King of the Hill -- for now.
Crystal is using the sure footed Chocolate as leverage to reach the top of the mountain.
|Climbing Toys: We ask your goats to go everywhere with us. And we will traverse anything short of a cliff. This type of toy, helps them with their climbing, surefootedness, jumping, and balance. So we built a "mountain" for them, and added hopping "rocks" of wood. (We used scrap wood and old tree trunks for building material. The logs wobble a little, intentionally) One goat is always on the mountain, usually two. And "King of the Hill" is a daily game in our pasture. But when the two legged kids join in, they always win, as our entire herd would not dream of butting them, and if you can't use your head, you can't win.||
Enjoying the Sun
PACK & TRAIL SPECIFIC TRAINING
As a rule, goats don't need lengthy training sessions. They are generally accepting of the whole training process and not likely to object to the saddle and other equipment. Goats are already agile, if raised in a pasture environment and have things like rocks or spools to jump and climb on.
One area that takes time is Leading and Tying---The best way to teach a goat to lead is to teach him to tie well. This can be started when the goat is 3 weeks old by tying him while you working in the barn. Tie him at about 12" with a wide flat nylon or leather collar. This can be done daily for about 3 weeks. A goat who is tied this way and learns to give to the pressure will lead well forever. Don't leave the goat unattended when tied, ever. They need to be rescued occasionally. Also, don't tie him where he can jump onto something and off the other side. This will hang your goat!
If you start training with an older goat, you can use a goat halter to teach him to lead. Leading by the head is recommended for goats who don't give well to pressure, and makes them much easier to handle.
The basics for leading are just like dog obedience, except I teach mine to follow me, rather than lead in the heeling position. Most packers (including us) let the goats go on the trail with no lead, but it's necessary sometimes to be able to lead them; around lots of people, on dangerous roads, and some areas do require leads on pack stock. Once your animal leads well, you can pack string them more easily.
In their 4th year they are ready to pack. And if taught manners this is easy. Let them smell and see the saddle first. While talking normally to them, set it on their shoulder and slide to place on back. They may small it again. Some may move a little. The may ignore it. Fit the saddle to the goat and label for that goat. (repeat sizing as needed as goat ages. Each goat should have their own saddle) Strap down and walk them a bit with just the saddle. Do this several times during the day.
Next day, let them wear it all day. (watched by you as accidents can happen. A goat should never wear a saddle unattended).
The third day introduce the panniers. This may be "exciting". This is usually where you may spook the goat. The noise of rubbing or the shifting of load is usually the issue, not he pannier itself. Remember to allow smelling of the panniers before adding them to the saddle. They might ignore them in the pasture and freak on their first walk in the brush. There first walk with panniers should always by on a leash. Always remain calm yourself and when the "excitement" is over lavish approval on the goat. Remember to lavish approval on the ones that do not freak out too. Continue the walk even after the goat has settled down. Gradually add weight -5 to 10 pounds each outing- to the pack on each successive walk up to the maximum of 1/3 their total weight. 1/4 ratio is better for actual hiking conditions. Once trained your goat is ready to be your hiking companion for years to come.
You should never just saddle up a goat. Like humans they should be in good physical shape before attempting strenuous exercise. Packing is an exercise for goats.
Odds and Ends
|We have two goat watering systems. One is off the local irrigation system and automatic from Mid March through the end of September. The other is lug and carry (Two 5 gal. buckets) from the house in the winter. We have an electric water heater in the water so we no longer have to break the ice two or three times a day in the winter. (water temp about 35-40 degrees) We also have goldfish in the tank to keep down the algae. Not the salt blocks and loose mineral salt on either side of picture.(Right > )|
|After increases to the herd and major competition and shoving
of the human at the communal feeders we have moved to individual feeders
on the outside of the fence. We feed from outside and only one goat can
eat at each feeder; we have one for each goat in our herd. This system
also cuts down on the “waste” since goats (as a rule with exceptions) will
not eat hay that has fallen to the ground. We have also covered the feeder
tops to minimize the amount of snow that gets into them in our winters.
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