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Does anyone keep goats?

(5 Posts)
BellaLasagne Thu 12-May-05 13:38:05

We have an unruly paddock of about 3/4 acre that's crying out for child-friendly goats or sheep. All we're really interested in is keeping the grass down. I'm in the process of getting a CPH (holding number) from Defra but would appreciate any advice or hints from anyone who's already done it. We are total novices so all help appreciated!


Gizmo Thu 12-May-05 14:29:24

Ah, childhood memories come flooding back...

I was my mothers chief goatherd (and shepherd) up to the age of 19 when I finally escaped to go to college.

She had up to 9 at a time, including Saanans (classic white goat), British Toggenburgs (brown and white jobs), British Alpines (black and white) and Anglo Nubians (African stylee goat, floppy ears and big noses)

We kept them for milking. On the plus side goats are total characters, independant (bloody) minded and wilfull - much more entertaining than sheep. If you breed from them, the kids are cute as cute can be. Another advantage is that generally they're pretty hardy.

On the downside, you will need bullet proof fencing (they are experts at eating/barging holes in most hedges), a decent shelter (they hate the wet) and provision for all the regular issues that come with any livestock - trimming hooves, worming, mucking them out occasionally, trips to the vet for inexplicable intestinal complaints etc etc. Don't ever let them anywhere near a garden or any area with shrubs or trees you value - they will trash it at a speed you will not believe.

Your 3/4 acre will probably support a pair (and they're happier in gangs) so long as you supplement their fodder with adequate hay etc in winter.

Unfortunately, they probably won't be massively effective at keeping the grass down - they are as much browsers as grazers - sheep would be more effective at keeping the grass short. Although sheep come with a larger bunch of issues re dealing with worms, flystrike, shearing etc.

On the whole, I'd say goats will give you a better chance of something that bridges the gap between agricultural animal and pet, but sheep might be more functional for the lawnmowing. Or what about geese?

HTH, Gizmo

PS don't go for the Anglo Nubians, by the way - they jump like deer!

BellaLasagne Thu 12-May-05 14:50:36

Thanks Gizmo - I'd also heard that sheep were more trouble than worth. We're goingt o a smallholders show next weekend so hopefully will find out more.

I'd heard that geese smell (or rather their poo does)? Also, don't foxes go for them? Do they have to be 'put to bed' like ducks or chickens?

Anteater Thu 12-May-05 14:56:37

Hi Bella,
start with the assumption that goats eat everything they should not, ie flowers, trees,(say goodbye to any you may have) anything that belongs to neighbours etc, and that will be on the right track!
If you have an idea of well manicured grass, forget it!
We had 3 Angoras for a few years. Very pretty and loads of fun.. but not low maintanance. Coat, feet, various parasites, then culled in F and M..

Goats are climbers by nature and they seem happiest when they are High and Dry.
Gizmo has the fencing issue taped, we ended tethering ours so they could graze up and down a steel cable. Must have a nice dry place to sleep, they are beggers but I became very fond of ours!

triceratops Thu 12-May-05 15:49:35

Goats are no good at keeping the grass down and are definate characters. Some are good with children and some are not, if you get a bad one they can bite and butt and generally terrorise. There are lots of goats available from the RSPCA who desparately need homes for them.

You can get the miniature ones which might be easier to handle. Or fallabella ponies which are cute but expensive.

Sheep can be ok too, although one mauled my dad while he was trying to help it with a difficult lambing and broke his arm and collarbone (understandable during the stress of labour). We had six sheep and a llama. Llamas are lovely but I don't think you have got enough space for one.

Geese are actually very affectionate, I am not convinced that they smell more than a goat.

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