Goats are seasonal breeders coming into heat in autumn with the declining daylight. Goats reach maturity at about 5-6 months old but well-reared milking-breed kids can show heat earlier (4 months) so they have to be watched to avoid too-early mating.
Some of you keep your goats for their milk, either for home supply or as part of your farming business, and some of you choose to keep your goats indoors for some or all of the time, either for milking or perhaps to protect them from rough weather or to help control worms.
Throughout their lives, goats are very susceptible to worms in their stomach and intestines. Big worm burdens cause ill-thrift, weight loss, diarrhoea and even anaemia and deaths.
Goats have no top teeth and instead have a hard dental pad that their bottom incisors bite against. You can estimate the age of goats by the age at which the milk teeth are replaced by permanent incisors. They get new ones in pairs working from the middle outwards.
Those of you who have goats will know they are not the hardy creatures many people think they are. They are fastidious eaters, they need good shelter, they are very susceptible to worms and Johne’s disease, their feet need trimming regularly, and the Angora-type goats that have continuously growing fleece must be shorn each year.
There are plenty of goat welfare issues. Footrot a major problem with goats and is difficult to cure once established. The answer for chronic cases is to cull them. Many goats now have internal parasites (worms) that are resistant to all drenches.
In parts of the North Island, barber's pole worms (Haemonchus contortus) have been the cause of a lot of goat ill-health this year, and many goat owners will have suffered losses as a result of this nasty parasite. In this article, we explain what the disease is, and how you can make sure you don't have problems with it in future.
Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, a tethered goat must be provided with adequate feed, water and shelter. A goat is not like a sheep and does not have a fat layer or wool to keep it warm.
The tethered goat causes more welfare complaints to MAF and SPCA inspectors than any other animal, and winter is the worst time for this neglect. People should remember that a goat is not a sheep!
Goats are a vastly greater challenge to handle than sheep. The first thing you’ll need to do is to heighten the yards to prevent jumping.
Do you think the easiest way to keep your verge tidy might be to get a goat? Don’t be fooled - it takes a lot of time and effort to look after a tethered goat properly.
Goats are a flocking species but they don’t flock as tightly as sheep. Feral goats are hard to muster as individuals (especially males) keep breaking back and prefer to escape rather than stick with the mob. Sheep stick with the mob for safety unlike goats who seem to more keen to take a chance on their own.
Not a lot is known about the requirements of goats for trace elements like iodine, selenium, copper and cobalt. The diet of goats on lifestyle blocks is restricted to what we offer them, and their diet is more likely to be deficient in some elements than a diet of natural browse. In that case, are lifestyle block goats at risk of deficiency diseases?
Goats that have chewed their way through the dry herbage at many gateways over the summer need as much holiday care as any other animal in the family or on the farm. People need to go and check their goat each day, over the holidays and ask someone to check the animal when they are away.
Very similar to sheep, they have a similar blind spot at rear – but they are more difficult to catch using this area as they are generally more alert than sheep.
In 2008 the drought in New Zealand was producing pasture with low nutritive values. This meant that supplementary feeding of goats may be necessary in some areas to maintain growth rates and milk production, meet the requirements of pregnant does or even just maintain the welfare of goats depending on the situation and use of goats.