Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New arrival at the farm: Boer goats

Over the past 2 years I've had a continual stream of requests from people for goats.  In general I like goats because they can eat a variety of plants that grow well on my land, and any animal that comes with a small feed bill, or non-existent for part of the year -- is interesting. 
I've purchased an entire small herd; 16 animals, varying in age and condition.  Over the next week or so I'll be looking at them.  The bucklings aren't castrated, and I'll have to do that for the majority of them, or all of them if I can't find one that I think is worth breeding.  I'm guessing that they're all related, and so i may castrate all of the bucklings in this herd and go find a boer buck that is unrelated, for genetic diversity reasons. 
I turned them out into my vegetable garden, and they had a funny reaction.  Most of them ignored the vegetables and lettuce and headed straight for the fence to eat the blackberries growing through the fence. 
They'll climb as high as they can to get the blackberries. 
Here a goat has found the overgrown leaf lettuce and is polishing it off. 
These goats have found something that is worth fighting over; they're sparring. 
I'm going to have to look at all of my fences pretty carefully.  Goats can fit through very small openings, and they can jump and climb pretty well.  I'm guessing that this will be my challenge for the next few months:  Contain the goats. 


Joanne Rigutto said...

Nice goats Bruce!

Someone told me once that goats are like cats with hooves. I've found that to be a fitting description.

I have a small herd - 15 does/doelings, 2 bucks. I really like working with mine but as far as fencing they can be incredibly frustrating. I'm looking foreward to having a couple young goats to put up in the freezer next year, I'll be selling the rest. I've had several people stop by asking if I have any for sale since I got mine a couple years ago.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Joanne. I've got a couple of paddocks fenced with 5' no-climb fence, which is pretty darned expensive, but contains the goats pretty well, and I'm happy with that so far, but I'm trying to figure out what I'll do for the rest of the property. Barbed wire is cheap and fast, but I suspect I'll have to do a large number of strands to deter a goat.

What's a reasonable price for a goat?

Anonymous said...

We have goats as well, and as I have heard, a fence that won't hold water won't hold a goat. I have had great luck with some kind of welded wire, no climb, or cheep field fence and three hot strands, one about 4" at about 16" and the last near the top of the 4' fence. The hot wire keeps them from challenging the fencing. I tried 6 strands of hot wire 4" or so apart with no other "field" or "no-climb" fencing and they would jump right through. (With the biggest fence charger I can get my hands on). I don't know that barb wire is going to slow them down at all.

I look forward to seeing how it goes for you!

dinkleberries said...

Hmmm, Zadiq will pay 1.30 a lb for those less than 1 year old.
I find the fencing is not much of a problem until they run short on food. But once they figure out they can get through the fence it can be very hard to keep them in. In my experience, Boers and Nubians are the easiest to keep within a fence. Have you seen ?? I like the theory behind it (have yet to buy some).

Marcia at Coyote Canyon Conservancy is in the process of planting mulberry trees/bushes for fodder banks last I heard. I understand she is planting them in lanes between paddocks. They are supposed to be real high in protein.

Btw, goats that get adequate minerals do well and don't spend much time at the vet, ime. Avoid anything that has mineral oil in it as it is derived from petroleum products and it will line the gut preventing absorption of nutrition. The best book on goat care is Pat Coleby's Natural Goat Care, available at, imo. =j

Anonymous said...

You can always rent them out for shrub control to help prevent wild fires.
Keep the BMW away the farm, they will climbing up on it in no time.

Anonymous said...

I am finishing my fourth season of goat herding. I generally keep mine behind three strands of polywire. One strand half way up my calf, one knee high and one at my hip. That is for goats that are trained to electric fence.

For kids, I have used plastic safety fence as a backstop for several strands of poly wire to get them to respect the wire. This year I tried some of that electric netting, which worked well also. I did have to add an extra strand of polywire 12" above the net while the kids were at their most nimble. Now that they have put on more weight, they are not so nimble jumpers and they stay with the adults behind the three strand fence.

I agree with the earlier poster, goats could be trained that a fence is no barrier, but that is to be avoided. ;)

I have winter paddocks setup with 5 strands of high tensile wire. It's good for winter when snow piles up. I have some areas that I also fence with polywire in the snow. It works OK, but I try to keep it above the snow because I generally fence with long continuous peices. Having the low wire in a snowbank can short it. The other side of the fence is much less enticing in the winter anyway.

But, in general, keeping my goats in is not a big problem. I do have placid Saanens, not frisky Alpines, though. Areas that I am serious about keeping them out of, like our market garden, I fence with high tensile. And I am planning on a high tensile perimeter fence. That is more about having a perminent fence to tie my paddocks to, though. Three strands of polywire and a 6 joule charger keep mine in. I like the polywire because it is inexpensive and my paddocks change daily.