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#1 of 28 Old 04-24-2011, 05:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And I guess give me the cons, too.

 

I really, really really want to get some dairy goats. (No less than two, no more than 4) My husband is very against the idea for some reason. Maybe he knows something I don't?

 

We have a 2.5 acre pasture. It's fenced with barbed wire, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to be enough to keep goats in, right? What kind of shelter will they need? And I know they will eat just about anything, but how much supplemental feed will they need? How much do you spend to feed 2-4 goats?

 

I found three goats on Craigslist that are just so sweet for $250 total. (Is that something that is okay to buy from someone on the internet?) A Lamancha mama, in milk, with a doeling and buckling. I'm not really sure I would want a male goat, but would be okay with raising it for butchering, or selling. (Would he need to be castrated if we raised him for meat?)

 

My husband is more open to the idea of a milk cow, but I just feel that it would be SO much more expensive to feed. My family goes through a LOT LOT LOT of milk, and I have always wanted to 1) save money on milk and 2) know exactly what is in the milk my children are drinking. (We buy the cheapest stuff at the store...I can't afford 6 gallons of organic a week!)

 

I know so little about goats that I don't even know what I don't know.

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#2 of 28 Old 04-24-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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They go through a good bit of feed and they have largish manure to deal with.

I have chickens.. the poop is smallish and dry.. easy to deal with on a daily basis. Goat poop is dog like and will have to be removed from barn/stable and yards fairly often for best sanitation.
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#3 of 28 Old 04-24-2011, 05:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have chickens also. We also have a large composting area, so dealing with manure wouldn't be a problem. (We'd do the same with cow manure, also.) We actually haul in manure, now, for our garden, so a large pooping animal would be a real bonus! lol.gif

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#4 of 28 Old 04-25-2011, 06:26 PM
 
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We have a couple of dairy goats and several more meat goats.  Compared to cows, goats are much, much easier to handle, including their manure.  It comes out as little pellets and I often just use those sprinkled in the garden, cow patties are wet and stinky and large.  

 

Electric fencing is the way to go with goats.  Most other fencing can be dangerous to goats because of their curiosity, especially barbed wire which can rip their udders.  I would check out the goats you are interested in buying, milk the doe, check her udder, make sure it is healthy, meaning no weird lumps, teats, or shape.  Ask how much milk the doe produces.  My one doe produces 6 litres per day, the other 4 litres, but her milk is much creamier.

 

For just a couple of goats, we started off with one of those 10 x20 tarp shelter garage, with a couple wooden stalls inside to prevent the goats from ripping the tarp.  The goats need good quality hay.  The cost will depend on where you are located and how many days of the year you will feed hay vs supplemental feeding from your small acreage.  For the doe and her kids, I'd say one small bale a day, possibly less.  Small bales cost more per pound than large round or square bales.  You will need to supplement with grain, a couple of pounds a day.  Again, the cost varies a bit depending on location, but here in Ontario, a 40kg (88lbs) bag costs just under $20.  This lasts us one week, but we have 14 goats.

 

We butcher the bucklings at about 4 months of age, not any later because we don't castrate.  We've not had any problems with "buck" stinkyness.  This gives us about 30lbs of meat on the bone.  I think it is quite delicious and mild tasting.  

 

I love my goats, but there is a learning curve.  However, this learning curve is less steep than with a cow.  Google Fiasco Farm.  Molly has an amazing website to help goat people of all kinds.  Good luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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#5 of 28 Old 04-26-2011, 07:15 AM
 
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i love our goaties.  we have nubians, and one nanny that's a cross with lamancha but she has nubian ears.  we still haven't milked them, although i did try with one nanny and she was fine with it.  we hope to let our billie go live elsewhere for a while before milking, so the milk doesn't taste so musky. 

we do castrate our bucklings.  it makes for better meat and you can wait longer to eat them, so you get more meat.  dh cut them once, but now we use the bands.  they did not/do not seem bothered or hurt in any way with the bands. 

we bought ours off craigslist, too, and if you see them before you buy them, that's not a bad way to acquire them.  we have a small shed, and you might want to consider a birthing stall or a way to isolate a mama and baby or an injured goat. 

barbed wire is no good, electric fencing will work well, and isn't that expensive. 

you will have to supplement with grain, i think we go through a big bag or so a week with 5-6 goats.  you need hay in the winter.  it also depends on your pasture, how much there is for them to eat browsing. 

you could probably get a story's guide or another goat book from your library. 

as far as goats to cows comparison, the cows tend to tear up your land with stompy hooves if you have wet ground.  it takes a LONG time to get meat.  you wouldn't have enough pasture to really support more than one cow, they also need to be kept preferably with other cows, more than one is pretty much necessary.  most folks allocate 2 acres per cow grazing, so you would have to heavily supplement which gets pricey.

some cows aren't that easy to handle, my dad even owned some aggressive ones (the ones we have now are pretty docile, though).  you also have to figure transportation.  logistics are much easier with goats.  also, home butchering is an option with goats that you don't have so much with cows.  if you're strictly doing milk, for one family, goats provide a good supply whereas with cows it might be overkill, SO much milk! 

the ones you're considering, if you castrate the buckling, you'll have to plan for a future way to get your mama back in milk (eventually down the road) so there's the breeding aspect to consider; however you won't have to worry about billy tainted milk. 


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#6 of 28 Old 04-26-2011, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all that great info, guys!

 

Is electric fencing expensive? Because I was thinking that I could just put it around the inside of the barbed wire, so that they can't get near the barbed wire. But I suppose I don't have to give them free range over the entire lot, I could always just portion it out and move the fence later to move them to the other section. Hmm...

 

I love the points about cows stomping up the pasture (we rent from MIL) and transportation. Extremely good points.

 

I think I need to taste some good goat milk and goat meat. It would be a total waste to buy goats if I hated that!

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#7 of 28 Old 04-27-2011, 01:38 PM
 
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I don't agree that electric fencing is best. It actually depends on where you are located, and the same goes for the shelter. Where I'm at, electric fencing is not permanent at all. We have page wire fencing, and a smallish barn that isn't fully enclosed, but the way it sits, it keeps the moisture and the wind out, and we get really really cold winters. 

 

Their poop is NOTHING like a dog's poop. Its like rabbit poop. If they have room to roam all year, then you probably won't have poop problems at all. Ours can't roam all year, and so there is buildup, and we have to spread it, but we have 20 acres, so its spread out in the spring. Their poop is SO much better than cow poop, which is slimy and splattery, and gets all over the cow. When you step in it, its awful. Goat poop is not gross to step on at all. I LOVE cows, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE my goats. I grew up around cows (my grandparents have a 1000 head cattle ranch that we grew up on).

 

Cows have personality. Goats have personality+. They are better than dogs--they follow you around, get in your face, and they sleep outside at night, so no hair to clean up and no muddy dog tracks in the house (nothing against dogs, we have 2!).

 

If you don't want your baby buck goat bred back to the mama, you need to castrate him. If you don't care about that, he'll be a fine sire for future goats, but its not a good idea to breed him to his sister, and def. not his future kids with the females you have. AND they DO get stinky. Really stinky. I love my buck, but he's not acceptable for about 4 months out of the year. I don't like his smell. Dh doesn't mind it much, but I HATE it. He's very sweet and it makes him sad I dont' like him, LOL.

 

Drink the milk of the doe you plan to buy. I have 2 in milk right now. I can't stand the milk of one of them, and the other's is delicious. 

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#8 of 28 Old 04-27-2011, 02:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hm. I had no idea you can breed a buck to his mother. Interesting.

 

Fantastic info, thanks!

 

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#9 of 28 Old 04-28-2011, 03:17 PM
 
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Yeah, their poop is no more like a dog's than a rabbit's is.  Goat poo is in round little pellets and is cold manure, meaning you can put it directly onto your garden w/no worries that it will burn your plants w/too much nitrogen.  It is fantastic fertilizer, just like rabbit poo.  I would definitely invest in goat fencing.  We use the 4"x4" kind, and it is worth the price.  We just bought a roll and it was $260 for 330 ft.  The t-posts will run you about $5 apiece and you need them 8' apart at the most.  We were lucky enough to get to take down 445 ft of goat fencing and the almost 60 tposts at my moms that they don't need anymore last weekend.  That saves us a ton of cash!  Goats typically are a better option for a small homestead since they produce more milk for their size than a cow does (if I'm remembering my reading correctly and I am too lazy to go find that book).  They are safer around children.  I'd never let a child around a cow, but I will around our goats, and esp. since they are disbudded.  Our goats act like dogs.  They are so sweet!  As a matter of fact, one of our does is about to pop w/kids and was sweetly talking to her babies in her belly.  Then she'd rub her nose on her belly.  Get the book "Storey Guide to Raising Dairy Goats" and start reading!  I also second looking at fiascofarm.com as they have fantastic info!  Oh, and as far as castrating, you are going to find all schools of thought on that.  We will not be castrating any of our males.  We intend to only have males until they are butchering weight.  My mom raised Kiko goats for a long time and several times we had to butcher unexpectedly, such as when a big buck broke the leg of a buckling THRU the fence.  The buckling was 8 mos old and had not been castrated.  No bucky flavor at all.  We've butchered several at around 6 mos, too, and no bucky flavor.  Sometimes bucks will try to go after a woman who is menstruating.  Just be aware. One more thing (this won't let me break this up into paragraphs, sorry)....We have a home made goat tote that my mom gave us.  It is made of welded wire panels (hog panels, I think) and can be easily strapped into the back of our pick up truck.  It has a top made of billboard vinyl.  We used it for bringing pigs home last weekend.  You cannot do this w/a cow.  Also, for feeding, we go thru (we have 2 does) a bale of hay in a week in a half.  We feed goat chow mixed w/sweet feed and oats.  We buy a bag of each every 3-4 wks.  Each bag of feed runs around $13 a bag.  Bales of hay are $7-8.  Feed is going up bigtime and I would not be interested in feeding a cow!  For shelter we started out w/a hoophouse (cattle panels) covered w/billboard tarps (you can sometimes find them cheap at goat conventions).  Now we have a goat barn built, but it's certainly nothing fancy.  Dh found very good quality tin for the roof for free. 


 

 

 

 

 


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#10 of 28 Old 04-28-2011, 04:09 PM
 
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Hmm, I have visited a goat farm and was pretty sure I saw the goat manure.. you are telling me something way different than what I saw. Odd.
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#11 of 28 Old 04-29-2011, 11:36 AM
 
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Occasionally their poo will be sorta clumpy, but not often.  Even in the clumps you can see the round pellets.  Did they have other animals in w/their goats maybe?  It could also be because their goats had way more moisture in their feed/hay than usual.  That will make it more clumpy--that normally would occur in the Spring or Summer from what I know.
 

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Hmm, I have visited a goat farm and was pretty sure I saw the goat manure.. you are telling me something way different than what I saw. Odd.


 


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Yeah, their poop is no more like a dog's than a rabbit's is.  Goat poo is in round little pellets and is cold manure, meaning you can put it directly onto your garden w/no worries that it will burn your plants w/too much nitrogen.  It is fantastic fertilizer, just like rabbit poo.  I would definitely invest in goat fencing.  We use the 4"x4" kind, and it is worth the price.  We just bought a roll and it was $260 for 330 ft.  The t-posts will run you about $5 apiece and you need them 8' apart at the most.  We were lucky enough to get to take down 445 ft of goat fencing and the almost 60 tposts at my moms that they don't need anymore last weekend.  That saves us a ton of cash!  Goats typically are a better option for a small homestead since they produce more milk for their size than a cow does (if I'm remembering my reading correctly and I am too lazy to go find that book).  They are safer around children.  I'd never let a child around a cow, but I will around our goats, and esp. since they are disbudded.  Our goats act like dogs.  They are so sweet!  As a matter of fact, one of our does is about to pop w/kids and was sweetly talking to her babies in her belly.  Then she'd rub her nose on her belly.  Get the book "Storey Guide to Raising Dairy Goats" and start reading!  I also second looking at fiascofarm.com as they have fantastic info!  Oh, and as far as castrating, you are going to find all schools of thought on that.  We will not be castrating any of our males.  We intend to only have males until they are butchering weight.  My mom raised Kiko goats for a long time and several times we had to butcher unexpectedly, such as when a big buck broke the leg of a buckling THRU the fence.  The buckling was 8 mos old and had not been castrated.  No bucky flavor at all.  We've butchered several at around 6 mos, too, and no bucky flavor.  Sometimes bucks will try to go after a woman who is menstruating.  Just be aware. One more thing (this won't let me break this up into paragraphs, sorry)....We have a home made goat tote that my mom gave us.  It is made of welded wire panels (hog panels, I think) and can be easily strapped into the back of our pick up truck.  It has a top made of billboard vinyl.  We used it for bringing pigs home last weekend.  You cannot do this w/a cow.  Also, for feeding, we go thru (we have 2 does) a bale of hay in a week in a half.  We feed goat chow mixed w/sweet feed and oats.  We buy a bag of each every 3-4 wks.  Each bag of feed runs around $13 a bag.  Bales of hay are $7-8.  Feed is going up bigtime and I would not be interested in feeding a cow!  For shelter we started out w/a hoophouse (cattle panels) covered w/billboard tarps (you can sometimes find them cheap at goat conventions).  Now we have a goat barn built, but it's certainly nothing fancy.  Dh found very good quality tin for the roof for free. 


 

 

 

 

 


We want goats someday on 5 acres. Is it economical to have milking goats with all the feed/fencing cost? Or is it more about the quality of the milk and the hobby of it than saving money at the grocery store? TIA

 

 

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#13 of 28 Old 05-02-2011, 11:15 AM
 
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We want goats someday on 5 acres. Is it economical to have milking goats with all the feed/fencing cost? Or is it more about the quality of the milk and the hobby of it than saving money at the grocery store? TIA

 

 

For us?  It's more about the hobby and the quality of milk.  And just having the ability to provide for ourselves if need be.  And showing our kids that they are old enough to handle this responsibility.  Our kids entered an art contest a few years ago for a meat goat association.  My dd won first prize, which was a Kiko goat.  My son also won a prize, and since we were not yet set up to have goats (and we don't fly like that, lol), they auctioned off the goat and gave the kids the cash.  They won almost $600 between the two of them.  They each bought a Nubian for $100 (registerable!), and then paid for *most* of the fencing.  We have only about a 1/2 acre fenced for them, but soon to be the whole 5 acres (except for the creek in back).  We built a hoop house and housed them in that until recently when my dh found a bunch of materials (good ones!) and we built a nice sturdy goat barn.  We intend to make cheeses to get thru the winter (at least some this year, and hopefully much more next year), have plenty of milk for us, and I want to make all our soap (we have bees for honey and wax) and salves and stuff.  We still have to build a milking room but have a good enough place to do it for now, and my sister gave us a milking stand.  I just have to buy the bucket and strainer.  We really, really, really love our goats.  They are so dang sweet and loving.  They are due to kid any day now!
 

 


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#14 of 28 Old 05-02-2011, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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IS having a milk animal in any way economical? I get that the quality will be better, because we buy a gallon of cheapo 2%, nothing organic or special in anyway. We probably use 5 or 6 gallons of milk a week, at almost $4 a gallon, so we spend right around $20-24/week. Plus we buy butter, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc. So lets say we spend between $100-150 a month on dairy products. Would a cow or goat save us money, or would it be all about improved quality/self sufficiency? (To me, that is MORE than enough, but to convince my DH it has to be a money saving opperation.)

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#15 of 28 Old 05-02-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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More on electric fencing vs page wire (4x4 goat fence).  We use both, but much prefer the electric, for both permanent and temporary areas.  We have found that when there isn't an electric strand along the page wire the goats rub or stand on it, causing it to bend and buckle, making it useless and somewhat dangerous.  For electric fencing, it can actually be the most inexpensive type of fencing.  We have fenced in about 10 acres for around $500 with electric fencing, and we spent about the same amount on fencing an acre for our buck using page wire.  The most important part of a good electric fence is making sure to have it grounded properly.  Go to a farm supply store and they will set you up.  You don't need the fanciest, most powerful fencer, but it needs to be grounded in order to give the best shock.  As to the permanence of an electric fence, the closer it is to the barn, the more secure we make it with more solid posts and more strands.  For further away from the barn, we use easy step in plastic posts and just 2 strands of polywire.  It seems that the further the goats are from home, the more focused they are on eating and less on fencing.  When they are at home by the barn they seem to have more time to "think" and see the greener grass on the other side, and are more likely to test the fence, therefore we have more strands.  However, we really haven't had any escape artists in quite a few years.

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#16 of 28 Old 05-02-2011, 05:42 PM
 
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I've wondered this same thing.  We're not in a position to really seriously consider it but I've tried playing with numbers.  Chicky2 said

 

Quote:
Also, for feeding, we go thru (we have 2 does) a bale of hay in a week in a half. We feed goat chow mixed w/sweet feed and oats. We buy a bag of each every 3-4 wks. Each bag of feed runs around $13 a bag. Bales of hay are $7-8.

So $16 hay and $13 feed = $29 three weeks.  About $10/week for maybe 7 gallons per week?  Totally guessing at #s of things but that sounds really worth it to me?!  Also I wonder if any neighbors might want to barter/buy?  I know goat milk from our raw milk farmer is ~$16/gal or so.  I do wonder why it's so much more than his cow milk: $7/gal.

 

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IS having a milk animal in any way economical? I get that the quality will be better, because we buy a gallon of cheapo 2%, nothing organic or special in anyway. We probably use 5 or 6 gallons of milk a week, at almost $4 a gallon, so we spend right around $20-24/week. Plus we buy butter, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc. So lets say we spend between $100-150 a month on dairy products. Would a cow or goat save us money, or would it be all about improved quality/self sufficiency? (To me, that is MORE than enough, but to convince my DH it has to be a money saving opperation.)



 


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#17 of 28 Old 05-02-2011, 06:12 PM
 
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Right now we're getting 2 liters a day. We're spending about $60/month on feed. 4L of milk is $8. In two weeks the babies will be gone (sold) and we should be getting at least 4 liters a day for the same cost in feed. It is absolutely a cost saving thing for us.
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#18 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 11:54 AM
 
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Hmm, I have visited a goat farm and was pretty sure I saw the goat manure.. you are telling me something way different than what I saw. Odd.


nope.. they really are little round pellets like deer or rabbit poop.  they look like big chocolate covered raisins.  unfortunately i cannot post a photo of : The Day DD Ate a Goat Pebble.  yes. 


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#19 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 12:08 PM
 
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Well, our costs just went up w/the hugely expensive alfalfa hay, plus the grain intake will go up quite a bit, I'm assuming, since we just had a kid!!!  Our first one!  Unfortunately, she had 2 and one was stillborn.  The other is Chloe, and this is what's good about goats!!!!

 

008.JPGAnd Hildare.......just ewwwww!  ;o)


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#20 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 01:32 PM
 
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nope.. they really are little round pellets like deer or rabbit poop.  they look like big chocolate covered raisins.  unfortunately i cannot post a photo of : The Day DD Ate a Goat Pebble.  yes. 


Yep, we call them nanny berries for a reason LOL

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#21 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Aw, that is just darling! (the mama and baby goat, not the goat poop eating story! Haha!) I want, I want!

 

I was perusing Fiasco Farms website. I'm a little put-off by the disbudding procedure. It seems horrible. Do some breeds of dairy goats not have horns at all naturally? I'd really rather avoid that.

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#22 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 03:08 PM
 
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I do not know of any naturally hornless goats, only that hornless goats (polled, I think is the term) can sometimes occur naturally.  I'm not thrilled with the thought of disbudding, but I think it is necessary.  We have a very trusted lady to do it for us.  She's actually doing it the day she is coming out here to help us hive a wild colony of bees that took over our cabin floor.  It'll be quite a day! 


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#23 of 28 Old 05-03-2011, 08:47 PM
 
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Disbudding is awful. We did our first 4 this year, and we had 2 successes and 2 misses. The misses were the boys, and I know we weren't aggressive enough. We followed the FiasCo Farms method and they are very kind and gentle, but they misled us to think we needed to be REALLY careful, and instead we should have been less careful, especially with the boys. Oh well, next year we will do better. Its hard, because they do cry, but it is necessary, IMO, because of my young kiddos.

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#24 of 28 Old 05-04-2011, 06:51 AM
 
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we haven't actually disbudded... not afraid to rubberband their privates, but the debudding is awful, for sure...

we don't disbud the weathers, b/c we end up eating them before their horns grow backwards into their heads, though they are dangerous for the mama goat.  they can puncture bags and such. 

our billy had a bad disbudding, they grew back ( i think you're supposed to do it twice? ) but it's curled and blunt, so we're leaving it. 

 


Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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#25 of 28 Old 05-04-2011, 08:11 AM
 
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Our vet gasses them for disbudding. Polled goats can't reproduce.
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#26 of 28 Old 05-04-2011, 08:35 AM
 
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Yeah, I'm definitely not looking forward to it, and told my dh he will be the one to hold their noses.  I would take them to the vet if I didn't trust this woman so much.  She's the one we bought our does from, and she is really into holistic goat care.


 


Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#27 of 28 Old 05-04-2011, 08:53 AM
 
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You really don't need to disbud unless you are showing registered goats, or selling to dairies or others that will be showing. We were, so we did, but this was years ago and if I got goats again I'm not sure I would. There is a learning curve in doing it correctly and we had a couple situations in the beginning where they we didn't get the whole area and later they grew in pieces of horn and we have to have the vet surgically remove them, which was horrible and totally disgusting when healing. Plus we lived in the boonies and our goats could have made good use of their horns for protection. We had 2 that were attacked and ended up with more damage than they would have if they had been better able to defend themselves. Their horns will not normally grow back into their heads as someone suggested.


 

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#28 of 28 Old 05-04-2011, 06:19 PM
 
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We don't disbud our goat kids and in the many years of having goats, I have never had problems with the horned does, either them hurting us or themselves.  I actually prefer to have the horns, because I can use them as handles. I think most countries around the world do not disbud goat kids.  

 

The bucks are a different story, I don't trust them, but I still keep their horns.  A couple of years ago, when I was 5 months pregnant, our buck snuck up on me from behind and rammed me to the ground.  Everything was fine, except for a huge bruise on the back of my leg.  I've learned how I must always keep an eye on him and know where he is in relation to my position.  

 

I think disbudding is a personal decision, but in my opinion, not necessary.

 

 

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