Goats in the Garden-March 2013

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As I write this I am looking out over a water logged garden watching three miserable goats sheltering from the rain in their shed. The snow has gone, for which we are thankful, but at least that was pretty to look at.

I am pleased my goats are not due to kid until the first week in March, when I am hoping for some respite from this awful weather. I have often kidded earlier in the year but a difficult kidding at 2am in the freezing cold is not good. At least if the weather is milder the kids will be able to enjoy getting out sooner.


I have recently been asked about worming. Worms are contracted through grazing on fouled grass, if you have zero grazing then your goats are unlikely to get worms. I have mostly paving in my goat run but there is a small grassed area on which my goats graze, so it is therefore necessary for me to worm my goats. You may have already discovered that there are virtually no products developed especially for goats and I am afraid wormers  are no exception. I use Panacur for sheep, 2.5 percent oral suspension, unfortunately it is only available in one litre containers which is far too much for my needs, and most of yours I suspect. You may be able to get together with other goat keepers and share but a better idea is asking the person from whom you bought your goats if they would kindly supply you with some. I give my goats 5ml twice a year, in spring and autumn, if the females are pregnant I then give a dose a couple of weeks before they are due to kid.

It is wise to always keep an eye on your goats and if you think they are losing condition and are looking thin then they may need worming.

It is probably too late in the year for this information to be useful to anyone kidding for the first time but it may be of help for the future. I vaccinate my pregnant females against enterotoxaemia, tetanus and pulpy kidney four to six weeks before they are due to kid. I use Lambivac, which once again is for sheep and not for goats as there is no vaccine for goats. This will give the kids protection for the first weeks of their lives and they are then vaccinated at twelve weeks. Advice on vaccination can be obtained from your vet.


I appreciate that most of you will be aware of this information, however new members join all the time and from the emails I receive it is clear that this sort of information would be useful to them.

Almost thirty years ago w
hen I moved to my present home it was not with the intention of keeping pygmy goats, in fact at that time I had never even heard of them. My first two kids were housed in a pen built at the back of the garage with an access door into the garden. Each morning I would lead them down the garden to a grassed, fenced area with a shelter. I used chain link fencing which was a mistake, as pretty soon it began to sag and I had to try and support it with pieces of wood. The little rascals also pushed against the fence and squeezed under it so I had to fix more wood all along the fence at the bottom. You can probably see where this is going. What had started off as a reasonably smart garden was beginning to look like a gypsy encampment and my long suffering husband was wondering where it was all going to end. I must admit it did look awful as I had to utilise anything I could find to make their run secure. Eventually when it was apparent the goats were here to stay their area was enlarged and a concrete base was laid on which a 16' x 8' shed was erected. To make their home more acceptable to my husband a post and rail fence was erected with chain link fencing and I must admit that this has stood the test of time. Over the years bits have been added, a mini stable block and a separate area for visiting boyfriends. However, if I could go back to when I first decided I wanted goats then I would have done things differently. For one thing I would have made sure the paving sloped in the right direction, a major problem when the rain comes, and if I had realised two goats would not be enough my housing would be less Heath Robinson.  The original large shed is looking very sorry for itself, a new roof and new doors have done little to improve its appearance and with every storm I wonder if it will be its last.


Best wishes


Viv McNeil