When I first got my goats, I didn’t know anything about them, so had a lot of questions. I’ve researched, bought some books, and I’ve had my mentors. People are happy to help. It’s been a fun learning curve. I hope you will find this information helpful.
Be aware that leaving their home and mothers is a lot of stress. They can get a little runny nose or loose stools. (called Shipping Fever). So be sure to monitor for that. It’s a good idea to worm them and give probiotic.
Goats are herd animals, so they will do better with another goat. They can get depressed and not thrive.
There is a pecking order among goats that is totally normal. They understand it. Monitor for excessive bullying. Ex: I had to take Raggy out of Zero and Bubba’s pen because they were head butting her at the same time and she couldn’t get away.
A goat is only as good as the fence is. (I read that somewhere.) If there is a way out, they will find it. There are all kinds
of options for fencing. Just remember that not only do you want to keep the goats in, but you also want to keep the predators out.
Hooves need to be trimmed regularly.
There are many trains of thought regarding what to feed a goat. Some basics: Goats need roughage to maintain a healthy rumen. So what I do is, alfalfa with some grass for Pygmies and grass hay for Nigerians.
What you choose to feed your goats will depend on if they are just pets or if you want to show. If you are getting goats for pets hay, water, goat mineral and sodium bicarbonate might be all you need. Keep hay in front of them at all times, so they can eat on demand. GOATS WASTE A LOT OF HAY. THAT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS.
One of the ways goats keep warm in winter is by digestion. So, keeping alfalfa/hay in front of them is important.
I like a goat mix that is formulated for goats. (Do not buy if it says goats and sheep. Both kinds of animals have different needs.)
Truthfully, I am still trying to find the right balance for food. A couple of rules of thumb: if they are eating up the feed fast, they may need a little more. If they are leaving grain behind, you might be feeding too much. If the poop is pine cone shaped, they could be getting too much grain.
One cannot gauge fatness by belly size. A big belly is normal. Feel over hip bones. There should be a light layer of fat...not just skin and bones.
Never feed cracked corn. Cracked corn is for chickens. It just settles in the gut of a goat. Rolled corn is what is ok for goats. It is found in the goat mix.
Keep clean water in front of them. They don’t drink as well if the water is scummy or dirty.
Goats can handle weather much like cattle do, with the exception that they cannot handle getting wet. They need a shelter to get out of rain/snow and wind. A lot of people use the igloo type dog huts. I like Dogloo at Big R. Get the extra large one.
You will also want to worm your goats. Check with your vet on that. I like to use the herbs, and I have never had a poop test come back with worms. Some people would rather use the chemical. And there are occasions when I use the chemical wormer as well.
Have sodium bicarbonate ( baking soda) and goat mineral out where they can get to it as they wish. I use SweetLix or Manna Pro. There are other brands. I’ve read that is good to switch brands occasionally. Just make sure it has ammonium chloride (prevents kidney stones) and selenium (helps to prevent White Muscle Disease) in it. If you live in an area that is not selenium deficient, you might not need that. Where I live, the ground is selenium deficient. Your vet can help you with questions about that.
It might take awhile for your new goat to warm up to you. Put him/her in a small pen to make it easier to catch. My approach hasn’t always been the best. One time I dove for the little goat as she was running past me. I caught her! And neither I nor the goat was hurt, but I decided that as a sixty-something woman, I probably need not to be tackling my goats! Haha! I also tried laying on the ground, so as not to look so big. That wasn’t effective either. LOL!
I think the biggest thing is having patience. Spending time in the goat pen. And all my goats eventually accept me, and come to me. Keep in mind they each have their own personality too. For example, Zero is totally tame, but she doesn’t always want to be petted.
A couple of great websites for supplies:
www.caprinesupply.com is a great place to find goat supplies.
www.mollysherbals.com is where I get herbs for my goats. There is also a lot of information on this website.
Be sure to call the vet if you have any issues. (That’s the nurse in me feeling compelled to say that.).
These official websites provide a lot of useful information: