You will be buying two things: another packers problem children (which are hard or impossible to make work) or a persons 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.
I suggest you bite the bullet and start with babies and know you will be able to put about 10% on them in their 2 year old summer, 20% at 3 and full loads at 4.
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. I recommend you see our suggested breeders. The biggest mistake I see new packers make is buying junk goats from their neighbor or craiglist. (see our recommended breeder list)
The equipment will cost you for saddle and pannier set, per goat, around $300 each new (watch video)… and often you can find used for much less if you keep your eye out.
You will need a trailer or rack in your truck to haul them (they need to be out of the wind but well ventilated) and that will be an expense as well.
You will also need to plan on adequate shelter and fencing (I recommend hog panel or electric). Budget plenty as it will always be more than you think.
- Goats with horns, look cooler, without them, they look like they are missing something…
- Goats with horns will rub on trees and brush and tear stuff up more than goats without.
- Goats with horns can more easily defend themselves.
- 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 things are nasty and problematic.
- And lastly, goats look cooler with horns. 🙂
Pick well as it will likely be what your stuck with for the rest of your packing carrier as mixed herds will sometimes have issues.
Vets are notoriously uninformed and you need to select very carefully and do your own research so you are not getting bad advise…In my experience vets that actually really know goats 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.
You will need a top mineral (another hard thing to find and it’s SUPER important) and store people don’t know goats either (yet say they do). I have had great luck with this mineral that I found at Tractor Supply. It’s made by Dumor and called Spring Mineral for Beef and non lactating dairy cattle (High Mag).
I also like to have baking soda as free choice, and they love it and use it to self regulate their rumen. (Watch the video for the best hay feeder designs)
If you don’t have enough separate shelters some will be “out in the cold.” Pneumonia is one of the biggest killers of goats and you must have good shelter for them to get out of the wind and moisture and they need fresh fluffy bedding. Your nose will tell you when it’s time to change it out. (watch video)
The other is parasites. You should plan on having your goats poo checked at least once every six months for worm load and make sure you check your dosages with current info as the amounts the bottle suggests is usually way less than what you need to dose.
Ask your vet and do your own research…I have had vets tell me low doses so many times it’s crazy. If you low dose your goat you are only making his worms more resistant and you will have a big problem.
The other thing you need to be prepared for is conditioning. It takes a fair amount 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’ll be a mess. You need to be taking them for walks and 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 cruse through 30%. I keep my goats in top condition year around with a 3.5 mile run once a week. (watch the video)
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 will you actually need to “train.”
- One is, to be tied up on lead. It will teach them to be lead by you and to not fight the lead as well as learn to not fight being tied up.
- The only other real thing is to be trained to come to you when you call and get in the truck when you tell them. (watch the video)
So if I was forced to pick just one full breed it’d be an Alpine, but I like the crosses more. (listen to Dwite Sharp our recommended breeder at paradise ranch .)
Pink eye. Also, be sure to 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.