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Raising Goats

What does it take to get your backyard
ready for goats?
Here's the minimum requirements

goat

So you want goats in your backyard! You've already checked out the zoning requirements of your city and found that you can keep goats, and you've already determined the kind of goats you want, and what you want them for (dairy, meat, fiber, or just for pets), so you're ready to move forward.

 

Space Requirements--"outdoor space"

The next thing you need to decide is if you have the space to keep goats, and how many goats you can keep in the space you have (Remember, goats are herd animals and won't do well as 'only children'. They need other goats with them to keep them from getting lonely and to meet their social needs. Therefore it's wisest to get at least two goats).

Your goats will need some 'roaming' space, an outdoor space of yard that they can exercise and hang out in. Again, for a standard goat, that space needs to be about 30 square feet, but you can get away with less space if you're raising dwarf goats. 20-30 square feet of space for a pair of dwarf goats should take care of their outdoor needs.

Space Requirements--"indoor space"

Generally, a regular-sized goat needs 15-20 square feet of space for sleeping, but if you have a dwarf goat, you can get away with 1/3rd to 1/4th that space, at least 5 or 6square feet or so. This doesn't have to be fancy, and can even be an extra large dog house or a three-sided lean to. The important part is that it creates shelter from the wind and rain and is draft free. (So, if you want to have two dwarf goats, 10-12 square feet of sheltered sleeping and resting space is a good aim.)

The floor of the shelter can be made of dirt or gravel, but not concrete (it's too hard on their little goat bodies). Place straw or wood shavings over the flooring (to absorb waste).

goat peeking

A Strong Fence

To contain your goats in this space, you'll need a good fence. Goats are notorious escape artists (as a matter of fact, this is the biggest complaint I hear from goat owners--and former owners!) A good fence is essential. The posts need to go deep and the fence needs to be at least 5 feet high.

When considering fencing areas, make sure there aren't poisonous plants and trees in the area (if there are trees in the area you don't want eaten, you'll have to protect those trees by wrapping them with something like rabbit wire or window screen netting, etc.)

Food

Goats need two kinds of food in their diet. The first, known as roughage is what they get from grazing--leaves, plants, grass, shrubs, bushes, etc. When there's not enough roughage in their natural environment, hay or alfalfa can be used. These foods are high in fiber which aid in goat digestion. A full-sized goat needs 2 to 4 pounds of this a day.

The second kind of food is grain. This is high energy food that compliments the high fiber foods. The grains can be such things as barley, corn and oats. However, if you're raising a weather goat, they don't really need to eat grain and will do fine with hay and grazing alone.

In addition to their food, goats need minerals. An easy way to do this is in the form of a mineral block, which they'll eat as they need it (they'll eat up to an ounce of it daily). There are different mineral needs for different goats (ie the dairy goats verses the meat goats).

You should plan on feeding your goats both in the morning and in the evening.

Water

Goats need clean water. Their need for water increases during hot, dry days. A goat can drink as much as 4 gallons of water per day. Make sure you've got a bucket or stock tank large enough that they won't easily run out of water during the day.

Other Stuff

In addition to all the above, you'll need buckets and bowls and feeding containers and feed storage containers. A hay feeder is handy to have as well as a mineral feeder. If you have very many goats, you also might like a stock tank for the water.

Time

Consider spending at least a half hour in the morning and the same at night, caring for your goats. More time will be needed if you're milking goats (which will need to be milked both morning and evening), or if there are other special considerations (ie a goat raised for fiber will require more and regular attention to it's fleece, etc.)

Having a goat is more like having a dog or cat than it is to having a chicken. They require more time and energy and they live longer. They're also more personable and will have the ability to bring joy into your life.

Would you like to know more about dwarf goats?

Want a helpful book all about raising goats? This is one of the best around:
The Backyard Goat, An Introductory Guide

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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