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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey everyone! I will be new to using goats as pack animals (showed them when I was a kid, but never even thought of packing with them). After back surgery I thought my days of backpacking were over. Then goats popped into my mind again, so just out of curiosity I googled the idea of goats as pack animals, and sure enough, people were already doing it!

So... my question is this: I want to get the cross-buck saddle, and I see the wooden ones and the aluminum ones. Which one is better? Or is there really not a whole lot of difference? I was almost thinking I could make a wooden one, but then again, given my lack of skills it may turn out haphazard, so I guess I should probably buy.

Anyhow, I have no equipment or even goats yet. I'm on a budget and any advice on gear, training, or 2nd hand gear for sale would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

Saltlick
 

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Congratulations on the recovery ! I'm a cancer survivor, five years ago was flat on my back and weaker then a newborn kitten but thats all behind me now, doing several miles a day now and keeping my weight just where I want it to be, so it is doable.

Re saddles the best ones I see are Rex's, and I have been looking, I expect to get the wooden ones, but for the next few months will be just using dog packs for them to get used to carrying a pack, and later start adding treats, water bottles etc when they are older, but when its saddle time it will be the wooden ones.

That said, I am a rank novice so take the others advice, I just wanted to chime in and welcome you to the recovery trail.
 

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Goats come in all shapes and sizes, as you know. Some of my wethers are broad and 240 lbs, some are narrow at 150-175 lbs. I have never used a wooden saddle, but I guess that you can adjust them while building them, to get the correct angle for the goat. I know folks that have used wooden saddles for years with good results.

That being said, I use the adjustable aluminum by Northwest packgoats. I can adjust it to the goat for a perfect fit. Plus, you can tighten the locknuts "snug" so that the pads move with the goat. Also, the cupped portion of the pad rides up on the goats shoulder blades, allowing for a larger area of load distribution for the goat's back. I'm pleased with these.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the info guys! I used to have horses, and saddle fit was very important, so even though I've never used pack saddles, the adjustable thing makes a lot of sense. Jake, congratulations on beating cancer and re-building your strength (what I went through was nothing as bad as that!). And Vigilguy, are wethers better than does as pack goats? I was thinking about wethers because in my experience they tend to be bigger.

I've got a lot of work to do. First I have to find a place to keep them (I live in San Francisco, tired of it here, but at least I can find some work here - grew up in Oregon and miss living in the countryside... hope to be able to get out of here one day!) The I'm going to borrow some money and buy a cheap small truck (for around 1500) so that I can haul them and hay. Then I have to buy the gear for packing. There's a goat rescue here, the goats are all people friendly and they have a lot of them, so I'll probably adopt from them (they'll trade a goat for 7 bales of alfalfa). I was considering horned goats this time (mine were always dehorned in the past), but not sure what kind of fencing is appropriate for the horned ones, or if they'll have enough clearance in a samll pickup with a canopy). And I have to get my dog used to them (he's an Istanbul street dog I took when I was living over there). I'll use them in the Sierras eventually, but start working with them on the trails around here. And I'll probably be alone (usually was alone backpacking too) unless I can find someone interested in going (most of my friend here aren't into that sort of thing).

I'm really looking forward to it!!

Cheri aka Saltlick
 

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Good luck on finding a place to keep your goats saltlick, I am considering a major move to the Wa Cascades, have thought of it for several years, will take me a year to get it ready to do. Right now its a 50/50 thing but leaning 51 for. Moving myself and 4-6 goats will be an expidition on its own, but, there are more good packing lines in the NW then back here, I have mostly Saanens now was going to add an Alpine buckling but they decided to keep it. Otoh, I maybe could get one of Carolyns for next year and be better off that way.

Much to think about. But its getting crowded around here , SF would a tough one for me , ouch !
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks Jake! And good luck working towards your move. You can do it, Washington is great! (except the rain). After Istanbul (pop. 16 million) SF is like a small town... still want out though!
 

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Welcome Cheri!

Northwest Packgoats has a very inexpensive pack saddle kit, good place to start when on a budget!

You can see photos of the picnic my pack girl packed in for a few of my grandkids & myself last week.
http://www.packgoatforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1099

Just get out there and do it, it will generate interest.

I'm going with a friend to buy her first pack goat in two weeks! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks IceDog! I kind of figured it might generate some interest. Goats are getting quite popular just across the bay in Oakland (it is legal to have them in the city of Oakland) and there are lots of local hiking trails. But, if not, at least I am used to going it alone! :)

I'm hoping to adopt a couple of Alpines/mixes, and I also really like the Oberhasli's, although they're smaller.

I hope your friend enjoys her soon to be goat!

Cheri
 

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Hi Saltlick, I am looking at the NE area of the Cascades, so a bit less rain then the western side,

I went through Istanbul back in 1994, a friend and I were there looking for some dogs up in the hills, was there two weeks, and we brought back 3, excellent LGDs. They went to Israel, their pups are alive and well now.

That looks like a fun family picnic Icedog, finest way to go ! The little guy sure seems to have enjoyed himself, I suspect the kids (2 legged) did too.
 

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Saltlick said:
And Vigilguy, are wethers better than does as pack goats? I was thinking about wethers because in my experience they tend to be bigger.

Cheri aka Saltlick
Can't tell you much of anything about packing with does, but I would imagine that they would be smarter than the boys! I have heard that their drive to pack and to please is really something. Wethers are typically larger than does, and can carry more weight as a rule.

I'd love to put my doe in with my wethers, but she is hornless and they have horns. She'd whip them into shape for sure.

I currently own 5 wethers for packing, a doe and a doeling.
 

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Hello,

I would go with the custom fit saddle from Northwest (the adjustable one). It gives you more options.

The wood saddle either fits or it doesn't.

You can pack with does but you have to take several things into account:

- they are smaller: less weight, sometimes the standard saddles won't fit

- if you breed/milk them, packing is another strain on them.

- if you pack in bighorn country a doe in heat can attract bucks
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hey Jake, were they Kangals or Anatolian Shepherds or? (I love them). Why did they end up in Israel? NE cascades are much better. My favorite area in the Pacific Northwest is around McKenzie Pass near Sisters, Oregon...

Thanks for the advice one does and saddles sanhestar and vigilguy! not going to be in bighorn country, but would probably go with wethers anyhow for size (although the does I've had in the past were SO SWEET and easy to handle).

I was curious if anyone's ever had any trouble with bears or cougars while in the back country? I have a lot to learn!
 

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Hi Saltlick,

3 Anatolians, one male, a bred female and a female pup, I went with an Israeli who wanted to test them for guardians, so we temperament tested them right in the villages, pretty ferocious on two males and a bitch with pups. They back off to nothing. I wished I'd had a bite suit instead of just a sleeve.

I like the NE part, and over into Idaho, I did stream surveys there long ago when the world and I were younger. A lot of packing/hiking/camping land.

I carry a 1911 ACP .45 when I am in the woods, I have a LOT of respect for bears, and mtn lions and give them the right of way. always, but it could be hard with a pack string of goats and wont give them a surprise buffet. Here in MI we have a large population of black bears which I have encountered once or twice and so far they have departed fast when told to, except one youngster who once wanted to share my berries, so I did and exited stage left.

There are several beautiful does on threads here, packing alone with their family, but I also want 3 or 4 wethers, and a couple does and a buck at home. It would be fun and fascinating to breed a good pack goat strain. Right now am planning on a Saanen/Alpine cross and hoping to get one of Carolynns bucklings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I haven't found a place for my goat/s yet, but just got a little Toyota pickup with a camper shell for transport :)

I don't have a gun and don't plan to get one. I'll put a bell on the goat, other than that not sure what to else to do when it comes to bears or cougars. I'll stick to the Sierras and Central Oregon for now...
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks. I think bear spray is good (I can say I've never really had a problem with bears on the trails here anyways, or cougar for that matter)...

I was wondering, are the single cinch saddles good enough, or is the double cinch a lot better (I used to double-cinch my horses when I rode in the mountains)...
 

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Saltlick said:
Thanks. I think bear spray is good (I can say I've never really had a problem with bears on the trails here anyways, or cougar for that matter)...

I was wondering, are the single cinch saddles good enough, or is the double cinch a lot better (I used to double-cinch my horses when I rode in the mountains)...
I use the ones from Northwest. They are single cinch. The real key is proper adjustment on the chest and butt straps and having a low center of gravity on the saddle.

I use the two finger rule on the cinch and keep the other two fairly loose on people trails when walking normal. If I am going to pick up the pace or climb or descend, then I trim up the appropriate straps.

I have also discovered that it is better to have a tight pack than floppy. For instance, I used to put one sleeping bag on each side. It makes for a wide load. Now I will not fold the bag before rolling so it it a long but thinner roll, and strap it across the back of the saddle. It rides much better and makes a narrower line.

The goats take it all in stride. We have to do more learning than they do.

On the last trip I put water in the side bags and other stuff on top. It worked well. We climbed and descended stuff that was just short of cliff, and everyone kept there stuff together.

Someday I need to get good panniers. We completely shredded two more duffel bags. Limestone rocks and Juniper trees are rough.
 
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