The Goat Spot Forum banner
1 - 12 of 12 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I started with three wethers which were about ten weeks when I got them. They are now about six months. I just added a three yr old and a four yr old from an experience pack company in Escalante.

On the way home I took a short walk with them to tire them a bit for the long ride. When we got home I out them all together, but had them tied so they could eat weeds, but I stayed with them and shuffled them about a bit, one at a time.

I was thinking that they could see each other and start working out dominance issues but that I was still there and under control.

When I let them loose there were the normal challenges all the way around. But this morning there was an absolute transformation in the behavior of the herd.

The yearlings had gotten into the habit of crying for me before I even stepped outside to feed them. This morning all was quiet. Rather than stampeding the fence to greet me, there was calm. The older ones strolled over for a scratch while the yearlings kept their distance. Then when I had paid attention to him, the others came by.

Perhaps what I was willing to accept as goat behavior was really misbehaving in their own eyes. I am anxious to get them out for a walk together.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
I would very much like to hear back from you on the successes/challenges of adding the older wethers to your younger wethers. Your situation is very similar to what I have. I have 3 Saanen wethers, each about 8 months old. I've been tempted, and it has been recommended to me, that I add an older wether or two to the mix. The three young wethers seem to get along okay but there are times when one of them is overly bullying the others, to the point that I'm getting concerned for one of the other wether's safety. It was recommended that I add an older wether to the mix to help with putting that 'bully' young wether in its place and to allow the younger wethers to learn from the older wether.
How has it worked out for you since posting this thread? Thanks
 

· Registered
Joined
·
847 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I hate to look a gift goat in the mouth... I am very grateful for both of them. My motivation for adding them was the condition of my back. When I got the little ones I could barely walk with two canes. By the time I was hiking, they weren't big enough to pack yet.

There are pluses and minuses to having added the older goats. In my case two of the three babies were twins and closely bonded to each other. They would double team the third. When the older goats were added that stopped. However, the older goats are actually tougher on each other and the little ones than what I was worried about.

I have become somewhat less concerned about what may just be normal behavior. I am only concerned when they are in cramped quarters. As such, I divide the back of the minivan so that the larger goats are separated from the smaller. It keeps everyone calmer.

Older goats from other herds may have bad behaviors of their own which is why the previous owners were willing to part with them. Diego has been in three other herds. And he does have an edge on him. I have taken to harnessing him with a sled and closely leading him. He can't try to wander and he can't get at the others.

Since I am nearly always in crowds, with dogs and bikes, this adds stress to them all, more so on the older ones, since the young ones have never know anything different. I also like to keep Mikey, the other older goat on a tight lead just so I have the bulk of flesh under control.

I have had the sled about fifteen feet behind Diego and the kids on a slider so they can walk closer or farther from Diego but still be on the sled tether. I am using an old flexiflyer which works great going up hill. Coming down it wants to go on its own and is dangerous, so I tie a short piece of rope around each of the sled skids, wrapped about three times. This acts as a small brake for coming downhill and the sled can't slide without tension.

In this configuration we have been successful and comfortable in a veritable parade of dogs and people.
Since Diego likes to wander on his own when we stop, he is the only one I tie when we stop. This is probably the behavior that got him removed from the other herds. It's OK with me, because I can handle it and the little ones come when called which places an instinctive pull on him as well when he is loose. He also like peanuts and comes to the rattle of the bag. But he is not very sociable. He also comes when you pay attention to any other goat.

If I had the patience to wait for the younger ones to grow into it, I would put off getting the larger ones. They demand more of your time which could be devoted to the bonding and training of the younger ones. So my progression with them has slowed since getting the older ones.

I do want to get one more baby perhaps in the spring. Having one that is buddied to you makes a big difference. Curley (lost to stones) used to be a lap goat. He'd greet me as soon as he knew I was around, snuggle when we stopped on the trail, etc. When he was around, Diego wouldn't wander because Curley was always by my side, which made him jealous.

They each just have their own personality, and put together they create a new dynamic depending how they are mixed. So I am sure your experience will differ. But it's always a psych game. And a bigger game the more you have.

The larger goats are more spooked by dogs than the little ones. I have been teaching them to just keep walking with curious dogs and to "STAND" when there is a challenge. Having the larger goats has helped control the dogs since they are more intimidating.

Two or three little goats can be physically controlled. If you add a couple larger ones, you definitely have to be into the psyche game. Combined mine are now over 600 pounds.

On one hike, where we did not expect to meet dogs, we were suddenly surrounded by six of them. Three were just curious but the other three wanted to do the chase. I could quickly grab the leads of three of my goats, but Mikey was out of reach. All I could do was calmly tie the others to a tree while the dogs took after him. He finally took a stand while they surrounded him. When I got there to take control the dogs closed in being more comfortable with a human there. So I let him butt a couple of them pretty good.

I also blow a boatswains whistle to gather them. I use it to load them in the minivan, separate them from a group of people going the other way, and to rally them to stand when threatened by dogs. They aren't perfect with it yet, but we're getting there. The little ones are better at it because they have always had it.

So with the older animals you kinda have to learn their behavior and adapt, with the younger ones you get to mold a lot of that behavior. If you're a beginner like me, normal goat behavior is probably rougher than what we expected. I am less sensitive about their jostling than I used to be.

I find they can do more than what I expect they can do, so I am less sensitive about what they climb on, get under, etc. than I used to be as well. I have two commercial swamp coolers stacked so the top is about seven feet off the ground. The sides were off the top one. One day Moe was on top of the stack. I couldn't figure how he got there, or why. While I was figuring a way to get him down, he just jumped. Later I watched him climb inside the top one, then squirrel around so he could put his front hooves on top of it from inside of it. Then he simply pressed himself up using only his front legs.

Amazing animals.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
764 Posts
Hello,

it really depends on the personality of the older goat and its life experiences so far. A well trained, bonded goat with experience out of barn and pen is different than a goat that has never been handled and/or lived its live in a sheltered environment without much contact to the "outer world".

I made that mistake with the first kids I raised - waited three years to get them out of pasture and barn and to expose them to cars, etc. Took me 6 months to get them used to and they often spooked. Nowadays I take the kids out with the herd and after weaning, one or two at a time, together with the packstring to get them used to all that.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
83 Posts
Wow, Thanks Bob

I must say, I appreciate the time you took to share all of that in such a great narrative. We have 3 kids, all born last February/March. 2 are twins, and they do stick together. The third is the odd goat out. I do worry sometimes about them bullying him. One thing I think I am seeing is overly aggressive behavior in the odd goat. He has gotten so accustomed to being butted and shoved that, for example, when I have a bowl of minerals and one of the other guys comes to eat them, he will start making his muffled angry noises and horn them. They all eat from the same bowl, in my hand, without fighting over it, and he knows it. He also knows, as they all do, that any fighting around people is not tolerated. I know my partner, Amy, worries more than I do that they are more aggressive and dangerous to each other than is normal. They are also still intact at the moment.

Romeo, the odd goat (and Amy doesn't like it when I say this) is the spoiled goat. I used to joke that giving him a name like Romeo was screaming "spoil this goat". I think of it like a rescue dog. Someone gets a rescue dog that was mistreated in some way, they feel bad and sorry for it, go out of their way to avoid any sort of dominance or reprimand, and the dog develops new behavioral problems and gets sent back to the shelter. Romeo gets extra attention to make sure he is getting enough food or whatever, and it seems like the right thing to do since the other two dominate, but that is also normal goat herd dominance, so who knows.

Wicket is our dominant pen goat, Romeo the least dominant, and Teddy just wants to eat. Walking in the pasture and on the trail, Romeo is lead goat, Wicket is the middle goat, and Teddy takes up the rear... and just wants to eat.

They all like to engage in "Epic Battles" now and then. However, there was one, between the two brothers, worth describing. It was late summer, and I noticed they were fighting in the pen. I noticed several times before I decided it was going on for an awful long time. I went out and saw they were breathing very heavily, and they would just lock horns and catch their breath, like two boxers hugging. I started hosing them to break them up. It got to the point I was blasting them in the face with the hose and they just took it. I used that opportunity to hose them down all over to wash off some of the goat funk. They finally just worked it out on their own, I guess.

When we were deciding on our goats, I wanted Teddy and Wicket (brothers) for many reasons. Amy wanted Romeo because she spent our first visit holding him under a heat lamp all day while I was out with all the other goats. On our second visit two weeks later, he came running up right to her, so that was that. So the discussion was that we get only two goats so we could handle them. I am from a Scouting background, and I may take the whole "be prepared" thing to an extreme, so I thought three goats... one for each of us to carry what we need, and then a third to carry everything that some day we may very well need, or not, much of it for scenarios that I hope never happen.

My point is that I wish, in all the reading I did on the packgoat groups, I had noticed all the advice about not getting an odd number. It is so apparent in Romeos love of my dog, Tucker, that he would have benefited from having another goat. Unfortunately, Tucker isn't the most affectionate dog with the goats, unless they are all too hot and tired from a hike. He is a run and play dog, and also is very dominant, so the idea of allowing another animal to lay on or near him in any way that could be construed as domination, repulses him. So poor Romeo has to wait until the dog is too tired and sprawled out to care, which doesn't happen very often, and then he sneaks over and slides in next to him. He also tries to treat the dog like a goat, as in head butting, so I can't let them get too near each other most of the time.

Anyway, my long narrative should come to an end. I have discussed a 4th goat with Amy, but her sense of responsibility keeps leaning towards the fact that we are scrambling to teach the three we have, still need to get them fixed, and need to make their pen bigger to accommodate their spring growth as soon as the ground thaws enough to get a t-post in. I think she is right. I have also discussed getting an older goat or two, mostly because John Mionczynski often refers to training young goats by getting them in a pack string with older trained goats. Also, because my back is fused most of the way up, every hike that I put a pack on my back is a little bit more damage that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

So thank you, again, for taking all of your experiences and laying them out for us to help in similar dilemmas. You obviously have put a great deal of effort into really watching and interpreting what is going on with your goats.

Gregg

(in Pinedale, Wyoming, fyi wyowinds)

I forgot to add the comment to the photo, but Romeo is the black goat coming in from up high, and Wicket is the one about to get schooled.
 

Attachments

· Registered
Joined
·
764 Posts
Gregg,

you can tell your Amy that a forth, older goat may not be that much work as the three younger ones.

OK - I can talk easily after several years of training goats from scratch (I remember the first hikes and the first summer of real training still very well) - it seems all so easy going and normal now. What makes it easy(er) are the experienced goats that help so much with the training and teaching.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
40 Posts
Follow-up question to this thread, the "Goat Neutering" thread, and the "1 agressive wether when feeding" thread.
I'm still very tempted to adding an older guy to my 3, 8-month old wethers. At what age is it too late to be considering an intact billy with intentions of getting him fixed? Is a 1 or 2-yr old billy that has good temperment and good leading manners too old to get fixed? or too old to fit into a group of younger wethers after he's had a year or two of doing what an intact billy does? I would greatly appreciate any advice. Thanks

gsbswf - I sent you a PM about Pinedale
 

· Premium Member
Joined
·
595 Posts
I've had good luck with using a buck for a couple of years and then turning him into a packgoat. The oldest one I did successfully was 4. Older than that and they tend to have spent enough time being lazy that they just arent' good workers.

We have a saying in horse, "A good stallion makes a great gelding." Holds true for goats. If he's nice to be around and has energy, he'll probably love packing.

Warning though, it will take a good year to get him into shape for real packing. Especially if he's 2 or older. I'f I'm going to castrate one, I like to do it right after the second breeding season.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
764 Posts
same here.

I've castrated the bucks I used for breeding the last two years last spring (age 2,5) and am now training them for packing. And one of them is the "boss goat" of the new packstring and takes his responsibility with the young bucks very serious. He's firm but fair when they try their buck games with him, looks out that everybody follows while hiking and I think it does him good to be in charge of them because he hadn't "that" high rank in the big herd.

Mind - there are goats that aren't meant to be leaders (they are content to live a live in the middle of a herd) and can be overwhelmed when you put them in charge. Take your time and observe how a buck/wether you'd like to buy behaves in his old herd.
 
1 - 12 of 12 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top