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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone

First post to the forum for me. I have been interested in goats for a long time but recently purchased a 40 acre farm in the mountains of subtropical eastern Australia. We get about 700-1800 mm of rain a year, rarely get frosts and summers are usually hot and humid. The property currently runs 11 beef cows very easily (could probably take 20 with destocking in the dry periods) and is almost all pasture (kikuyu, Setaria, orchard grass, Vigna parkeri) that is in good condition. The fences are 3-4 strand barb wire in four paddocks. We have four dams and a permanent tree lined creek along one boundary. The majority of the property is gentle hills, with about 5 acres of damp lowlands.

I wish to prepare the property better for goats in about five years time when I can be on the property full time to manage the herd. I am planning to couple the goats to a large laying hen flock in the pastures as well for a small pasture raised egg income. I have put up single line electric fences to exclude the cattle from the dams and damp flats so far and I am making good progress at controlling the few weeds (blue top (Ageratum), orange big head thistle, nothing too worrisome).

After a bit of research I have decided to go with nubian goats, mostly because of their size (allowing me to keep a more viable sized breeding herd than cattle on this size property), heat tolerance and multiple uses (milk and meat). I am also willing to commit to a managed intensive rotation system with a smaller well electrified mobile pen, moved about every three days to combat parasite loads.

So far I have planted about three acres with a variety of fodder shrubs in an area the cows are excluded from. The higher dry hills have Leucaena and Montanoa (a large shrub daisy used as goat feed in South America). The middle slopes have Inga and Malvaviscus (also recorded as good goat feed), while the wetter bottom slopes are getting mulberry and Gliricidia. I have other minor shrubs to try as well (Calliandra, Acalypha, Tithonia, etc). I selected palatable species, half nitrogen fixers, and mostly growing to less than 4 m so they are less likely to grow into a huge forest. I am establishing forbs like chichory and plantain as well to diversify the other low growing plants.

I am also planning to put water reservoirs on the tops of my two main hills so I can gravity feed drinking water to the rotational grazing pens (tossing up between a windmill to pump up from the dams or a roof structure to collect rain water and favouring the latter since it has fewer moving parts and gives better quality water).

Does anyone know of people using similar approaches to goats? Can the more experienced members give me any idea of likely complications with fencing or parasite issues? We have foxes and rarely feral dogs in our area, so I am hopeful that a goat proof electric netting fence will also discourage dogs from getting in. I am expecting to need to organise separate accommodation for my bucks. Would a secure permanent night pen coupled with staking them out during the day be viable? Would keeping two bucks be better for their stress levels than keeping one possibly lonely one? Is it possible to breed the does at different times to split the herd into a spring and autumn kidding in order to have a more consistent milk supply (or is it a relief to have a few dry months to sleep in a little?)

Very much looking forward to your thoughts and advice

Shane in Australia

92,506 Posts
Hi Shane, glad you are here, Welcome :)

Be careful, if there is a lot of rain, could cause hoof rot in goats. Having an area that stays dry, so they have a choice to get out of mud or dampness is wise.

kikuyu, Setaria, Vigna parkeri) I have never heard of, so don't know about those and some others mentioned. :(

Barb wire is dangerous for goats, it needs to be taken out, if that fence line is used, they can get cut on it. Field fence is best with hotline, top, bottom a middle, if possible.

If there are standing ponds at all, liver flukes are known to infect the goats.

It is best to be with your goats or be able watch them, you are wise to wait.

Chicken feed and goats don't mix. The chickens will also get into the goat feed too.

If you want milk and meat, Nubian/boer or other meat breeds mixed, may be a better choice. Full nubians, don't have as much in meat per say. With Nubian/boer you get faster growth and more meat.

Rotation is a good thing to do. Not sure if you have to do it every 3 days though.

Be careful with some plants that goats eat, some may not be good for them and cause bloat, if allowed to eat to much. I am unaware of some plants mentioned so cannot give advice on those.
If goats are introduced to new forage constantly, they may have ruminant issues,or scours, so be careful.

Fresh and clean water at all times is best.

We do have a few members from Australia, hope they can give more incite to more of your questions. My area is so different than yours, so, I can't give proper advice on a few things.

You will have more issues with parasites, being so damp where you are. What wormers do you have there?

Getting a LGD will protect your goats from predictors. Or close them in a barn at night.
With Eletric fences predictors don't always stay clear from it and some can jump them if too low. If a dog can get in, a goat can get out.

In winter, goats do need shelter. Draft free.

Yes, bucks need their own area, when it isn't breeding time.
Staking them out, if it is temporary fence type situation, the bucks will break through it and try to get to the Does. A buck pen needs to be really heavy duty and ram proof. Also high enough so they cannot jump. Strong enough not to push over. You can have 2 bucks or get him a whether buddy.
If you have just one buck, he will have to be able to see other goats, but, he will get very bored and be more likely to slam things. If they are in a small encloser they will as well get bored and slam things. However, if they have a run to go into during the day, they are happy bucks and less destructive.

Yes, you can split up the breedings for different times. If you want to get up and milk that is up to you. As you said, no sleep, you will be very busy. ;)

Hope I helped a little.

3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the feedback.

I was planning to add a mobile rain shelter with a raised platform so the goats can keep dry during the rain and at night. I have read that standing in manure contaminated soil is a big factor in foot diseases, so rotating into fresh pasture might help. I'm planning to keep the goats on the hills, and always away from the boggy areas and dams, so that should also help with flukes.

The boundary barbed wire was going to be supplemented with a few strands of internal electric lines, the idea being the goats are in a small rotating area with a tall, high voltage electric mesh fence. That way they should only get out of that occasionally, with the boundary lines designed to just slow them down and reduce the chance of them getting outside the boundary. Hopefully if I can keep the rotating pen small (under quarter acre, moved twice a week) I can afford to invest in making it very secure.

The chickens should also rotate through the pastures but separately from the goats, so hopefully they wont get in each other's way.

I mostly want the goats for milk, but an occasional excess buck kid for the stew pot would be most welcome. Geese and muscovies make a better regular meat source in our area. I was thinking of breeding something else into the nubians to decrease their size a bit and make them easier to handle/more hardy. Nigerian dwarf would be the ideal but we don't have that bloodline in Australia (only fancy dwarfs and Im not prepared to dilute the milking genes that much).

From what I have read on managed intensive rotation the parasites need at least 3 days to mature and become infective. Regular rotation should break the parasite cycle and some people are reporting they can discontinue worming altogether. Eating mostly from taller shrubs should help as well. We have access mostly to ivermectin here and a few older wormers as well, but resistance is always a worry. I can do my own egg counts to keep track of things too (lab background and the procedure looks easy enough).

The bloat issue is a big concern though. Is it mostly an issue of preventing them from gorging on excess greens when they move to a new fresh area? I expect the goats will be chewing through a lot of twiggy stems and bark as well- would that help balance out all the leaves? Would offering dried hay help as well? When I first get the goats I will probably be bringing them cut branches to begin to slowly introduce them to the new fodders (and slowly experiment with how much browsing the shrubs can handle).

I had considered getting a donkey to keep in the mobile goat pen as an extra layer of security against dogs and other predators (and help eat the grass the goats miss). A dog is an options but the best breeds may find our summer humidity and occasional tick plagues a problem.

I'll have to see how much I enjoy morning milking against how much I enjoy a milk supply before deciding on whether to split the breeding. Our springs and autumns are both so mild and fertile here I think they would be equally welcoming to new kids. An annual break where I can get away from the farm on a holiday could be very important (but equally training up someone else to milk when I can't is probably even more useful).

Thanks for all your amazing feedback and encouragement. I'm still very keen to hear from anyone else working with fodder shrubs, MIRG or a subtropical humid environment.

92,506 Posts
No problem, your very welcome :)

Sounds like a good plan, keeping them off the ground at night.

Yes, standing in manure, contaminated soil, standing water are all factors in foot diseases.

Rotating is a good idea and will help quite a bit. Being on hills will be ideal cause of water run off.

Good you are keeping them away from area's that may carry flukes.

I see what you are talking about with boundary barbed wire, it may work with what you plan to do there.
When all is setup and the goats are there, you will get a better idea just how things will work and be able to adjust things accordingly. So good luck, goats are crafty sometimes, LOL ;)

Glad the chickens will be separate from the goats.

Aww, I see, more milk then, you would be better to go with all dairy, but the meat of course, won't be as much for hanging carcass weight. But there will be meat there for your stew Pot. :)

Nubians are gentle goats in the first place, don't know why you are thinking they aren't easy to handle?
With smaller breeds, milk quaintly may diminish a bit, so be aware of that.

Still keep an eye on their gums and eye membrane coloring. Worms can get into about any situation. So the danger is always there no matter how much rotation. Stress alone can trigger big worm or cocci loads.

When goats are out and the Morning dew is there, worms are at the top of the grasses. So waiting for the dew to dry is best.

ivermectin is a good wormer. Resistance happens, when over wormed or under wormed.
Doing your own fecal egg counts, is a great thing to do and know.

Yes bloat, is definitely something to watch, so that they don't overly gorge themselves on fresh greens. If it is new types of forage, that may mess with them. As it is something new.
It is good to feed a hay every once in a while for roughage, very important for them to have the dry roughage for a healthy rumen.
So the branches aren't as good as dry hay roughage.
Slowly introducing is good yes.

Goats are grazers, they will eat and walk , not like other livestock that will graze an area down to the ground, then move on.

A donkey would be better than nothing. I see why though, a dog is a hard option there. :(

With milking, it is a hard job,if you have big numbers, it has to be done every day. You will get no breaks and if you want to go on vacation you can't, if you have no one to take over for you.

Kids do best on new growth forage, springtime grasses.

Hope this helps a bit :)

3 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the feedback. One big question I still haven't figured out is how long the daily milking routine would take with a herd of 5 or 10 does. I guess it depends on a lot of factors. Do you have to milk twice a day for goats or is it optional?

92,506 Posts
Your very welcome. :)

Depends on the Doe(s), if they get too big by the end of the day, they will need it twice.
Once, if they are not way overly tight by the end of the day.

I am not a professional on milking Does. Cause I have boers.
But, I believe, if they are well endowed by the end of the day, they will need it, to prevent mastitis.

It just depends I guess. ;)
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