Goat Care Basics
When goat kids head to a new home at eight weeks old, I send always email their new owners this handy information sheet which indicates how to get them off to their best start. If you are considering goats — goat kids, or adult ones — this can help you make sure they have a successful start.
If you are considering goat kids we are accepting people to our waitlist for 2023! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the waitlist for our Nigerian Dwarf Goat kids.
Fencing & Housing
Goat kids should have a safe indoor space protected from predators and the elements. That said, goats are hardy animals who can thrive in cold and heat - what they really need is protection from wet, wind, and direct sun. A goat house can be made from a repurposed dog house, shed, or a stall in a barn. The amount of space you offer may differ depending on how much access you offer to pasture. I recommend pine shavings for bedding, they’re absorbent and comparatively affordable. You’ll also want to consider hay feeders — goats are notorious wasters of hay, so a hay rack is very helpful.
We use 5’ Red Braid No Climb fencing with cedar posts. It works extremely well, and we’ve never had an escape that involved a goat going over the fence. The posts have aged faster than expected, and pressure treated posts may last longer. For temporary pasture or rotational grazing, PremierOne Supplies makes excellent goat fencing. Be sure to use a strong charger as a moderate shock will not deter a goat. Your kids have had some exposure to electric fence, but are not thoroughly trained on it so please begin using any electric or rotational fencing with careful supervision.
Your kids will come to you on a diet of second cut hay and Blue Seal Feed’s “Meat & Grower” feed. I recommend keeping them on this feed for at least a few weeks, as changing feed at the same time as changing location can be very stressful for their stomaches. Additionally, the Grower feed has nutrients to deter urinary calculi, a common problem with wethers; and other nutrients beneficial to a growing goat.
As your goats get older, you can consult a vet or goat expert for feed choices but I recommend Dairy Goat feed for breeding, pregnant, or milking does; the Meat & Grower feed for breeding bucks; and Timothy Pellets for any other goat that needs some feed at mealtime but doesn’t need to gain any more weight (it’s basically hay in pellet form).
Goats can eat a mix of 1st and 2nd cut hay. We prefer feeding second, but it’s more expensive and sometimes harder to find. For pet goats or goats with plenty of forage, 1st cut is perfectly acceptable.
Your goats will also need access to loose minerals. We offer these free choice in a tub that we refill daily. We use Manna Pro’s Goat Mineral. If you have neutered males, and especially if they are eating grain as part of their diet, ammonium chloride may be added to their diet to help prevent urinary calculi.
I also will offer additional minerals such as garlic powder, kelp, and sunflower seeds. I do this more in winter, they just contain good nutrients and minerals and help keep a goat’s diet balanced when there is less forage.
Always keep some baking soda on hand for if your goat eats too much rich food. This can be new green pasture, or if they break into the feed room. Baking soda will relieve a bloated stomach. It can be offered loose/free choice for a moderate issue like introducing new pasture, or can be given as a drench if your goat has gotten into something it should not have.
Your kids are headed home with an initial CDT vaccination, and will need a booster in about two weeks. This can be a great opportunity to introduce your new goats to their vet! I recommend CDT shots annually after that, as well as BOSE injections annually (or more for breeding animals).
You may also want to consider regular copper bolus, zinc supplements, and a worming schedule or plan. I would consult your vet about this, or get a few opinions. I’d be happy to chat about what we do here at our farm when you pick up your goats.
Your goats should also get their hooves trimmed regularly, every 8-12 weeks. If you aren’t familiar with this, I’m happy to show you the process when you pick your kids up.
Healthy Goat Stats
Temperature = 102.5 - 104 - This varies depending on the temperature of the goat's surroundings.
Pulse rate = 70 - 80 beats per minute
Respiration =15 to 30 per minute
Gestation = 143 to 155 days
Life span = 10-15 years Veterinary Recommendations