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Setting Up For Goats

It is two weeks until young goats arrive at our farm. We are busy preparing for their arrival so that the transition for them and for us will be as comfortable as possible.

Our goats will be eight weeks old and no longer need milk from their mother. Sunflower Farm sends them home with a checklist of things to do and watch out for, and we've been hitting the books on how to keep our new friends happy and healthy.

Step one is to finish the goat stall, which needs a door for them to get in and out of and a ramp down into the pasture. Their indoor stall walls are almost five feet tall, which should deter them from getting out into the barn. Having heard so much about goats escaping abilities, we are also doing our best to keep everywhere they can get as safe as possible so that even if they do escape, they won't get themselves into trouble.

Our outside pasture space is fenced with four foot tall no climb fencing, which was recommended to us as fencing for goats. Once they feel at home, we'll also be using some temporary fencing to move them around various areas on our land helping us clear brush.

Using goats for clearing land is a very cost effective and traditional way to bring back overgrown acreage. We have already taken back a lot of the tougher overgrowth with a chainsaw, and now goats can chew down the remaining stalks. Eventually, geese will follow and keep the grass trimmed. If you plan to use goats this way on your land, just make sure to check each area you put them in for potential toxins, such as cherry trees, peach trees, rhubarb plants, or rhododendron.

While goats are known for their voracious appetites, they do actually have some specific feeding needs. Ours come with a recommendation of feeding pellets free choice for their first six months of life, and providing second cut hay in addition to their pasture grass. Once they are fully grown, they'll be fed pellets daily in amounts determined by their body weight.

We are also building a small outdoor shelter so that they can stand in the shade without having to go back into their stalls, and we are putting in some obstacles to keep them amused. From what I understand, goats with plenty of things to do in their pen do not try to escape. This shelter will also add some much needed shade to the pasture, which our chickens are sure to appreciate.

Goats do require special minerals, medicines, and attention. Per suggestion from their breeder we will have a free access mineral block in their stall as well as free choice baking soda. They'll be dewormed according to their weight and have their hooves trimmed every eight weeks or so. Garden shears can be used to trim goat's hooves, or you can buy a special hoof trimming tool.

We've got new feed and water buckets ready to be hung, hay nets waiting to be filled and bales of straw ready to bed down the stalls with. Soon we'll be packing the car with our three new goats and bringing them back to enjoy life in Liberty!


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