My goats, cows and horses seem to be getting shocked when drinking from the water trough and will only lick at the water.
Tongue shocking while drinking is a very common occurrence. Livestock water troughs with tank heaters or troughs situated close to your electric fence are the most common scenarios. Both of these problems are fairly easy to fix.
It might be that you animals are being shocked with "stray voltage". Cows, horses and goats specifically, are very acute to electric shock or even if there is electricity flowing down a wire, before they ever touch it. Electric Fencing First of all, electric fencing is used to keep animals away from stuff. I would say in all instances that it would not be anyone's intention to keep your animals away from the water trough. The best solution for stray voltage from your electric fence is to move your water trough completely away from the electric fencing. If that is not possible, install a ground rod near the water trough in a place that is most often wet. You will need to attach a ground wire to the rod you pounded in the ground (soil) and attach the other end of the wire to the ground post on your electric fence energizer. this should take care of your "stray voltage" from the electrical fence. Tank Heater Tank
heaters almost never short out while under the water. If this were to
happen, the breaker would most certainly trip and cut the power almost
immediately. What does happen fairly often is that "stray voltage" is
carried through the ground wire and into the trough,
as the animal drinks, the circuit is completed and a slight shock
occurs at the tongue. Purchase a 3-pronk to 2-prong adapter from any
hardware store. Plug the tank heater into the adapter and the adapter
into the electric source. Pound a ground rod into the soil close to the
plug. Firmly attach a ground wire to the ground rod and the other end to
the eyelet on the adapter. There you have it, you have stopped the
"stray voltage" and provided a great ground for your tank heater.
You can find a whole bunch of reading when it
comes to diet and feed ration for goats. The advise that you are about to get
is conservative and the result of “lessons learned” from common mistakes made by others
in the past.
Don’t feed your pregnant doe too much grain!
Too much grain can cause an acidic
condition in the goat’s rumen called acidosis.
Too much grain during
the first 100 days of gestation can result in kids that are too large-boned to
Mature does should get about 1 pound of grain each
One pound of grain each day is for a
A 200-pound goat should get 2 pounds of
Pregnant does, in the last 50 days of gestation
should get about one and a half pounds of grain each day.
1.5 pound of grain each day is for a
100-pound pregnant goat.
A 200-pound pregnant goat should get 3
pounds of grain daily.
When making changes to a goat’s diet, do it very
Any change in feeding amounts or
practices should take a full week of gradual daily changes.
To keep all of my goats, horses, rabbits and chickens happy here in Palmer,
Alaska, I keep 6 livestock water tanks heated during our long winters. I used to just trash my old tank heaters when they started to look crusty and began to loose heating power. Now I recondition them.
1. Mineral deposits that build on the heating elements are alkaline in nature and need a good soaking in a solution that is acidic. Vinegar, lemon or lime juice are all mild acids and can be used.
2. After removing the wire mount from the heating unit, place it in a container with the vinegar, and lemon/lime solution. Do not use water. This should soak for 12 hours or more.
I can remember as a kid proudly bringing in the half full
milk pail to my mom every evening after milking my goats. The milk always had
hair in it, most often it would also have floaters, you know, pieces of
whatever fell off the body of the goat down into the milk and always, the goat
would stick her hoof in the bucket at least once, often, 3 or 4 times. Now I
don’t know about you, but we never washed our goat’s hooves before
milking.The hoof is the area where
large amounts of pooh collect and just one good kick and dip in the milk bucket
would get that goats hoof clean as a whistle. I would bring the milk bucket to
mom and apologize about the ‘stuff” in the milk, she would always say, “Mikey,
don’t worry about it, it’ll all come out when I strain the milk”.
Mom would get a piece of torn-off old sheet (clean but old)
and place it over the mouth of a gallon mason jar. A big special rubber band
around the mouth would hold the cloth in place. With a steady hand she would
then pour the milk from my milk bucket down into the gallon jar. At the end of
the process there would always be pieces of stuff that got strained from the
milk. I thought that was just fine and drank goat milked strained through a bed
sheet for 10 years. I didn’t kill me but heaven only knows what that milked
contained after those floaters soaked in the milk bucket and became a part of
Closed milking systems keep out the stuff
A closed milking system that would protect the fresh clean
milk from dirt and hair was not the main reason I invented the Henry Milker but it was certainly the second
place reason. After cleaning the udder and teats with a pre-milking wipe, you
just hook up the teat cups and watch the milk flow into a fresh clean mason
jar, just like mom used to strain the milk into when I was a youngster. With
the Henry Milking system you will never have to worry about hooves in the
bucket, dirt and hair in the milk and you’ll never again have to strain your
Quick chilling of milk
Goat milk needs to be chilled as soon as possible after
leaving the goat’s teat. Goat milk contains active enzymes that will quickly
multiply and if allowed to multiply too long will cause a reaction that often
gives goat milk that off taste that so often leaves rookie goat milk drinkers
Chilling the milk will slow the enzyme growth process and
freezing the milk will completely stop it. As I milk each day with my Henry
Milker, I fill one-quart jar, unscrew, place on a regular lid, and sit it in a
small ice bag. Once I have filled each of
the quart jars and have finished my milking chores, I place each of the filled,
chilled jars directly into the freezer. You want to make sure your jars are
“freeze approved” (Henry Milkers come complete with 2 freezer approved jars). I
have the best tasting goat milk around because of my closed milking system,
special feed rations and instant chill/freeze procedures for milk.
I get lots of mail asking whether people can raise goats in the city limits. You've probably seen the big movement to get cities to allow people to raise chickens in their backyards, and its been pretty successful. As far as goats are concerned; if you're thinking about having your own little city goats, find out if its allowed. You can check out Municode. It's a great website that lists lots of city ordinances. If you live in a county, outside city limits, you'll have to call your county extension to get details on all the legalities.
If your city doesn't allow city goats, you can get a campaign going like they did in Denver, Kansas and others. There's a fabulous site that anyone considering raising urban goats should visit! It's called Goat Justice League and it was put together by a fabulous stay-at-home mom, Jennie Grant, who wanted to provide her family with whole foods and the joy of growing up on a farm. She has lots of tips on raising goats in the city and how to legalize goats in the city. Jennie was responsible for starting the movement in Seattle that helped legalize goats there.
Heidi Kooy in San Francisco fights for everything good and is raising goats on the Itty Bitty Farm in the City. Her blog is a must read.
Once you've determined you can have goats, there are a few things to consider. Yes, it is the biggest joy in the whole world to witness the birth of baby goats, bring fresh milk to your home twice each day and enjoy the benefits of your EXTREMELY entertaining goat family; but goats ARE livestock so you need to be sure you are READY for your goats before you rush out to buy them!
Goats are herd animals and so you must have at least two goats. It's completely stressful for a goat to be alone. Your lonely goat is liable to eat her way through the fence and into your neighbor's yard creating a playground in their new landscaping, or decide their new porch furniture makes a fantastic rock climbing gym... so be prepared to have two, adorable goats.
Goats are going to be a lot of work. You've got to milk them each morning and evening. It doesn't take a lot of time, but you can't miss a milking. It's painful for your goats and can cause health issues. The Henry Milker 2 allows you to milk your goats in no time without electricity and with your goat in perfect comfort, all while you enjoy your morning coffee!
You can make goat cheese, goat soap and all kinds of fabulous goat milk products. But you MUST, I CAN'T STRESS THIS ENOUGH, be committed to milking your goats twice a day at the same time each day. You'll need a milking stand, and they're easy, easy to build!
Goats also EAT A LOT! and they'll feast on your bushes and garden if given the chance... so you have to be sure your goats have a "goat-proof" living space so they don't escape to turn your backyard into a smorgasbord. We'll talk about the space in a minute. As far as the food, they'll need bales of hay or alfalfa pellets and high protein grain for your lactating females. We also keep a mineral brick that is made especially for goats that has copper in it (don't get one made for both sheep and goats because sheep cannot have copper so this brick is pretty useless for your goats).
You can also feed your goats veggie scraps and greens--they love that! They also Love BlackBerry bushes and other bush leaves (make sure they are goat compatible before you feed your goats just any bush branches). They won't eat branches, but they eat the leaves. Goats also like to eat out of a feeder that is up high.
They do not like to eat anything off of the ground! If you have a feed store nearby, you can get your supplies there and the staff is usually pretty helpful in helping you get started. Depending on where you live it can cost you between $75 and $150 a month to feed your two goats. Don't forget fresh water! Your goats need fresh water available to them at all times.
One of the most important aspects of raising your city goats, is the enclosure. Most cities have codes about how close the goat dwelling can be to yours and your neighbor's house. Find out your city or county requirements. You should keep a miniature breed in the city as they require less space. These breeds need at least a 4 foot tall fence. You can use wood, but goats will gnaw on it and you might have to replace pieces every couple of years. Some people use electric fencing, but remember, different cities and counties have different rules about that, so be sure you check. The thing to remember is that your little goat friends are breakout artists... they can squeeze through a gap that's just 4 inches wide!
Plus, if you were thinking of using a wire-type fence, your little rascals will reserve time each day to lean on that top part of the fence, squish it, and dent it until they can "make an escape" over the top or under the bottom... they're quite industrious!!!
So be sure to build your fence without gaps and with strong, sturdy components (especially lining the top and bottom) or you may find yourself chasing your little darlings down the street in your bathrobe. Keeping it clean is important. You should compost manure in a tumbler and use enzymatic products (available at your feed store or contact your local ag extension) to keep down the smell of urine. Keeping your goat area clean will also control flies and any vermin friends that want to take up residence in your new goat enclosure.
Goats also need shelter from the elements! Depending on where you live and the type of temperature and climate extremes, you can use Dog Igloos . You can also build draft free structures and line with straw or wood shavings for easier clean up. We also have installed a little "covered-porch" area off our enclosure with wood shavings so that our goats have a place to get out of the rain or snow without having to go inside their "house."
Goats will also need some routine medical care and maintenance. Hooves should be trimmed about every six weeks; deworming twice a year; and a once a year tetanus shot. Proper grooming is a must for a healthy goat.
Your goats need to give birth in order to produce milk. We recommend taking your two female goats for a romantic visit to someone who will provide a buck for the occasion. It is important you you learn the "signs" of when your doe is in heat.
Goats will produce milk after giving birth for about 10 months and then it's time for the process to begin again. Since your goats need to keep giving birth for milk production, it's a good idea to find out if there are goat farms in the area that would be willing to purchase your new babies once they are weaned.
I don't recommend keeping bucks for several reasons. Bucks have a pretty pungent smell (and that's putting it nicely). And bucks need to be dehorned. Bucks can also be ornery and confrontational. Given the limited space in an Urban environment, it's better to just VISIT bucks occasionally than to keep one.
We are always happy to answer your specific questions about how to start your urban goat family and would love to hear from anyone who is already having a great time enjoying their goats in the city! Send us your pictures too! Love to share them on the blog!