hello from Central Texas, new to Goat Spot

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by KarenSharp, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. KarenSharp

    KarenSharp New Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    Hi, I'm Karen, I just found this site looking for information on goats. Happy to be here.

    I have a kind of an odd situation. I have sort of half-inherited a herd of about 60 goats. Mostly Boers & Boer crosses, with 4 Angoras & a couple of Boer-Angora crosses. All adult does except for 2 wethers, none pregnant or freshening.

    The odd situation is this. The goats actually belong to the mother-in-law of my landlord, who is 83 years old and also lives here, in another house on the 50 acres my husband and I are renting. All along there's been the expectation that when she moves to join her daughter and son-in-law, our landlords, the care of the goats will fall completely to us. When she will move to join them has been undetermined. (They moved out when we moved in, in August. At the time, my landlord surmised that she'd move to be with them in a few months. But she does not want to move.)

    In the meantime there's a difficult kind of authority tangle here. She has some strong views about how to care for her goats, but from what I have read and researched, I do not think the goats are being well cared for. However because of some of the politics here, I don't have the freedom to simply take over. Often when I offer to help, she just says "they're my problem" and brushes off my help. She won't allow my husband to help at all, and if I even try to get him involved, she shuts down completely. And yet, out of respect for her dignity, no one is stepping in to say what needs to be done.

    I want to make an explicit proposal to my landlord about what needs to be done, instead of this death-by-politeness thing we're all doing to try to respect the dignity of this opinionated elderly woman. By stating what needs to be done, explicitly, I am hoping to get the authority to override the inefficient unsuccessful choices that the elderly woman doesn't even have the strength, honestly, to implement. I am hoping for some guidance from y'all more-experienced goat-owners, about the series of steps that need to be done, to bring the care of these animals up to what it should be, and what order the steps should be done in.

    Here's some of what seems substandard:

    The goats are allowed to wander pretty much at will, throughout this land. There have been some predation losses (coyotes, and maybe a bobcat). There was a herd guardian dog, a Great Pyranees cross, who recently died, and she replaced the dog with a much younger barely-even-adolescent puppy herd guardian, who has killed some of her chickens. As a result she has not allowed the dog out, (to protect her chickens), he is penned up in a small pen with 4 of the goats while the rest wander without protection.

    They are usually left pretty much to eat what they can from this badly-overgrazed land. She usually would take them to different areas where she felt the grazing was better (I don't think there really were any differences one field to the next) but then she would go back home and let them fend for themselves. Sometimes they'd come back on their own, sometimes she'd go get them later in the day. Evidently that has been her style for years, taking them to different fields. As this winter progressed I pressed her to buy some hay for them, and shortly thereafter she got some big round bales of hay. Whether that was in response to my urging or she would have done it by that point in the season anyway, I don't know. However she just left the hay out on the ground for them to eat, which of course meant a lot was wasted. She also has had some goat feed, which she gives out sparingly, I think by just tossing it out onto the ground. Certainly there are no feeders to control how much food each goat gets, to keep it clean, and to help there be none wasted. The goats also have no mineral blocks or anything.

    They need to be wormed. They needed to be wormed 6 months ago when we first moved here, and they certainly haven't been wormed since we arrived. The Angoras badly need to be sheared, they needed shearing 6 months ago and they haven't been sheared since we arrived, and that was in August. They carried way too much hair all through the hottest months. Much of the ground here is rocky, so probably that keeps their feet trimmed, but that's another task that isn't being handled. Sometimes I hear a whuffling cough from an animal or two in the herd, although that comes and goes. I don't generally see any profoundly ill animals, but they don't look fully happy and healthy.

    The only shelter they have are three ramshackle metal sheds, too few to protect the whole herd. We did have a bad winter for Central Texas, although I don't think there were any losses due to the cold.

    What I think needs to be done is for the herd to be reduced by more than half. I'd like to keep 15-20 animals. They obviously need to be wormed. Some have chronic muddy feces, rather than the nice clean pellets. Especially the Angoras have muddy feces. The whole herd needs veterinary care. I want to demand that the landlord pays for vet care / worming / shearing etc. He gets the tax benefit from having the land used for agricultural purposes, and we also don't ourselves own the goats so therefore cannot take profit from selling the animals at auction, say, and using that money for vet care. We ourselves don't have the money to sink into veterinary care, especially with the new fencing we are putting in to protect the half-acre of crops we are starting this spring.

    The goats need better shelter. I also want to make a smaller paddock to keep them in at night, and close them into it at night, rather than them spending the night wherever. I don't even know exactly how many animals there are, and when I ask her, she says she starts counting but then they move too much for her to keep track. But if we could reduce the herd and close them in at night, we could keep better track of them, and therefore better care of them. There is a large fenced-in field that was originally designed for them, although she leaves the gate open and normally lets them just go where they want. The fence for that field itself needs to be repaired in some places. (There are suspicious crawl-spaces under the fence in some spots, that my own dog sniffs at quite interestedly. I've blocked them up when I find them, but still.) I want to keep them in that field during the day. Again, letting them just wander, even with a well-trained dog with them (which this adolescent puppy is not), seems to me that it can't be right.

    When I have said to her that the goats shouldn't be allowed to just wander, she has said that they have to be able to graze and that they have to be able to roam to get to better pasture. Well, if there were fewer of them, they wouldn't over-graze where they are so badly. (As for browsing specifically, they've pretty much eaten absolutely all the ground-level brush they possibly can, and the bottom branches of every tree are stripped bare. I've read that unlike sheep, goats cannot actually live just on grass, they need brush, but there's pretty much nothing left of that. Then again, it's early spring for us, maybe there'll be more for them to eat as the season progresses.) When I have tried to say that this cannot be the right way to insure they have what they need to eat, then she intimates that since I've never cared for goats before, I obviously don't know what I'm talking about.

    The goats themselves are well-behaved and mostly friendly, although many of them are skittish, and only a few of them will allow me to touch them. They are not as friendly or happy or playful as some of the books I have read have suggested happy goats should be.

    It makes me heartsick for the care they are not getting, they deserve better. At the same time, looking at the systematic neglectful care they have gotten, and the fact that I do not think they are as healthy as they should be, sometimes I think if it were up to me, I'd bring them all to auction to be slaughtered, and start all over with a smaller number of healthy goats. I do know if I were independently in the market to purchase goats, I would not purchase these. Which makes me feel even more heartsick.

    Ideally, I'd like a small number of goats for homestead-type mixed use. Some to take for ourselves for meat, and I'd like to try starting with one or two does only, for milking. Some Boers and some Nubians. Probably not with my own buck, at least not yet, although I am warned that it's hard to part with the baby boys. The agricultural-use tax break for the size land we're on, requires something like 15-20 goats. I know that in a perfect world, since I am new to raising goats, I should probably start off smaller than even that, but we don't live in a perfect world, as the goats I do have here, attest.

    I know this post has been very long, and I am very grateful to y'all for having read all the way through (assuming you have! :) ). What I would like to ask, is what do I propose to my landlord that we should do first? Do we reduce the herd first? Build a night-paddock first? Better buildings for shelter? Do they have to be wormed and treated before they could be brought to auction, in which case that would need to come first? How about mineral licks or other food supplements, instead of just hay or the grass that's beginning to come up in the Central Texas early spring? And what do we do about guarding the herd, either with this dog or with a different dog?

    Thank you for your thoughts, I appreciate anything you might have to offer, even if it's just "wow, tough bind you're in there!"

    Thanks again,
  2. farmgirl42

    farmgirl42 New Member

    Jan 2, 2010
    Eastern Ohio
    Hi, Karen. Welcome to TGS from eastern Ohio. :wave:

    Seems like your situation is full of "Catch 22"s. If you want the best sale price for those you sell, the vet care/worming will increase their worth. However, if you're working with limited funds, it would make sense to decrease the size of the herd to better utilize the funds that are available.

    Protection from predation should also be a priority. But, if you only except to keep say, half the herd, it would be an unnecessary expense to build a paddock large enough to hold the entire herd.

    I guess I would prioritize: 1) herd reduction; 2) paddock/protection; 3) vet care/worming. Just my :2cents: .

  3. iddybit acres

    iddybit acres New Member

    Feb 17, 2011
    Newberry, MI
    Welcome from northern Michigan!
  4. bleatinghearts

    bleatinghearts New Member

    Feb 26, 2010
    Fairbanks, AK
    Man...what a bummer. Oh...welcome. Sorry that part should have come first! The biggest problem that i see right now is the fact that these aren't your goats to make the biggest and most important desisions for. I can't believe how frustrating that would be. I don't really know how to explain it without sounding like a jerk, but...well, for example, my husbands grandma grew up in a time when you listened to the man in the house. It was a diff. time. Is there a figure that might fit that description that she might listen to? If not, I don't see any alternative than making them yours by buying them.
  5. naturalgoats

    naturalgoats New Member

    Jan 2, 2011
    I have no advice but I wish you the best of luck :/ I can't even imagine having to deal with so many goats!!!! Hope thinks sort themselves out soon.
    oh and welcome!! (from NC)
  6. Mon Reve Farm

    Mon Reve Farm New Member

    Jun 25, 2010
    Southern DE
    Welcome from Southern Delaware!

    I have to agree that you are in a difficult position and as difficult as it may be you may have to stay out of it. If you really think the animals are being neglected you should put that in writing to your landlord. In that communication you could even offer to assist. But unless he takes you up on your offer to provide care I really think you need to stay out of it. You could get yourself and your husband into a predicament by trying to do the right thing but it then may jeopardize your rental of the property. You never know how "family dynamics" can create situations.

    That's just my two cents... as I said it's a tough one
  7. LuckytohaveFarm

    LuckytohaveFarm New Member

    Feb 22, 2011
    :scratch: You're between a rock and a hard place. You really can't do anything with the goats because they aren't yours and if you make too much of a fuss you might lose your housing.

    How far away would the move be to the son-in-laws place? Is it fairly close to the current property? The MIL obviously doesn't want to give up her goats. She is probably afraid if she moves, she will never see the goats again. Devastating if she has always had her girls. If the SIL's place is close by, perhaps letting her know that she can visit anytime will help her move. She is also giving up her independence, another devastating blow to her dignity. She would be living with the extended family instead on her own piece of property.

    Getting her comfortable with the move will be the only way that the herd can be dealt with.

    I knew a great old gal that had goats (though she only had 6). Her SIL forced her to "get rid of them". She died within 6 months. The goats were her life.

    Your gal might have the same strong attachment to her goats. She might think that by moving, she loses everything that is hers. Allowing her weekly jaunts to the "farm" will keep her spirits up as she adjusts to her new "world".

    It sounds like while things are lacking with the herd, they are strong survivors. They can wait a bit longer while your landlord and you deal with the transition of the MIL.

    Once she is settled into her new home, the thinning the herd in half would be the first step. Angoras are notorious for harboring resistant worms and Texas has its fair share of drug resistant worms. Unless they are a favorite of yours, I'd eliminate them from the herd. Have random fecals done on a few animals (say 10% of her). Select your wormer based on this. Worm only your keepers. Run another fecal on same animals to see if your egg counts dropped. Then start working on the fencing and shelters.

    Just my 2.5 cents minus inflation

    Luckytohave Farm
  8. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    Welcome to TGS... so happy... to have you here with us.... :wave:

    Woe your right this is long.... :p

    If the landlord doesn't own them ...but the mother-in-law of my landlord does...and she knows.. what is happening and has no memory issues....then.. she has the authority until...the landlord .....which I assume is her family....moves her..........
    Also... you are going to have to get it in writing ...from the legally owner or the authorization of a legal guardian... for the goat owner........for the care of... the goats...... and how you are to be paid for the care of the goats.... plus... who pays for the care to keep the goats healthy and their needs....

    If you get authority to care for the goats....then... it is up to you on the well being of these goats ...(your responsibility)...and decision on what needs to be done.... remember ...there are some animals... that are so malnourished and we want to just go pick them up and take them home... to get them better.. but... we can't ...unless we have that permission to do so....
    Or ...if you feel it is life threatening..... you can take a drastic step in calling animal control..... but if they are really bad off they may take them all ...and find them new homes....

    There has to be a resolution to the predator issue.... that is sad.. for the losses... :(

    You are correct ...goats need roughage(hay) and loose salt and minerals( not the blocks)...for proper health..... plus worming (when needed) hoof trimming and CD&T vaccines...proper shelter...free choice baking soda... ect..

    What does she do with them....is she selling any?

    Someone is going to have to supervise and teach the LGP ... or get an all ready trained LGD..

    early spring there is.... healthier food for them... but... they still need roughage once in a while for their rumen....

    I hate to say this but.... the goat owner doesn't know to much about goats....she believes in "oh they are just goats theory"... and will eat anything and everything....out there and survive.....but... that isn't true... they need us to help them..... in captivity...

    To have a herd not to be skiddish... you need to spend time with them....and let them get use to you......

    First ... get a legal agreement in writing...that you have full authority on the care of the animals....plus ...you will have to be paid for you time and be paid for the care of each animal...you will have to ask if... you can downsize them and put that money earned back into the herd.... for things desperately needed for these goats... If you are allowed to take some to auction then....I wouldn't put the money into worming them...just sell them quickly and the new buyer...hopefully... should do the worming .... ..especially if... they look like they need it...this way...they won't be over wormed after purchase.... if you already did........the history of the goat.... doesn't go with an auction animal.... hope this helps... :hug:
  9. KarenSharp

    KarenSharp New Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    Thank you to everyone for your replies, I really appreciate your time and your ideas. And your welcome. :)

    We spoke to the landlord and his wife (daughter of goat owner). Turns out I had some specific facts wrong, for example the goats have been wormed. Other things are still as they have been.

    However, for right now, the daughter is going to be coming much more frequently to help her mother and the goats, and we have been basically excluded completely from all goat care. Which at least makes the interpersonal and family-dynamics situation clearer, it makes things (at least in the short term) easier. If we come upon a obvious bad scenario (dogs attacking the goats) we can intervene, but short of that they're basically putting us out of the picture, as far as goat care is concerned.

    I have some mixed feelings about that, I really like the goats and I had wanted to get more involved, do what's right for the animals. But if it means that things will get more direct attention this way, that's fine, that's good all around.

    What will happen long term, I don't know. We don't want to leave, and they are not saying they want us to leave. I am feeling regret about the situation, but not about having spoken up to the landlord. If things had been different, that would have been preferred. But this is the reality we have.

    Thanks again for all your responses to my dilemma!
  10. toth boer goats

    toth boer goats Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2008
    Corning California
    You are very welcome...glad to help..... Hope things work out ...all the way around for you... :thumb: :hug:
  11. bleatinghearts

    bleatinghearts New Member

    Feb 26, 2010
    Fairbanks, AK
    I really hope you get goats someday. Sounds like your the kind of person who would do very well with your own herd. Keep us up to date!