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So come and tell me all about... goats!

(16 Posts)
DippyDino Sun 07-Jun-09 21:02:39

We're thinking of getting a goat, well probably two females, to keep down the grass on our very large garden. So, wise mumsnetters, I am clueless about goats, advise me please!

What breed?
Where should I but them from?
Do they need vaccinations etc?
What about a goat house?!

blametheparents Sun 07-Jun-09 21:04:04

I often have a dream that I own a goat. Other than that I can't help you though, sorry. and our garden is way too small to own a goat!

Anifrangapani Sun 07-Jun-09 21:10:54

If it is to keep grass down I would suggest a sheep or 2. Goats eat everything and need really secure fencing. Also if you have rodhendrons (sp)you will need to keep them away from them as they are poisionous.

You will need a shelter as they HATE rain - a stroppy goat is not a good thing.

My MIL has a goat farm so I can ask her what breeds are good ( the meat goats she has now seem much more placid than the dairy breed she had before). Also she should be able to tell me where to buy them if no one eles comes up with an idea.

rasputin Sun 07-Jun-09 21:15:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ABetaDad Sun 07-Jun-09 21:29:06

Agree with the above. Sheep are probably better. My Dad has a few sheep for that reason.

Goats may destroy your garden if not kept tethered as they climb, jump and eat hedges, bushes and flowers. Also the following link advises against getting goats as lawnmowers.

Goat Lawnmowers

We had two goats when I was a child and they had to be milked by me every morning before school and and every night after school. Of course you do not necessarily have to get them in kid and just let their milk dwindle if you do not want to milk them.

We had two nanny (femae) goats a Saanan and a Nubian breed. They will need a shed to sleep in during winter.

Probably easier to get a mower.

CMOTdibbler Sun 07-Jun-09 21:41:05

If you want to keep the grass down, get a couple of geese.

If you buy goats you have to be really committed to them - remember that you will have to register your premises with DEFRA, keep a movement book, worm them, vaccinate the, cut their hooves, muck them out, milk them twice a day every day (no days off and it is very very hard to get someone else to milk them), feed them, etc etc.

And they still won't keep the grass down as they don't like eating things that they have trodden on. They need to have constant access to shelter, and a shed to sleep in at night.

If I haven't put you off enough, then contact the British Goat Society, and ask them to put you in contact with your local goat club. Someone would then be able to teach you to do all the things you need to be able to do.

My parents had goats for 25 years or so - over that time Dad was called in by the vets to go and sort a lot of people out who thought goats were a good idea and didn't know what to do

If you don't want milk, Pygmy goats are a good option though - get a neutered male and they do make good pets and are a nice size for children. We had a rescue one for some time, and he was my responsibility, as opposed to the Saanens who were dads (but I still had jobs to do for them)

DippyDino Sun 07-Jun-09 21:51:01

So... tell me all about sheep?

Have been on The British Goat Society site, very interesting.

I would not want to make my sheep unhappy, I would be a committed and considerate owner.

This isn't going to be easy is it.

It's a huge area of grass to keep down, really struggling with it. Costs a fortune to pay someone to cut (approx £80 a month)

paisleyleaf Sun 07-Jun-09 21:55:44

Our neighbours have alpaca
I don't know a lot about it, but they say they're easier than sheep, because you don't have to worry about registering with DEFRA.

CMOTdibbler Sun 07-Jun-09 21:56:49

For sheep, see most of the above. Slightly hardier, no milking, and will keep the grass down more. But not the weeds. And I think you need a few of them for them to be happy. But am not a total expert on sheep as have only had them from birth to slaughter age as I bottle reared them for extra pocket money

I think the thing to ask yourself is that if you didn't have this huge garden, would you be thinking even a bit of yourself as a goat/sheep owner ?

ABetaDad Mon 08-Jun-09 07:28:40

Sheep will need registering with DEFRA.

Buying a couple of old ewes might be the way to go but then they are not maintenence free eiter. Worming, shearing, dippig, daggig, foot clipping.

All animals need care and somewhere to live in winter.

DippyDino Wed 10-Jun-09 14:48:04

I have a dream... pygmy goats, some chickens, that kind of thing. But I guess it will have to wait and I'll have to keep forking out to have the garden mowed!

Thank you for all your help and sheep / goat tips.

Takver Wed 10-Jun-09 20:28:22

I know you didn't mention geese, OP, but as someone suggested them its worth knowing that they poo everywhere and very copiously.
Like everyone says, not goats for eating grass, they're browsers, so much more into tree branches, nettles, brambles etc.
How big is very big in terms of garden? If you're talking several acres, maybe a local farmer would be interested in cutting it for silage?
Or do you definitely want it to be grass - might you be able to arrange some kind of garden swap for someone (ie they grow vegetables on some of your excess garden in return for some favour) - MiL does this with part of her large garden, a couple who don't have any garden grow veggies on a bit of it and in exchange they do some general tidying and also water her pots when she's away.

GentleOtter Wed 10-Jun-09 20:53:37

The commitment to keeping sheep and goats is massive and takes up a good part of your day and I agree with everyone else who has posted but will add that your fences will have to be very good.

Geese are great and very good 'guard dogs' but are noisy, messy and may go for people.

Given the cost of winter feeds, vets, shelters, time for husbandry, etc for goats/sheep, you may be cheaper with a big ride on mower.

Chickens might be a good idea but will strip an area bare if kept in one run for too long.

wastingmyejumication Sat 15-Aug-09 23:25:07

Hmm... this is interesting, just searched to see what advice there may be on keeping goats and this pretty much answers everything.
I was considering goats from a grass perspective, but have always wanted to have goats for milk and meat.

How much land do they need?
Would they get along with some chickens if I got some too?

ouchitreallyhurts Sun 16-Aug-09 12:14:08

we have a small holding and have currently decided against goats as unless you want them for milk/meat (we'll be wanting them for milk one day) they do tend to strip everything and need incredibly strong/well structured fencing as they are good at escaping.
you'll need a defra holding number too.
we have some sheep on the land right now and they are gorgeous but also escape VERY often as they barge fences down!
on top of that you need to be prepared for the hard work of worming, dealing with illness, fallen stock rules and so on.
nothing could have prepared us for how awful flystrike is until we witness a lamb succumb this week - despite preventative treatment and lots of care from a farmer.
on the plus side - they do keep our grass down which has made fruit harvesting much easier this year and the children love the particularly friendly ewes!

wastingmyejumication Sun 16-Aug-09 12:41:09

Hmm... does sound a bit much.

I'll stick with chickens for now then. smile

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