Well we have finally gotten the goats. This has been this one of the biggest things on my todo list for at least 2 or 3 months now, and its finally started, and phew has there already been a lot to learn.
Getting Everything Ready
A few days before hand I got the final preparations in order for things I absolutely needed and did not have. One of which is shelters. The Kennedys (who I got the goats from) showed me their Calf Hutches that they were using and I knew instantly that was exactly the kind of thing I needed for rotational grazing. A very thick (but still relatively light) shelter that could be easily moved by a single person and would last for years. This thing cost me 180 bucks, apparently normally costing around 400ish, per. So naturally, I bought two.
I then needed to set up the first area that I would put them. I intentionally picked a place that wasn’t too loaded with vegetation since I was concerned about moving them from a location that had relatively less vegetation and was more focused on feed. That way I could ease their transition.
Bringing The Does Home
On Sunday December 29th we got the two ladies here at the homestead. Their names given to them by the Kennedys are Seeker and Dreamsicle. (Dreamsicle is the one that looks more deer like with orange coloring while Seeker is the darker headed one that looks much more like a Boer goat). They are both Boer crosses.
Here I am texting everyone that I got the goats. It wouldn’t be long after this and seeker JUMPED THE FENCE. I can’t say it enough how unbelievably stressful of a situation that is. I have the largest electric net fencing made, everything is setup right, even the fence wasn’t that saggy, and sure enough the goat jumps the fence twice… (Indicating it would destroy my abilities to rotationally graze them). I haven’t seen that behavior since, and I think she was just so stressed out that she wanted out at all costs.
Know what she’s eating here? Dewberry (blackberry). They demolish this stuff. I predict by the end of next year, there will be no black berry that wasn’t personally planted and managed, unlike right now which my property is covered with it.
After a few days I moved them closer to the house. There were more weeds and I wanted them a tad closer for this first week. Right now I’m bringing them forage, but eventually I’ll have them out there doing work.
After almost an entire week without sun, they’re out there enjoying the sun.
I tell you what, I wish I had these things months ago when I started clearing my southern hedge. These animals are almost violently in love with Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense). It won’t be long and I’ll be attempting to get net fencing around areas with chinese privet, and let these guys go to town. Even if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be able to just chop it to the ground and throw it to them. They love this stuff more than feed.
Right after this picture, Dreamsicle attacked Seeker and lifted her in the air with her horns because she likes the stuff so much.
The first lesson I have learned is don’t underestimate a stressed out goat. I don’t think these goats are jumpers but when Seeker jumped the fence, all the awesomeness of having goats immediately washed away and constant terror was instilled. Luckily that has subsided but it has taught me that you’ve just really got to read animals, and expect them to do some crazy things if you’re bringing home mature animals. Seeker (it turns out) was more of a family goat than dreamsicle and wasn’t quite adapting as well. That has subsided, but for a person to start a herd from scratch I HIGHLY recommend having a large dog tie down post, chain, and collar ready to go. I had to rush to tractor supply immediately to buy it. (Try sleeping and functioning knowing that you have a goat that is going to jump your fence at any moment, not to mention being checked into thinking you’ve made a serious mistake).
I have learned even if you have to full on feed animals, even a big boer goat like these, its not that bad. They purchased fairly expensive goat feed, which is about 15 dollars a 50 pound sack. They’re supposed to get about 3-4 pounds of food per day (dried material weight) so if you fed them purely the expensive pelletized feed you’re spending roughly 320 dollars a year per goat. (3 pounds * 356 days / 50 pounds per sack * 15 dollars). The goat then provides fertilizer and can eat many of the weeds that you simply don’t want. Also once they have little goat babies, you’ll be able to take the final rewards of having animals (for meat).