Goats are herd animals and should always be kept in groups of at least two. A buck can be safely housed with a wether (castrated male) or some other type of similar sized livestock if another goat is unavailable.
Many people don’t realize goats are browsers, like deer. Goats love weeds, briers, brush, low hanging branches of green leaves, bushes, etc. They are not intended to be grazers like horses, cattle, and sheep, however they WILL eat grass when no weeds or brush is available.
Free choice hay, grass, or brush should always be available because goats are not built to live off grain alone. We feed a 16% protein goat feed or meat goat ration to our growing goats and nursing does. Adult bucks, wethers and dry does typically do fine with a 14% protein goat feed, but with a small number of goats it is often easier to just feed one type of goat feed. In this case a 16% goat feed will give your kids the best growth. Fresh clean water should be available at all times. Also trace goat minerals (not sheep & goat minerals) in either a loose or block form should also be provided.
Regular hoof trimming should be done about every 8-12 weeks. A correctly trimmed hoof should have the same shape as a kid’s hoof. You can use a sharp hoof knife or special pruning shears to trim off a small amount at a time. If you’ve never done this before it is best to have someone show you how. To keep from having to trim so often, many people will pile large rocks or chunks of concrete near the barn so the goats can climb & play while keeping their hooves trimmed down.
Annual vaccinations recommended by your veterinarian for your local area should be administered to keep your goat healthy and in top shape. We recommend an annual booster of Tetanus in the spring.
Deworming should be done as needed for your area. Your veterinarian can show you what to use and help in setting up a plan for your herd. If you have many animals in a small space you will need to deworm more frequently than if you have a few animals in a large space. Symptoms to look for are weight loss, in spite of a good appetite, a rough coat, and/or a general poor appearance. Deworming is done as needed depending on your climate & area needs. We highly recommend using the FAMACHA chart as a reference when deworming goats. Learn more about how to use the FAMACHA method.
For more in-depth information on deworming check out our sister site GoatSpots.com
We also recommend fecal tests by a veterinarian twice a year. Keep in mind internal parasites are the number one cause of illness and death in goats under 1 year old.
Goats should be housed in clean, damp free shelters, which are well ventilated. A 4 x 6 foot area per goat should be adequate shelter. For two young kids a large dog house works well, just don’t forget to build them a larger shelter before they outgrow the dog house.
Pests like flies and rodents need to be kept under control. If your goats are scratching more than normal & rubbing on fences, they may have lice. You can dust them with lice powder that is available at any feed store or use a pour on that is labeled for lice and flies. Diatomaceous Earth (aka DE) is also very helpful for external parasites and safe for people and animals. Just be sure to use food grade DE.
Fainting goats are generally very hardy, though goats under a year old and seniors tend to be much more susceptible to internal parasites like coccidia and barber pole worms. It helps to observe your goat’s daily habits so that if your goat is acting strange you will notice it right away. There are certain things that you should be on the look out for such as:
1. Going “off feed” – not interested in eating
2. No longer running and playing
3. Standing hunched up with his tail drooping
4. Diarrhea, loose and/or mucous-like stools
5. A high temperature–Normal goat body temperature is 101.5-102.5. It is a good idea to take your goat’s normal body temperature for reference.
Any or all of these symptoms may indicate a serious health problem. When in doubt contact your livestock veterinarian.