Thursday, December 30, 2010

Goat Garden in the Philippines

A recent article in the Manila Bulletin covered a goat operation in the Philippines, Alaminos Goat Farm, that developed a salad garden as a more economical and sustainable way to feed their animals. They found that the plant indigofera helped to improve the milk yields of their goats. The plant contains almost 25% protein, is about 85% digestible and contains 2% calcium, making it a very nutritious plant.

According to the article, "research work done by Ngo van Man, Nguyen van Hao & Vuon minh Tri of the Animal Nutrition Department, University of Agriculture and Forestry in Ho Chi Min City Vietnam. . . [found that] indigofera’s plant growth rate as well as its biomass yields are much higher compared to most of the plants included in the research. In selecting the tree legumes to be studied, they chose drought resistant species that will perform on poor soils. The soil was fertilized with goat manure and organic fertilizer during the study."

According to the farmers, indigofera must be given to goats when they are young, to get them used to eating it. To be most digestible and palatable, it must be cut every 30 days and fed to them, as well.

They don't say which of the 70 or so varieties of indigofera they use, however. Some varieties of the plant are also used as a dye (indigo) and a pain-reliever.

(Goats above are in Bali, eating a plant that resembles indigofera.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Review of Raising Goats for Dummies

If are looking for a good Christmas (or anytime) present for a goat-obsessed friend, search no more. Raising Goats for Dummies is an excellent book packed with information on goats. And lest you think I am just tooting my own horn, here is a review of the book.

I wrote this book to help current and potential goat owners understand what it really takes to be a good goatkeeper, based on 12 years of trial and error learning on my own goat herd.

(Left: ARMCH Mystic Acres Hermione Granger)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Kidding Kit

We are in the heart of breeding season (some of you may already be done), so it's not too early to start thinking about putting together a kidding kit. Once you have it done, you can rest easy, and you won't have to run around trying to find things when the blessed event occurs.

You'll need a container to keep everything in, but it doesn't have to be anything fancy - in fact, you can just use a box. Here are some items that you should have available at kidding:
  • 7% iodine for dipping cords
  • A plastic film can or prescription bottle to put iodine in for easy dipping
  • A flashlight (one of those lights you wear on your head will free your hands)
  • Dental floss, to tie a cord if you have to cut it
  • Sterilized surgical scissors for cutting cords
  • Bulb suction
  • Old towels for cleaning kids
  • Betadine surgical scrub for washing hands
  • Disposable exam gloves
  • K-Y jelly
  • Feeding syringe and tube for weak kids
  • Empty feed bags to put under kidding goats (easy clean-up)
  • Empty pop bottles and Pritchard teat, if kids have to be bottle-fed
- Raising Goats for Dummies, p 215-216

Friday, August 20, 2010

Breeding Season is almost upon us

The temperature dropped to 48 degrees F. here in the coast range of Oregon last night. It's this kind of unusual low temperature that tells the goats that fall is coming and it's time to get bred again. How do I know this? I just have to walk by the buck pen and that familiar smell wafts into my nostrils. The girls haven't quite figured it out, but they will soon enough.

In response to this annual event, here are some tips for dealing with your bucks, from Goat Health Care:
  • Deworm your buck(s) and give a supplemental Bo-Se shot
  • Trim hooves and do a general check of the buck's condition
  • Consider providing some supplemental grain and warm water to bucks during breeding season; sometimes they are so worked up they forget to eat, so they need extra energy
  • Some bucks will get urine scald on the muzzle, or less frequently, other parts of the body. A coating of petroleum jelly, herbal ointment or zinc oxide will help healing and provide a barrier to further urine
  • Some bucks will get overly aggressive with other bucks, or even the owner, during breeding season, even injuring them. Keep a close eye on them during breeding season and separate them, if necessary.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Check for goat safety hazards on your farm

In the past few months I have heard of several incidents of goats breaking their front legs. In all cases, the break was caused by a play structure that had been put in the pasture for kids to play on.

Knowing that your carelessness caused your goat to get injured is hard to deal with. So take the time now to investigate your barn and pasture for safety hazards. Some common ones that can lead to broken legs are:
  • Wood pallets. If you are using wood pallets for your goats to jump and rest on, make sure to add a piece of plywood to the top to cover the slats.
  • Wooden spools. Goat owners get these from telephone companies and other businesses. Goats love to jump on them, but they have holes on the top that a kid's leg can go through, causing injury. These also need to have plywood covering the holes in the top.
  • Play structures. Play structures and playhouses can also be a favorite of goat kids. In a recent case, a farmer had one goat break a front leg and another break both front legs before discovering that the problem was a child's wooden cabin that had recently been added to the pasture. Before putting out one of these structures, check it out to make sure there aren't any cracks, holes or other areas where a goat's leg might get caught and fix the problems. Or consider using Little Tyke plastic play structures, which are a lot safer and can often be found at garage sales.
Raising Goats for Dummies covers making your goat area safe before you get goats, as well as most other subjects that new or veteran goat owners need to know. You can read reviews of the book at

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Manuscript-eating Goat

No, goats don't eat tin cans! But they do it the paper labels on them. I have had goats eat their certificates and ribbons from a goat show, and part of a page from a paperback book.

Follow this link for funny story that demonstrates why you need to keep your important papers in a place goats can't reach.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Zealand Proposal to ban tethering of goats

I was happy to read about a proposal by a group in New Zealand to ban the inhumane practice of tethering goats. This is an issue that needs to come to the attention of the public and to be banned throughout the world. Goats deserve to be treated humanely and not put in harm's way.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Idiot tethers goat with fatal result

The killing of a tethered goat in Forest Grove, Oregon, was reported in that local paper. A judgment regarding the inhumanity of tethering goats was not mentioned. Instead, it was reported that the bear will be killed if it comes back, because of its crime of killing livestock.

Please, people, DO NOT tether your goats! Tethered goats are bait for predators--including bears, cougars, and even domestic dogs. They can become tangled, hang themselves or suffer other mishaps. This goat should not have been tethered and the bear doesn't deserve to die.

A responsible goat owner will make sure that goats have fencing and an appropriate and safe shelter, and if they live in an isolated area, a guardian animal for protection. Tethering is cruel and inhumane and so is leaving a goat without a herd to interact with. The owner should be fined for doing this in the first place.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Goat Health Care Freeby for the Day

In order to provide good goat health care, it's important to track problems and routine treatments. I have created a Goat Health Record form for this purpose and just added it to my website so goat owners can download a pdf for their own use. You can use it for tracking kidding, injections, hoof trimming, or any other health-related activity and keep one for each goat in a notebook in the barn.

You can also use it to compare for patterns (e.g., what time of day or night did a doe previously kid?) or to remind yourself that a certain goat seems prone to overeating and getting bloat. I know I sometimes forget from year to year that a goat was sick, once she recovers.

Happy Goating!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Raising Goats for Dummies

It's finally on store shelves and even at! Raising Goats for Dummies is a fantastic resource for goat owners. It covers all the basics for any kind of goat and also has information on milking, clicker training, cart training, clipping fiber goats and tanning goat hides.

If you are looking for just a few basic books for raising goats, we currently have a sale of both books for $40, with a $5.00 after purchase rebate for Raising Goats for Dummies if you buy it by the end of the month.

If you are thinking about getting goats, read this book first. It will teach you about all the different goats and help you decide what breed you want, as well as help you get your farm or urban setting prepared for your goats. Goat Health Care takes it a step further, with drug dosages for goats, herbal remedies, troubleshooting health problems and even dealing with the death of a goat.