What You Need to Know about Spreading Out Pack Goat Ages
Building a good string of pack goats takes years so it’s important to strategize pack goat ages. You have to start with babies and you won’t be putting full loads on them until they are 4 years old. Also, plan on them slowing down by 9-ish. Spreading out your pack goat ages in your string will be very important. One of the drawbacks of pack goats is their short “packing life,” and that must be overcome with a good strategy.
First, you need to decide how many goats you will need or want. Plan on your packers easily carrying 40 lbs each if you are buying good goats. For example, I need 6 pack goats to pack out an elk and my camp comfortably. For me, I want 6 strong packers always ready for the trail for years to come. That will mean I will need 6 from 4-9 years old, and 3 to 4 coming up below that.
Now, new babies don’t do well alone… They need a similarly aged buddy with them to hang in a new pasture. Read this article to see how best to introduce new babies. So, that means you need to buy two, each time you are “reseeding” your string. So, if I am patient and building the “perfect” string I will buy two new packers every other year. This way they will move up through the ranks and I will always have 6 strong packers.
I also believe you need to plan to have one or two not work out or get injured. So maybe every other cycle you buy one extra and plan to sell one off if no one needs replacement. That brings up another point…please do not sell your “culls” as top packers. If they are unusable, sell them as a weed eater or meat. If they can be used as a pack goat, but have baggage, then be transparent about the baggage and sell them priced accordingly.
Retiring Pack Goats
The other question you need to ask yourself is what to do with your aging goats that have served you well but have lost the ability to pack sufficiently. Out of respect for this animal who has served me well and has been a friend to my family, in my mind, there is only one choice. To put him down kindly and consume him. I gained this view from my dear friend Cannon, who spent 5 years living in the wild with his string of pack goats. To not value the life and death of the animal in this way is close-minded to the natural order of things in my opinion.
However, I also understand how hard of a decision that will be for many of you…me too for that matter. There are many hungry families in this country that could feed their children 70 lbs of goat burger. A goats role is to serve lovingly…let him do that to the end… Be strong, and take him down with love. If you can’t do it…believe me, I understand and am not judging you. I just felt this was a worthy time to mention this as we will all face this decision someday.