You resolved to clear clutter, eat healthier and exercise more in the new year. Your goats might not need to gobble more greens or hop on the treadmill, but that doesn’t mean the members of your herd couldn’t use a few resolutions of their own.
Here are five new year’s resolutions to get your goats off to a great start in 2019.
1. Get Organized
Goats are more likely to eat a calendar than maintain one, so it’s up to you to schedule their vaccinations and other preventive health services. Your herd needs Clostridium perfringenstype C + D and tetanus (also known as CDT or CD&T). Talk to your vet about the optimal vaccination schedule but, as a general rule, adults should get annual boosters; does should be vaccinated 30 days before giving birth; and kids need shots at six weeks of age and a booster four weeks later. Your vet can also offer advice about vaccinating your herd for rabies.
It can be hard to track all of this information, especially for larger herds, so start the year off by writing all of the vaccination due dates in a calendar. Remember to include dates for regular worming. Hang the calendar in the barn, and you’ll never have to guess when their next preventive health medications are due.
2. Clear Clutter in the Barn
The last time our goats needed their hooves trimmed, I spent two days searching for the trimmers. Our haphazard organization system, which involves tossing all lead ropes, harnesses, collars, brushes, trimmers and other assorted goat-keeping paraphernalia in a sealed storage container in the barn—or, in the case of the hoof trimmers, setting them down in a random spot—had us spending more time looking for equipment than it would have taken to maintain the hooves of our little herd.
Start the new year with a new system in the barn. Toss out frayed halters and leads, check expiration dates on medications and supplements, and organize supplies so they are easy to find when you need them. You don’t want to be frantically untangling lead ropes when a goat escapes the pasture, trust me.
3. Teach Them a New Skill
Goats are not only curious, they’re smart. Teaching them new skills from the practical—how to walk on a leash or hike with a pack—to the adorable—shake a hoof or walk on their hind legs—can occupy their active minds and provide fun opportunities for you to bond with your goats.
Clicker training uses positive reinforcement to teach a range of skills. Stuff your pockets full of apples, carrots, raisins or other treats, head to a distraction-free zone (with one cooperative goat) and let the training begin.
4. Make Them Pretty
You might not enter your goats in a beauty pageant in 2019, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore their looks.
Regular hoof trimming helps goats maintain a normal gait; without “pedicures” their hooves grow too long, making it harder for goats to walk and, in severe cases, hurting their joints. There is no ideal hoof-trimming schedule: You’ll need to trim more often in damp conditions (such as snow and rain) and less often if goats have access to rougher terrain such as rocks for climbing or packed dirt. Check them regularly to ensure that the hooves aren’t overgrown and trim as needed.
Your goats should be brushed, too. Brushing with a hard-bristled brush (pictured at the top of this article) not only removes dandruff and debris (or, in the spring, helps goats shed the excess hair from their winter coats) it also gives you a chance to get hands on with your goat to check for lumps or other abnormalities on their bodies. As temperatures get warmer, consider clipping your goats. Annual clipping can help keep goats cool and also exposes their skin to sunlight, which helps kill lice.
5. Add Enrichment
Bored goats are destructive goats. Our goats spent a lot less time looking for opportunities to break through our fence when we added raised platforms and other climbing structures. A collection of stumps, cut up when a storm toppled a large tree in our yard, is their favorite spot for climbing.
Check Pinterest for options ranging from basic to elaborate. You could hang bells or balls, build a teeter-totter or turn pallets into jungle gyms. It might take some trial and error to figure out what your goats like. The hard-bristled brushes we mounted to a climbing structure for the goats to rub up against are never used, nor is the mini climbing structure we made from old tires. But the logs and a few raised platforms made from leftover wood are favorites.
Taking the time to set—and follow through on—a few new year’s resolutions for your herd ensures your goats are healthy and happy all year long.