The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How many goats is too few?

Two goats

I've learned a lot from Artemesia's case of (probably) listeriosis. With 20/20 hindsight, I wouldn't have bred a goat who wasn't in peak health. I would have paid more attention when extra rations weren't enough to get her weight back on. And even though a fecal exam suggests worms aren't implicated after all, I definitely could have dosed our doe with B vitamins and perhaps some with other supplements as well to get her back on track early on.

House goat

But the biggest lesson learned is that two goats really might not be enough goats. Goats are herd animals, and I wonder whether having only her daughter around isn't a low-level stress that cuts into Artemesia's peace of mind.

More troubling is the question of what would have happened if Artemesia really had died. Aurora seemed to be independently content to stand atop her stump in the pasture while her mother circled for hours in the barn. But as soon as I led Artemesia out of the doeling's vicinity to warm her up by the fire, our littlest goat descended into a crying mass of "I'm alone and the world is awful!" Without her mother, we would have been stuck finding an emergency goat friend or giving Aurora away (tough when her mother had died of a possibly infectious illness) ASAP.

Honeysuckle leaves

Something to ponder if Artemesia bounces back and pops out a girl kid or two. In the meantime, though, my attention will remain riveted to the new leaves on the honeysuckle vines, which are providing such excellent goat fodder during Artemesia's rebound.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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would supplemental feeding with small amount of commercial goat feed prevent this from happening? goat feed would have all nessary vitamin and minerals needed to keep them healthy, and not need to give them shots.

I am sure the place where you get chicken feed would sell goat feed

Comment by ralph Fri Feb 10 07:50:57 2017

If you simply must have more goats (personally can't understand that) but don't want the hassle of pregnancy and milking (definitely can understand that), castrate any males born and keep them as herd companions, or as I like to call them "Emergency rations if another superquake comes."

They don't need special rations since they aren't pregnant or milking. They don't stink like uncut bucks. They are generally very docile. Apparently they live forever too. Mine are still cavorting around like kids after 12 years.

Like all goats they will escape and eat your fruit trees and every garden crop but tomatoes.

Love my goats, will never ever ever ever get more.

Comment by Eric in Japan Sun Feb 12 19:59:44 2017

profile counter myspace

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