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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been doing my research and trying to plan how to go about getting a pack team together. I have one lot of about a half acre (doesn't have a lot of forage), and a 3/4 acre with plenty of grass and blackberry brambles to run the goats on. It will be properly fenced and with some modification have an electric wire. I am looking for 2-3 goats to pack with for backcountry hunting and hiking, is this enough area?

So my thoughts are to start with 4 kids and then decide which ones will make the cut and the one or two that wont, well, how to put it nicely. . . end up feeding the family. I have grown up around farms, dairys, and resourceful people and have no problem butchering animals that aren't productive. Thinking if I start with extra and then hand pick the best it will help my odds of getting productive packers. If they all work out great then so be it :)

Now on to finding kids to start with. I notice a lot of less than positive feelings on using dairy "rejects" on this forum. . . why? Im trying to get into this game with minimal cost, but do understand that sometimes more money up front ends up being less later. So having originally planned on getting dairy wethers because of their affordability and availablility, i'm now wondering if it's really that bad of an idea. Would they prove a good learning expierence before a person got totally serious about goat packing?

I guess my question is really, how inferior is a diary reject (are whethers really rejects? or just merely not useful for milking (duh))?

Thanks, Kelpy

Oh one more thing, I was thinking of using Alpines because of their temperment. Does that make a difference to the previously mentioned questions?
 

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This is my 2 year anniversary week with my goats. I live on one acer of land. The 3 Oberhasli boys live on about 1/4 acer. They have climbing toys and a teeter totter. We walk and hike as often as we can. They are hay dependent for food. They are beautiful and healthy. I use the "Diet for Wethers" book for feeding reference. Having help to set up a good feed program is important on smaller lots.
My 2 cents on affordable goats. There is a 3 year lead time in training, and maintainence. I have not found this situation with out cost in money, and labor. Admittingly fun and worth it because these boys are great goats. Beautiful, healthy, friendly, willing and able.
My goats were hand chosen for me by a dairy breeder who had been in the business for 18 years. She had been placing her bucklings in packgoat families for years. She was very familiar with the attributes I needed. She had references both humans and goats, pictures, and was easy to communicate with. These goats were a great value for the money.
IdahoNancy Oberpacker
 

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Hi There, I'm fairly new (3years) to goat packing and goats in general, and I know I would have really benefitted from this forum when I was formulating my plan for my pack string. Like you, I wanted to start with "learner" goats because I was scared to face the big learning curve of keeping goats with someone's precious packgoat babies that had been specially bred and raised to be pack goats. For me it was not so much to save money but to not feel like I was getting a cadillac when I only needed a ford fiesta for starters. My husband and I decided to get a couple of boer meat goat babies as our starter goats, because they would just be eaten anyway if we hadn't taken them, and also most importantly if it didn't work out for any reason we could eat them. It was a good plan, except that I should have started with the dairy breeds because now they are great hikers, very cooperative and completely well behaved, but they are so rotund it's hard to keep the saddles upright on them! :lol:
So next, I got a 10 month old rescue alpine/LaMancha wether from a dog and cat rescue. I checked him out myself by looking at his teeth, feet, and checked for lumps, and most importantly got to see him decide to come over and eat grain out of my hand afterwards instead of holding a grudge against me for roughing him up. The rescue place wouldn't let me get him tested for CL and CAE before I adopted him. I foolishly went ahead, luckily he checked out negative for those things. Which you should definitely be sure of- you don't want those diseases. He has worked out GREAT, although he will never be easy to handle for hoof trimming and is not what one would call "dog tame."
 

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Kelpy, I don't have a lot of experience with goats, but for what it's worth, my goat, Cuzco is a "dairy reject" and he's been nothing short of amazing. He's an alpine/nubian cross and he's big, sturdy, and sound. He's always been very healthy (hybrid vigor perhaps?), and he packs very well and pulls a cart. We don't pack with him often, but when we do he can carry quite a bit of weight over a long haul on steep terrain. At eight years old he's still going strong and not showing the slightest sign of age.

It's funny, but we bought Cuzco as a companion for a horse colt I was expecting, and knowing nothing at all about goats, I was just looking for anything cheap (since I wasn't sure if a goat would even work out for us). I suppose Phil and I got lucky because after looking at several rather plain and scrawny-looking dairy goats in the $75-$100 range, we stumbled across a sturdy little creature sporting an amazing array of colors in his coat with a price tag of only $25. He was just 8 weeks old and terrified of people (having never been handled), but he seemed to have good conformation from what I could tell. I only had experience looking at horse conformation and knew absolutely nothing of goats, but I saw what looked to me like a winner: eye-pleasing angles, symmetry, excellent bone (leg circumference), large hooves, and overall balance.

From what I could see, this "reject" was the best-looking goat I had come across and certainly had the best price tag. His incredibly flashy coat also gave him a fun, comic air as though he were wearing a Hawaiian party shirt to a formal event. Phil and I fell for him hook, line, and sinker, and we have not been disappointed. So do not entirely dismiss the dairy rejects. You may find a real jewel among them. ;)
 

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Well,

dairy rejects can be surprise packages.

We had a similar discussion a few months ago

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=325

I took the time to write down my experiences with rejects.

You say that you are willing to slaughter the animals that don't work out - that's one way to make sure to get what you want and often the rejects work out to be acceptable packers - depending on how much and how serious you're planning to pack. If your longterm plans include serious packing over weeks with heavy loads in backcountry with water crossings and a lot of "tough going" several times a year I would - from what I learned over the years - go with goats from proven packlines.

If your plans don't extend beyond weekend hikes with acceptable loads in easy country a reject can do this work - but you won't be sure if he would stand up to serious packing, too. And it would take you maybe years to find out that he doesn't and you would have to train another goat to replace him (or find another use for him, etc. etc.).

If you're willing and able to work on bonding with the rejects and have the time to properly (!) bottle raise them, that's a point towards the "cheaper" reject. If you don't have the time to work on bonding and feeding them 4-6 times per day a bottle over months (twice a day bottle-feeding only gives stunted, poorly growing animals and it would be better to kill them outright than slowly starve them to death) then you will benefit from some older, properly raised and bonded kids from a packgoat breeder who will start with training towards packing from the beginning. You'll pay more money but have saved your time which is worth money, too.

Next thing - you mention dairy reject wethers: the general consent among goatpackers - backed by several studies - is, to castrate as late as possible (around age 4-5 months or older). If you'll buy a recect as a wether already this would mean that you get a goat with a higher risk for problems from urinary calculi (please use the search in this forum regarding this issue) because he was castrated way too young (I know of a lot of dairys which castrate at age 3-7 days).

Regarding learning experiences: this can go both ways. If bad, you can get to a point where you'll never consider packing again - if good, everyone's a winner. As we don't know if you already have a dairy in mind from which to buy and what this dairys principle on breeding and raising kids are, this is only guess work (f.e., I spent two years to find a dairy breeder that raised the kids in a way that supported what I was looking for in the buck kids I wanted to buy).
 

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Very good points brought up by Sabine, and I would like to add three more thoughts-
I would definitely make sure if you get dairy farm males that they are CL and CAE free, not neutered at less than 4 months, and were given long enough on milk to be healthy. Some dairies will keep them the extra time for you so you don't have to bottle feed, but you will have to pay them extra and by that time you might as well get a baby bred for packing.

Second, I don't know where you are located Kelpy, but there looks to be a good goat rescue in Washington that I see on Petfinders. They often have beautiful rescued wethers. If I lived near there I would check it out.

Third, my most recent addition to my herd is a real bred for packing wether-he is so much easier to deal with and is so strong and naturally suited to the job that I really think the smart thing is to get packgoat babies if possible.
 

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I just remembered that a friend of mine bought 10 dairy rejects to raise them as possible packgoats a few years ago.

She got them when they were 7 days old and raised them on milk replacer. I can't give you the exact numbers anymore but out of this 10 two made it to the age of more than 6 months and none became a packgoat.

Some died very young from diarrhea or overeating, a few during the summer to unknown causes, 2 where slaughtered for meat and two sold for little money to other goatkeepers.

She bought them cheap and put in a lot of effort for almost no result.
 

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BTW, dairy reject is not a pejorative as much as a description of a goat that can't make it in the dairy world. It's a dairy breeder term, not something a nasty packgoat breeder made up. If you are very careful and lucky you can make packers out of these guys. But what you get with a packgoat prospect from a breeder is a goat that is guaranteed to have the right stuff, and be raised in a way that conforms to the current consensus of needs for a developing packgoat. I've raised quite a few of them with very uneven results.

If you decide to try it, CAE testing on the does, and a CAE, CL free farm is the minimum. If someone tells you they don't test every year or says they've never had a problem ,RUN! Also, banded kids are a problem. Also, they need to be bottle fed or at least handled at feeding time so that they are socialized. You probably won't find an imprinted kid but you might get lucky.

THe point to this is that there's a lot of homework to do before selecting. Can you tell conformation on a 2 day old kid? Helps if you can.
www.napga.org has a purchaser's checklist that can be helpful. It doesn't give the answers, it's to teach you what questions to ask and how to decide if you are happy with the answers you get.

Look at it then research every aspect of what you need to know. ANd then realize that dairy rejects can be frought with disappointment and decide if you can live with that. Eating them is an option, but then you lose time and work and emotional attachment that you need for a good packgoat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
All very good points. Thanks for taking the time to put down your ideas!

The original purpose for these goats was to eat the brush down on the said properties. So the way I see it, if I don't train them, there will be two brush eating goats in a lot. If I do train, then my dad and I have a potential pack string for backcountry hunting. So i'm hesitant to take the plunge and get serious pack goats off the start if their original purpose was to eat brush, and thats all they might end up doing. . . They aren't going to be goats for heavy long treks and they only time they will carry max weight is in the unlikely even that we harvest an animal (were pretty pathetic hunters).

Ali, i live in Eureka CA. Far NW CA

I have contacted a dairy in Cottage Grove OR and she seemed like a very nice lady to deal with. Said they feed pastureised collostrum and they will bottle feed them for 4 weeks without extra charge. She said they will disbud and wether them (although, she recommended against it for the same reasons you did as that is far too young). I didn't ask about CAE and CL though. On a side note what is CAE (brief description, I can do a search for in depth)? isn't that arthritis or joint problems in the back legs? and CL?

Thanks, Kelpy
 

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I was raised in detriot until I was 8. then my family moved to ohio and got seven dairy goats from a nieghbor... one died within a month. at the time I thought my parents were crazy, goats stink, goats are dumb, and I wanted nothing to do with them. but after nine years of babies and milking them all by hand... I fell in love! we had a mix of breeds: alpine, toggenburg, saanen, nubian, we even had a la mancha for a while. from what I read alpines usually give more milk but nubians milk is richer. the alpines we had gave a good amount of milk but they were toward the bottom of out milkers. I wouldnt say that the alpines we had were useless, if someone wanted a goat for milk and lived alone then she would have been perfect. I think it just depends on lineage for whatever the use of the goat.
 

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If you google petfinder and search for goats there are two rescues that come up in Washington, a bit of a field trip for you from Eureka, but if I were you I would make up an excuse to go check them out. You would probably be able to talk to the people who run them and learn a lot about goats in the process.
They are Naughty Goat Rescue in Covington, and New Moon Farm goat rescue. I have no idea if these are good rescue places or not, but they often will describe a rescued wether as possibly good for packing if he is healthy and friendly and likes to go for walks. They usually like to adopt their goats out in pairs that are already friends, and they will want to hear that you already have your fences and barn in place, and probably will want to see pictures or actually do a site visit. Maybe other folks on this forum will have some knowledge of these places. I think if you can contact someone knowledgeable at a rescue place they could do a good job setting you up with some goats that would serve your brush clearing purposes with pack goat potential included.
Here's a url to one: <http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/WA310.html>
 

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THe goats that were just posted by swbuckmaster are from Charlie G's and my herd. They are probably primo goats and someone should grab them or at least go look.
 
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