Grade my goat setup!

DParker

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After just over a year and a half of consideration I finally pulled the trigger and committed to establishing a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf does to be kept as both milk producers and pets. My plan is to start with 4 doelings. Deposits have already been put down and I'll be picking them up when weaned the first week of May. After they reach maturity I will hire a buck to breed them (I'll likely wait until they are ~10-12 months of age) and decide from there what the max size of the herd should be based on how things work out.

I have a 2.5 acre property, of which ~2 acres is a long, slender (110 ft wide) pasture area. This was used by the previous owners to keep a few cows and donkeys on, so there is already a twisted wire fenced perimeter and a stable structure with a pair of 12'x12' stalls and a longer compartment that does not have a front wall. I put a tall wire-filled gate on one of the stalls to use it for the goat's sleeping quarters, and will put another one on the other stall when it comes time to use it for a kidding compartment. I have used part of the pasture area for a large (just over 3,000 sq ft) vegetable garden, and the rear-most 3/4 acre is wooded and borders a deep creek. This area is frequented by all manner of local wildlife, including deer and coyotes, but they never venture across the open pasture toward the house and are only present at night (I monitor the entire area with cameras). Between that and the cost of putting up enough woven wire to enclose the entire pasture area I opted to just partition a smaller area (just over 11,000 sq. ft.) immediate adjacent to the backyard fence for my impending herd. This keeps them well away from the wooded area and is far more affordable in terms of fencing materials required (less than 300 ft of woven fence vs just under 1,400 ft to fence the entire pasture). Plus the size of the job is one that I was able to do by myself, whereas I would have had to hire someone to fence in the whole pasture...at considerable cost. And if the coyotes ever do get brave/hungry enough to make it this far from the creek I'll electrify the enclosure perimeter.

Below is a crude diagram of the ~110'x105' area I've fenced in for this purpose, showing the stable structure (lower left) plus the 2 other outbuildings that are there. The large red one is a hay barn that I keep my subcompact tractor and other goodies in, with the front area (in brown) being a fenced off so the goats can't get into it. The smaller red square in the lower right is a storage shed, and the small white rectangles represent areas that are not open to the goats. Everything in green is the open pasture, which covers just over 9,300 sq. ft., and they will have complete access to all of that. And the color is accurate. If I don't mow it that entire area becomes completely covered in a variety of tall weeds for them to munch on (to be supplemented by hay and other feed as needed). Plus there's the ~450 sq. ft. covered by the stable awning that is shown by the lighter brown rectangle on the right half of the structure. The numbered squares represent the enclosed stable compartments, with #1 being the one that will be their sleeping quarters. #2 is the future kidding stall and #3 is an area to be used for a milking station and whatever other purposes I might need it for.

I'm sure I've forgotten something important, so please feel free to point out any glaring omissions should you notice them. So...what say ye? Tips? Questions? Mercilessly savage criticisms? All welcome and appreciated.

Goat Enclosure Layout.JPG
 
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Mini Horses

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Looks doable. You can put them into a stall if you need containment to work thru their pasture. Especially with only 4. But be prepared to expand, you'll find it difficult to keep numbers low. 🤣

This from a dairy & meat goat owner with 30 adults. :old

They're great animals. Use GOOD fence :lol: yes, I milk several.
 

Margali

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I would go ahead and buy an electric fence charger and run 2 strands of hot wire atleast along the barbed wire. You do NOT want your goats tangling with it and want to start excluding the coyotes from pasture. Thats is ~$500 for fencer and spool of wire. I would use tposts and cattle panels to make night pen off of your loafing shed. Train you goats to come in for night feed and lock up. That is basically my sheep setup and working well.
 

Ridgetop

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Do you have LGDs? Trained, not puppies. The housing looks fine. But some questions:

You said the fencing is twisted wire. Do you mean woven sheep and goat wire? How tall is it?

After they reach maturity I will hire a buck to breed them (I'll likely wait until they are ~10-12 months of age)

Do you already have a lead on hiring a buck? Often goat people will not rent out stud bucks. If you wait until they are 10-12 months old to breed, make sure that you are still within the breeding season for the buck. If these are annual breeders, you don't want to miss the proper rutting season to breed.

Since these will be milkers, are you planning to pull the kids and bottle feed? How long do you plan to milk these does? 10 month staggered lactations? If the does are in your milking liineup, you can pull the kids at birth, feed them heat treated colostrum and pasteurized milk in bottles. They will need their own pen until they are weaned. After weaning they can rejoin the herd in the oasture.

Are you planning to bottle feed pasteurized milk and heat-treated colostrum to the newborns to avoid CAE (See @rachels.haven's post about her beautiful flock becoming infected).

You didn't mention anything about the ND doelings you are getting. Do they come from a disease free herd? Are the mothers good milkers? Did the breeder keep milk records of production? Did the breeders keep health and vaccination records? What are the bloodlines? Are they registered? Do you plan to sell registered kids?

What area of the country are you in? Climate will play a large part in husbandry of the goats with parasite control and adequate forage feeding.

But be prepared to expand, you'll find it difficult to keep numbers low. 🤣
You will want to keep your doe kids and eventually buy a good buck. Hiring one is not always the best way to go since you don't know the background or if he will bring in any disease or parasites.

The area you have currently fenced is barely 1/4 acre of pasture. While it will be ok for now, the goats will graze it to the ground quickly. What do you plan to feed once they have depleted the forage pasture?

You should be making plans to fence more pastures as money and time permit. That way you can move the goats between pastures for rotational grazing which will help with parasite control. 60 days off the pasture to allow time for parasites to die off and the grass to regrow.

Once you have all the pastures enclosed, consider fencing the wooded area. Goats are browsers rather than grazers. The fenced woodland will be perfect for them and will help clean out the understory keeping your woodland healthier.
 

DParker

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I would use tposts and cattle panels to make night pen off of your loafing shed. Train you goats to come in for night feed and lock up.
Do you mean in addition to the enclosed, gated stable?
 

DParker

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Do you have LGDs? Trained, not puppies. The housing looks fine. But some questions:
No LGD(s)...yet. But that's a possibility.
You said the fencing is twisted wire. Do you mean woven sheep and goat wire? How tall is it?
The twisted wire is what was already existing. I've put tightly stretched 4"x4" woven wire (Red Brand "Square Deal"), 4 ft tall, over it (facing inward to the enclosure), with the effect that the pre-existing wire strands add a bit of support to the woven wire.
Do you already have a lead on hiring a buck? Often goat people will not rent out stud bucks. If you wait until they are 10-12 months old to breed, make sure that you are still within the breeding season for the buck. If these are annual breeders, you don't want to miss the proper rutting season to breed.
I've found quite a few people within reasonable distance who regularly hire out bucks, and am assuming that won't drastically change (for the worse) by the time my does are ready. As for breeding season, I can adjust my planned schedule to accommodate that if necessary.
Since these will be milkers, are you planning to pull the kids and bottle feed? How long do you plan to milk these does? 10 month staggered lactations? If the does are in your milking liineup, you can pull the kids at birth, feed them heat treated colostrum and pasteurized milk in bottles. They will need their own pen until they are weaned. After weaning they can rejoin the herd in the oasture.
I'm still weighing all of the options, but am currently leaning toward allowing the kids to be fed by their dams until weaning, and staggering the lactation to the extent that I'm able. This is just a hobby, so although maximizing milk yield for us is nice, it is not as high a priority as it would be if I were planning on making money from the milk...or even relying on it for our own consumption. At this point I'm thinking that the benefits of letting the kids be weaned by their dam are worth the lessened amount of milk we collect in the long run.
You didn't mention anything about the ND doelings you are getting.
No, but that's because I was looking strictly for feedback on my setup, and didn't want to cover too much subject matter in a single post.
Do they come from a disease free herd? Are the mothers good milkers? Did the breeder keep milk records of production? Did the breeders keep health and vaccination records? What are the bloodlines? Are they registered? Do you plan to sell registered kids?
The short answer is: Yes to all of the above (save for the bloodlines, which I've had a knowledgeable goat keeping friend of mine go over with me).
What area of the country are you in? Climate will play a large part in husbandry of the goats with parasite control and adequate forage feeding.
North Central Texas.
You will want to keep your doe kids and eventually buy a good buck. Hiring one is not always the best way to go since you don't know the background or if he will bring in any disease or parasites.
Eventually, probably. But for now I'm trying to keep things a bit simpler to start off with.
The area you have currently fenced is barely 1/4 acre of pasture. While it will be ok for now, the goats will graze it to the ground quickly. What do you plan to feed once they have depleted the forage pasture?
As I said in my original post I will be supplementing with hay and other feed as needed.
You should be making plans to fence more pastures as money and time permit. That way you can move the goats between pastures for rotational grazing which will help with parasite control. 60 days off the pasture to allow time for parasites to die off and the grass to regrow.
That's already in the planning stages for the future. I just need to be able to construct a workable barrier around my large garden that keeps the goats out but allows me to get my small tractor in.
Once you have all the pastures enclosed, consider fencing the wooded area. Goats are browsers rather than grazers. The fenced woodland will be perfect for them and will help clean out the understory keeping your woodland healthier.
The tree canopy back there is very dense, with the result that there is actually very little in the way of undergrowth for them to forage. It's just not worth the money, effort and/or predator risk.
 
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