Plan to spend about $35-$45 a month per goat for feed/hay, vet, worming, etc. (I think this is a bit high, but I’d rather that than be low).

A new saddle and pannier set will cost around $300.00 + per goat. Saddle choice will depend on how you intend to utilize your goat.  For backpacking and day hiking trips, the Adult Soft Saddle will do the trick and works well on female goats.  If you intend to have long, overnight camping trips and/or hunt with your goat the adjustable saddle will be appropriate.  It has a unique design to comfortably fit a variety of goat shapes and will carry your heavy loads. If you are training your younger goats (less than 2 years of age) or have Nigerian Dwarf goats, the Kid Trainer will be perfect! https://packgoats.com/product/pack-goat-training-saddle-by-marc-warnke/

Plan to purchase a trailer or enclosed canopy for your truck to haul them (they need to be out of the wind but well ventilated).  https://packgoats.com/transporting-goats-space-optimum-ventilation-and-suspension/

Plan to build or purchase adequate shelter and fencing (I recommend hog panels or electric). Budget plenty as it will always be more than you think.

I suggest a good Orchard or Timothy grass hay.  A portion of Alfalfa can be added when required to fill nutritional gaps.  Limiting or removing alfalfa from your wether’s diet will assist in the prevention of stone formation and provide all of the energy to stay fit on the trail.  In addition, I recommend that you test your water for Calcium.  View our latest Comprehensive Nutrition Guide https://packgoats.com/product/comprehensive-goat-nutrition-guide/

Provide a good Mineral Supplement (based upon your area) to your goats.  Mineral supplements are VERY important as mineral deficiencies in food sources vary across the country.  Minerals can typically be found at your local farm/feed store or Tractor Supply.

I have found baking soda, offered free choice, to be beneficial to kids to self-regulate bloat in their rumen.  A good hay feeder will assist in waste.  Link to Feeder Plans: https://packgoats.com/product/building-plans-for-adolescent-horned-goat-feeder/

Goats are fairly mean to one another.  The dominant goat will likely kick the others out of the “barn”.  Unless you have a very large barn, you will need little separate “stalls” or stand-alone shelters with room for one or two each.  Some will dominate a whole space and others will be buddies and bed together.

If you don’t have enough separate shelters some will be “out in the cold.”  Being that Pneumonia is one of the biggest killers of goats, the shelter must minimize wind and moisture with fresh fluffy bedding.  Your nose will tell you when it’s time to change the bedding.  Consider adding a gravel floor if you live in a moist or snowy area to minimize hoof rot.

The two biggest threats to goats are Pneumonia and Parasites.  Pneumonia is a threat to your goats health.  It can come on quickly and is often preceded by a “wet cough.”  Pay attention to a coughing goat.  Goats regularly cough throughout the day to regurgitate food, however, a Pneumonia cough will be persistent and very “wet” in comparison to the daily cough.

Treat immediately with antibiotics. Pneumonia shows up most often in the fall while the goat is growing their winter coat and not quite prepared for winter and the spring with varying weather conditions.

Parasites come in several forms and are generally found in the goats feces.  We recommend checking your goats feces at least once every six months for worm load and treat as needed.   Make sure you check your worming dosages for goats.  Goat dosages are often not listed on worming medications.  Veterinarian prescribed SMZ’s (Sulfamethazole) assist in treating Coccidia and Albendazole is effective in treating other types of worms. https://packgoats.com/product/albendazole-dewormer/  It is important not to Under dose your goats for worms. If you low dose your goat you are only making his worms more resistant, and you will have a big problem.  Consult your veterinarian and do your research.  Download the Goat Medicine Cabinet document.  


Test annually for CAE, CL, Johne’s, MovI, and Pink eye. Also, vaccinate your herd annually.

Be sure to keep your herd closed and if you add a new goat, quarantine until he’s tested and vaccinated.

Currently, the majority of goat veterinarians lack knowledge on wethered goats over 1 year old.  The entire goat industry thus far is based on butchering wethers at 1 year old.

Vets are notoriously uninformed due to lack of goat health in school.  Select very carefully and do your own research so you are not getting bad advice.  In my experience vets that know goat health well, are less than 20% and none of them will be willing to admit it.  YOU NEED TO KNOW YOUR STUFF OR YOU WILL HAVE HEALTH PROBLEMS IN YOUR GOATS.  I provide many informational videos that can assist you in problem solving issues with your goats.  Learning to help your goat gives you confidence and a knowledge base for discussing options with your veterinarian.  A great way to learn more and watch me troubleshoot issues is by becoming a member of the G.O.A.T. Club https://packgoats.com/product/goat-club-membership/

This is a standing debate in the goat community.  It comes down to your personal choice.

Here are the highlights and the things to consider: (All of my goats have horns).

  • Goats with horns can more easily defend themselves.
  • Goats with horns will rub on trees and brush and tear stuff up more than goats without.
  • Goats with horns will sometimes bump into you and may raise a welt on your kids forehead.  I have over 1000 trail miles under my belt now and have only had two incidents of this kind and both were my fault and very minor.
  • Goats with horns can supposedly cool themselves more easily.  Goats without horns get scurs and those are problematic.
  • And lastly, goats look cooler with horns. 

Pick well as it will likely be what you’re stuck with for the rest of your packing carrier and mixed herds will sometimes have issues.

We have found that bottle fed kids can be more like golden retrievers with horns. In most cases, your goats will become accustomed to interactions with your kids, women and other smaller adults.  Occasionally you will get an adolescent goat that will “test the waters” around small kids or maybe smaller adults.  First try using a Squirt bottle to correct behavior and a treat.  https://packgoats.com/how-to-train-a-goat-with-a-squirt-bottle/  If a goat uses his head often, even gently, you can push his head away and say “no”.  If the behavior is not corrected or is more than gentle, the last option is a quick flip on his back as soon as they exhibit the behavior.  Remember that a goat should not be on his back for more than 20 minutes for health reasons. If the goat does not correct the behavior then that will be a goat you need to get rid of. It doesn’t happen very often.

Pack Goat breeds vary with goat owners.  There are a ton of opinions out there.  The reality is I have seen great packers in every breed.  I like the top breeders that are mixing breeds for their best attributes.  I really love the temperament of Obers, mixed with the assertiveness and agility of an Alpine.

If I was forced to pick just one full breed it’d be an Alpine, but I like the crosses more. Over the past few years, I have found Lamanchas to be a great athletic packing breed.  I have a couple that lead my string.

Purchasing previously owned adult pack goats may work in some cases however, your string will likely be fraught with issues.  People selling 3-year-old + goats are not selling them because they are awesome packers (unless they are “getting out of goats” and selling their whole string.)

You will likely be buying another packers difficult goats (which are hard or impossible to make work) or a person’s pet, who is untrained and has lived his whole life in a pasture, out of shape and learning to be lazy.  A goat that has lived his whole life in a pasture will not be agile or have trail savvy.  Be prepared to have about a 30% success rate buying adults that will make good packers.

We recommend starting with babies to create a bond, begin training and conditioning from the start. It doesn’t take long before you will be able to put about 10% on them in the summer of their 2nd year, 20% in the 3rd year and full loads in the 4th.

Also, please buy your stock from a proven packer breeder…Every dairy operation in the country tries to sell their bucklings off as packers or meat.  They often do not have the proper size, conformation, or temperament.  The biggest mistake I see new packers make is buying junk goats from their neighbor or craigslist.

A goat can carry 20%-30% of his body weight as an adult in their 4th year.  I like to keep it at 30% or less to ensure a long packing life.  A 200 lb. goat can carry 60 lbs. (remember to include the 5-7 lbs. for saddle in the total weight carried).  https://packgoats.com/how-much-can-a-pack-goat-carry/

Goats get trained with experience and learning on the trail.  They respond well with rewards (treats) and very little negative reinforcement.  Goats get their feelings hurt and there’s no place for violence with a goat.  A squirt bottle is all you need and/or a stick or small rock to be thrown as the “long arm of the law.”

Hitting or kicking is a bad idea and will make your goats less trusting of you and put your training back by weeks.

There are only a couple things you will actually need to “train.” One is, to be tied up on lead. It will teach them to be led by you and to not fight the lead as well as learn to not fight being tied up.  Secondly, is to train them to come to you when called and load up in the truck when you tell them.

Conditioning is necessary before hiking and packing your goats.  It takes a fair number of miles to have a goat get into condition.  You CANNOT just pull a goat out of the pasture and throw 50 lbs. on him and hope he does well.  He will lay down and it will be a mess.   You need to be taking them for walks and light runs with no weight and scale them into weight as the season progresses.  An out of shape goat will struggle with 20% of his body weight and an in-shape goat will cruise through 30%. I keep my goats in top condition year-round with a 3.5 mile run once a week. https://packgoats.com/pack-goat-conditioning-and-weight-bearing-timeline/

Hoof maintenance is a must!  Plan on trimming your goats hooves at least once every two months.  They grow fast and if you do it less often you will always be correcting problems rather than keeping their feet stable.  Watch videos on how to do it.

Goats will naturally forage on the trail while hiking.  They should have a few hours a day to feed at minimum.  Depending upon the season and location of trail hikes, it may be necessary to pack some alfalfa or timothy grass pellets.

In most cases, goats will drink water as needed along the trail.  Take the time to stop at water crossings or streams for the opportunity to drink.  They will if they choose.  Goats will forage on both dry and green foliage which will generally provide their water requirements.  This again will depend upon season and location.  Dry, hot areas with little vegetation or seasons of drought, may require you to pack some water.

As a goat packer you must be responsible to the goat packing community and your goats. Goats should never be left alone at camp.  We are under attack and our right to be in the woods could be threatened by one person losing a goat in the backcountry.  If a bear comes into camp and chases your goats away, you may not find them.  They must go with you, and you must tie them up at night with a high-line or low-line.


The North American Pack Goat Association has a list of Best Management Practices when hiking your goats into the back country.  Follow this link for the BMP’s: https://www.napga.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/BMP_2020.pdf