Best Kind of Goat for Brush Control?

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Question by Ashley: Best Kind of Goat for Brush Control?
We are considering getting a goat (or maybe more than one), mostly to help control the growth of our pasture. We have two horses on a 4 acre lot and they can’t seem to keep it eaten down. I was wondering what the best type of goat is to help with that. I am not really interested in using it for milk or butchering, more as just a pet and pasture mate to the horses.
I have electric horse fencing, however I have heard that goats are great escape artists. I was wondering if that type of fence would be sufficient to keep them contained.
Do you de-worm, trim their hooves and give them shots just like you would horses? Will they be healthy just from grazing or do they require grain?
Do they need to be kept with other goats or are they fine just to be in with horses?
I know I probably sound like an idiot, I really just don’t know anything about goats! I realize I’m going to have to do a lot more research before I commit to owning and caring for the animal, this is just my first step in the learning process. Hope you can help!

Can you help? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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One Response to Best Kind of Goat for Brush Control?

  1. 1. How far apart are your wires on the fencing? In general, goats require goat-net fencing or panels, although I’ve heard of a 5-strand barb wire being used. The old saying is: If you can see through it or blow smoke through it, a goat can get through it. Also, the larger goats might be easier to keep in. The smaller ones can even get out of our net-wire. Kids can get out of 4 X 4 squares.

    2. Deworming is easier because goats are smaller than horses, but with goats there is getting to be some worm resistance to the dewormers. I only deworm when the goats’ mucus membranes are looking pale or if they look “wormy.” Trimming hooves is EASY and you can do it with a pair of rose pruners. There are videos on Youtube, I think. I like the curved rose pruners because they seem to fit the hooves better. The only shot we give our goats is a yearly CDT, but consult with your vet. Goats are usually given shots under the skin (SQ) and you can learn to to it.

    3. When grazing is poor in the fall/winter/heat of summer, you may have to feed them or provide hay, as you do the horses. They can eat worse hay than the horses, though, so they may help your horses “clean up.” I WOULD try to find a way to offer them some goat minerals free choice in a horse-proof feeder of some kind, just to be sure they are getting what they need. ****NOTE***** IF you get wethers (neutered males) do NOT feed them molasses-based horse feed. Male goats are very susceptible to kidney stones/urinary calculi and this molasses feed isn’t good for them.

    4. Two goats with the horses would be fine. Our goats run all around our horses when they are in the pasture together. Granted, our horses know the goats (be CAREFUL when introducing them), but I think it helps the horses in some ways because the goats run under them and bump their legs, which desensitizes the horses to both the smell of goats and to having something (like a small child) run into their legs or scream loudly. Now most of horses don’t even flinch when a goat kid comes barreling around the pen and runs into their leg.

    5. In your position, I would try to find some healthy mixed-breed or larger breed goats. You could go with a meat-type breed like the Kikos or Boers, or a mixed-dairy breed. It wouldn’t matter. Get either does (girls) or wethers (geldings/neutered males). Do NOT get bucks….they smell, even if they are very affectionate. If you pick out a little buck, get the farmer to band him for you. It’s like banding a calf as long as the goat is young. You don’t need full castration as with a horse.

    6. Be SURE your goats are healthy. No coughs, no poopy bottom, no runny noses, no “lumps” around the jaw or in the groin/flank area. The lumps can indicate an infection. Look for shiny coats and decent hooves, as you would in horses. Be careful buying goats at an auction…try to find a clean farm or dairy that’s selling some wethers or older does. Check Craigslist. You should be able to get a young mixed-breed for $ 125 or less. Some farmers will give you a good price if they know their goat is going to a good home rather than to the barbecue pit.

    7. Be sure your goats have a place to get out of the weather. Most goats don’t like rain, and cold drafts can make them sick. I really think most goats need at LEAST a 3-sided run in shed, and they need to be able to get out of the wind. This doesn’t have to be fancy. Even a large “dog-house” will work for a small goat.

    I really recommend you get Storey’s Guild to raising either Dairy Goats or Meat Goats. These are GREAT sites. For holistic/organic, also visit Fiasco Farms’ website. It’s great.

    April 9, 2014 at 4:39 am

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