Herd Management
"Happiness is a clean barn and coop"

Every Goat master does things differently :)

I haven't met two that do things exactly the same yet! With that in mind I have decided to write this page. It just outlines how I manage my herd and what  has worked for me so far. If...... for some reason it stops working, I will change it :)

Goats are very hardy adaptable creatures and keeping a herd healthy and happy can be  a never ending educational journey. Keene observation skills have proven themselves invaluable many times. A Goat master must know his/her goats, including insights into  their individual personalities and habits and know when one just seems a bit off and investigate the cause..



Goats appear to be very adaptable to almost any climate. But if given a choice, I know that they would choose to be "high and dry" Mine run for the barn if it even threatens rain. A three sided shelter is a must. That could be anything from a large dog house to a huge barn. When considering a shelter please keep two things in mind.

#1 Drainage......My barn and sheds are on tamped gravel foundations and covered with rubber dairy mats that provide ease in cleaning yet allow drainage.

#2 Ventilation.....Ammonia fumes are dangerous to a goats lungs. An airtight home would not be healthy. Windows or openings of some sort that are not reachable should be desired. Do yourself a favor and place a bunch of these in the buck house too :P

I currently have to lock up my little darlings at night because coyotes are a real threat here. Perhaps in the future as my herd grows I will have to invest in a guard dog.


I personally chose 52 inch combination cattle panels for my buck pens, indoor pens and outdoor small pens. In areas where small kids will be housed I use chicken wire to cover the bottom larger holes. I am happy with my choice :) Along with chain link gates this fencing has proven durable, goat proof and relatively easy to wire up on t-posts. I was able to put it up by myself with the one exception of cutting it. A concrete saw and someone brave enough to use it works wonderfully for this! For my larger pasture areas I have chose 2x4 field fencing and although not as durable it works very well for a large area. This spring I am adding catch pens at all the outer gates in order to make ease of entry ,usually with ones arms full, safer and easier.



Hay and Pasture: The largest portion and most important part of my goats diet is hay. I bought hay from five different sources before I was happy. Now that I have found what I was looking for, I buy it and carefully store a years worth at a time. My hay is an organic second cutting  orchard grass that I feed free choice. A huge thank you goes out to Jim, my hay guy for consistently producing such a high quality product.

Finally this year, and yes it took 5 years, my goats are on pasture during the growing season. Fencing is expensive and yes it took this long to get that much fenced. Nothing pleases me more than to see my herd moseying around out there at will. Just as God intended. :)

Grain: Every goat here, bucks and wethers included, gets a "small treat" of grain morning and night. By a small treat I mean less than a 1/4 cup, perhaps closer to an 1/8 cup. My grain mix consists of a balanced 2:1  16% dairy goat ration, black oil sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast with vitamins and microbials and a dash of ammonium chloride. Pregnant and lactating does of course will get more and I add alfalfa pellets to increase their calcium intake,, but I will be careful to up the amount slowly. By feeding grain I can easily add any supplements I deem necessary and nothing catches an escaped goat better than the sight of the red coffee can ;)

Browse: During the season, I give my goats fresh browse everyday. I feel lucky to be able to provide them with a fresh supply of honeysuckle, crabapple, box elder, linden, willow, mulberry and pine branches that they get on our walks or that I collect from the property. I am very careful to introduce a new variety slowly. In the winter months they get a treat of peanuts, banana Chips. apples, pears and/or grapes daily. I also have a half barrel full of parsley growing by the pen that I give out as a treat. I believe it is an excellent source of vitamin C and A.

Water: The well water here is very hard! I collect rainwater from my roofs for the goats. I know what it does to my coffee pot.....Its not a far stretch for me to imagine it clogging up my goats urinary tracts or messing with their copper absorption . I even melt snow in my barrels in the wintertime. Goats are picky when it comes to water. Buckets must be clean. My attitude is if I wouldn't drink it from the bucket I don't expect them to. All the full buckets get a slash of pasteurized organic apple cider vinegar too.

Supplements: A varying quality loose mineral mix, organic thorvin kelp (this stuff is great!) and baking soda as a rumen buffer are available to my goats at all times.

Worm Control :

 I am not fond of any using any drugs, however all goats must be wormed. I follow the Famacha system of checking membranes frequently and try to worm only when necessary. Each goat is only wormed on an individual basis. They are kept in a separate pen on worming day and are  wormed again in 10 days to take care of any newly hatched buggers. I feel this system is working really well so far .

External Parasites:

External parasites can be controlled with some wormers and dusting products.   For a more natural course of action, you may try DE (Diatomaceous Earth) both on the goats and in the barn. Vinegar may be applied topically also for use in control of lice; mineral oil will smother and kill ear mites. Nothing I have tried works better for flies than the old tried and true fly strips and a clean barn :)

Hoof Trimming :

The hooves on the goats must be trimmed. If they are not, they will cause the animals to walk improperly and lameness can result. This is best done on a milk stand. Tools needed are hoof trimmers and a hoof plane. The end result should look like the hooves of a kid. The bottom of the hoof has  surrounding walls which need to be trimmed flat to the bottom walking area of the hoof.  Use the trimmers to cut off a little at a time until the desired effect is achieved. Finish of  with the plane to create a flat walking surface. When pink is observed, stop to avoid any bleeding.  It is best not to trim the hooves of a pregnant doe during the last two months of her term. As goats sometimes have a tendency to kick when their rear hooves are being trimmed, this could cause her to abort.   After about a month of age, we check the bottoms of the kids' hooves.


Does will be generally allowed to reach their first birthdays here before being bred. I want them to be finished growing before they take on the vigors of kidding and lactation. All kids will be dam raised in a natural fashion, Although, many breeders practice CAE prevention by taking the kids from the mothers and feeding a commercial milk replacer---there is no equal to the antibodies contained in natural mother’s milk. These antibodies provide immunity protection to the newborn that cannot be duplicated. I feel that baby goats need to learn how to be goats. They need to learn herd structure. I have also found that dam raised kids eat hay and drink water just like their mothers within the first week. This is, unfortunately, a controversial subject, and many breeders will disagree with our practice. We have and will continue to test our herd,  Because our herd is  small, our babies are sure to receive plenty of human attention, helping to make them very friendly.

~This Page will always be Under Construction~

~ My Own Private Idaho Farm ~

Elizabeth Keene
Harvard, Illinois
NEW!!!    815-403-1739


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