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INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ON PET GOATS

By: "Cleon V. Kimberling, D.V.M."
Prepared by Julie Lenoch, Kelly Romero & Heidi Shafford
About the Author

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Introductory Information on Pet Goats

So you're getting a pet goat?

Basic terminology

Learn the lingo:
     Kid - a goat less than 6 months of age
     Doeling - immature female goat
     Buckling - immature male goat
     Doe - mature female goat
     Buck - mature male goat
     Wether - castrated male goat
     Chevon - goat meat
     Mohair - the fiber from Angora goats
     Cashmere - the fiber from Cashmere or Pashmina goats

Fundamental Facts
Lifespan: 10-12 years, may live as long as 30 years
Productive life of a dairy or fiber goat: 7 years
Space required per goat: 15ft2 indoor and 200ft2 outdoors
Breeding age: females - 8 to 10 months
Gestation period: 150 days
Number of kids per gestation: 1 - 2

Behavior Bonuses

Goats

  • are social animals and enjoy the company of other goats or farm animals.
  • are notorious for undoing simple gate closures.
  • tend to respect electric fencing.
  • investigate everything in their environment with their mouths(!) including paperwork, clothing, jewelry, etc.
  • can be trained to lead, come when called, stand for shearing & milking.
  • are avid climbers!
  • may chew off the bark around trees.
Bucks may exhibit active fighting behavior - watch out!

Just For Fun
The all-time favorite goat toy: a wooden spool that once held electrical cable.

Goats are not Sheep
This is not a silly question; some goats, particularly angoras, may look like sheep.
Goats have 60 chromosomes; sheep have 54. Fertile goat-sheep hybrids, geeps?!, are rare.
The major difference is feeding behavior - sheep are grazing animals while goats are brousers.
Goats, although very social animals, are not as flock-oriented as sheep.
Goats are more likely to seek shelter in wet weather than sheep.
Male goats will rear up on their hind legs and lunge downward to butt heads while male sheep will run at, or charge, each other to butt heads. If you mix male goats and sheep, the sheep will dominate because they don't play by the same rules and will charge the goats while they are rearing up.
Goats have an erect tail, sheep have hangy-down tails.
Most goats have beards. Sheep do not have beards.

Feeding For All Ages
Be sure to have fresh, clean water available for goats at all times.
Kids
Kids should get 8-10% body weight of colostrum in the first 12 hours of life.
Bottle feeding schedule (if an orphan kid, unable to nurse from mom):

Age Amount Times per day
1 - 2 days ½ - 3/4 cup 4
3 - 7 days 1-1 ¼ cup 3
2 - 6 weeks 2- 2 ¼ cups 2
6 - 8 weeks 2 ½- 3 cups 2
8 - 12 weeks Weaning time for most goats, except Angoras at 4 months.
Wean by introducing alfalfa and grass hay into the diet gradually, starting at 1 week of age. Introduce pasture at 4 weeks of age.

Adults

    Hay:
  • Grass hay, usually 3% of body weight per day, have available at all times.

    Grain or concentrate

  • Only needed in the winter or if goats do not have access to good pasture.
  • Feed small amounts of grain if needed, less than or equal to 1 pound per day.
  • Important note: Goats can get VERY sick (rumen acidosis) if they eat too much grain so it is critical to store grain in goat-proof containers and not over-feed.
  • Only feed grain or concentrates made for goats, for example: goat ration, goat chow, goat grain. Make sure that the grains have been rolled, flaked, cracked or crimped to insure optimal digestion.
  • Horse grain or horse feed is not recommended because goats may develop an intestinal impaction.

    Supplements:

  • Baking soda, available as free choice (they can eat it if and when they want) to reduce rumen acidity.
  • Trace mineral salt free choice. We use sheep mineral. Look for 300 ppm copper.
  • Regions with Selenium deficient soil (Northeast US, Southern Atlantic Seaboard and Pacific Northwest) should supplement selenium.
  • Regions with high Selenium in soil (Rocky Mountain States) should avoid supplements that contain Selenium due to the potential for Selenium toxicity.

Very Important Vaccinations

    All goats should be vaccinated for:
  • Clostridium perfringens type C & D toxoid vaccine Use sheep product and sheep dose (2 ml subcutaneously). Vaccinate kids at 4, 8 and 12 weeks of age, then booster annually. Booster all does one month before kidding. Booster adults annually.
  • Tetanus toxoid- vaccinate anually.

Very Important Vaccinations - Consult Your Veterinarian

    In areas where the following diseases are endemic, or common, goats should be vaccinated with:
  • Leptospirosis Bacterin - If needed vaccinate does one month prior to breeding.
  • Contagious Ecthyma vaccine - Do not use this vaccine in newborn kids or sick goats because this is a modified live vaccine and may cause disease in young and immuno-compromised animals.
  • Chlamydia and Campylobacter Antigen - If needed vaccinate does one month prior to breeding.

Parasite Patrol or Parasite Control

    De-worming:
  • Adults should be dewormed every six months.
  • Kids should be dewormed just prior to weaning, 3 weeks after weaning and at 6 months of age.
  • It is most effective to alternate between types of dewormers.
  • Three common types are Benzimadazole compounds (Thiabendazole, Mebendazole, Cambendazole, and Fenbendazole), Levamisol products, and Ivermectin (Ivomec). De-lousing:
  • Apply Extabar delouser topically in the fall since lice are most problematic in the winter.
  • It is important to repeat application of the delousing agent 2 weeks later to kill newly hatched lice eggs.

Hoof Health

  • Goats should have their feet trimmed a minimum of once every 6 months.
  • Pointed hoof shears, often call sheep hoof shears, should be used.
  • Consult an experienced hoof trimmer for advice on technique.
  • Simply lift up goat feet while the animal is standing, do not tip them up on their rumps like sheep.
  • Remove hoof wall that has over grown the sole, shorten the toe, and level the sole and the heel.
  • Use caution so as not to quick the feet which will cause bleeding and soreness.

Here's wishing you happy goat ownership! We hope you have learned a little something from these pages. Please consult a veterinarian if you have questions about your goat's health.

About the author: For More Information on this topic or to suggest other topics Contact:
Cleon V. Kimberling, D.V.M.
Colorado State University VTH
Fort Collins, CO 80523
E-mail:cleon@coloradolamb-wool.org

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