Goats trained like dogs?

emyers(8 SC)September 25, 2008

Never been around goats....

Was wondering if goats were allowed to free range over as many acres as they could possibly want, if they could be trained to come "home" everyday for food (or a lollypop or junkfood of some other sort).

We have quite a bit of property out in the middle of nowhere and was wondering if free range goats is out of the question.

Getting ready to clear 5 acres of planted pines and was hoping I could kind of keep them in the general vicinity without having to go to the expense of fencing them in.

However, realistically, I'm thinking that if they have free range, they are gonna be more inclined to eat my garden, household garbage etc, than they are going to be interested in hanging out on some currently barren land. Furthermore, adjacet to my house is also a hardwood "forest" and I'm wondering what kind of damage they might decide to do around there.

Recognizing that this may be unrealistic to a degree, I still wouldn't mind having a couple of goats hanging around so that my kids (boys) could grow up around them. My oldest son 7 is an animal lover and I just want to continue encouraging his interest in animals in general if I don't have to worry about them eating the siding off my house for instance.

Just would rather not build a fenced in area or a pen that they were always restricted to if it's not, somehow reasonably, required (under the circumstances).

Any thoughts in general?

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goodhors(z5 MI)

Goats are very exploratory, are not going to go graze where you wish without fencing. They also are great escape artists, so fencing MUST be able to contain them.

You just can't keep any kind of livestock and expect it to survive, do well, without fencing or containment of some kind. I know folks who stake out their goats to graze. Use a collar chain and dog stake in the ground. It works. Pull the stake and move things when the grass is down.

Electric fence is good. Cheaper, easy to install, move around. You would need several wires, one or two is not going to keep goats inside. You have to keep things off the fence to allow charge to work well.

Do you have predators in your area? Coyotes or loose dogs that might chase or kill the goats? Something to consider. Pet dogs running loose are a major problem in keeping livestock. Fluffy WILL KILL if given the chance, doesn't matter how friendly he is at home.

Lastly, YOU have to make an effort when you own animals. You don't buy and turn loose, just because you don't want to work at caring for them, too much bother!! All that does is teach your little kid that animals are disposable. "Too bad, goat wandered into the road, got hit. Should have stayed in the yard". Maybe he got lost in the woods, died of thirst. Animals of any kind or size, are a commitment you MUST consider, before getting them home with you. These are not fictional movie animals with high IQ, talking in their heads to figure things out. They are just regular animals depending ON YOU to give them safe homes, daily care and attention. If you don't know how, don't purchase or accept as gifts until you feel you CAN care for them successfully. Kitten or cow, they take time to care for, DAILY.

You have a very unrealistic viewpoint at this time for goats. There are books of information available at the Library, TSC stores, from your local County Extension Service to learn from. Gives you all the details, regarding your species, containment, feed, housing, grooming, to keep them in good condition year around. With more knowledge, you can easier choose if you want to work keeping these kinds of livestock full time.

If you want fields cleaned only, put an advertisement in the paper for someone to come mow it, bushog it off for you. Cheaper, fast, no time commitment needed from you. And no dead animals from lack of care.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 11:30AM
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emyers(8 SC)

Don't take the questions as lacking the commitment to whatever it is I take on.

The questions were meant to get an initial understanding as to how much would be involved in taking care of the animals, in order to decide whether I would continue with the idea or not.

In a nutshell, I just didn't know for a fact that I would need to treat goats (or cows or chickens or whatever.... horses would be the exception because they are fast and I'm familiar with their ability to roam) any differently than I treat my dogs. My dogs are very well taken care of and my children have their responsibilities surrounding them also.

However, they also are allowed to come and go as they please and because they know where they are fed/taken care of, they return home even after going off miles at a time to "hunt".... one's a beagle. We live in the middle of nowhere with our nearest neighbor being ballpark 1-1/2 miles away. So, I've always kind of considered it a good thing (for me and my dogs) to be able roam.

Really just wanted to get a handle on whether this type of attitude was possible with goats, recognizing the circumstances.

If I'm hearing you right, it appears that, at least with goats, it is not an option to let them roam.


    Bookmark   September 26, 2008 at 12:03PM
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bill7(NW MN)


No offense, but 1.5 miles for your neighbor is not all that far. If it is your only neighbor, then maybe you are in the middle of nowhere. My dog, in a blizzard none the less, has ended up 2 miles from home just by chasing deer. I am guessing goats will drift farther than that.

I am following these threads very closely, because I too am considering goats. My concern is that the goats will roam too much WHEN they get out. I really do not want them in the farmers fields eating the crops.

I now putting up an appropriate fence will not be cheap, so I want to make sure I do it right the first time.

My issue is the drifting in the winter. No matter the type of fence, the goats might be able to just walk over it in spots. I am reconsidering goats, unless I find suitable fencing. I have shelter, water, and am willing to put in the time. I just need to figure out the containment.

Best of luck, and keep these postings on goats coming!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 11:04AM
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When I was a kid i had 80 milking goats (Nubian)+3 billies. The billies were chained up within the fenced area the nannies were in. The outer fence was a 5' woven farm fencing. As long as the billies were keep on the chains the nannies would not wonder far. Occasionally a nanny would get out but they would come up to the house to eat the flowers. Amazing what they would eat. They by no means are a low maintenance animal. I would brush each nanny before the final milking of the day and of course you have to wash their udders before each milking. If milking you'll need stainless steel buckets and storage tank (that must be refrigerated (between 34 and 42 degrees F). It is a lot of work and is very profitable if you do it right.

They are very trainable. They will come when called and are very friendly. Mine had 6 different commands that they responded to. A call to be milked-one to get in barn-one to get out of barn-one for feeding time-one to get away (used this to keep them away from moving tractor or truck)and lastly one to have them come to me. Creatures of habit. If your consist on the times you do certain things they will be ready and waiting. Lots of work and lots of fun. Hope this ditty helps.

If you would like so see pictures of my Feathered Friends visit www.virgilwalters.com

    Bookmark   September 27, 2008 at 1:00PM
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I feel the same way you do the more room the better and I wish i never had to put up a single fence. Goats are a wonderful addition to the family BUT there is never enough. Enough of anything. If there one goat is eating something the other needs it, if one goat is browsing somewhere they all have to go. We have 3 large Nubian wethers that are fenced into a 2 acre area. They know where their home is believe me, when they do get out, and they do,they can't wait to get back in but not until they have eaten their fill. The problem is they will wonder farther and farther away as they "clean" your land because that bush over there is much tastier. If they get lost and they can you may not be able to locate them before a coyote or dog does and they will be killed. I would not chain them to a stake because this gives them no chance of escape from running. I would give an answer to your question as goats are wonderful, fun, pets. They will clear your land but they definately need to be fenced "securely", they are escape artists. Our goats yard is in the woods and we have taken fencing and wrapped it around the trees so we didn't have to use stakes. It is so easy to move within the woods.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2008 at 10:15AM
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emyers(8 SC)

Thanks for all the feedback. Looks like I need to think the whole goat thing through a little more before making the leap.

While the last idea seems feasible about wrapping the trees with wire, it's still gonna be more involved than I had hoped for at this point in my plans.

Down the road, definitely a possiblility, but doesn't look like it makes sense to have them around to replace my bush hog.

Why do most people keep goats anyway?

Milk? Meat? Just because they like them?

    Bookmark   September 30, 2008 at 9:36PM
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goodhors(z5 MI)

emeyers, you might want to read the post about How Do You Deal With The Neighbors Dogs and all the irate replies. The last one concerns a visiting, killing Beagle dog, and dead chickens. Could that possibly be your Beagle dog, out away from home?

You are responsible for the damages dog causes, not sure why these owners are not charging dog owner for restitution, except that it may be too time consuming to pursue.

That mile and a half to your nearest neighbor is very little distance to a dog. Read what your "neighbors" he visits might be going thru, and what the typical response is to his depredations. You might actually feel the same if you come home to find dead goats!

Please keep your "beloved" dog home, safe from other folks who don't want to see him at their house. If he needs that much exercise, perhaps you should manage to take him for some runs on a leash. His running free is not a "Right" to living in the country. Dogs belong at home, their OWN home. Not out and about with no owner in control of them.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 7:02PM
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Any domestic animal should be well cared for and protected from harm. Letting your pets run loose is putting them in harms way. Over the years I have witnessed many neighborhood conflicts that were caused by loose pets and or children. If you don't own it, don't assume you can use it! I have lost many animals because someone thought that when they bought 5 country acres they had the right to allow their pets to use the adjacent '50,000' no matter what damage they will cause. So many times the pet suffers for their owners stupidity. When I married my life long Friend (Judy), she had 26 cats. First thing we did was to build a $7,000 kennel for them-heated/cooled-indoor/outdoor runs. Could you see what it would be like if we let them run anywhere they wanted (surely they would stay on our 1.84 acres-in a pigs eye.) When dealing with animals you must respect the animals well being and your neighbors, too.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2008 at 7:56PM
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emyers(8 SC)

Do either of you actually live in the country? The only reason this matters is the individual perspectives on this.

It was mentioned by one of you where you gave a neighbor with 5 acres as an example. That's not what we're (meaning myself and my immediate neighbors) talking about here. Not by a LONG shot.

FWIW, I'm not saying my beagle never wanders beyond 1-1/2 miles. I know for a fact that he has.

However, that being said, I can guarantee you that other than lap dogs and true hunting dogs (that are not fed full rations so that they do really "hunt"), in the country GENERALLY are not kept in pens, or in the house or on leashes during the day (with exception of getting them trained to their surroundings).

From my perspective, it is not humane to keep larqe quantities of animals in a pen, and I generally don't agree with keeping animals in pens at all. I have seen a lot of indivdual animals in pens that would be consided uncared for too. Additionally, I've had neighbors that keep their animals in pens when they are at work and all the animals do is bark all day long. The pets are miserable. Not saying all of pets that are kept in pens are miserable, but I am saying it's not as simple as "to pen or not to pen".

We (again meaning myself and neighbors) do have strays that show up at our houses (I currently have two that I have "adopted"). Some of these are lost hunting dogs etc., but it's considered a part of living in the country, and a responsibility of sorts (in my opinion). Regardless dogs that wander and get into chicken houses generally don't last very long.

Part of the reason for having dogs in the country is to help protect your property. If they are on leashes or in pens, then that is not much of a deterrent.

You both have your perspective and for reasons that suit you. I (and my neighbors) have our perspectives (for reasons that suit us.

My thinking would be that if you have livestock, & or a garden then you better have yard dogs that can help in protecting the livestock, garden, & your family because there are real predators to all of those things potentially on a "farm".

Bottom line is I'm not passing judgement on you. So, until you know my particular set of circumstances, please offer me the same courtesy. Yard dogs are a reality where we currently live. The years that I lived in the city, we kept our pets in pens and on leashes out of concern/respect for my neighbors. Now that I have come back to the country it's a completely differnt set of circumstances.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 11:55AM
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Am I wrong that you feel it is OK to use other peoples property(without consent)for your dogs to run on?

    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 11:00PM
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emyers(8 SC)

I see no need to get into a debate about this.

I've explained the circumstances, and it doesn't matter what you or I say from here regarding the topic, it's not very likely to change either of our opinions on the subject.

Just wanted to show that there is a very real additional side to the story.

Again, I'm not passing judgement on you....

Can we please get back on topic?


    Bookmark   October 2, 2008 at 11:09PM
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Dibbit(z7b SC)

Eddie, as I see the topic, and from the original posting, you wanted to know if goats were as trainable and as amenable to coming home at night as dogs. My understanding, from a very cursory acquaintance with goats, is that they are trainable to some extent, but that, as with dogs, it very much depends on the amount of time you put into the original training, as well as the temperament of the individual animal, and the amount of time you put into keeping up that training - or to really simplify the matter, maybe and more likely than not, they most of them would probably come home. From what you have posted in the rest of this thread, it doesn't look as though the time is possible for you, now, and maybe not in the future.

If you do go ahead with having free-range goats, and while you, and your neighbors may be happy with a free-ranging livestock plan (I am assuming your neighbors are happy with it?), I would check into the laws regarding livestock on roads, as these can vary tremendously from what applies in the crowded NE to what applies in the West. The last thing it sounds like you would need is for your herd to be on the road and cause an accident, if you would be held liable for them. And I imagine you personally wouldn't be too happy with any serious injury or death, held liable or not!

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 10:29AM
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dibbit has a point about live stock = road

My neighbor has a million (maybe not that many), but a couple of hundred ducks and geese. It looks like a feather river when they come down the middle of the road past my driveway. We put up a fence and a gate to keep their bull and birds out. Although the other day, the bull managed to get into the yard part of the property. I know cause I found the cow patties. But, he was gone by the time we got home.

The point is, that one day somebody is going to get killed or seriously hurt on our road. Cars fly down the hill and around the curves up the road and then hit my curve. Ducks and geese in the middle of the road. I just hope I'm not the one that has to help somebody bleeding or dying in the ditch or thru the fence.

For his benefit, the neighbor does try to keep them in, but he said they can find one crack in the fence and be out in a heartbeat.

Here is a link that might be useful: MY BLOG

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 11:38AM
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I visited a farm of about 5 acres. I was going to buy a goat. They were way out of site and she put some food in buckets and went inside the pasture shaking the buckets. the goats came flying. there were lots of them and I was suprised that they came like that. She said goats are very food motivated.

with that said, having had goats who were attacked by stray dogs, I would not recommend not having some sort of fencing. I had mines in electric fencing, the fence shorted and part of it was not hot and they escaped. That is how they got caught by the dogs. I would not chain them up either because if a dog does come around they will not be able to get away.

I am not sure what the ideal fencing is for people on a budget, like myself. The hotwire fence does not seem to be reliable so I have to keep my goats in the barn during the day and only let them out when I am home. I have checked other options and it just seems rediculous to have to spend so much on a fence. I am now checking into those electric fences that you can move around. I can change their pasture areas and hopefully they will stay in it.

Thats my 2 cents. I have not been on the forums for a while and gosh it seems like some of these answers were so testy! Can't we just answer the question with out being mean??

Good luck in your research. I hope you find a solution that works for you.

Good luck

    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 7:04PM
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emyers(8 SC)


Thanks for the replies.

We are all too familiar around here with animals on the road. Around here however it's generally deer that end up taking ALOT of vehicles out and causing a lot of damage/personal injury. My step father also hit a cow in his old beater work truck 1973 C10 Pickup many many years back and totalled it.

So, my point is, yes, you bring up very real concerns that I hadn't thought about when it comes to trying to keep livestock and keep them away from roads.
As mentioned, right now, goats probably aren't for me based on everything I've heard thus far, but I'm hoping down the road a few might be managable.
First I need to get some chickens and get that going, then I'll take it from there.
Regardless, I have a lot of information I can refer to down the road.


    Bookmark   October 3, 2008 at 9:26PM
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Eddie, I appreciate that you are posting questions in regards to the care of goats before getting them. Before I got chickens I too asked MANY questions here as part of learning about them and their behaviors. I don't know a thing about goats, BTW :)
I am laughing remembering a post here by someone who talked about goat fencing. He said that you build a sturdy fence. Stand back and throw a bucket of water on it. If water came out on the other side, a goat will too. I wish I could give credit but I don't remember who wrote that. From the posts I've read, they are truly escape artists and wander far. My grandmother kept a few goats and she chained them as someone mentioned. If she were outside (as she often was), she let them follow her around but when she went in they were on the chain that she could move around. It didn't seem mean at the time and she didn't lose any despite TRULY living out in the wilderness. She put them in the barn at night. Come to think of it, I don't know why she had them, LOL. I don't remember eating them or milking them. My grandfather generally didn't put up with much of anything that had to be fed without some sort of benefit. I guess they were mowers or bush hogs. Lori

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 12:34AM
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I used to chain only the Billies. The chain was about 20' long and had a large ring on the end. There were two posts 8"x8"x 8' above ground. They were planted 4' deep 100' apart with a cable stretched between them. The cable was put through the ring on the end of the chain and attached to the top of the posts. About 25' from the post a stop block was placed over the cable so the goat would not tangle around the post. This gave them plenty of room. I use 4 different set-ups for each Billy so he could have fresh grass each week. It gave them plenty of freedom to keep all his nannies 'happy'. These were place within the fenced area the nannies were in. At night they were put in the stalls in the barn.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 2:51AM
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emyers(8 SC)

That's some funny stuff you write about your grandfather and "bush hogs" etc.

Interesting too because I find myself wondering why people keep goats if it's not for mowing etc.

Do most of you milk them or what?

Sounds like an interesting setup.
So am I right that if you keep the Billy goat at bay, the nannies will just kind of hang around him? Or, am I misunderstanding your "method"?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2008 at 11:48PM
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Yes. Rarely a nanny would wander up to the house-usually the ones that were bottle feed as young kids.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 12:32AM
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emyers(8 SC)

OK. Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2008 at 11:03PM
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