Where Can I Buy or Rent Goats?
August 18, 2009 7:42 PM   Subscribe

I want to rent or buy goats in Gwinnett county, Georgia, to clear a brushy, ivy-covered half-acre lot (away from the house).

I'm a pi degree black belt in Google-fu but can't come up with nothin'!!! You'd think in my area it would be easier than falling off a lawg. But I own no livestock and never had a goat, so I don't know where to look. Found none on Craigslist. It's kindof embarrassing at this point...I need goats and don't know where to buy (or maybe just rent) them!

Several goat houses and a 4.5 - 5' fence are already in place. Also, can you chain them to a tree and just check daily to see if they tangled themselves up? For my unfenced areas, I mean.

From what I read the rest sounds simple enough...food and water daily, trim hooves every 8 weeks, shots annually, provide shelter, check for ticks and lice...any other big things to know before taking the plunge? I take pretty good care of my cats, never had one die prematurely anyway, and they don't contribute a damn thing. My kids seem healthy, happy, intelligent, and ethical too, fwiw.

Any other insight you have like, get a baby goat, or I'll need at least two goats or, one breed is better than another for this purpose or, don't buy such-and-such a breed unless my fence is eight feet high or, for the love of Cthulhu don't buy a goat you suburban idiot, you can't even keep algae out of the pool, would be appreciated.
posted by rahnefan to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Never leave your goats tied up in an unfenced area. They'll wind up as dog food and that's not a pretty way to die.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:45 PM on August 18, 2009

Yikes. Thanks, buggzzee23. Good to know.
posted by rahnefan at 7:48 PM on August 18, 2009

p.s. goats love to wander around and eat a little here and a little there. Chaining them up would be a terrible existence for them. They're social animals and are happier in groups than all alone. Babies are great if you have time to bottle feed them and bottle fed goats are friendlier to humans.

I lost a goat to this and have vaccinated my herd ever since. Be sure to fence off any area where there is anything at all that could (by any stretch of the imagination) be damaged by the goats. They love to chew on everything . Even telephone cable.
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:54 PM on August 18, 2009

and the pull rope on a lawn mower
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:55 PM on August 18, 2009

I don't know anything about goats other than they are very incongruous on a university campus, but I did just read Goat Song by Brad Kessler and he talks about running a small goat farm and dairy in Vermont. He mentions some titles which may be useful for you.

Have you tried the Gwinnett County extension office or 4H? Somebody might be willing to lend you a couple goats for free roughage or a small fee.
posted by calistasm at 7:57 PM on August 18, 2009

Doggone. Do the vets give you shots to take home, or do they come to your home to vaccinate the herd?
posted by rahnefan at 8:00 PM on August 18, 2009

Yeah, I would definitely call up Extension or 4H. Most of the small farmers/breeders out there don't have a web presence, but every Extension office I've ever talked to knows what's going ON in local agriculture!
posted by Knicke at 8:07 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

Goaters who are into the dairy will not be interested. What the goats eat will have a big effect on the milk they produce. I don't know why any goater would be interested.
posted by yesster at 8:09 PM on August 18, 2009

Not all vets will see your goats since they are a farm animal and the vast majority of vets only see traditional pets, so you might want to call around and see if any vets in your area care for goats. I learned to vaccinate animals in FFA when I was a kid and do it myself after a visit to the local feed store for the vaccine.

You might find this to be a valuable resource. You can browse the archives after signing up. Goats are wonderful animals to have around but do require care and can become a major nuisance if left to their own devices. They live a long time so be sure you know what you're in for before you make the jump.
posted by buggzzee23 at 8:11 PM on August 18, 2009

Given the milk issue...maybe what you're looking for a flock of sheep instead, if you'd prefer to rent. I have heard of sheep being rented out for the exact same purpose.
posted by Knicke at 8:14 PM on August 18, 2009

Goats have been used to remove Kudzu elsewhere in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Florida; a little Google action will give you some names. Speaking of Google, the company is using rental goats to landscape the Googleplex relying on a firm called California Grazing.

The Georgia Dairy Goat Breeders Association invites people to contact its Officers with any questions; perhaps they know someone or, for $10, you can join and contact members yourself. And here is an article about a North Carolina rent-a-goat operation; again, they may know someone in Georgia.
posted by carmicha at 8:38 PM on August 18, 2009

My dad has goats in a few counties away that he may be willing to rent out. Send me a mefimail if you are interested. If you prefer to buy (and I think you should, goats are great), the best source for all things agricultural in Georgia is the Farmers and Consumers Market Bulletin, published by the Georgia Department of Agriculture. I believe they still publish a free weekly printed version as well, it was a staple of my childhood and I highly recommend getting a subscription.

Here is a direct link to the goat and sheep section of the most recent issue.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:48 PM on August 18, 2009

On your other questions -- you will need to get more than one, goats are social creatures. Don't buy an adult billy, they pee on their face and then try to head-but you. If you buy a young male you can castrate it yourself, preferably with the help of your young children (thanks Dad, but that was one bonding experiences I could have done without). This stops the face peeing and gives your children interesting stories to tell the Internet years later.

Sheep eat grass, goats eat weeds. In most of the world the goats and sheep look very similar, except sheep have gross beaver tails (unless you cut them off, a task best delegated to some unfortunate child). If you are going to tie a goat up it is better to tie the rope to one of their front legs. If you raise them with a lot of human contact you can take your goats for a walk and they will follow along without need for a rope.

Dogs are goat killers. It is a very rare dog that won't try and kill a goat, given enough time and opportunity. As a young child I was dragged through a stream and over rocks as I hung on to our family Dalmatian's collar while it tore into my pet pygmy goat, blinded by bloodlust and impervious to my screams. My goat almost died that day with its throat ripped open. Luckily our vet made housecalls and we were able to save her. The Dalmation was still our family pet because we all understood that it is a rare dog that won't try and kill a goat, given enough time and opportunity.

Scout out for a local feed store, you will probably need to supplementally feed your goats at least some of the time. Goat food smells delicious but the taste doesn't live up to it. Goats will do just about anything to get into the goat food bin. They love that stuff. Don't let them eat too much or they may bloat up and die unless you or your vet can vent their stomaches with a knife. I lost two goats this way.

Nigerian Dwarf goats seem to be all the rage now, they are pretty cute and tiny. Be careful when you buy a baby goat, goat sales people are a lot like used car sales people except it is harder to run an odometer backwards than it is to switch a full size goat kid for a pygmy kid. All of our pygmy kids grew up into fairly large adults, at least compared to the pygmy goats I see at the state fair.

You should check all my advice with someone else, I don't know that we did things the best way but that is how we did them. Have fun with it but understand that cats are pretty well adapted to modern life, goats a lot less so.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:11 PM on August 18, 2009 [11 favorites]

We had quite a few goats growing up, and my recommendation if you're buying would be to only get goats that are female (billy goats are smelly, ornery and generally a useless pain unless you want to breed goats) and fully mature (it can be quite difficult to keep a kid alive without its mother, even after it's of an age where it ought to be able to be weaned).

Leaving goats chained up alone is not a good idea, they will do stupid things with the chain like walking around and around a tree or getting their legs hopelessly tangled; also as someone upthread said it will make them a sitting target.

In general though, goats can be cool and interesting animals to deal with, and will definitely eat anything that comes their way. This article is an interesting and informative look at how Chattanooga used goats to clear kudzu: issues that the city dealt with included goat proof fences, runaway goats, and guard llamas (!), which were more effective than the guard donkeys.
posted by frobozz at 9:37 PM on August 18, 2009

don't buy such-and-such a breed unless my fence is eight feet high

Also, it does take a high and sturdy fence to keep a determined goat from breaking loose. We kept a couple of ours hobbled so they would stop jumping over, so they made do with the slower method of butting it down. Wham wham wham!
posted by frobozz at 9:43 PM on August 18, 2009

A few things, from the husband of a dairy goat owner (who gets to help out):

- It's going to be harder than it sounds. If you didn't grow up in 4H or have other experience with farm animals, you probably shouldn't do it unless you're willing to dedicate a lot of energy to the goats.

- Have you looked at your nearest farm auction? Probably can get goats pretty cheaply that way. Of course the condition of those goats will be questionable, so probably not the best idea if you don't know what to look out for.

- Make sure you get more than one goat. They are social herd animals, so at least two. A goat can bond with other herd animals too (for example, a goat and a horse can make a good pairing).

- What will you do when things go wrong? They will, for sure. Goats browse, and sometimes they eat something they shouldn't. It doesn't take much to make a goat's digestive system stop working properly, and it can be hard to get going again. While there is a certain amount of treatment you can do on your own, it can be a nasty business. Pay attention to their well being, and be prepared to either pay large vet bills or put the animal down.

- If a vet trusts that you can do vaccinations, they can probably give you vaccinations to take home and give to your goats. That trust can take some time to build up, though.

- I'm not sure why people are bringing up dairy, since as far as I can see you didn't mention anything about milk. Wethers and un-bred does of course will not have milk. That's a good thing - milking goats is a lot of work and needs to be done twice a day for optimal output (and at *least* once a day, at the same time every day).

- What will you do with the goats once the lot is cleared? Will the land keep producing enough food for them? Will you buy supplemental feed for them if they need it? Will you sell them? Eat them?

- If you get baby goats, dis-bud them. Goats with horns can get stuck in a lot of places, and also the horns are a major nuisance. If you get males, be *absolutely* certain to castrate them, because you do *not* want a stinky, aggressive buck.

- Goats are smart, inquisitive, and athletic. This is charming, but can also make them extremely frustrating to deal with.

- If you have any fruit trees, be very careful, because goats will eat the bark off them. That will kill the trees.

- Do not chain them to a tree. They will be very unhappy, and also can choke themselves.

- If you plan to eat the goats at some point, get a meat breed. Dairy breeds aren't going to have much meat or taste as good.

- To those suggesting sheep instead: sheep are probably unsuitable. Sheep are grazers; they eat grass. Goats will eat various kinds of brush, with is what the poster is looking for.
posted by Emanuel at 10:01 PM on August 18, 2009 [1 favorite]

When we were looking to buy a goat, we asked a local veternarian for referrals, and found a couple of sources. We were actually just over in Carroll County, but it was so long ago that I can't remember where we got ours, or even the vet's name. A little googling would surely lead you to a rural vet's phone number.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:38 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

That's pretty clever, MrMoonPie.

Thanks everyone so far.
posted by rahnefan at 8:34 AM on August 19, 2009

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