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Great article! I’ve forward it as “fair warning” to friends who are considering goats. Spoiler: After having goats (for about 18 mo, 2 breeding cycles), we now actively discourage most friends from getting them. If they insist, we assist where we can, actively stressing the challenges they present and how to mitigate them — Josh covered most of these well. Background: When we moved to our 5 acre property in Western WA (8 years ago), we immediately got 4 Nigerian Dwarf Goats (we did some research but not enough, and had to learn as we went). We got 2 males and 2 females, freshly weaned. After they matured we bred both the females and had 2 cycles of kids. We milked them, using the milk to drink (we like goat milk, some people don’t — there is a variation in the flavor due to their diet and breed), we also made cheese (think ricotta) and yogurt. Butter is quite hard to make with goat milk, there is less fat content and the cream does not separate like it does in cow milk. Things we learned: — ElectroNet, from Premier 1, is your friend! We ended up buying 2 fences (164′ each) and used that to move the goats where we wanted them. This kept them contained well, but we had to move them sometimes as often as every 3 days. If you “force” them to stay in an area to eat more vegetation, they get bored/frustrated and can possibly get out (if there are any topographical variations) or even get caught in the netting (though pretty rare). Electric netting is solid stuff, it lasts, tolerates weather and animals both well — ours is 7 years old and still works great. Grounding rods (preferably 2) are a must for good conduction, that can also be a hassle if you move them a lot. With electric netting unless the grass/foliage is exceptionally crazy you can probably weave the netting in between it and don’t need to trim first. But DO NOT USE HERBICIDE to clear a path for your fence, your goats are going to eat in that immediate area! Don’t use herbicide anywhere your free range animals can ever get to. — Never tether your goats in place with a rope etc. The theory is sound, but it doesn’t work. They will become a tangled, twisted mess, possibly even hanging themselves. Also they are very vulnerable to any predators. — Condition the goats to come when you call them using food. Even if you don’t plan to supplement their feed much, get a good goat/sheep feed that they like. Bring them a bucket on a regular basis and call them (using the same words every time) and condition them to come to you. This is important because no matter what you do GOATS WILL GET OUT (yes, we’ve had them on top of our car) and you need to have a relatively easy way to get them to come back to you. A disadvantage of goats–unlike sheep–is that when they do get out (or need to be moved) they don’t “herd” together instead scattering their separate ways. We were even able to condition the milking mothers to follow us to the milking stand (again conditioning with food). You really aren’t training them, they don’t have any “sense of loyalty” to a specific person, you are conditioning them to a pattern that allows them to have the food they like. — As goats go, we did like the Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They were good tempered (mostly) and smaller (thus more manageable). OUR RECOMMENDATION: Katahdin Sheep. They are a hair sheep (they shed in the spring and are not sheared), the meat is good, the milk is good, they have great temperaments, they herd together (and are easy to move and keep together), they clear foliage well, and are good, productive mothers. In our view they have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of goats. One disadvantage of sheep, in general, is that they are relatively helpless to predators — we keep 2 dogs outside 24 hours a day. Another advantage of Katahdins–especially if you don’t want to butcher them–they are easy to sell (the 6 month lambs go for about $300 around here). Many people/cultures love lamb and it’s relatively expensive and/or hard to get. They sell almost immediately (even pre-sell). P.S. Currently we only have 1 Katahdin ram (intact) and a Nubian cross wethered goat (as a companion). They handle much of our landscaping needs. We plan on getting back to having sheep, by picking up some new ewes, next year.


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Great article! I’ve forward it as “fair warning” to friends who are considering goats. Spoiler: After having goats (for about 18 mo, 2 breeding cycles), we now actively discourage most friends from getting them. If they insist, we assist where we can, actively stressing the challenges they present and how to mitigate them — Josh covered most of these well. Background: When we moved to our 5 acre property in Western WA (8 years ago), we immediately got 4 Nigerian Dwarf Goats (we did some research but not enough, and had to learn as we went). We got 2 males and 2 females, freshly weaned. After they matured we bred both the females and had 2 cycles of kids. We milked them, using the milk to drink (we like goat milk, some people don’t — there is a variation in the flavor due to their diet and breed), we also made cheese (think ricotta) and yogurt. Butter is quite hard to make with goat milk, there is less fat content and the cream does not separate like it does in cow milk. Things we learned: — ElectroNet, from Premier 1, is your friend! We ended up buying 2 fences (164′ each) and used that to move the goats where we wanted them. This kept them contained well, but we had to move them sometimes as often as every 3 days. If you “force” them to stay in an area to eat more vegetation, they get bored/frustrated and can possibly get out (if there are any topographical variations) or even get caught in the netting (though pretty rare). Electric netting is solid stuff, it lasts, tolerates weather and animals both well — ours is 7 years old and still works great. Grounding rods (preferably 2) are a must for good conduction, that can also be a hassle if you move them a lot. With electric netting unless the grass/foliage is exceptionally crazy you can probably weave the netting in between it and don’t need to trim first. But DO NOT USE HERBICIDE to clear a path for your fence, your goats are going to eat in that immediate area! Don’t use herbicide anywhere your free range animals can ever get to. — Never tether your goats in place with a rope etc. The theory is sound, but it doesn’t work. They will become a tangled, twisted mess, possibly even hanging themselves. Also they are very vulnerable to any predators. — Condition the goats to come when you call them using food. Even if you don’t plan to supplement their feed much, get a good goat/sheep feed that they like. Bring them a bucket on a regular basis and call them (using the same words every time) and condition them to come to you. This is important because no matter what you do GOATS WILL GET OUT (yes, we’ve had them on top of our car) and you need to have a relatively easy way to get them to come back to you. A disadvantage of goats–unlike sheep–is that when they do get out (or need to be moved) they don’t “herd” together instead scattering their separate ways. We were even able to condition the milking mothers to follow us to the milking stand (again conditioning with food). You really aren’t training them, they don’t have any “sense of loyalty” to a specific person, you are conditioning them to a pattern that allows them to have the food they like. — As goats go, we did like the Nigerian Dwarf Goats. They were good tempered (mostly) and smaller (thus more manageable). OUR RECOMMENDATION: Katahdin Sheep. They are a hair sheep (they shed in the spring and are not sheared), the meat is good, the milk is good, they have great temperaments, they herd together (and are easy to move and keep together), they clear foliage well, and are good, productive mothers. In our view they have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages of goats. One disadvantage of sheep, in general, is that they are relatively helpless to predators — we keep 2 dogs outside 24 hours a day. Another advantage of Katahdins–especially if you don’t want to butcher them–they are easy to sell (the 6 month lambs go for about $300 around here). Many people/cultures love lamb and it’s relatively expensive and/or hard to get. They sell almost immediately (even pre-sell). P.S. Currently we only have 1 Katahdin ram (intact) and a Nubian cross wethered goat (as a companion). They handle much of our landscaping needs. We plan on getting back to having sheep, by picking up some new ewes, next year.


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