The following is a collection of frequently asked questions about goat
1. What is the best type of goat?
There is not a "best goat". Some goats are better suited for certain
production systems than others. For milk production the Alpine, LaMancha,
Toggenburg, Saanen and Oberhasli are popular breeds. The Nubian is
considered a dual purpose breed, suitable for milk and meat production. For
meat production the Boer, Tennessee stiff-legged, Pygmy and crosses of these
with dairy breeds are all common. If you are considering fiber production,
the Angora and Cashmere breeds would be good choices.
2. How many goats can I place on my property?
A general recommendation is 6 to 10 goats per acre for stocking year-round.
This rate will vary with the quantity and quality of forage and browse
available. Browse includes shrubs, woody plants, weeds and briars.
3. What can I feed to my goats?
Goats have a high nutritional requirement. This requirement varies with
stage of production, stage of growth and the type of production system. With
the exception of milkers, high quality browse and forage will meet most
goat's requirements. Goats will consume 4.5 pounds of dry matter per 100
pounds of body weight per day.
Understanding the stages of maturity and how this affects forage quality is
important. Graze grass when it is 6 to 8 inches tall and remove the goats
when grass is 3 to 4 inches. Matching forage quality to the animal's
nutrient requirement can reduce the need for supplemental grain, saving you
If forage and browse are not available, such as in winter or during severe
drought, supplemental feed is required. This is usually given in the form of
hay or grain. Fresh water and a loose mineral supplement should be available
at all times.
4. Can you run goats with other livestock?
Goats work well as companion grazers. This is true because goats prefer
plants that are undesirable to other livestock. Goats will prefer browse and
weeds over grass and clover. The result is more desirable forage (grass and
clover) for the other livestock.
You can run one to three goats for each cow. Again, this number depends on
the quality and quantity of forage and browse available. Seven or eight
goats will eat about as much as one cow.
5. What type of fence will keep a goat in the pasture?
Woven wire fences do a good job of containing goats. Goats with horns can
get their heads caught in this type of fence, so dehorn them. High tensile
electric fencing (5 strands) will also works well and is less expensive to
build and maintain.
6. What type of housing do I need for goats?
Housing needs will depend on the production system you choose. For meat,
fiber or brush control goats, some type of structure to protect the goats
from cold, wind, rain and wet ground is recommended. This can range from a
natural wind break or rock outcropping, to a traditional barn. For a dairy,
you will need a building to use as a milking parlor and a place to keep the
baby goats (kids) away from their mothers and out of the elements.
7. How many kids do goats have?
Goats can have from one to five kids. Twins are the most common birth rate.
Four or five is very rare.
8. How long is pregnancy (gestation) in goats?
Gestation lasts five months in goats. The range is 146-155 days.
9. When do I breed young does?
It is best to breed a young doe when she is one year old. Breeding her
earlier will stunt her growth and could lead to birthing difficulties. A
good rule is to breed does when they reach 60-75% of their mature weight.
10. When do I wean kids?
Wean kids when they are three months old. This will allow the doe to gain
weight before her next kidding. You do not want a doe to be in poor
condition when her next kids are born because her milk production will be
reduced and there is a possibility of kids being born weak.
11. When is the best time to castrate and dehorn kids?
The best time for these procedures is when the kids are 7 to 10 days old.
Performing these procedures at this age will be less stressful on the kids.
Dehorning is best accomplished with an electric dehorning iron. Castration
can be done surgically or by banding.
12. What diseases should I worry about in adult goats?
Tetanus, Enterotoxemia (overeating disease), Soremouth, Caprine Arthritis,
Salmonellosis, Jone's Disease and Pasteurella Pneumonia are a few diseases
that goats can contract. Vaccinations are a cheap way to give goats
protection from some diseases. The two most common diseases goats are
vaccinated for are Enterotoxemia and Tetanus.
13. What diseases are problems in young kids?
One of the most important things with young kids is to be sure that it
nurses the doe in the first 12 hours after birth. Babies need the "first
milk" (colostrum) from their mother in order to get antibodies that will
help the kid fight off diseases. After 12 hours, the kid begins to lose the
ability to absorb the antibodies. It is also good to dip the navel in a weak
betadine or iodine solution to protect the kid from bacteria that can cause
infection or death.
Diarrhea is a common problem in kids. You need to be able to identify the
cause of the diarrhea in order to administer the proper treatment. If the
diarrhea is green, the kid has probably eaten a poisonous plant. If the
diarrhea is brown or yellow, the kid has scours. If the diarrhea is black,
the kid probably has coccidiosis.
14. Are some plants poisonous to goats?
There are many plants that are poisonous to goats. Rhododendron, Wild
Cherry, Nightshade, Velvet Grass, Yew, Azalea and Laurels are a few of the
most common species of poisonous plants. For a complete list of poisonous
plants contact your local County Extension Center.
15. How do I control parasites?
Internal parasites are a problem in goats. Failure to deworm goats will
result in breeding problems, poor milk production, weak kids, poor
performance, and death loss. Unfortunately, there are very few products
labeled for use in goats. A veterinarian can give you permission to use
products that are approved for other livestock. Read the label to make sure
that the product you use will control the parasites that infect goats.
16. How often should I trim my goat's hooves?
Some breeds, as well as individuals within a breed, have faster growing
hooves than others. The terrain and environment can influence the amount of
wear on the hoof. Most goat owners trim feet four or more times per year. If
hooves are not trimmed foot rot and lameness may occur.