Pack Goat Gear
The pack goat gear that you will need as your babies move from pets to working goats can be daunting. I suggest you spend some time planning your budget as that magical 3rd and 4th year approach. This is when pack goats can begin to carry loads. This article’s intention is to help you know what you will need as they progress in age. I hope this will help you avoid being surprised by unknown expenses on pack goat gear.
You will need something to haul your goats in. Luckily for the first year this can be the back of your truck with a shell. I’ve heard of SUV’s and some tarps to catch poop and pee but honestly that is a short term plan. You will quickly tire of the smell and mess and it’s important to get out a lot with your new little ones. Make hauling them easy and you’ll do it more often. Eventually you will need a hauler in your truck or a small trailer. Here is a video of the hauler I use. The key with this hauler is it will hold 6 packers and all your gear without needing any cab space. The negative is you will likely just leave it on full time.
As far as a trailer goes, the best bet is a small stock trailer (two horse) that can be had fairly cheap. Just make sure it has tandem axles so your goats are safe in case of a flat. If you need a “lighter” alternative you can use a utility trailer and convert it to have good ventilation. The key with a pack goat hauler is enough ventilation, but not too much. Goats that travel well show up fresh to the trail head. Those that get beat up the whole way show up exhausted and hate to load fearing the ride. If you always want to use a shell you have to remember that when they get big you will need one that has a roof height of about 55 inches.
Year Zero to One
A first place to start with your pack goat gear will be a collar and a leash. Might as well get one collar that you’ll use the rest of their days and get this one here. That one will fit them at about 6 months and beyond. It’s nice to have your name and phone number in case you and your goat ever get separated. Very important to never leave their collars on in the pasture. If you have horned goats, they will get each other tangled and someone will get strangled. As far as a leash goes, I like this one here. It’s easy to attach to the goat and easy to tether to anything out there from a tree to belt loop.
Next you will need a good set of hoof trimmers. This is something that is very important not to skimp on. Trimming hooves can be a nightmare with a crappy pair, especially for someone who is just learning how. Get these…just trust me…they are what you want. Make sure you watch this video so you know what your doing and remember to trim hooves about every 30-45 days. This is essentially all you will need for year one as far as pack goat gear. Your only other needs will be to feed and shelter them. Here are two links that will help you with that. Here is where you willl find their nutrition needs. Pasture/shelter set up.
Year One to Two
The only additional pack goat gear need, you will have in year two, is more like a “want” but it’s a lot of fun to have with your kids. Our kid pack works really nicely. It’s important you don’t make the mistake of using dog packs as that makes them carry the loads on their spine and that’s bad news for a goat. Don’t load any weight on them, just bulk (a sweat shirt, or blanket) as it will help them learn how to deal with the bulk of caring packs and it lets them get to “work” which they love, and so will you.
Year Two to Three
This will be your expensive year where you need to get saddles, panniers and coats. I advise that you buy a few here and a few there which will allow you to more easily afford “the good stuff.” Please remember that your goats comfort in the field and on the trial will dictate how well they perform. If you have a poorly fitting saddle your goat will get sore more easily and perform less. I suggest you get the best fitting saddle. That is one that can be custom fit to any goat. You can find that here. I begin buying saddles when my goats hit about 150-170 lbs and I have them wear just the saddle alone.
Please remember that another advantage of a custom fitting saddle is that you can fit your goat as he is growing. If he is 170 as a two year old it’s likely he will finish in the 225-250 range. The same saddle will not fit him throughout. That is why our saddle is so advantageous cause you can adjust it as he grows. If that model is just too much or you don’t see yourself working your goats very hard, here is a less expensive alternative. And here is a very versatile set of panniers that will work for both big and little loads and will last a lifetime. Remember to get different colors as that will help you more than you realize. When you tell your son to grab the “red” set and they are all red, you will remember this suggestion and wished you would have taken my advise.
Lastly when you start overnight camping in the back country your boys will need the goat shells. This is a very important strategy to how you can camp efficiently and spend less time setting up tarps. Keeping your goats dry and out of the wind is important to their health and comfort in the back country and the less energy they spend staying warm the more they will have to give you on the trail. Here is a good article talking about setting camps and why a shell is important. I hope you find this article helpful and please feel free to post any questions you might have in the comments or contact me directly. Marc