Raising Goats is great fun. If you are planning on keeping goats or breeding goats you first need to know that goats are very social animals and need to be brought up together. You cannot just have one and think that they will be content. This means you will need at least two but probably four or five goats to keep each other company as goats do not do well when left on their own.
Because you will need several animals, goats need plenty of space; and therefore in order for you to do this and to be comfortable you will need to locate them in a rural area such as a small hobby farm or large acreage. Most cities do not allow livestock to live within the city limits so even if you did have a large piece of land your local authorities may not allow it.
Raising goats requires commitment. Goats are similar to children in that they need an awful lot of attention, unlike other livestock are you cannot leave them for long periods so you must have alternative arrangements in place if you ever have to go away.
Like cattle other livestock, goats are prone to a number of illnesses and diseases particularly parasites and your goats are going to need regular vaccinations and preventative treatment and hygiene to keep worms and parasites at bay. Your goats will be needed to be looked after by a good veterinarian in the area.
Just like buying any other livestock when you purchase your goats you need to go to a recommended dealer or breeder. Make sure you know what the feeding and hygiene schedule has been so that you know what the goats have been used to and you can implement that when you get them home..
Ensure that you check the health of each goat before you purchase them. This means giving them a good look over from top to bottom. Check their hooves and look at their teeth smell their breath and if any animal doesn’t look in the peak of fitness discard them.
There is a lot of information you need to know about raising goats and there is a lot of effort and reading time that also needs to go in before you start out on your new journey. First of all work out where you are going to keep your goats. You need the large area of land with a four foot high wire mesh fence surrounding the land. Make sure the mesh isn’t too wide as goats are not the brightest of creatures and will get their heads horns leaves caught up in any fencing with large holes.
If you are going to breed goats you need three does for every buck. Each doe can have two kids each year. Mating usually occurs between September and March. You will now have milk for nearly 3 years. Goats pregnancy gestation period is 150 days and is not unusual for does to have twins and triplets. Once the doe starts ‘kidding’ it is rare for there to be complications; in the event that things are not going well you have your veterinarian to ask advice.
After kidding is complete the goat usually eat it and placenta to recover nutrients into her body. She will make sure her kids are in a safe place and then will go off and feed. On her return she will start to nurse her new kid.
At this point she will be producing 6 pounds of milk each day and will nurse the kid for up to 3 months.
Goats live for about 12 years on average and their lifespan is dependent on how long they continue breeding for. The longer period the does breed the shorter their life expectancy. If you stop breeding before this point there were usually live a couple of years longer. Bucks generally do not live as long as does.
When the ‘kidds’ have been born to their ‘nanny’ the first thing you need to do is remove all the wet membrane from the new kid goats head. The kid may be covered in this and could have difficulty in breathing. This is quite normal and slowly your kid will liven up and eventually come to life. The umbilical cord needs to be detached so cut and tie a knot in it using a pair of sharp scissors.
To clear the membrane use clean towels and give the Kidd a wipe down. Remove any debris from inside the new kids mouth. Stroke the new kid to help it get the blood pumping and stimulate the kid. Soon afterwards they will start breathing a bit louder and any fears will be laid to rest.
Put towels over your new kid to keep them warm. If need be place a bulb syringe into throat and nasal areas to remove any other liquids of secretions so that your new kids can breathe easily. Another method is to use a piece of straw and gently tickle in the babies nose until it sneezes the sneezing should click on its nasal cavities.
With a small bucket of iodine solution of about 7% solution put of the umbilical cord inside the container and make sure the kids belly is covered with iodide. Now at each of the nanny’s teats remove any obstructions and get milk starting to come. Move the mother and kid close to each other.
It is important that the kid soon feeds to get its energy up. To do this put a bit of milk on the kid lips. Do not give them a bottle they, will eventually naturally start suckling from the Nanny. The new kid should not take about 8 ounces of milk. After this the nanny will look after her kids by herself ensure the kid gets the first milk from the mother which contains colostrum.
Kids need this to keep them healthy. Keep an eye on them to them and make sure that the kid feeds from mother often. If things are not going well you may have to bottle feed four times a day. colostrum has lots of protein nutrients carbohydrates which your kid needs to stay healthy it transfers antibodies from the Nanny to kid to protect them from infection. It is also lines the digestive system with the antibodies that are needed.
The kids stomach is quite small and they need regular feeding and should ideally stay with their mothers. However if the mother is not producing enough milk you will have to bottle feed a new kids four times a day with cows milk, add 3 tablespoons of corn syrup to every gallon of cows milk.
Keep your kids warm and dry make sure there’s enough straw are covering on the floor. Ensure they are sheltered from rain and they are out of the wind. If it is the particularly cold you may need to put a heat lamp in the stable with them to keep them warm. Clean your kid’s face; legs, ears and nose every day for material and remove it. Go over the kids coat with a soft brush.
Use grass hay that is dry and free from mould. Timothy hay or Bermuda perhaps is best. They will start feeding on this after a week or 10 days. You will probably need to put this in a hayrack which is the right height for your kid to feed from. After about nine weeks you can start to change the diet to other food which contains protein.
After a while you will have to trim the kids hooves. There are a number of ways doing this which can found online at the 4-H Club and the Future Farmers of America. You must take your time when trimming hooves; it should be done regularly as you will end up with foot rot.
If you can, it is good to remove the horns of your goat called ‘dehorning’. Kids are very good at injuring themselves and others. If their horns are in place you will need assistance to do this. At three weeks old they will need to be vaccinated and at six weeks they will need a booster.
If your kid is a male and you do not want wish to breed from it he will have to be neutered. The simple ways to do this for everyone who’s doing this for the first time this do procedure called ‘banding’ a band castrator is used and placed over the scrotum. This stops the blood flow into the scrotum and the testes stop functioning. After about two weeks you can remove the testes. You may need help to do this.
Keep your hygiene regiment strict; clean feeders and drinkers constantly. Kids get worms quite easily and you must really administer medicine vaccinations to prevent this and keep them in check.