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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I have 2 oberhasli wethers that I want to train for packing. So far the lead really well, which is an improvement from just this summer. So, as we go for walks, do I gradually start putting a little weight on, or are they still to young for that? They are a year and a half. Until I can actually get a pack on I have back packs that fit them, they look funny, but it works LOL. I'm thinking of training my kinder wether as well for my great nephew, that's going to take some work as he isn't too friendly and was dam raised, but he's only 3.5 mo so I have time to work with him:)
 

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I'm from the faction that says: "no weight on the goats back until they are at least 2,5 to 3 years old"

If you pack already, don't use anything that will put direct pressure on the spine - you will ruin your goats before they are old enough to pack in earnest.

If they are still too small for a packsaddle - wait. Take them out for hikes, get them used to being outdoors, in traffic, around people, dogs, etc. Teach them manners on the trail and in camp. Train them to load, stand still, how to stand tied, etc. This is all time well spent and as important for you and them in the future than carrying a load.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Okay, that's what I read. They are booth doing well with traffic, not so well with people yet, but for now I will just continue taking them for walks around here and get them used to things....:) Thanks!
 

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Dave (TDG Farms) S.E. Washington State
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And ill present the other side :) Love you San hehe. Ill break it down as best I can.

I raise quite a number of prospects up to between 3 to 5 months of age and here is what I do with them.
At about 1 month old, I start taking them on trail walks. Nothing to fancy, just a half mile drive in the back of the truck to where I walk. There are 4 or 5 piles of rocks that I stop at and let them play and half fun. The idea here is to get them used to other areas besides the farm. I am sure many people can testify how barn sour goats can get. I try to keep it as easy and fun as possible. Walks are maybe a mile long or an hour in length. I do this without leads. I have found that if trained correctly, they will follow without a lead perfectly and when it does come time to lead train them, they almost dont need it cause they are already set to follow you.
By the time they are 3-5 months old I am taking them on walks up a 2500 foot tall hill and if the weather and river allows, doing water training in a below knee deep, slow moving part of the Yakima river. It is also during this time that a light weight dog pack pack fits them. I dont put anything in it. It just gets them used to having something on them. The sooner and more often you teach them, the better they will respond when they get to put on a real pack. But this applies to all their training.

A real pack goat saddle can be put on a goat when the goat weighs 125 lbs. This is an averaged weight so dont be surprised if it doesnt fight quite right yet. Give it another month and then try again. Now, just because your goat can now wear his saddle, doesnt mean he always should. I have a friend who takes his packers out for an hour walk EVERYDAY. So they are much more conditioned then your average pack goat. He found good success putting weight on his goats earlier then normal. For me, running a 100 head goat farm and working full time, I dont get to take Legion out very often. So I would not be able to put weight on him even though he is already over 200 lbs. He is still only 18 months old about and is still growing. To much weight would be bad and falls in line with what San was talking about. When I do take Legion out, I dont let him carry more then a couple of 24 oz water bottles, a camera, cigs, nocks and maybe a light jacket. So much less then 10 lbs. or 5% of his body weight. And as everything around this area is flat, there is no elevation to our walks. So they are easy walks.

Got a little off topic but was just trying to explain the difference between conditioned and non. And that applies to just about any age. If you try to pack weight onto any goat, regardless of age, that isnt conditioned, you and the goat are not going to have a very fun time.

At 150 lbs, you should be able to start using the saddle / panniers with very light things like I mentioned above. A good note to remember is a gallon of water weighs about 8.6 lbs. and thats 128 oz. So a couple of 20 oz. waters is great to use. And as you are walking, you are drinking the water and making the weight even less as the walk goes on. Just remember to keep the panniers (if you choose to use them) equal in weight. Now here is the key thing about any amount of weight, you need to watch and read your pack goat. Even without a pack on, an outta shape goat will start to pant after 10 or so minutes into a walk. The farther the walk goes, he may start to drool as he pants. Its ok, but I wouldnt be putting any weight on him till he is in better condition. Even in condition they will still pant in hotter weather. So you just need to read your goat. When you stop for breaks, if he lays down, then you may be pushing him to hard. He should be more interested in snacking on whats around him then resting. At this age and size, fun is the focus, not work.

By 180 lbs. (which can be 2 years of age or older depending upon bloodline and breed) Id still keep it around or under 10% of his body weight. And again, weight should be based off of not only the goats size but the terrain they will be traveling in. If you are trail blazing on steep mountains, the less weight to no weight is better. At this age and size you are still just trying to condition the goat. In my friend instance, because he was out walking them everyday, he was already able to move into adding the 10% weight regardless of terrain and the goats had a blast while out walking. They would RUN head and start chowing down on tasty bushes and trees and then run to catch up. Panting only in the hotter parts of the day.

By 200+ lbs (typically 2.5 to 3 years of age) if you have conditioned your goat well and have already studied and watched and tested how much weight it can carry in different terrains, you should be ready to start using your goat for what you have been training him for. Now they say a well conditioned pack goat of age 3 and above can carry up to 25% of its body weight. So at 200 lbs thats 50 lbs of carry weight. This is both true and untrue. Terrain. Terrain dictates just how much your goat can carry. A few mile hike on relatively flat trails, sure. Trail blazing cliffs 10 miles a day. Not a chance. Not to mention, if you do as some suggest and wait till they are 3 before you add any weight, then you can look forward to another 6 months to a year of slowing adding weight and conditioning before you can load high end weight limits on them.

I know most of this was about weight but thats the main focus of a pack goat so I try to give as much detail and information as possible. All the other training (lead, water, dog, loud noise, high lining, saddling, and general behaving) happen as you are conditioning your packer. I suggest you find a treat they love. Many use peanuts in the shells to help in their training. For Legion its grain. A shake of the grain pan and no matter where he is, he is at my side the next moment.

Sorry, I rambled, its past my bedtime and I should just stopped at hello :) hehe
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank TDG Farms! Yep a lot of info, but it was good. As soon as I get my CDL License I will have a lot more time to spend with my crew, so I'll put some of that to practice:)
 
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