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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have two Alpines, which are about 1.5 years old now. I want to take them hunting this fall and need some advice. As a novice what would you recommend for me? Saddles or Panniers? Can you share the pros and cons of each, your experiences, and why I should go with one or the other?
 

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Hello,

you can't decide between one or the other. You need both.

The saddle contributes the weight of the load away from the spine and along the long back muscle. The panniers will hold whatever you want to pack.

And although other people will tell you otherwise, in my opinion 1,5 year old goats are too young to carry any load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Are you saying I need saddles to distribute the weight, and panniers to load on top of the saddles?
Also, I've read multiple times that they should be trained to carry the saddles/panniers from about after they turn 1, but with just very light loads. I thought at 2 they should be full grown and able to carry a full load. You don't agree with this? Could I put a much lighter load on them at these younger ages?
 

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Hello,

yes, you need both.

And yes, I don't like the idea to put a load on a young goat. I train mine to follow and take them on longer hikes when they are young but they don't get a saddle put on until 2,5 years and no load until they turn 3 years.

They grow until they are 4 or 5 years old and loading them early can do damage to the joints and growth areas of the bone.

What Dave states is in my opinion unnessecary with goats. They aren't horses that need months and months of desensitizing against all that is scary. Goats that have bonded with humans look at a saddle and panniers, shrug and accept these things. BUT they need to build muscles and that takes months.

I also know that packgoats in the US are often taller at age 2 years than the goats here in good old Germany. Here I haven't found a goat that's 2 years old where the regular wood saddle would fit (too large for the goat).

But why spending the money on dog packs - which in the worst case will put pressure on the spine and cause damage - when all you have to do is wait one more year for a regular packing kit?
 

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I agree with Sabine that 2 is too young to put weight on them. Even at 3 I didn't put weight on them beyond the weight of the saddle, panniers, and maybe another 5 lbs. of bulky gear like empty water bottles and their highline and tarp. It's sooo hard to wait, but it would be terrible if you did some joint damage by loading them up too soon. When I see how much bigger and stronger my two 4 year olds are than they were at 3, I am so glad I didn't put too much on them last summer. Last summer they carried a total of about 18 lbs. each and this summer they can carry about 43 lbs. each. Plus, last summer one of them ate a poisonous plant and couldn't carry anything for two days of the trip, and I was so glad I didn't have to carry a bunch of heavy stuff I was counting on him to carry. He was young and had to learn what not to eat. Luckily I had a spare goat along who just has bad ankles (maybe I put too much on him too young) and he could carry the load if I braced up his ankles with wrist guards. We were the walking wounded for sure. So don't push it their first season!
 

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I disagree.
You NEED a saddle.
But panniers is not nessasary.
When you are ready to pack
you can use any kind of bag you
want to hang off the saddle.
Yes some are not built as well
as panniers are. But when you are
starting out you can get by without
them.
I have used soft cooler bags. cloth Walmart
bags. horse saddle bags. I suppose you
could use gouchie bags if you
were so inclined. LOL
 

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Just for the record. I suggest
that you keep your goat on a leash when
you first put a pack on them.
Everyone kept telling me how they
just accept the pack. Well not my Julio (2 years old).
He tried to hook the saddle with his horns..
Then he tried to run away from it. Then he
tried to run away with it and hook it with
his horn at the same time. doing a complete summer
salt. Then he tried to bite it off While running
in a circle. And threw himself on the ground.
He cracked the crossbuck. Which I repaired.

This was not the first time he had worn anything.
He has had coats on. And a dog backpack on when
he was little. Nothing in it. Just wearing it. And he was fine.

So I am not sure why he reacted the way he did.
There was no weight on the crossbuck.
But the next time I put the saddle on him. I kept
a lead on him. And got after him for trying to hook
or bite the saddle. Went much smoother...
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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There is 100% no worry about putting a dog pack on a goat at just about any age as they only weight a pound maybe 2 if soaking wet. I never said anything about putting any weight in it. I liked the comment of putting their high line and maybe a few other super light things after they have learned the saddle or packs.

Previous bonding has nothing to do with putting on a saddle or pack. Each goat is different and a spoiled goat will often times act up worse then a scared goat. What this thread has to do with is training. Just like with a horse. You dont just toss an unknown shaped object, such as a blanket on its back and then act surprised when it tried to bolt. The more you train your goat the better he will preform when called upon to. Even if he gets it right off the bat, keep training. I saw lots of people at the rendy with some outstanding goats who preformed great. Many though still had more difficulty then they should of putting on their saddles.

This being a desert area with very little rain and no trees, I have started training Legion to accept water. Here water is like acid to goaties :) And I will continue till he doesnt hesitate to follow. When it comes time to train him with the dog packs I picked up at the rendy, I will work with him until he learns to stand still without moving until he is fully saddled. And with all other areas of his training, it will be done with kindness and respect.

As for bonding, that is a key ingredient in regards to the animals willingness to follow and take commands. In 20 years, there have only been a handful of goats that I have bonded as well with as I have with Legion. This boy will rest his face against my face and just stand there waiting for me to pet him. If I am sitting down on the ground, he will walk over, put his face against my face and slowly slide down my chest until he is laying in my lap. I can pet / inspect him anywhere including his horns and because of that bond he will not even twitch his head. And as sweet as all this is, it will do nothing to prepare him for his live to come. So yes, absolutely start their training young. So when they are 2, 3 or 4 years old (depending upon your opinion), they will be ready and so will you.
 

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Hello MadIdahoMan

My name is Curtis King Im in Burbank Washington.
Im in the same boat your in so allow me to share my limited experience. I have four Pack Goats that are all under two years of age. Two of my Alpine Wethers are about 1.6 years of age and are in the 130-145 pound range. We just did a ten mile Pack trip in August into the Wenaha wilderness in Washington and they both packed about 25-30 pounds each of my gear for me and my son in law. We caught lots of fish in the twin buttes creek and had a blast.

I broke all the rules and took the advise of John Capel who used goats to pack mule deer in Arizona to hunt trophy bucks in the remote back country back in the late 80's early 90's. John was a mule deer guide for archery hunters at the time and had his own products of Pack saddles and pannniers at the time. John wrote me a letter in 1995 and told me that he started packing goats at eight months of age using a soft pack like a large dog pack. he would use the soft pack to train the goats to carry up to about 15 pounds of gear.

After that John moved the goats into his own custom built soft lumbar packs that he we selling to hunters at the time. His products are no longer available.

I went out on a limb and followed Johns lead and started packing my goats at eight months. They go bird hunting with me and carry lunch water and other equipment for me and the dogs. This has been a wonderful experience for me and has worked very well. My goats are now in a wooden cross buck saddle using medium size panniers. They have no problem carrying 25-30 pounds of gear for several miles without stopping for a break. My goats will be elk hunting and late season muzzeloader deer hunting with me in October and November and they wont even be two years of age until February 2013.

I have the larger aluminum saddle for them from Northwest Packgaots (The Northwest Custom Fit) to use when they hit the 180-200 pound range. Goats are like teenagers. They love to pack and you can start them very very young. Ok I know some out there will disagree with this and thats Ok. Get some wooden Cross-Buck saddles and some medium size panniers and take your goats on daily walks with 15-20 pounds of water or stuff in thier packs. get them ready and take them hunting with you. its never to early to start. Just dont overlload them and keep it light. \They will work fine.

Break all the rules. I did and am having a wonderful time and very rewarding experiences with my goats.

Curtis King Burbank WA.
 

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Curtis.King said:
Break all the rules. I did and am having a wonderful time and very rewarding experiences with my goats.
Yes, and don't care if they develop arthritis along the road and have to be put down in later years.

How someone can brag about ignoring common sense.... Exercise is one thing, every young animal needs to have that. But within the limits of age and development. And putting pressure on still open growth plates and wide, loose joints from a work that the body of the animal wasn't designed to do but has to be trained to do over time is simply wasteful.
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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As Curtis said there are those who will disagree, and thats ok. Though a little more discussion, and a little less jabbing on some peoples part, would make this a more productive thread. The use of the term common sense is a good point though. Just not in the same context as it was posted. So I will turn it around and make it a positive. Regardless of how someone chooses to raise / use their goats, if that person uses common sense when training / using their goats, there shouldnt be any issues now or later on in life. Its easy enough to watch your animals and see if they are struggling in any way and to adjust it. As I said, start your training now! There are many different areas that need to be covered and the actual wearing of packs is one of them. If a pack fits, use it. That doesnt mean load it up, that means train with it. And as I have seen Curtis and his goats, they do very very well with the way he is training them. Have been out with him a half dozen times or so and I never see them struggle. The weight he lets them care seem to be just fine. And as he isnt taking them out fully loaded every day / week / month, there is not worry of any kind of long term effects.
 

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this will be my last post in this thread and on this forum.

Although I enjoyed reading and writing here and more and more feel that the difficulties made up by the difference in language are no longer worth the effort.

I will never stop speaking for a slower approach to goat (and dog and horse) training and to give them time to grow.

But as I have to struggle not to "jabb" (and sometimes only because I lack the sophisticated use of a language that isn't my mother tongue to formulate it better without using a less elegant phrasing), I will stop speaking here.
 

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I don't think you should quit posting, Sanhestar. You have many valuable things to add to every discussion you join. I have had no problem understanding your language, and I think it's great that you promote the idea of letting animals mature before work. I've personally seen the early breakdown of racehorses, and of show horses who are strenuously trained so they can be "dead broke" for the two-year-old classes. It sickens me, so I understand exactly where you're coming from.
 

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Sabine your perspectives and contributions to this forum is what makes this forum so valuable. You bring insights from another country that I find very interesting. The experiences you share from working with and caring for your goats are educational and fun. I have never had a language barrier and do not know what that struggle is like but I admire your effort to communicate with us. My goats and I will miss your post.
IdahoNancy and the Oberpackers
 

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Sabine,
I think you communicate just fine, I have no trouble understanding you. I think that you should keep posting. I dont agree with 100% of everything you say either but I value the knowledge and experience you share and it has influenced me in the way I am training and loading / not loading my young goats. So, there you have it, your opinions are not falling on deaf ears. Please reconsider. There's no shame in changing your mind.
Thanks!!!
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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Forums are a discussion area. Everyone is not suppose to agree with anyone else or this would be a pat each other on the back format. If I make a post and say yes to something, I am hoping someone else comes along and says no. Because it is at this point we learn more then when we posted. We may learn that the other person may have a good point or we may learn that our stance is stronger because the other persons argument holds not merit. When I first started posting, I remember Id post something and Rex would be like, nope you're wrong. And I am thankful for that because when Rex posts he is knowledgeable enough about alot of things that I can take what he says and apply it to my point of view and then decided if I want to change my mind.

San, please understand that I do not target you for any other reason then to argue a point that I see differently. So although I do not agree with much of what you post, I am thankful for those posts. Because they give us both chances to learn from them. Granted, my posts could use some more tact, but I am more interested in getting the point posted then tip toeing around a topic. Ill make a better effort to do so with our discussions if you choose to stay. Which I hope you do. Your opinions are so different from my own, I enjoy hearing about them and taking the time to think them over :)
 

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Sabine,

I have enjoyed your comments and experience over the years. Please continue to post here. I don't believe that your language barrier is a factor. You have a wealth of experience and the forum will suffer if you do not continue to share.

Joe
 
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