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What we have learned

3333 Views 46 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  happybleats
We moved to farm life 16 years ago. We are not the same people lol. This post is to share what we have learned and or wish we new in the beginning. Maybe it will help a newbie or even a seasoned farmer. Does not have to be about goats.
I'll start:
We came to Texas thinking we wanted to raise Alpacas (because they are stinking adorable) ended up raising goats, because 2 of my boys could not drink cows milk. We have made a bizillion mistakes that cost us lots of money. What we learned, I hope, is have a plan. Know what your end game is...or hope to be and aim everything you do toward that goal. Ex: I can not tell you how many times fences have been moved because it just didn't work. That is a ton of labor and often money when you need replacement parts!
My husband's advice would be...don't make everything a pet. We feed 6 dogs now, several cats, five donkeys and 3 horses..all except the cats ..don't work here lol. We just feed them. 馃槈
Your turn...go.....
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I might think of something else to add later but for now I just want to second having a plan for fences BEFORE you actually have anything on the ground! Moving fence is so much work and life is so much easier if you only have to do it once. Think of how you want to connect pastures, where you want to be able to walk through, and where you may need access for a truck and trailer, how to get to barn/shelter from each pasture, etc.
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Bucks, they don鈥檛 lie about all the maintenance! We bought a buck totally ignorant of well鈥 basically everything about them. He鈥檚 was so cute tho! Only two months old, a little squirt! And then鈥. He grew鈥. Two accidental pregnancies and multiple fence repairs later鈥.bye-bye billy! Anyway we learned we will NEVER own a buck again, and they require much more extensive fencing and maintenance then does and wethers!
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What I've learned...plans always change.
My family has lived on this place for 30+ years, and done lots of different things. So make your pasture gates big enough to fit a concrete truck through, and your barn doors big enough to at least fit a wheelbarrow through. I am insisting on this with everything we do from here on out!
Also, have at least one pen on your place that your animals absolutely can not escape from. This gives you a safe place to acclimate new animals, or to put up animals who have suddenly decided to go see the world, while you figure out your next steps.
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One of our biggest goofs was learning about bucks. I still insist on having one but this last time around we knew to build a sturdy pen, give him a wether companion and a place to go inside in bad weather. We also put his pen within the pasture so if he escaped he was still on our property.
Things worked out much better than in the 80's when our stinky fully horned guy would open the gate and explore the neighborhood (much to the chagrin of our neighbors.)
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Eye candy does not always work out!!
When we first started buying goats..we went by how pretty they were. We learned that pretty flashy girls don't always fill the milk bucket. And adga papers don't fill a bucket either. Good milking genetics, udder formation and the over all conformation of the goat matters. A good udder attachment and solid conformation adds life to the goat. They can be in service longer because their body and udder hold up. So I will take a plain Jane who is solid in both and who fills my bucket than a pretty flashy doe who lacks. 馃榿 Now having both...that is a bonus!
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Do it right the first time. I am a big believer in making your fences big enough and strong enough. Since I have horses and goats I wanted fencing that would work and be safe for both. Always a fan of fencing that not only keeps your animals in but other people's animals out. When we were on other family land or rental property I had no control over my fencing. It has taken forever at the new place but slowly getting there. Also huge fan of large gates. Even like others said above I want trucks with trailers and heavy equipment to move through gates with ease. So everything is a 16 foot gate. Drainage is important. Make barn and stalls designed to save steps. Less steps you have to take the more time you can spend with your animals. Yes buck lots are nice and friends are nice. Always had 3 breeding lots and 3 bucks until we down sized. Now I only have 1 buck and a few girls. My husband knows anything I get I keep for life but kids born are here to be sold. With keeping a few for replacement does. My husband would sale anything but he knows I won't allow it.

I have resigned the new barn 8 different options until we finally picked the one style that would work best for our needs.

So in short don't worry about how long it takes but taking your time and doing it right will save future headaches. Needless to say we just started leveling for the New barn site a couple weeks ago and picked the barn layout. Had not cross fenced yet waiting to finalize the plan.
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Oh gosh I could probably write a book on this topic lol
On the topic of fencing. I was good and put up good fencing. Kinda wish I had done it a little differently but nothing I can鈥檛 work with. But what I had no concept of is just how destructive goats are! Just the rubbing and climbing and everything goats do has really taken a toll on my poor fence. I wish I had started out having hot fence up from the very beginning. The one thing I do wish I had done differently when I put the fencing up though was instead of two large pastures I wish I had split them up more. It just seems like I never have enough pens when I really need them.
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Yes luckily we installed the good fencing first! It's like a cattle pannel but with smaller opening on the bottom...
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Minerals when we first started we didn't realize they need minerals lol... I know bad on us but we quickly learned thanks to me that goats need minerals, as well as a good variety of food!
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We lost a number of kids due to selenium deficiency. We learned to make sure they got it from the start. Along with a spice mix that kept away cocci.
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One thing I wish I knew about from the first is The Goat Spot. I was all alone in the beginning and made too many mistakes listening to locals who really had no clue either. What I learned, often the hard, way is Google doesn't have all the answers, but I READ EVERYTHING, Cross reference, asked questions, talk with my vet and when I had all that before me...I decide what course of action is best....wrote it down and stuck with it. I tweaked things as I learned better ways. We all know there is more than one way..choose what works best for your herd.
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One thing I wish I knew about from the first is The Goat Spot. I was all alone in the beginning and made too many mistakes listening to locals who really had no clue either. What I learned, often the hard, way is Google doesn't have all the answers, but I READ EVERYTHING, Cross reference, asked questions, talk with my vet and when I had all that before me...I decide what course of action is best....wrote it down and stuck with it. I tweaked things as I learned better ways. We all know there is more than one way..choose what works best for your herd.
Same here! Couldn't have said it better!
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So true.
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Double ditto on finding TGS! People here have saved my sanity and my goats more than once 馃 馃憦 馃
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I came here at an invitation from the original owner of the site- Stacey. She invited all from another decent site that was being closed. But, before that, there was really nothing.
Life would be so much more difficult if it were not for TGS and the great mods and decency from all the posters. I don't do FB etc. so this is my only "social" place I read or post. Everyone
is very non judgemental and knowledgeable! It's great! Thank you!!!! :giggle:

I learned a long time ago that some of the most important things a goat owner (or any livestock owner) needs to learn is how to take a temp. and how to give shots safely and correctly.
I also learned that some people don't want to learn that, they want you to do it- that is fine once or twice, but, everyone needs to depend on their own talents and not expect others to
do basic medical care on their goats.
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What I have learned....CAE, not testing your herd does not change the outcome. If they are positive or negative, you have got to know! What not testing does do, is spread the disease. Early on before I even knew about CAE or testing, i fed multiple bottle babies with milk from my girls. When a friend scolded me and told me how important testing was. BUT, I argued my goats looked and acted healthy!! They didn't show any signs of CAE! She said, didn't mean they were CAE free. Then a 4 year old Doe got a swollen knee. We had her tested and she was positive. Broke my heart. I had Does raised on her milk..who after testing were Positive. By the end of testing we had 5 total adults ( including the original Doe) and a pen full of bottle babies. That is on me!! SO test!! A simple blood test on goats over 6 months old can give you peace of mind!. Which brings me to a second point...Learning to pull blood. As scary as it may seem, pulling blood your self will first off, save moola!! And second will be an encouraging factor to test more. Read, watch you tube and or find a friend who knows how and have them teach you!!

Best wishes
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I came here at an invitation from the original owner of the site- Stacey. She invited all from another decent site that was being closed. But, before that, there was really nothing.
Life would be so much more difficult if it were not for TGS and the great mods and decency from all the posters. I don't do FB etc. so this is my only "social" place I read or post. Everyone
is very non judgemental and knowledgeable! It's great! Thank you!!!! :giggle:

I learned a long time ago that some of the most important things a goat owner (or any livestock owner) needs to learn is how to take a temp. and how to give shots safely and correctly.
I also learned that some people don't want to learn that, they want you to do it- that is fine once or twice, but, everyone needs to depend on their own talents and not expect others to
do basic medical care on their goats.
I forget exactly how I found the site but if I remember it was after a friends horse forum closed and I was looking for another farm friendly chat group. Honestly can't remember if it was suggested to me or if I just found it but everyone here is so amazing and nice. We all play well together even if our does push each other around in the field the owners get along lol.
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One thing I learned is do not mess with a goat's horns!

I got this bit of old wisdom from somewhere shortly after we got our first goat, Cuzco. Having a background in horse training, I immediately disregarded this advice and decided that I should desensitize my goat to horn handling. Turns out the old timers were right! Handling a goat's horns doesn't desensitize them, it sensitizes them! I began to discover this after a few months and I changed my ways, but a certain amount of damage had already been done and Cuzco never truly trusted people with his horns, and people had good reason not to trust him with his horns either.

Nowadays when we go to a show I put a sign on my packgoats' stall that says:

Did you know that grabbing us by the horns can make us angry?
Horns are our protection!

Grabbing them is seen as a threat or challenge.
Look at it this way: If you had a gun on your hip, would you feel
comfortable if a stranger walked up and snatched it?
We are friendly and trusting and we want to stay that way.
Please respect our horns when petting us and we will respect you too.
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When designing, building stuff for animals, the first priority is obviously whether it is the best for the animals. But a close second (that is often forgotten) is to make it easy to clean. Cleaning is never a fun activity. So I do my best to make everything as easy to clean as possible, even if it costs a little more or it takes a little longer to build.
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