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5 Basics of Raising Goats

Nurturing Caprine Companions: The 5 Basics of Raising Goats

Raising goats can be a rewarding venture, whether for milk, meat, fiber, or simply as charming companions. Understanding the fundamentals of goat care is essential to ensure their health, well-being, and productivity. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the five basic aspects of raising goats: their deer-like lifestyle, managing parasites and deworming, considerations for acreage, providing suitable shelters, and crafting a balanced nutritional regimen.

you need to know these 5 basic things to raising goats

1. Living Like a Deer: Understanding Goat Behavior

a. Grazing and Browsing:

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  • Goats are natural foragers, combining grazing on grasses with browsing on shrubs, bushes, and trees.
  • Mimic their deer-like lifestyle by providing diverse vegetation for a balanced diet.
  • Under normal circumstances, goats will graze from the top down, moving on to the next plant and avoiding eating close to the ground where worms thrive. 
  • By moving around to new grazing locations continually they also are avoiding eating around their feces and picking up worms. 

b. Climbing and Exploring:

  • Goats have a penchant for climbing and exploring their surroundings.
  • Ensure your enclosure has varied terrain, structures, and platforms for mental stimulation.

c. Your Practical Part:

  • You don’t want your experience raising goats to be negative, but it easily can turn that way if you’re not viewing goats correctly or understanding how they fit into the world. 
  • If you help them to be a goat, eat like a goat, travel like a goat, and live like a goat, you will be able to better see when they are off and acting differently. When you see that first sign, you can act quickly and intervene with the necessary care. 

2. Parasites and Deworming: Maintaining Internal Health

a. Regular Monitoring:

  • Implement a routine monitoring system for signs of parasite infestations, such as changes in coat condition, weight loss, or lethargy. Check Famacha regularly but do not rely on it solely. 
  • Regularly inspect fecal samples to identify parasite eggs. Purchase your own microscope and learn to do this once a month. 
  • Worms have adapted to their environment and know how to survive and will survive most anything if given the chance. They will even go dormant for a period of time and then right when a doe is about to give birth, they will “bloom” and become active again…just in time for the kids to be putting everything in their mouths and digesting them, immediately causing problems. 

b. Deworming Schedule:

  • Develop a strategic deworming schedule based on your region, climate, and herd size.
  • Rotate deworming medications to prevent resistance and consult with a veterinarian for guidance.
  • But DO NOT worm goats unless they need it. You have to worm properly or there will be a resistance developed by the worms to the dewormers.
  • Your dewormer didn’t work unless you do another fecal and prove that it did. If you don’t see a massive 95% reduction in the fecal egg count, then the dewormer didn’t work and you’ll need to use another one to kill off the worms. After deworming, do another fecal 7-10 days after to check to see if it was effective. 

c. My Parasite Control Plan:



3. Acreage Considerations: Providing Adequate Space

a. Grazing Area:

  • Allocate sufficient acreage for grazing, ensuring access to a variety of forages.
  • Implement rotational grazing to prevent overgrazing and promote pasture health.
  • A feedlot situation isn’t the best conditions for a goat and they won’t do as well. But I raise goats in Montana, where they are confined to a barn for a big part of the year and I’ve been raising goats for more than 12 years. They do learn to adapt. And they are fed well. Most of the year is supplemented with hay because they don’t have access to free range forage. I also don’t feed my goats on the ground, so they aren’t picking up worms like they would eating off the ground. And the very cold winters do put a halt to the worm load. 
  • Goats living in very wet, hot and humid temperatures will most likely struggle with worms, especially the Barberpole stomach worm. If you live in an area like this, you will have to be very diligent in your deworming strategy. Please don’t overlook this. 

b. Exercise and Exploration:

  • Goats thrive when they have ample space to exercise and explore.
  • Aim for a minimum of 200 square feet per goat to prevent overcrowding.

4. Shelters: Protecting Against the Elements

a. Weather-Resistant Structures:

  • Construct shelters that provide protection against harsh weather conditions, including rain, wind, and extreme temperatures. Young goats especially have a hard time controlling and regulation their temperatures, so wide swings in temperature can really affect them. 
  • Adequate ventilation is crucial to prevent respiratory issues.
  • All goats need shade from the heat, but if your goats are disbudded, what that they don’t overheat. Horns are their natural heat dispellers and without them they can easily overheat. 

b. Bedding and Cleanliness:

  • Use appropriate bedding materials such as straw or wood shavings for comfort and insulation.
  • Regularly clean and maintain shelters to prevent the buildup of waste and parasites.

5. Nutrition: Crafting a Balanced Diet

Goats have an extremely fast “rumen passage rate”. The feed they eat can pass through them completely in as little as 11-15 hours. This means that their digestive system has very little time to eek out every bit of nutrition from the food they eat. This also means that the food they eat needs to have the nutrients very bioavailable almost immediately. Your job is to provide them with the best quality nutrition possible. You can’t starve a goat and expect them to do well. 

We must break the old adage, “Oh! Those goats! They’ll eat ANYTHING!” They don’t and won’t. 

As much as you need to develop a relationship with your local vet, you need to be also developing a relationship with your local feed store nutritionist. They can be of so much value as you figure out how to best feed your goats in your area. 

a. Forage and Pasture:

  • Prioritize access to high-quality forage and pasture.
  • Introduce a variety of vegetation to meet their nutritional needs.
  • Do not feed moldy hay or grain. Always lock and double check grain storage doors are securely closed and latched. 
  • You can also test your hay yearly. This will tell you what it’s lacking and how to supplement. It can also help you decide if you should buy the hay you’re looking at. Your pasture forage can also be tested as well. Just be aware that you have more control of your goat’s food than you might think!

b. Supplementary Feed:

  • Supplement their diet with appropriate grain, minerals, and vitamins.
  • Adjust feed quantities based on life stage, activity level, and health condition.

c. Fresh Water:

  • Ensure a constant supply of fresh, clean water to maintain hydration and support digestion.


Successfully raising goats requires a holistic approach that aligns with their natural behaviors and nutritional needs. By understanding their deer-like lifestyle, implementing effective parasite management strategies, providing adequate acreage, constructing suitable shelters, and crafting a balanced nutritional regimen, goat owners can foster a thriving and contented herd. Regular observation, preventive care measures, and a commitment to their well-being contribute to the longevity and productivity of these delightful caprine companions.

Keep learning about goats! Raising Goats Resource Page

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