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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, all! So I was the kid who always wanted a goat. My sister wanted to be a princess, and live in a castle, and ride majestic horses... I... just wanted a goat.

Well I just bought a house and want to pursue that dream! I know nothing about keeping goats, really, but from what I've picked up:
- they're social and like human or other animal company
- the smaller the goat, the better the jumper
- have fun trying to fence a goat in
- their hooves don't like a lot of moisture and need ample dry ground
- goats and trees DON'T MIX

So I've just got an acre, and planned on fencing about 1/8 of it off for my chickens and possibly a goat or two. I've heard that you can keep 10 goats free ranging on a full acre, so I thought perhaps 1/8 would be sufficient for just a couple.

The portion I've picked is the NW corner of the property. Currently it's a neglected garden space filled with dirt, cheat grass, and goat heads.
My worries foremost are that there's a black walnut tree (which I've heard can kill horses) and a large, mature pine tree (the kind that's bare for the first 6-10', and quite tall). There are also black and raspberries, but I'll be moving those elsewhere. There is an irrigation ditch running E/W along the Northern edge, and also cutting down South right through the middle of the area. The water does not flood any portion of the allotted area, but provides fresh, running water and keeps the berries going.
I wanted to plant a few more pines back there for aesthetics, shade, and the chickens (who love pine trees... and need to be penned up away from my grapes and garden :mad:). I also debated replanting the blackberries along the Eastern and Southern fence lines as a natural barrier.

So, just HOW hard are goats on trees/shrubs? Would it be possible to keep mature brambles on the fence line or would they be devoured? Can I even think of providing shade trees and planting pine trees, or will they just be stripped and destroyed? Is the black walnut poisonous to goats? I guess these are my starting questions, as I need to know WHERE I would put them before I can think more about getting them! This really is the best place on the property, as most of it is orchard, and I've heard that goats and fruit trees DO NO WORK.

I'm obviously nowhere close to getting a goat and wouldn't do so until I was knowledgable and comfortable. That's why I'm here!
 

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Goats and trees - especially young trees - really do not mix well. Goats also love brambles, briars, multi-flora roses, blackberries, kudzu, and poison anything that vines. The wind here has a tendency to bring down large branches out of Cottonwood and Elm trees. I throw them into the girls if I can pick them up or drag them and, by the time they are done, all that is left is a naked branch. They strip the leaves, smaller twigs and branches, and the most of the bark.
 

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If it weren't dark already (!?!?!) I'd take a picture for you. My half acre goat pen (for 5 goats) no longer has trees..!

There were quite a few trees at one time. I fenced in the largest one, about an 20-24" diameter, just last summer because they started stripping the bark. And there were lots of bushes as well.

I have the pasture separated into 3 sections & rotate them but they do always go after the trees & bushes first. You'll need to protect anything you want to survive.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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There are only a few things goats wont eat in terms of vegetation. if you want your trees to live, you would be good to rap some chain link fencing around them. Get a piece that is a foot or so longer then what you need so you can adjust it as the tree grows. Everything else, including the tack weeds are free game. Though I would suggest you do what you can to get the goat heads outta there first. They will end up getting em in their hooves and come up lame. Green cheat grass is actually high in protein and they love it. Brown dried out cheet isnt real good for em. It gets in between their teeth and gums and causes some problems. Foxtail they will pretty much avoid. Berries of any kind are yummie! :)

As for fencing, field fencing works just fine as long as they dont climb on it to much. Like if there are trees on the other side that they can use the fence to climb on to get at, they will wear it down pretty quick. For pens and loafing areas, I suggest combo panels.
 

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Make sure the combo panels are very good quality or the goats will destroy them. My girls totally destroyed aluminum panels - the kind that have the 1 1/2 to 2" bars welded every so far down them. They tore the bars and the ends off the panels. They have also destroyed regular welded cattle panels, hog panels, even one of those gates that has the screen type wire welded in the bottom 2/3rds of it. So far, pipe and guard rail are durable enough to take their abuse, and I've had good luck with the continuous horse type fencing, but we modified it with pipe welded between the bars.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Always good to be realistic and keep things in perspective! Thank you for the input.

Sounding more and more like it's not a good time to invest in goats... Perhaps later on in life, I suppose!
 

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Always good to be realistic and keep things in perspective! Thank you for the input.

Sounding more and more like it's not a good time to invest in goats... Perhaps later on in life, I suppose!
i thought that too, for a few years actually, until i finally pulled the trigger
it's not that hard :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
i thought that too, for a few years actually, until i finally pulled the trigger
it's not that hard :)
Part of me is still vainly wishing I could just get one goat and have it romp happily in the big open orchard! :(
I feel like if I were to make the commitment, I'd want to provide a really nice living area for them. I'm just not sure I can do that without major property alterations, which I'm not ready for. Who knows, maybe I'll feel differently next spring!
 

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Don't sell out your dreams so fast. I never, ever wanted goats. I'm a ranchers daughter, and it has always been my dream to own cows - that was all I could see. I had never even seen a goat in person. I sold my last bottle calf for $780.00 net profit. My mother suggested that I take that money and buy some goats. I nearly died laughing at the suggestion. Then my curiosity took hold and I did some research. I took the bait and got some goats. Now I wouldn't trade them for anything in this world! They are the coolest things I've ever known, and they beat cows hands down. Yes, they can be hard to keep contained, but there are ways around that. Yes, they can be very frustrating, but they are also the most personable, lovable, friendliest, most entertaining, best stress relief, most giving animal I've ever had the fortune of meeting, with the possible exception of a dog - and they can be house-trained as well. It literally takes some serious work to have a bad day around goats. If your day has been crap, go sit with your goats - alcohol is optional, but it isn't necessary - the goats will fix it. Even on my worst day, I walk into the goat pens and they start talking to me, walk over to me for scratches or hugs, and it goes away. If this has really been your dream, I would strongly encourage you to go for it. Life only happens once, go for what really matters to you. Just my .02 and a little of my experience with my goats.
 

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Part of me is still vainly wishing I could just get one goat and have it romp happily in the big open orchard! :(
I feel like if I were to make the commitment, I'd want to provide a really nice living area for them. I'm just not sure I can do that without major property alterations, which I'm not ready for. Who knows, maybe I'll feel differently next spring!
Goats don't give a damn about really nice living areas, they just want attention, scratches, pets, and to know they are loved.
 

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Part of me is still vainly wishing I could just get one goat and have it romp happily in the big open orchard! :(
I feel like if I were to make the commitment, I'd want to provide a really nice living area for them. I'm just not sure I can do that without major property alterations, which I'm not ready for. Who knows, maybe I'll feel differently next spring!
It's true, goats really don't care what they're living quarters are, as long as there's enough space for them to move. The only thing goats care about is if they are loved. At the fair, my goats got stuck in a TINY cage- barely room for the three of them to lay down at the same time- not to mention it kept getting smaller because the goats on either side of my cage were trying to steal the food, so the fence (cattle panels) just kept moving in closer! But my babies were fine, as long as I kept scratching them and petting them. If I didn't go see them for a while, they'd start to get down, but as long as I went to go see them try were okay
 

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I just sold(basically gave away) two 3 month old Alpine cross wethers (neutered males) to a young couple with a toddler. They had always
wanted goats, but not to milk, just to have as a pet. They know nothing, but they love those 2 boys. They put up a fence for
them off of a lean-to on the back of an old horse stable.

Those goat boys are petted, loved and walked and don't know they aren't living in a goat castle! You don't need a lot for a few goats.
Just good clean water, decent hay and some goat grain (or not). Basic medical care, a place to get out of the wind and rain.

Don't throw away your dream. Remember, most people post on here because of a problem- there aren't too many posts of the things that don't
go wrong! (doctor offices are full of sick people, but look how many days those people aren't sick!) Don't write off goats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for the positive feedback there, guys :)

I guess if goats aren't picky, perhaps I can find a clear, tree-free place in the orchard for a pen.

That spurs a few other questions though:
- How much space DOES a goat (or goats) need?
- How well do goats thrive alone or in pairs? I've known people who have had lone goats, but I've heard they prefer lots of company.
- Can a goat live in a small pen and be let out to graze daily or several times a week without doing too much damage to the trees?
- How affection needy are they? I am prone to leaving the house for several days at a time, camping, visiting family, etc. I work from home and I'm out with the animals daily, but I do travel, sometimes on a weekly basis.
- Do goats co-exist well with chickens? I don't see why not.
 

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According to what I've read, 25 sq feet/goat is the recommended space. However, the bigger the pen the better it is going to work. I can't honestly answer the single goat question because I've never kept only one. A pair should be fine together - especially if you buy them from the same place and neither one is overly timid or aggressive. I can't speak for all goats, but I know that anytime I turn mine out the first place they head is for the trees. It is really amazing how much damage they can do in a short space of time, too. I don't believe I would give them any access to any trees I wanted to keep. ;) Goats are not especially needy, but they do like to interact with people. I work on the family farm and, during the summer months, I'm doing good to get them fed on a daily basis. There is very little time for me to sit with them like I can after the water goes out and the first freeze sends the hay into dormancy. They are fine with that. I just take extra time while I'm feeding to make sure everyone gets a pet or their ears scratched, and I talk to them while I'm feeding. It seems to work out ok. I can't help you with the chicken thing - no clue about that. Sorry.
 

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Unless the trees are dwarfs, you can wrap the trunks to keep them from eating the bark. Peach, Cherry, and Plum should be avoided but they can live under apple tress and some others happily. The dwarf goats can only reach up 4 feet or so. Chicken wire works well for that and is not real expensive... Berry bushes can have chain link circled around them. Then the goats can only prune what grows out of the fencing. There's many ways to have both.
 

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- How affection needy are they? I am prone to leaving the house for several days at a time, camping, visiting family, etc. I work from home and I'm out with the animals daily, but I do travel, sometimes on a weekly basis.
I would think an overnight would be okay but I wouldn't recommend leaving them for days at a time with no one checking on them. Do you have any neighbors that would be willing to refill their water and hay while you were away?
We lock our girls in the barn at night because I know we have a lot of coyotes around our house and I want them to be safe.
I am lucky that my neighbor is as excited about my goats as I am. He is always bringing his friends and family over to see them and volunteered to feed them and lock them up at night and let them out in the morning when we go out of town. We have only been away 1 night since we got them in March and he was excited to take care of them.
 

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Get a portable large dog crate and play pen. Train them to travel with you just like a dog. I take mine camping all the time. We have a few members who even have house trained town goats.
 

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Depending on how often you travel, you may want to reconsider having animals. They do need to be looked at daily. Things can go from fine to deadly quickly. Also, good help is hard to find. If you can take them with you, that would be great.

How often do you actually travel?
 
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