When and How to Introduce new Babies Into the Pack Goat String
First off, new babies under 3 months, need to be protected from your adult goats in my opinion and there is a proper way to introduce them. Now, I say this like it’s an absolute, and it isn’t. You can throw little guys in with the big guys, and they have a decent chance of getting hurt by the bigger goats, but for the most part, they will be fine. So if you’d like to mitigate the risk, here is the strategy I suggest.
I build a “blockable” pass through small enough where only the babies can get through. When I say “blockable” I basically build a square that the opening is about 10 x 14 (you would be amazed how big of a goat can get through that opening) and I screw a piece of plywood of the same size to it to “block” it. I also build an even smaller opening in another piece of plywood that only a “baby-baby” can fit through that is closer to 8 x 10. Now if you are wondering “what the hell” don’t fret…I’ll explain and you can watch a video on it HERE.
Remember, the introduction of a new baby or babies to a string is a transition that takes only a couple months. So you will need a progression of “pass-throughs” as that transition is happening. The main reason for all of this is the new babies will need a place to sleep and eat, unmolested, and have a presence in the string without actually being among them while they are developing the physical skills to “get away.” A baby’s ability to stay safe in a group of adults is all about speed, agility, and awareness of who to dodge (which will be almost all of them). They will be developing this skill with time (around 4 months). You will one day notice they are little rockets darting around their pen…that is your cue to start having them in direct contact with the adults. Now, back to the separation… I suggest you use fencing that will separate the babies from the adults but they still can “interact” with one another on each side. I like strong hog panel with small enough grids on the bottom (or an added barrier) that won’t allow a baby to stick his head through to be bashed by someone on the other side. That way they will interact but the babies are safe until they can get away but everyone knows one another for months before that time comes.
Now I pull down the solid barrier and the littlest can get in and out and have food and bedding to themselves. Those dog igloos make great baby shelters and they love to climb on them. They are for sale, used, all the time for cheap or free. The new little ones can intermingle at around 4 months cause they are fast enough to get away and they will be able to avoid the “trouble spots” like food and bedding. It is usually in a barn or on the feeder that a baby will get caught off guard and get blasted…just know, for the babies to learn to be on their toes they will get flung, squished or blasted more than once…It’s just a goats reality. Please remember that whether you have babies or not to eliminate “dead ends” in your pastures as that is where subdominant goats can get pinned in and blasted till they get hurt…always leave an escape route. Lastly, the reason for my 2 sizes of openings is usually the new babies will join the other yearlings and two-year-olds and they form their own little “kid-club”. I want all of them to have access to pain-free feeding and bedding and the larger pass through is to be reopened for them to regain access to the kid pen as they were also raised and introduced the same way.
For more information on early baby, pack goat training go HERE.
Hope this helps, Marc Warnke