Keeping Goats

Goats are not hugely popular amongst smallholders, as they have a reputation for destroying everything in sight and then escaping. Indeed, there is an old Arab saying: “Let he who is without problems get a goat”.
Goat fans however will tell you that they are intelligent, friendly and entertaining, so maybe we should give them further consideration.
Goats are generally kept for their meat, milk, skins, for controlling bush encroachment and for ceremonial purposes.
Goats are bought by people who do not have means of refrigerating meat. Because goats are small it is easy to prepare and consume an entire carcass.
Goat’s milk is very nutritious, more digestible than cow’s milk and it is often used for children who are allergic to cow’s milk. Goat’s milk can be used for making cheese or yoghurt.
Even in the old days goats’ milk was a recognised as being good in the treatment of digestive problems in the elderly and in children, especially in the case of ulcers in adults and allergies in children.
When you start considering keeping goats, be sure to plan on getting more than one – goats are herd animals and need the company of their own kind.
Secure fencing is a must, to a height of at least 1.2 m. Young or valuable trees need to be protected from goats, using a trangualr guard made of wooden stakes and strong wire fencing. Also make sure they are not able to reach the lower branches as they can break them when they place their feet up on them.
In terms of housing, goats can cope with cold, but they do not like wet or draughty conditions. Check the shed for any sharp edges that might cause injury. In order to keep the goats in, do not put them in a wooden structure, as they can chew their way out. The ideal is walls built of blocks. They will quickly learn how to open latches or bolts, so the door needs to be locked from the outside. They should have sufficient space to feed without having to push one another out of the way. Place water troughs where they can’t be contaminated by droppings. Dry bedding needs to be changed regularly, as damp floors can harbour bacteria that can contribute to foot rot.
Indigenous goat breeds: Nguni Type (Mbuzi), Eastern Cape Xhosa Lop-ear, Northern Cape Speckled, The Northern Cape Speckled and the Kunene (Kaokoland). The Tankwa goat, a feral goat found in the Tankwa Karoo National Park is in the process of being registered as a new breed by the Department of Agriculture. The Boer, Savanna and Kalahari Red goat were developed by crossing introduced breeds with local goats. Other goat breeds include Saanen, Toggenburg and Alpine.

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