No matter how hardy goats might seem at times, if you’re thinking about raising one, you should know that these animals still need your love and attention. Before you jump to the conclusion that there’s not much to think about when raising a goat, here’s a quick reminder: you have to be careful with the food and home you provide it with, as well as the way you handle it, and what to do to keep it healthy. So, let’s see what you need to keep in mind.
When it comes to food, you need to include green forage and quality hay in your goat’s diet, but don’t forget to balance out the nutrients by adding concentrated grain ration, either commercial or custom-mixed. Another important thing to remember is to avoid sudden changes in the diet. Finally, stay clear from ground feeding, as this can easily lead to parasite problems, plus, goats hate dirty hay. And, of course, always make sure your goat has enough clean water.
Furthermore, when it comes to their lodging needs, we’re sure you’ll be happy to hear that goats are rather flexible, so simple housing like three-sided shelters and port-a-huts should be just fine. What’s of crucial importance, tough, is to provide them with a shelter when it’s raining. According to Susan Schoenian, a sheep and goat specialist at the Western Maryland Research and Education Center in Keedysville, Md., unlike other livestock, goats have less fat and somewhat thin hair, which makes them vulnerable to cold and wet weather. Needless to say, whatever kind of shelter you have, you need to keep it clean to avoid flies, parasites, disease, and odors.
Even though goats are strong and capable of defending themselves vigorously, you shouldn’t fear them. When handled with care, they can be easy to manage, and you can avoid getting into trouble. So, you can use daily treats, or a collar to clip your goat to a fence when necessary. And, of course, don’t forget about a stand or stanchion.
Finally, to keep your goat healthy, make sure you ask a local vet about recommended goat vaccinations. Of course, your goat(s) will carry a certain number of parasites, that’s normal, but, according to Schoenian, “the challenge is to keep the parasites from making the animal sick or from affecting its performance.” So, you need to provide a nutritious diet, feed in mangers, and keep your goats’ quarters clean. Also, don’t forget about hoof trimming, which will protect your goat from lameness. You should give your goat a daily head-to-tail inspection and always stay alert for symptoms of diarrhea and lethargy, as well as eating and drinking habits. Of course, if anything seems wrong, turn to a vet for help.