We have always been interested in raising goats, mainly because we have quite a lot of forested/ shrubby areas and thought that goats might be very good for helping to manage and clear it out. We received our first goats from a good friend Madeleine. We got a pregnant mother (Tina) and a 3 month old kid (Rosemary).
We were very worried about just how tough goats were going to be on our fencing as we’d had some bad previous experiences with sheep. Our sheep managed to get through every single fence we had up and finally ended up slipping through our back fence and disappearing. We tried to find them again, but sadly it seems they had gone forever. Thankfully our goats seem to be very gentle on fencing. We did first try a tethering system but we found it too much work and now just rotate them regularly through our different paddocks.
Goats tend to eat very differently than either cows or sheep, being more browsers than grazers. They love to trim all the lower branches of a tree and eat very woody plants. They seem to work very well running with our pigs, as the pigs require woody paddocks to help them stay cool and the goats will help clear out any shrubs/ trees that are low-hanging in the pig paddock. To keep the pigs and goats in we currently have a 4 stranded electric fence connected back to the main energiser and it works well.
Tina was pregnant when she arrived and we all had a very anxious wait while we waited for her baby. Goats more commonly have multiples, however Tina only had one baby, Lavender, who arrived on the 6th December. We chose to hand-rear Lavender inside as it makes it much easier for us to milk Tina and makes Lavender eaiser to handle when she is older and we are milking her.
When we were hand-raising Lavender we used to keep her in a big tub inside during the night and then put her outside during the day. When she got a little bigger she used to occasionally escape and we had to track a rouge goat through the house and try to stop her causing damage. She was relocated outside very shortly after smashing a vase that was sitting on the coffee table. Once she went outside we tried to run her in the house yard but then she ate all the plants that were on our veranda and decided that all our deck chairs were her personal property. We then confined her to a smaller fenced yard where our precious pot plants were safe from a ravenous goat.
After having the 3 goats for a little while we decided that it would be great to be able to breed them and milk the three goats when they do have babies. We got a buck kid from Madeleine again and hand-reared him. He was a gorgeous black and white kid named Forest.
Overall our experience with raising goats has been very positive. They are very easy animals to look after and they produce a nice amount of milk that we normally turn into yoghurt. You do just need to remember to close the gates otherwise you end with some goats waking you up from a peaceful nap by charging up and down the deck.