Effective Goat Management: Navigating Success and Pitfalls
Goat management encompasses a range of practices that significantly influence the health, productivity, and overall well-being of your herd. In this article, we’ll explore both good and bad examples across key aspects of goat management.
There are so many questions and problems goats and goat owners are experiencing. Sometimes goats are just born with problems and aren’t as hardly as others and a goat with multiple kids inside does have a greater chance of having legs tangled as she gives birth. But there are a lot of problems that are directly related to the goat owner not making wise and proper decisions as they manage their property and herd.
The examples below are ones that are common problems but they can be avoided if you know what to do and what you’re looking for.
1. Feeding Practices:
Your main job as a goat owner is providing a well-balanced diet that meets nutritional needs, including high-quality forage, proper supplements, and adequate water. Your goats need to be fed adequate forage and hay or they will literally starve to death. They need ample long stem fiber in the form of hay or forage. You have to spend money and buy hay if your property will not support the goats.
There are multiple articles you can read to learn more about what you need to feed your goat to keep them healthy: Long Stem Fiber, Feeding Goats, Why Goats Eat Broadleaves
But if you’re neglecting proper nutrition it will lead to malnutrition, weight loss, and overall poor health. A starving goat will not live no matter what saving measures you give them at the last minute. Depending on where you live, it changes what you feed and how. For example, I live in Montana. We have very harsh winters and grass, forage, pasture, and grain crops do not grow for 8-9 months of the year. If you’re expecting your goats to overwinter in conditions like this, they will freeze to death by starvation. If you live in the south, where it’s hot and wet, you’ll be dealing with barber pole worm and it can be very hard to manage if you let it get out of control.
Implementing a strategic deworming program based on regular fecal testing, using appropriate medications, and maintaining proper hygiene to control internal parasites is essential if you want to keep your goats healthy. You have to arm yourself with tools like My Parasite Control Plan. There is a worm war and you have to learn how to battle it properly. So many times, I’ve heard someone say to me: “But I dewormed my goat! It can’t be the problem now!”
But neglecting deworming protocols will lead to worm infestations, weight loss, anemia, potential long-term health issues and even death. And one of those protocols is checking your goat’s poop about ten days after deworming to make sure that the deworming actually worked. You have to check. You just have to. Is that clear enough? If it didn’t work, then you will deworm again. You can not let worms get out of control.
3. Land and Space:
Providing ample grazing space, rotating pastures to prevent overgrazing, and ensuring goats have enough room for exercise and natural behavior is another example of how to properly raise goats. If you don’t have enough land, then you will buy supplemental feed. Going back to point one, you can not starve a goat. You want to raise goats who have a limited input, meaning you will cull goats that always carry a large worm load, ones that always have kidding troubles, or mastitis problems.
But you can’t also cause those problems with overcrowding goats in limited space. It will lead to stress, kidding problems, increased parasite load, and degradation of pasture quality.
4. Purchasing Goats:
Conduct thorough research before purchasing goats by selecting from reputable breeders, and ensuring the health and lineage of each goat.
Some people will go to the auction house and buy a goat. Buying goats without proper background checks will lead to the introduction of diseases, potential genetic issues, and a compromised herd. One aspect that is often overlooked is that a doe who was raised and breed in one area has all the immunity for herself and her kids that she needs. But when she is moved to a new location, she doesn’t have immunity for that area for herself or to pass on to her kids. There is a host of new pathogens, bacteria and viruses she has never been exposed to and if she comes to your property weak and stressed, she can get sick easily.
5. Pregnancy and Kidding:
Planning and managing pregnancies carefully is very important. You will absolutely need to ensure that you are giving proper nutrition for pregnant does, and providing a comfortable and secure environment for kidding. Even after kidding for many, many years, it can be stressful. You don’t ever know the outcome and need to be ready to act quickly if something is going wrong. But the healthier the doe, the better it will be for you and her.
Buying pregnant does without knowledge of their health history, leads to potential complications during kidding, higher risk of diseases, and challenges adapting to a new property as mentioned in number four. Many times problem arise after dark, on the weekends and when the vet isn’t available. If you don’t have proper supplies on hand, there will be a high chance that you’ll regret it. Don’t let that be you: be prepared.
6. New Property Considerations:
Gradually introduce goats to a new property, ensuring secure fencing, and providing a quarantine period for new arrivals to prevent the spread of diseases. If you don’t know the health history of the goat, then treat the goat as if they haven’t been dewormed, or given vaccinations.
Immediately introducing goats to a new property without quarantine, is risking disease transmission, stress-induced health issues, and potential conflicts within the herd. Be wise when you buy a new goat. You don’t want to risk the health of the goats you love and have been raising for years on one mistake.
Effective goat management requires a proactive approach, encompassing proper nutrition, healthcare, and strategic planning. Learning from both positive and negative examples can guide goat owners in making informed decisions that contribute to the well-being and success of their herds. By prioritizing good management practices, goat owners can foster a thriving and sustainable goat-raising experience.