On with the questions and answers...
Lilly asked: "We are considering getting goats. What do they need in the way of shelter/protection from predators? Any particular breeds you would recommend? We just want them for pets although the topic of goat's milk comes up quite often. Any info that you think would be helpful would be greatly appreciated."
We keep two breeds of goats here on the farm.
and Nigerian Dwarf goats...
You might think that dwarf goats would be small, but actually they are the same size as the fainting goats.
Their legs are just a little bit shorter.
Nigerian Dwarf goats make good dairy goats, if you are so inclined.
When we started, we bought two pregnant Nigerian Dwarfs.
We could have milked our goats while they were lactating after giving birth,
however, having to commit to twice daily milking was something we were not ready to undertake at the time.
And since we have not bred these gals again,
we have not had the opportunity to try milking.
Nigerian goats make great pets.
Like any goat, though, socialization from a very early age is imperative.
The more kids are handled, the more tolerant and less shy they become.
Our other herd, the fainting goats, make wonderful pets.
They are gentle and very easy to manage.
Their condition, myotonia, causes their muscles to stiffen whenever they are scared, or emotional...
thus making them extremely easy to catch.
Our goats live in two separate enclosures.
The Nigerians' enclosure is one of "no climb" wire on a wooden frame.
The fainters are in a four-board wooden fence-enclosed-pasture.
We have had no problems with predators and our adult goats.
When we were breeding, we kept our kids in a wire mesh enclosed yard
We do have coyotes in our area, so extra precaution must be taken with baby goats.
Very often two goats (usually mother and grown child) will inhabit one house.
They don't seem to mind being cramped.
In fact, crowding helps keep them warm in the winter.
We give them adequate hay to help insulate them in their houses during the wintertime.
Liberal amounts of hay, warm (unfrozen) water, and pelleted feed are all that the goats
need for nutrition.
If they have a large enough pasture area, they will graze.
However, goats are very picky about not grazing near their manure ("goat berries").
They especially love nibbling on brush...
so a pasture that includes some wooded area is heaven to goats.
If you are considering having a couple of goats as farm pets and do not want to breed,
I would suggest females.
Male goats have a tendency toward getting calculi (kidney stones) that can cause
Quite often, the end result of these blockages can be Euthanasia.
As for grooming and maintenance,
your goats will need to have their hooves trimmed on a regular basis.
This is not difficult...
it just usually requires more than one person and lots of Ritz crackers!
Goats are a gentle, friendly addition to any farm.
They are especially good pets to be around children,
as they have teeth only on the bottom in the front (not on the top)
and as such cannot "nip" little fingers as they feed them treats.
As for breeds, there are many different goat breeds and many different sizes of goat.
If you are thinking of adding goats to your farm,
I suggest reading about each breed and their size and activity level so as to pick the appropriate breed for your needs.
It is of utmost importance, however, that you have more than just one goat.
Goats are social animals and need companionship.
(Like all animals!)