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USDA Rural Information Center

Learning About Goats

By: "Gary Pfalzbot"

  • About the Author
  • This article is meant to be more enlightening than informative. Yet it may be of some educational value to persons raising goats at any level be it a hobby or as a profession.

    Learning to raise and care for healthy goats is of utmost importance to anyone involved with goats. There are a great number of factors that determine the overall health of a goat. But instead of going into each factor, let us instead concentrate on an attitude that underlines a commitment to the continued education of learning how to raise and care for your goats.

    Let's first look to the people who have been raising goats for many years. For the most part, these people can, will and do impart a great deal of knowledge and information that they have accumulated through "hands on" experience over the years. This type of experience is perhaps the best teacher of all. Learning first hand not only provides real life experiences, but it underlines what books try and often fail to teach. You may spend hours reading a section of a book that deals with a particular type of disorder with a goat. While you may have "read" the section until you know it by heart, it still is of great importance to actually "practice" what you have learned.

    But knowledge and information at what price? Simply because a person has the years and years of tried and true experience does not necessarily mean that they are 100% accurate or right in how they raise or care for their goats. One must be willing to understand and accept that raising and caring for goats means you are dealing with a life form that depends upon much the same conditions as do humans, dogs, cats, monkeys, horses....life itself.

    What I'm getting at is that no one person can know all their is to know. To reach such a point where a person does feel they know all their is to know (or at least almost all of it) is really just shutting the door to knowledge. Because knowledge is infinite and in some cases, there is not really a right way to do things in every case. This is why each of us that raises goats, must keep an open mind and be willing to keep an open mind in their care and treatment.

    At one time, I participated in a situation where a goat was unexplainably ill, head slung back over its body, and barely hanging on for dear life. The owner didn't really give me a whole lot of details to begin with. My initial diagnosis was that it may have some type of respiratory disease, but I and the owner both agreed that we should take the goat to a veterinarian to get another opinion. Upon inspection and assessment of the goat, the first thing the veterinarian did was say that the goat had nerve damage and in his opinion, should be put to sleep. Why? Because the goats head was slung back over its body. Anyone that knows goats well enough would know this position on a goat is often a natural part of their normal behavior. Goats will rest in this position. Yes, they will also become ill and rest in this position. Nerve damage? Really? Well, we took the goat back home and treated it with antibiotics instead, against the direction of the veterinarian. If I remember correctly, the goat had a type of pneumonia like shipping fever and later recovered.

    As we drove back home, the owner began telling me a little bit more about the history of the goat. It was new to the herd. They had driven to another state and brought it back in an open air trailer. The goat had stopped showing interest in food a few days later and quickly went downhill. It was a stark contrast to originally being told that the goat had just stopped eating "this morning" rather than having been like that for a couple of days.

    The moral of this story is that one should not quickly jump to a conclusion, nor should they believe the first diagnosis they are given. And for the person giving a diagnosis (myself in this case), if you don't have all the facts, it is hard to conclude an accurate diagnosis. So be careful in determining a quick diagnosis. My fault in this case is that I didn't really have a mental checklist prepared to get all the answers I needed.

    Rated 3.0 by 1 responses.

    About the author: Gary Pfalzbot is a Service Connected Disabled Veteran and the web master of GoatWorld as well as some other web sites. He has raised goats over the years, been involved with 4-H (as a young boy) and currently resides in Colorado where he and his wife Pam raise a few breeds of goats and other animals, and primarily author the GoatWorld web site to continue to inform, educate, and promote the industry.

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