Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Handling goats  (Read 34 times)

Festus

  • Joined Jan 2019
Handling goats
« on: June 17, 2021, 01:40:18 pm »
Iíve always had a lot of good advice on this forum so Iím hoping you can help me again.  Six of my eight goats are docile, affectionate and easy to handle but two of them, half sisters who came together, are very timid and one in particular will not let me anywhere near her.  She will not stay in the shed when I enter and has been known to scramble over the door to get away so I canít sit with her to get her used to me and she wonít be enticed by food.  I obviously need to handle her to do her feet,  vaccinate, worm etc., especially now as she needs some antibiotics.  In the past Iíve pinned her in the corner of the shed with a hurdle but this makes it difficult to administer to her and Iím sure just exacerbates the situation by heightening her fear.  Has anyone any advice about how to handle her safely and non-threateningly?  Iíve even thought of using a sheep race which is only slightly better than a hurdle in the corner.  Has anyone had a similar experience and, if so, how did you cope?

Scarlet.Dragon

  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Handling goats
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2021, 05:26:15 pm »
I have Bagots... for those of you who don't know what Bagots are, think of a cross between a Springbok and Zebedee but in Black and White and pretending to be goats... with horns, BIG horns!!! 

I run the place on my own, so all vaccinations, hoof trimmings, etc are a one-person job.  Never let it be said I'm not up for a challenge... I can also empathise with your situation in terms of them scrambling over doors to get away and not seeking company.

I took on a variety when I started out, only my buck was "well handled", although one female had come from a petting zoo so whilst she would run rings around me on a regular basis, when I did get hold of her she would settle quickly.  Another had a traumatic background and I got her on the first bid at the mart because no one else wanted her having seen how viciously she was attacking anything that came in range in the pens before hand and in the sale ring... and I mean human, animal, other goats, and kids!!!  It took her almost 3 weeks to stop physically shaking when she saw me.  Now, she's the sweetest nature and trusts me enough to handle her easily providing we stick to a routine she understands.  The rest of them were somewhere in the range of wild animals.

So, my method, which may or may not work for you is as follows:
- I feed my animals twice a day every day.  Doesn't have to be much but they all have their own bucket and space to eat it.
- I feed them in pecking order which saves there being fights as to who eats where or chasing around.
- I've taught them that they get tied up to eat.  I use a long lead (long dog lead or horse lead rope) and a head collar for this, so they can't move away from their 'station' or bully anyone else out of their bucket if they finish first.   This took time and I didn't start it immediately with the feeding but only after my numbers built up a bit; with hindsight it would have been easier from day 1.  Start by teaching the ones that you can handle that this is the routine and leave the difficult ones loose.  Once you can easily catch and tie the 'good' ones, then start on the others.  NEVER let them get away with not being tied up once you start.... they want their bucket, they know where they go for it, they know the order that everyone gets tied up, they want their bucket, they cooperate.  No one gets fed until everyone's in place.
- Don't do anything nasty to them when teaching them about being tied up.  This could be tricky for you if you need to give regular ABs at the moment as you have to prioritise health over handling.  Do you have an enclosed pen/stable or shed that you can use to keep her until she's well?
- Don't do anything nasty to them at their feed station.  Let them eat and release them.  IF you need to do something other than the normal, instead of releasing them at the end of their dinner, lead them somewhere else for treatment.  If 9/10 they eat and get released, the 10th time is tolerated... try not to reverse the statistics or they'll get difficult to catch.

When you start training them to catch and tie up, always have 'sweeties' in your pocket.  You catch, you tie, up they get a sweetie, you leave them to catch the next one (repeat).  Once everyone's caught and tied, everyone gets dinner.  It doesn't take them long to learn the routine and you'll find the "next in line" will turn up to her station ready for her halter and sweetie.

Try to figure out where she may enjoy being scratched/tickled or brushed.  Don't overdo it, but every day before you release her, just spend a minute to do something that reinforces that human touch is pleasant not threatening.

If you need to restrain more than just the head (e.g. sometimes I need to milk out a maiden etc), tie the head short and high standing against a wall.  Tie the back leg on the "open" side above the hock joint at a comfortable but high position.  It reduces their ability to lunge and thrash.  You can use your body alongside theirs as a blocker.

A sheep race may or may not work - goats tend to climb the bars like a ladder - vertical gates are better than horizontal for goats... and it needs to be high enough to stop them bouncing over the top.

The Goat Vet Society had an online conference earlier this week where handling facilities were covered... some excellent videos showing set up and explaining what and why.  The sessions are available to all members of the GVS on their website and I'd highly recommend watching them.  It only costs about £35 to join and there's really good quality information - you only get voting rights if you're qualified but otherwise you get the same information as the vets.

Hope this helps!
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