Buying GoatsÖ.  A Few Things to Know
By Crystal Miller 

     I find goats for the small homestead to be a perfect animal.  When it is time to purchase a goat the first thing you need to think of is what your primary purpose for getting goats is.  Do you want them for pets, weed control, milk, meat?  What breeds appeal to you.  Go on-line and look at different breeds and see what makes the best sense for your homestead. If you want a pet or a weed eater for your property I would suggest a wether (a castrated male), and especially one that has been bottle fed.  A bottle fed goat will make the friendliest and tamest pet.  If you want a dairy goat you may want to consider buying one that has already been bred.  The most important thing to remember is that you must purchase at least 2 goats.  Goats are herd animals and must have companionship to survive. 

     After you figure out your purpose for a goat and your breed of goat it is time to go shopping.  If you have not had a lot of experience with buying goats you may wonder what you should look for when purchasing a new goat. 

     One of the first things to look at is general overall health of the goat.  You donít want to buy a sickly looking goat.  To avoid this you need to know some basics of what a healthy goat looks like.
~Eyes are clear and bright.  Avoid goats with teary or cloudy eyes.  This could be from an infection
~A coat that is smooth and shiny.  If the coast is dull this could be caused from parasites.  If the coat is ruffled up at all this could be a sign of a goat that is not feeling well.
~An appetite that is healthy.  They should be eating well.  A sick goat will refuse to eat anything.
~A perky attitude, not one where the head is drooped or the back is hunched up.  This could indicate the goat is not feeling well.
     Avoid goats with things like runny noses, coughs, any kind of wheezing or breathing difficulties. 
     Also avoid goats with diarrhea.  Their stools should be small round pellets (a.k.a. Nanny Berries on this homestead! :).

     The other thing I would recommend is that you buy a goat that is fairly tame.  I remember chasing my first goat all over the pen trying to catch it so I could attempt to trim hooves!  I donít suggest this to anyone!   Also please buy hornless goats only.  Goats with horns are a dangerous thing, especially with children around.

     The other thing you can ask about is CAE testing.  CAE is Caprine Arthritis and is very serious for a goat.  They usually have to be put down if they have it.  I personally donít do CAE testing, but you can ask or you can get the testing done yourself.  It may not be a real concern if you buy a goat that has been bottle fed pasteurized milk and you yourself plan to bottle feed future goats.  CAE is passed through the milk, and that includes the colostrum and if your milk is pasteurized, than you will avoid passing this on to the offspring of an infected goat.  You can find out through blood work whether or not the goat has CAE. 

     The last word of advice on your buying goats is to have fun!  Goat ownership is a learning adventure and a wonderful experience for the new or seasoned homesteader!

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