Goat questions

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Well as most of ya'll know I am definately a cow person. However I was taking stock of my place here recently(while lamenting the cost of cheese) and it will be several years before I will have pasture good enough to support a cow. I've got nearly perfect land for goats....at least I have a thriving deer population(and my place seems to be the dessert bar for the critters). My first question is how on earth to fence them in without taking out a second mortgage! I've had goats before(briefly) and those things are escape artists. What is a reasonably priced way to contain goats. I have 16 acres but I could enclose a smaller area if needed(mainly a nice 4 acre area that I need cleared anyhow). My second question is how long is the average goats lactation? Cows have a nice long lactation....got no clue on goats. Thanks and God bless ya'll.

-- Amanda in MO (mrsgunsmyth@hotmail.com), September 04, 2001


Get New Zealand type electric fence. the length of the lactation depends on the doe, management, her genetics, and whether or not you rebreed her. Get a good doe from very milky lines with long level lactations, and stick to a twice a day 12 hours apart milking schedule, and you should be able to milk her for a couple of years without rebreeding her. I have heard that some breeds are better about milking through than others.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@itss.net), September 04, 2001.

There are lots of options for fencing. Many goat people use 16' cattle panels. You don't need to fence the entire four acres at once. Consider using cattle panels and moving them around as the goats defoliate the area. Be cautious in the woods with goats. They have a habit of standing upright to reach high leaves and can get caught in forked trees. We have had several occurences lately where various does have caught their front feet and then lost their footing and were hanging by their legs. They would have died if someone hadn't been there to hear their screams and let them down. I'm skeptical of electric wire with goats. I've never seen anyone use it. I think the real danger is that it can let predators in too easily. We have a heard of about 25 Nubians and have not had a problem with them trying to escape. If they have plenty of browse and lots of companionship, they won't try to go anywhere. Many does can be milked for almost two years, although production will generally be small after the first seven to eight months. For highest production you want to breed annually.

-- Skip in Western WA (sundaycreek@gnrac.net), September 05, 2001.

Field fencing is probably the cheapest. I love cattle panels, but unless you are going to stay in goats it wouldn't be worth it for you. You are not going to find does who will milk several lactations without rebreeding from just anyone. Lots of folks ruin dairy goats, by letting them nurse kids for 3 months, and then drying them up. Further lactations from a doe spoiled like this will be disappointing in the least. If you are interested in length of lactation and amount of milk than purchase from folks who actually milk 10 months out of the year, those who have barn milk records or who are on DHIR.

Start with you barn/shed, then slowly fence in around it, adding and making it larger as you can afford to, with cattle panels, they can also be taken down, stacked and stored, if you find goats not be your fancy. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), September 05, 2001.

I use electric on most of my goats and have had great luck with it. You need a serious fence charger, not some wimpy little pet protector. Mine "will do" 20 miles through wet grass. It really is no fun to be zapped by it. I am unfamiliar with the New Zealand fencing. I just run T posts and insulators and have the handlesd gates. It is inexpensive, somewhat portable, and if you train your animals on it, it works quite well. I run three strands, and if I had a jumper, I guess it could be problem.

My first doe simply refused to dry up and milked 19 months. The doe I have in milk now milked for 10 mos. Of course they don't give anywhere near the amount of a cow, truthful averages are about 6-10 pounds per day. Mine have started out at 10-12 and then even off at 6 for the majority of their lactation. They would probably keep on milking thru, but you need to dry them off when you breed.

Cattle panel is great, and if I could afford itt I would have it for everything, but it is just too expensive. Also coyotes get through cattle panel easily. The electric if it is low to the ground is a better deterrent.

I would suggest you get some mellow goats! Nubians are much more relaxed than my Alpine breeds. I was amazed at the difference in temperment.....still am;}. Grade does would be good as well.

-- Doreen (bisquit@here.com), September 05, 2001.

I don't know about that Doreen, I really like my Alpines, and I was a Saanen enthusiast to begin with. :) The Nubians I dealt with had irritating habits, such as laying down and bawling when I tried to lead them somewhere they didn't want to go. Drove me nuts!!! They were just too big to pick up and carry, coaxing them to stand and walk was an excercise in frustration ( they just laid down again after a few steps!)and I wasn't about to reward such behavior by baiting them with grain (see, maybe it's because I'm kind of stubborn too!). The Alpines that I have now are alert, but not high strung ( except for those annoying bottle kids that want nothing to do with being a part of the herd), some of them are the most laid back, mellow goats I've ever owned. A few are a little lively at times, but they are really smart and learn a new routine right away. There is one doe- the second in command, that is bossy and always wants to push the lesser does around, but other than that there is very little fighting or belligerance. I think that personality traits can run in certain bloodlines as well as by breed though, because the really calm, mellow animals have offspring that are that way too.

One thing I have noticed, the personalities of bottle fed and dam raised kids are entirely different. Dam raised are wild at first but calm down with a little effort and then are pretty problem free. But those bottle feds are always wanting me to be with them and holler frantically when I leave, and the bottle kids are the only ones that ever run through the fence much. If the others run through it ( we have two strands of plastic electric twine) it's an accident. The doe backed up to it or got too close, panicked and ran through it. Put her back in, and she won't do it again. But the bottle kids ran through it again and again. Oh they yelped, but getting zapped was a price they were willing to pay to be with their 'mama'. If you're going to have bottle kids, use more than two strands. About the predators, electric fence is supposed to be the best against cougars, and it works with dogs really well *after* they discover it and make the connection. With a dumb dog, it might take more than once. We have not had any predator problems.

-- Rebekah (daniel1@itss.net), September 05, 2001.

Help! I'm new to goats. Just bought a young Nubian doe. I see a lot of talk on here about fencing and wondered whether I could use cattle panels. Couldn't the goat get through the spaces? I was set to put up field fencing (narrow openings), but cattle panels might be easier to use and to move (though more expensive). Would appreciate any ideas. Thanks- Carol S. in Michigan

-- Carol S. in Mich. (cschlag@tdi.net), August 18, 2002.

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