and give us a call or send us a message if you ever have any questions or concerns!
- For the most part, your goats, when given proper care, should be very healthy and happy but we all occasionally encounter some small issues that we need help with - never be afraid to ask!
- You may decide to vaccinate your goats or you may decide not to. Most vaccinations and needles can be purchased in bulk at your vet's office and administered by you!
- You will have to give your goats an occasional hoof trim as, like our nails, theirs are always growing too. We generally trim hooves 3 to 4 times a year. You can purchase hoof trimmers at your local feed store.
Gates and Fencing
- Good, strong gates and fencing are a must!! You should use proper goat fencing to secure your goats in their pasture; this can be purchased in rolls at your local feed store and usually comes in heights of 4 feet and lengths of 100 feet.
- You will have to secure it into the ground using fence posts and make sure that it goes all the way down to the ground so that they can’t slip underneath! You can also purchase good, strong metal gates at your local feed store!
Goat Likes and Dislikes
Goats are such fun and loving friends to have on our farms! They love to play and cuddle and they crave our attention, but, along with everything goats do like, there are a few things that they don’t like. Here is a list of goat likes and dislikes:
- A nice quiet environment. Keep your goats calm and happy by keeping their living space peaceful!
- Coming over to visit you as you sit quietly and give them a good pet or scratch!
- Calm and gentle movements.
- Quiet spaces and areas to rest and play in.
- Being rewarded for good behaviour! Treats they are a great way to reward good behaviour!
- Playtime! Goats love to get out (of their pen or living quarters) and play! A great way to let them play is to make sure they have a nice big pasture to run around in (weather permitting!)
- Social interaction! Goats are social animals and love our attention! Be sure to shower your goats with lots of love and affection and your darling goats will be sure to return the love!
- We always recommend that you have at least two goats together as they are such social creatures and need the company of another goat!
- If you only plan on having one male or one female then a wether (a neutered male) is a great way to provide companionship to your goat!
- If you are unsure of what combination would be best for you, or if you would like to add to your herd but aren’t sure what the best addition would be then please feel free to ask us and we would be more than happy to help you find to right match!
- Loud, disruptive noises such as barking dogs and screaming children. Be sure that your dogs and children understand that they need to be quiet when around your goats.
- Being picked up (baby goats may not mind but once they get bigger they don’t want you picking them up!). Leave them on the ground and let them come to you!
- Sudden movement, especially when near them. Sudden movements can frighten your goat.
- A noisy environment – goats are quiet animals and like their surroundings to reflect this. Loud noises frighten goats.
- Being punished for bad behaviour. Animals don’t understand why they are being punished as they are not able to associate punishment with bad behaviour. Punishing a goat if it displays bad behaviour only creates distrust and a fear of you. Avoid bad behaviour (screaming, running away from you, being fearful etc..) by following the tips in the LIKES column!
- Too much playtime. Goats love to play but they also need to rest. Make sure your goats get lots of down time in their own space to recharge their battery for more playtime tomorrow!
- Being alone. Goats do not like being alone! Please, please, please be sure to always have other goats around to keep each other company!
- Goats also do not appreciate being chased, by you, your children or the family pooch! Please keep your dog(s) separate from your goats as your dog will most likely see your goats as playmates and try to chase them. This can frighten your goats and cause them stress.
We hope that this list will give you a good start! If you have any questions please feel free to contact us and we would be more than happy to give you lots of tips and advice!