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New pygmy goat owner NEEDS HELP!!!

Posted by Tom on May 13, 2001 at 14:53:28:

Greetings:

First off, please let me apologize in advance for the length of this letter, which is filled with the history of my two newly acquired pygmy goats, and numerous questions. I know this will take up some of your valuable time, and I greatly appreciate all, or any help you can give me. If your time is very limited, I will understand if you need to skip to the last section with all my major questions.

HISTORY:

( I feel it is important to list the history of my goats in order to help you understand my situation.) At the first of April I purchased a pair of unregistered pygmy goats, from a woman who was moving and could no longer care for them. I have a buck named Billy, or Junior, when he is naughty;) and a doe named, Nanny, or Little Moma. Yes, she is pregnant!!! The woman who had them had Billy, tied to a tree, with an old 10ft rusty chain, and Nanny was allowed to run free within the perimeter of a chain link fenced back yard. They each had a plastic barrel for shelter.

A SLIGHT ASIDE:

I must admit that I was very green in the beginning. I thought "oh yeah two goats to eat down my brush. Just put them on a chain and let them go" "Well, I've since learned there's much more to it! But in the last month I have become very attached to both of them, and they are now part of the family! I want to do what's right for them, but the web sites are very limited, and seem to contradict each other. Not to mention that most sites are slanted towards, breeding, or "show goats". Well, I'm not interested in breeding, and I have no desire to show them. As I stated they are just part 0f the family, and I enjoy being with them. Just observing their behaviors and individual personalities can entertain me for hours.

BACK TO HISTORY:

The woman who I purchased them from, who I am purposely keeping anonymous, fed them one 5 lb. coffee can of "All Stock" (split between them) per day. She admitted she fed them some hay during the winter months. When I picked the goats up she said "Nanny might be pregnant". When I asked how far along she was, she said " about one month, but I have my doubts. When I asked her how I would tell she said "When she started making a bag, I would know." When I asked what I should do she responded "Nothing, when you go out to feed her and there's a kid, You'll know it's over." It is my belief that she never had them vaccinated, or de-wormed them.

THE GOATS HISTORY UNDER MY CARE:

The day I purchased them I brought them home barrels and all. I put Nanny on a collar, and chain. She does not seem to be bothered by this. She is very adaptable. I tied them out back. (My brother and I are restoring a 2 story 100 year old Victorian house that sit vacant for 20 yrs. We have one acre with the house and part of the acre has yet to be cleared. We live about 3 miles outside of aurora.) Here's what I have done for my goats so far:

1. Purchased 35ft of tie outs (lighter then dog chains, and easier for them to maneuver) for each goat. Thus, allowing each of them a 70ft circular radius to roam. They are strategically placed as to allow goats access to shelter, and avoid tangles, but in such a way for them to be able to come together with out getting hung up with each other. My Billy is very grateful for his extra roaming room;)

2. Purchased a salt block. They both kept licking wood structures. I felt something was missing. This is the only time Billy has been overly aggressive with Nanny. He didn't want to share. I moved it out of his reach for two hours, as punishment. Now that the "new" has worn off they share very nicely.

3. Put up a 8ft x 6ft metal shed for shelter, and did away with the barrels.

4. Built a 11ft x 16ft x 6ft high pen area which is attached to the shed. They each can enter from "their side". This is for protection. I shut them up at night, and when no one is home to keep an eye on them. We used treated corner post, lots of
2 x 4's, and chicken wire, and framed it in very heavily. I know a lot of people say chicken wire isn't strong enough for goats, but it's stretched tight, 8ft or less, and it seems to be doing the trick. I let them out each day to play and get their exercise. Silly goats still stay in the shed half the day!!! I believe this is due to the heat on hot days.

5. Spread fly and de-lice powder around their pen area. The flies are driving them nuts!!! I try to keep their pen and shed area clean. The de-lice powder was just a precautionary measure. I don't think they have lice.

6. I bring them green (non poisonous) tree limbs and leaves every day. This is one of their favorite daily rituals, and I am happy to accommodate. I am still feeding them one split 5 lb. coffee can of "All Stock" per day. I have inquired at the AG Center about a "strictly for goat feed", and am planning on switching.


BEHAVIORS, AGES, AND MARKINGS:

My Nanny is black with one white front leg. She is short hared. She started coming up to me the 2nd, or 3rd day she was under my care. She is very verbal when she is out of grain. She let's me know it right away;) She is not as "animated" as Billy, but she will run and play. She loves to climb, and I have several "perches" set up for her. She will over eat her grain if I let her. I have to keep Billy's portion out of her reach. ( She loves her Billy, even when he gets on her nerves.) She will come right up to me, and my brother has pulled her close and petted her, but this is about as far as it goes. She is just over 1yr. old. and this will be her first kidding. She takes to change without any hesitation. As I have mentioned, she is pregnant, but I do not know how far along she is. Here are my clues:

1. Her belly is getting bigger, and I can visually tell there is at least one kid inside, if not more?

2. Her bag is about as big around as a large grape fruit.

3. She waddles when she walks.

My Billy is Carmel with black markings. He is long hared. Yes, he is all male, but in all honesty he is my favorite, but of course I don't let Nanny in on this:) They are treated equal. I love to watch him: run, and strut, and jump high in the air. He is a big show off for Nanny, and for me when he wants attention. He "dances" on his two hind legs. He is very active and "animated". He is also very territorial. He makes it very clear that the shed is his. I have to lock him out when I clean the shed and pen area because he wont get out from under my feet!!! He is stubborn, and very inquisitive, but he is also very timid. When I first brought him home he would run in the other direction when he saw me coming. He has since relaxed some around me, and has become more verbal when he wants something. He will come right up to me, but sudden movement still sends him running. I have a feeling he was once abused. He does Know when he does something wrong, and usually one shout of "No" will suffice. He can get mad. He doesn't adapt to change well. He is a little more aggressive when he's "frisky". (Sorry I don't know how else to put this.) The only time I've seen him be aggressive towards Nanny was the salt incident. Most of the time they enjoy playing together, and they are very attached to one another. I do not know how old he is. I'm familiar with the teeth counting thing, but petting Billy, or getting too close is a big no, no! I don't force this issue, because I feel it's more important to establish trust. My guess is that he is 2 to 3 yrs. old. He does have horns, (as does Nanny), but he has never tried to butt me. He is just a big baby.

OK, SORRY FOR THE NOVELLA!!!!!!!!!!!! HERE GO MY QUESTIONS. IN RANDOM ORDER.

1. Can you suggest a local goat vet? My local vet is great with our cats and such, but he is not that up on goats.

2. IS THERE ANY WAY TO TELL HOW FAR ALONG NANNY IS?????????

3. Since my goats are a little bit on the wild side, should I leave things such as vaccinations, and shots to a vet? ( I must admit I hope so.)

4. Since I know little of their history, and am no longer able to contact the previous owner, should I assume they need vaccinations and de-worming A.S.A.P.?

5. I read somewhere that does still come in to heat when they are pregnant. Can they get re-pregnant while they are carrying a kid. I know this is a stupid question, but I'm not sure I understand this process?

6. Can adult bucks be castrated, (by a vet)? If so would they still have their "working parts"? That is, will they still perform their sexual actions and look the same? Would being castrated "mellow them out---like a male cat?

7. Would it be better just to separate my Billy and Nanny, in order to stop further breeding? If separated should they each have a same sex companion?

8. Do Bucks also come in to "heat" every 21 days like does? He does seem to have some nasty habits every so often, and get a little more "randy". I do realize this is natural in nature. I did grow up on a farm. we just never had goats;)

9. What do I do to prepare for Nannie's kidding? All the sites suggest different things to do depending on how far along the doe is, but I have no idea. I did finally get the courage up to view the kidding pictures on the internet,but all the sites list so many horror stories, that I am really afraid for her!!! What are the chances of her having a normal safe delivery????????

10. Should I fence their pen area down the middle and split them up? If so when? My gut instinct is that this will depress them. They enjoy sleeping side by side. Can I trust Billy around the new born kids???

11. What kind of hay should I start feeding them? How much per day? What is the difference in alfalfa, and free choice hay? They have free access to grass, and untamed land every day.

12. It's been suggested I put sugar or molasses in Nannie's drinking water while she's pregnant. How much? I give each fresh water every day.

13. What else can I do for flies? What is the difference between horn flies, and house flies?

14. Can I put goat droppings in my compost bin?

15. Should I take away the salt block, and replace with a mineral block, or use both? Should my switch from "all stock" to regular goat feed be abrupt, or gradual? Will they eat the goat feed after so long on the other?

16. One website stated that you should be careful of ants after does kid. What is safe to use around their pen? Should I start now?

17. What can I do to help them deal with heat stress during the hot summer months?

18. My dream is to build them each a 20 x 20 pasture area, that I can expand on as time and money allows. I so want to let them off their tie downs!!! My funds are limited, and my health isn't the best. I suffer from arthritis in my lower back and feet. For these reasons I plan on fencing with chicken wire, and barb wire. I prefer to patch the fence on occasion instead of trying to stretch heavy wire. Do you see any problems with this method, other then the upkeep and maintenance?

19. My doe was raised with a black lab pup. She misses him. Can I raise a "Non livestock working" pup with the new kids?

Dear people, I know this letter and all my questions will be a lot to address. I will be very thankful for any advice you can give me. It is my intention to give my goats the best care I possibly can. Your input will lead me in the right direction. If you would like to use any or all of this letter to help educate other beginning goat keepers, please feel free to do so. Again thank you so much for your time and consideration!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tom Alexander
e-mail sendmeit@dialnet.net
Phone (417)--678-4013 (this line is used for personal use as well as my brothers wallpaper business. The answering machine is always on.)




























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