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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7gPFDwu1bxs 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.
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/
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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfS1bSskhAI
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.
Be sure to keep your herd closed and if you add a new goat, quarantine until he’s tested and vaccinated.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0meTXheaaQ&t=146s
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