Safely on the Road: Transporting Goats with Precautions and Preventive Measures
Whether you’re taking your goats to a show, moving them to a new pasture, or bringing them home for the first time, transporting goats requires careful planning and consideration. The journey can be stressful for these sensitive animals, making it essential for goat owners to take precautions to ensure their safety and well-being during transit. In this article, we’ll explore the key precautions and preventive measures to take when transporting goats.
The adage, “you old goat” really does apply in this instance. Goats do not like change and will balk at any form of it. Change = stress in their world. And stress = illness, abortions and even death.
And acknowledging where you’re moving your goats to will help you help them navigate the changes they will face. If you’re moving your goats from the south to the north, they will have to adapt to colder temperatures. If you’re moving from the west to the east, they will have to adapt to wetter climates. Paying attention the climate where you’re leaving from and where you’re going and all the stops in between will also be a big part in making the best decisions for your goats.
Once they have been relocated and are settled into their new home, they will need time to adjust and care given to make sure they transition well.
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Problems That Can Arise When Transporting Goats
Heavily pregnant does will not travel well. Most likely they will become distressed and either abort, or have problems with delivery. Their kids may also be weak. And if you’re a new goat owner, it will be very hard to react properly and quickly to help them.
Traveling to a new location, with completely new pathogens, and weather will cause problems to these does.
If you are looking to buy and transport pregnant does, don’t buy them unless they are less than 3 months pregnant. If you come across one that is at her due date and bagging up, it would be wise to not buy her and move her during this time. Another option would be to work with the owner and ask if you could purchase her, allow her to kid on that property and then bring her own after the kid is 8 weeks old.
It will take a doe time to develop immunity to all of the bugs and parasites at her new location. And until she has that, she can’t pass it on to her kids.
Young kids under the age of 8 weeks will also stress even more easily than the already easily stressed goat. Kids take on the immunity of their mother and their immune systems are so fragile early in life.
Invest in a Suitable Transport Vehicle:
Choosing the right transport vehicle is crucial for the safety and comfort of your goats. Ensure that the vehicle has proper ventilation, secure fencing, and a non-slip floor. Trailers with partitions can prevent goats from moving around too much during transit, reducing the risk of injuries.
Familiarize Goats with the Transport Vehicle:
Before the actual journey, it’s beneficial to familiarize your goats with the transport vehicle. Allow them to explore the trailer or truck bed while it’s stationary, making it a positive and non-threatening experience. This can help alleviate anxiety during the actual journey.
Plan and Minimize Travel Time:
Minimize the time your goats spend in transit to reduce stress. Plan your route carefully, considering road conditions, traffic, and potential stops for rest and water. Adequate planning can help make the journey smoother for both you and your goats.
Provide Adequate Ventilation:
Goats are sensitive to temperature changes, and poor ventilation in the transport vehicle can lead to overheating. Ensure proper air circulation by leaving windows or vents open. However, be cautious of drafts, especially during cooler weather, and provide enough bedding to keep goats comfortable.
Secure Proper Restraints:
To prevent injuries and ensure the safety of your goats, use proper restraints during transportation. Depending on the type of vehicle, using dividers within the trailer to prevent overcrowding and potential injuries.
If you’re brining home a sizable amount of goats, divide up the goats into age groups. Keep the bucks individually penned. Does and wethers who are the same size is acceptable and wethers and doelings who are the same size is good as well. Pregnant goats should be penned in an individual pen as well.
If you’re using a kennel, you’ll want to strap it down to the bed of the pickup so it doesn’t slip our bounce out.
Carry Adequate Water and Feed:
Maintain the health of your goats by providing access to fresh water and a small amount of feed during the journey. Dehydration can be a significant concern, especially during longer trips, so encourage them to drink water at stops.
Ask to purchase feed from the previous owner to allow for a 7-10 day transition time as they get used to the new feed you’ll be feeding them.
Do not offer any grain during this time. They will only need grass hay and water as they travel and as they are settling in.
Monitor Temperature Conditions:
Extreme temperatures, whether hot or cold, can have adverse effects on goats. Monitor weather conditions and adjust your travel schedule accordingly. In hot weather, consider traveling during cooler parts of the day, and in cold weather, provide sufficient bedding and protection from drafts.
If you’re traveling through a hot area, then travel at night and rest in the shade in the day. And if traveling to colder climates, prepare to have the area ventilated but closed enough that the cold air isn’t beating in on them.
Check Health and Identification:
Before loading your goats, conduct a thorough health check to ensure they are fit for travel. Verify that all identification tags and paperwork, such as health certificates or travel permits, are in order and readily accessible. This is particularly important for interstate or international travel.
Depending on who you are purchasing from, it’s a good practice to ask for the health and feeding history of the goats you are purchasing. Breeders who have been raising goats for years and who take great pride in their herd will be happy to supply you with this information. But you can also buy from sellers who are in the slaughter business or brokers and while most brokers are great people with great hearts, some are not. Just be mindful of who you are purchasing from and why these specific goats are for sale. You don’t want to bring home problem goats.
Minimize Stressful Interactions:
During transport, minimize unnecessary interactions with your goats. Loud noises, sudden movements, or interactions with unfamiliar animals can increase stress levels. Create a calm and quiet environment to help keep goats at ease.
After the goats are home and in their quarantine pen, they will need to be given time to adjust. They will need hay and water during this time and continual monitoring. Always have a thermometer on hand and watch for any goat that goes off feed. Take their temperature, keep them hydrated and promptly address the issues that arise.
Remember, they are adjusting to new climate, new water, new housing and new locations of everything.
Prepare for Emergencies:
Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances by carrying a well-equipped first aid kit. Familiarize yourself with basic goat first aid procedures and have contact information for a veterinarian or emergency services readily available.
Be prepared with an emergency supply kit and kidding supplies, including colostrum replacer, if you are transporting a pregnant doe.
Allow your does to settle in at least 3 months before you breed them. This gives them time to adjust, regain their immune system, and get healthy and hearty to produce a healthy and hearty kid or two or three.
Transporting goats can be a smooth and stress-free experience with careful planning and adherence to preventive measures. Ensuring the safety, comfort, and well-being of your goats during transit is paramount for maintaining their health and reducing the risk of injuries or stress-related issues. By implementing these precautions, goat owners can create a positive and secure environment for their goats on the road.
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