The first step is choosing the right type of goat for your needs. Do you want a milk goat, a meat goat, a pet for the kids? There are many breeds available so make an educated decision and end up with a breed that suits your needs. Read up on the various types of goats available and their uses, as well as tolerances. Goats are not cheap to take care of, make sure they'll be useful!
Best Bets for Buying Goats
A few good places to purchase your goat are local 4H groups, a nearby goat ranch, or a recommended breeder (animals from these three sources are usually very well taken care of). When buying a goat from someone in this manner you are able to go to the home and observe the condition of the animal. Make sure they all look healthy and happy. Talk with the owner about any problems you should be aware of, current immunization records and the goat's medical history or genetics. Look the goat over with a fine tooth comb -- literally -- goat lice are very easy to spot and you don't want to infect your other animals at home. Lice are easy to get rid of but the medication can be costly, better to have the seller take care of any lice issues before you purchase! If you are buying an older goat make sure their bag sits well and has a healthy tone. Look for diseases - goats are prone to CAE (a joint disease). Most breeders or ranches are ethical enough not to sell a sick goat but again - buyer beware. If you are pretty confident in your choice of goat, go home and sleep on it for another day anyway, discussing the purchase with your family and weighing the pros and cons to adding a new animal to your herd.
Purchasing A Goat At Auction
It is never a great idea to purchase an animal you intend to keep (and not eat) at an auction. There is little time (if any) at an auction to assess the condition of the animal or to query the owner about breeding, quirks, or history. Often the owner is not even present.
You will also be more inclined at an auction to make a spontaneous purchase without the time to think things through. You might just pay a high price for your haste long after you've made the purchase.
Remember too, that the auction house is truly a miserable place for animals. They get frightened, 'shocky' (spooked), and some sellers will do whatever is necessary just to ensure the highest sale price of the animal. Once you get the animal home, they can be a different creature all together. (Compare this process to a car salesman adding a gas additive to a lemon right before the test drive!)
I am in no way implying all sellers at auctions are unethical, there are some very reputable sellers at auction, but the situation can be high risk - buyer beware. If I've managed to scare you off auctions altogether I apologize, I have bought some good animals at the auction house in the past.
Preparing for the New Arrival
Before bringing your new goat home, make sure you are well prepared. No construction should go on around them while they adjust to their new surroundings.
Building a large enough pen at the start is easier than going back and making it larger later when you add more goats to the barn. Build a pen that is large enough to house the eventual number of animals you intend to raise. When building the pen, the main objective is sturdiness and security - keeping predators out, and your goats in! Main considerations are a roof that will not leak and insulation if you live in a cold climate. Bed down the new home with fresh, clean grass, hay or straw.
Moving A Goat
If you have a pickup truck, borrow a truck cap for the back or build a sturdy wooden box tied securely to the body of the truck. You'll want to make the trip home as comfortable and stress free as possible for your new friend. Baby or pygmy goats can be driven to the new location inside the vehicle, on a friend's lap, for short trips. If you can't move your new goat without stress, ask the seller if s/he can deliver the animal to your home.
Breeding your doe is always an adventure. There are a few ways to go about this...the most preferable being to hire a stud. This way you are only caring for and feeding an odiferous buck for a few weeks -- as opposed to feeding and caring for a vivacious buck year round. (Bucks should be kept separate from milk does except for the breeding season.)
Our young billy (Rambo) played nicely with my children and seemed gentle.
Conclusion to Raising Goats
If, like us, you happen to fall in love with a young buck, you will need to build separate quarters and a pen from your does. Ensure the buck you buy has good genetics that you'll want passed down to your future herd. Further, if you must keep a buck, you'll be able to make some money back for his keep by renting him out as stud (if he is in fact a genetically sound animal).
For more detailed information on Raising and Caring for Goats, be sure to check out
Goats: Milk, Meat & Mohair .