Raising Kid Goats
So you have decided to raise and care for a kid goat - congratulations.
They are one of the most playful, cute and intelligent pets and they will grow up to be loyal companions, like a dog. They can live for around 10 years.
Before you collect your pet, make sure you have it’s accommodation organised.
Your kid should spend his first week at least inside (depending on the weather) — maybe the laundry, cosy garage, barn or somewhere secure that is also dry, warm and sheltered. In these early days, they should not get wet or cold or they may die. Your kid goat will need several feeds a day at first — about 5 feeds a day for the first week and slowly drop them back to 3 feeds a day, depending on the family routine and common sense. You want your kid to be well fed to grow well.
You will need;
Your kid will enjoy picking at grass after the first couple of weeks - they also like meal and especially hay. Don’t forget, goats are BROWSERS, not GRAZERS — and are different from sheep in that they must have long grass not short. They are prone to internal worms and should be wormed at around 10 weeks and regularly after that. An oral sheep drench may be purchased from farming outlets or your vet can supply you with a single dose if you have just the one animal.
Their fast growing hooves should be trimmed every 6 weeks — remember they originally come from dry rocky countries where their hooves are kept naturally short. On soft pasture, we need to trim the excess growth — sharp garden secateurs are good or ask a farmer.
Never leave your kid alone with the family dog, whatever its size or breed. ‘Playing together’ may result in the kids death. Don’t let your kid wander into your flower or vege garden — some domestic plants are poisonous and very toxic to goats, eg potatoes, tomatoes, azaleas, rhododendrons, lillies, to name a few. Kids do not have their mother to show them what to avoid and if poisoned, they generally die. Further information can be found at your library.
Training a Kid Goat
You can start training your kid in the first week.
Put the little collar on and let him get used to the feel of it for a day or so. Then begin short lessons with the lead attached. Using lots of kindness and patience, help your kid to walk with you.
The kid goat walks on the child’s right, with its shoulder beside the child’s leg. Start by gently pushing his bottom forward and walking forward at the same time — use a simple command such as ‘walk on’ and be consistent with this.
Kids are intelligent and will quickly work out what you are trying to do. Mum or Dad can give you a hand here while you get started together. As he walks beside you later, lead him over small logs on the ground and around other obstacles.
As “calling” is an important part of the judging, preparation for this can start as soon as you get your pet. Every time you feed your kid goat, you should call their name. They will soon respond to this and by the time you get to the ring, they should run up to you when you call thinking that you will have the bottle ready.
Do not let anyone else in your family call and feed your kid (except for Mum and Dad who may have to feed the baby at lunchtime while you are at school).
Wait until the lamb is at least a few weeks old before you start to train. Some lambs never adjust to being led, and will vigorously object to this process. Have patience and take it gently - it is easy to damage their fragile little necks by dragging it along! If the lamb has been confined to a small pen during the day they will often enjoy a walk outside before afternoon feed time. Start them off by getting them used to wearing their collar, then introduce the lead. Learn to walk on a pathway or driveway (with sides to the path) , not across an open space. Teach the pet to walk with you at your pace - a trick with this can be to feed them a favourite treat as you walk. Some lambs are particularly partial to raisins, bread or sliced apple, or Dairy ration or similar.
Judging on Ag day
The judge will speak to each child to find out how much they know about their kid goat.
The judge will generally be looking for a good bond between the child and the kid goat throughout the judging.
They will specifically look at;
Leading - You will be required to lead your kid goat around a set course. You are judged on how you perform as a team. Your pet should walk freely alongside you, not in front or behind you.
Calling - The child is placed at one end of an enclosure - a Judge’s steward will take the kid goat to the other end; when the child calls, the pet is released.
The judge is looking for the kid goat to dash straight to its owner. The children should use a loud calling voice. It will be penalised if it dashes past the owner, or into the crowd to find “mum”, or if it saunters off in another direction. A well trained lamb will recognise a familiar voice and in most circumstances will respond - especially if they’re hungry - so don’t overfeed it before “calling”. Give it a drink after judging is over.
Class and rearing - The judge will ask you questions about your kid, its breed, how you have fed and cared for it and what you know about its fleece, etc. The judge will also compare your kid to the others in the class to see who has the most healthy and well-cared for kid.
Remember NEVER shampoo or brush your goat. Apart from being contrary to the rules of Agricultural Day, it destroys the lanolin in the wool and leaves the animal susceptible to chills that are fatal.