Raising Goats with Deborah Niemann

by: EJ on 09/06/2018

Deborah Niemann's recently released, Raising Goats Naturally, 2nd Revised and Expanded Edition: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat and More is packed with Deborah's personal experiences backed up by expert veterinary advice.  We had the pleasure of hosting Deborah on our Facebook page for a book giveaway this past week.  

In today's author interview, Deborah answers your questions about goats.

AddictedtoQuack

Photo credit: AddictedtoQuack.com

1.  How much time should I expect to spend caring for goats?  Are a few goats less time to manage than several or is like going camping for a weekend versus camping for a week, it takes pretty much the same amount of stuff?

The camping analogy is a good one. You need to give goats a clean bucket of water every day, regardless of whether it's one or six, and there's not much difference in giving them a single flake of hay versus two or three flakes. Other than feeding and watering, you will have to milk if you have milk goats, and that can take five or ten minutes per goat, morning and evening. You need to trim hooves every few months.

 

GuyCourtemanche

Photo Credit: Guy Courtemanche

2. Can goats thrive in every landscape?  Are the places you wouldn’t recommend keeping goats? Are goats okay to keep in urban settings?

Goats came from mountains and deserts originally, but today they live everywhere. You just have to be mindful of what they need, and it does take a bit more effort if they are in an unnatural setting. They are naturally browsers (not grazers), and bushes and small trees have more minerals than grasses, so if you are trying to turn your goats into grazers, you will need to know the signs of mineral deficiencies and be sure to provide additional supplementation when needed. Also, if you live in an urban environment, it can be challenging for goats to get enough exercise, so obesity can be a problem. And you may also have a challenge keeping them from eating things that are bad for them, such as cigarette butts.
 

3. There is a large chapter about injury and diseases in the book.  Are goat susceptible to a lot of illness or have you just included everything that people should be aware off?

I've been keeping goats since 2002 -- usually about 30 adults plus kids -- and other than mineral deficiencies and parasite problems, about the only other things we've experienced are one case each of enterotoxemia, listeriosis, and skin cancer, two cases of bloat, and two cases of meningeal worm, so thankfully most goats never get most of the diseases listed in the book. The key, however, is good nutrition and management. Mineral deficiencies and parasite problems can be a big problem if you don't have a handle on that.

KLesser_ADrauglis

Photo Credit:  K. Lesser and A. Drauglis

4. If goats browse in a wooded area, will they just eat brush or will they remove bark and kill the trees?

Love this question because my answer would have been different ten years ago than it is today. Ten years ago I would have told you that as long as a tree has a trunk that is at least 5-6 inches in diameter, it would be fine. And that's true ... for awhile. However, there was a small group of trees that size in one of our goat pastures, and after a few years, they started dying. Goats do love bark on any size tree, so it's just a matter of how quickly they will eat the bark all the way around the tree, which basically cuts off the tree's lifeline. In one of my earlier books I talked about how our goats killed several apple trees that were three years old. The trunks were not very big, so they stripped the bark all the way around the trunks one winter when they kept escaping their pasture. If you have lots of brush, the goats will go for that first, so your trees will probably be fine. This is why they are great for clearing brushy areas. Several years ago we had so many willow trees growing around our pond that it was turning into a real jungle, so we set up temporary fencing and let the goats in there. They immediately went for the young tender trees, and left the mature ones alone. Once they had cleared out the young ones, we took them out of there. So, basically you have to manage browse similarly to how you manage grass. Move the goats to a new area once the young, tender stuff has all been eaten.

 

Find out more in Deborah Niemann's newly revised Raising Goats Naturally.

 

 

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