Goats: Cold Weather

Reader Contribution by Janice Spaulding
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Several times a year, especially fall and spring, folks get in touch with me and complain about the same problem. They have added a single goat to their herd and

now he/she is getting picked on by the others.

We learned many, many, moons ago that adding goats two at a time is always the best way of expanding the herd without the “I’m the queen! NO, I’m the queen!” issues.

By adding goats this way, they have a familiar partner to sleep and eat with. They will stand in front of each other and take a butt from the queen. They will watch over each other to make sure they can each eat and lay down in peace. Once they lay down, the butting usually stops.

We have always had success with this method! Even if the goats are purchased in two different locations on the same day and transported together, the girls seem to form a bond on the trip home.

When we are selling goats, we approach it in the same way. We do not sell just one goat by herself. And, I will never, ever sell a baby by itself!Goats are herd animals and need the companionship of another goat. I do have one caveat to selling lone babies, and that is, if someone has a baby and has no buddy for it.

This of course applies to bucks and bucklings also! A buck by itself is very lonely and can often wreak havoc on the building, fence, or worse yet, YOU! Give your buck a buddy, either another buck or a wether (neutered male) to play with and he’ll be a lot happier (and so will you!).

The upcoming winter always reminds me of how lonely a single animal can be! No one to snuggle and stay warm with, and night time can be very long especially if you live in a northern climate where it gets dark at four o’clock in the afternoon!

As the weather gets colder and colder, the goats will grow a protective layer of cashmere under their hair and they will become fluffier with each passing day.

The biggest problem with colder weather is water. We’ve always used heated tanks or buckets and have not had to deal with frozen water for the animals, however, we need to use a hose to get water to those tanks and buckets. The hose will freeze solid if we are not careful to drain every drop of water out of it each time it’s used. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times the hose has sat on our living room floor in front of the wood stove to thaw.

One thing to keep in mind in cold weather is that goats use up an enormous amount of energy to digest their grain. Giving grain in the evening might seem like a good idea to you, but giving the grain in the morning and free choice, good quality hay for the rest of the day will keep your goats healthier, happier, and warmer!

Want to learn more?Join us for Spring Goat School in June or take a look at the two books that we have available.

Visit our web site at www.goatschool.com