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I have four 2 yr old wethers (boer/alpine mix). Experienced hikers. Very closely knit, of course.

We are considering adding a young doe for milking. Can you please recommend a reading-source for me to discover the issues we should be addressing, related to herd harmony, doe safety, feeding domination, how does the doe deal with it when left behind when the boyz depart for a hike, etc etc etc.

Thanks for any suggestions. Please reply to [email protected] and here
-Lee
BLack HIlls Pack Goats
 

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There really isn't any definitive reading material on the issues you asked about, but hey! Thats why we have this forum right? I'll give you my opinions and maybe some others will chime in if they've had different experiences.

Herd harmony,
For the most part the doe should fit in alright. If she is close to their size she may even become dominate. Does are naturally dominate in the herd structure and even larger wethers are sometimes fine with letting a doe be the boss. If she is quite a bit smaller then they will rule the roost and you'll have to make sure there is plenty of room for her to get in the shed without getting trapped in a corner and beat up.

Doe safety,
This could be a BIG issue if your boys are horned. Udders are very vulnerable to injuries from other goats using their horns to hook them out of the feeder. Even if they aren't horned, a milking doe has a lot bigger chance of being injured by wethers bullying and knocking her around. Udder injuries are probably the biggest concern but a solid head butt can hurt any small goat.

Feeding domination,
For feeding grain rations its usually easiest to tie them and feed each goat separately. When it comes to the hay rack I feed enough so that the big guys fill up and leave enough for the smaller guys.

How does the doe deal with it when left behind when the boyz depart for a hike,
She's going to bawl her head off if she is left home alone. The worst will be the first hour after you leave. I'd suggest feeding her when you get ready to pull out and that'll distract her so she won't realize what happened.

Some other things I've learned over the years is to have a large doorway into the barn or two smaller ones so subordinate goats always have a way to escape when a bigger goat comes in. Feed in separate locations if possible and never let them bully smaller goats when you are in the pen. Its an accident waiting to happen. The good news is you only have three so they will feel a greater need to buddy up than they would if you had a bigger herd.
 

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We recently had a similar situation... we made two smaller pens (doe pen and wether pen) into one large pen. Of course our lead wether and the head doe have had a few major headbutting battles but for the most part that has all mellowed out now. Took them about two weeks to get the order figured out again.

At feeding time any of them that get grain are fed separately. We make sure to feed hay first so everybody has something to munch on before we feed any of them grain though. Helps to avoid anyone trying to rush the gate.

We ended up getting another doe to keep our milking doe company while the boys are out because otherwise she would climb the fence and follow them. Needless to say we have fixed that area of the fence now. But at least she doesn't holler for them the whole time we are gone now either.

Before we got the second doe and before she figured out the weak section of fencing she would holler for quite a while.

Not sure if that helps much but that has been our experiences so far with keeping the does and wethers together.
 
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