Confession time…I grew up with at least 3 goats on our family farm the entire time I was growing up. I thought they were generally low maintenance animals, until I started raising goats myself. We started our goat herd with 3 pregnant does, I thought to myself “This will be easy!” Wrong.
Lesson Number 1:
- Kidding Season Is Hard
Our first set of kids were born in a snow storm in March. I was lucky to happen to go out and find them both half frozen and almost dead in the mud. I quickly scooped them up and ran back to the house and started trying to warm them up. I milked colostrum from the mama and fed it to the kids with a dropper. My husband happened to be out of town, so I was stuck doing it solo with my 10 month old baby.
This is a picture of the poor cold babies on my bathroom floor snuggled up next to the space heater.
The excitement didn’t stop there. This doe was pregnant with quadruplets, she had given birth to one still born and two live babies. Later that night, hours after she had kidded the first three babies she had the fourth still born and she never passed her placenta. Needless to say I had a crash course in all things “Goat Midwife” and everything ended up being okay. The 2 kids and the mama lived and are happy and healthy now. So keep in mind that its not always easy during kidding season. I like to hope for the best and plan for the worst. I also learned that there is no leaving the farm during kidding season, whatsoever.
Lesson Number 2:
- Goats need High Quality Food and Supplements
No, It’s not true that goats can eat anything including soda cans and be fine. Your goats need good food. Shortly after all of the kidding was finished my goats started to look really poor. I did some research and quickly learned that they were not getting proper nutrition. So I had to change our feeding routine up a bit. Now I feed mine really good alfalfa and they are on a mineral supplement. In addition to that I also give them a Vitamin B shot regularly and give them a high quality grain. I also have them on a worming schedule.
Lesson Number 3:
- Fencing Matters
We were so excited about getting our goats we just threw up regular old field fence with barb wire at the top and called it good. This was a bad idea. Besides the goats getting their heads stuck in it ALL THE TIME, it is not predator proof. We recently had a tragedy where a neighbors dog got into our goat pen and chewed on our baby goats and killed one of our does. This was a heartbreak, and I blame myself for not being the best goat mama around and making a safe and secure place for them to live. We have since fixed the problem and made a new safe place for our goats to live.
Last but not least:
- They are so worth it!
I have learned so much more than what I can put into a blog post. So these are just a few of the lessons I have learned in the school of hard knocks 🙂 I love love love my goats. They are so cute and fun to have on the farm. They are worth all of the work that it takes to raise them! So if you ask me, the answer is YES. Get that goat. Always. I am in the market for a good milk goat and I can’t wait to find one so I can start that adventure! I would love to hear what kind of lessons you guys have learned in your goat raising experience? Let me know in the comments!