Here are the items that I consider The Basics for keeping goats, in no particular order:
1. Buckets for water and feed. This is probably the first thing you thought of, right? When we brought home our first two weanling goats, this is what I started with. I use the margarine tub to scoop feed out of the bags, and the coffee can to carry feed.
2. Collar and leash - more obvious items, right? I don't keep collars on my goats all the time, but I have several handy to grab when I need them. Dog collars work fine, or you can buy plastic chain collars that will break if the goat gets caught on a fence or a branch. If you use nylon collars be sure to have it snug enough on the goat's neck that they can't get caught on something. (I just realized how badly that collar needs to go in the washing machine!)
3. Spring clips - these are handy for so very many things. They hold a bucket to the fence, my hay rack to the fence, a friend had one on the end of each of her leashes so she could loop the handle end around a tree or a post and snap it back to the leash without having to unsnap it from the goat's collar. I used them in my former barn to hold wire baskets to a wall. I never have enough of these things.
4. Double-snap ties - a local man makes these for me, but I've also made some from a dog chain cut into pieces with a spring clip on each end. These are handy in all kinds of ways: you can clip a goat to a fence to eat or to have her hooves trimmed, or use one to hold a gate closed. I used to snap each goat to the fence at milking time with these so that they wouldn't rush the milk room gate.
5. Hoof trimmers - I use these pruners from Ace Hardware. A friend told me about these years ago and I love them.
6. Weight tape for goats, or a dressmaker's tape and chart to convert inches to approximate weight. You need to know how much your goat weighs so you can figure dosage amounts of medications, wormer, etc.
7. Drench syringe - the easy way to give a goat a liquid medicine, vitamins, NutriDrench, electrolytes, and so on. It comes apart for easy cleaning, but eventually the rubber ring inside gets grippy instead of easy-to-push. To fix this, I take it apart and run a tiny amount of olive oil around the rubber ring by putting a drop or two on my finger. It slides easily again when I put it back together.
8. Thermometer - I use an inexpensive digital thermometer from the local pharmacy.
9. Mineral feeder - goats need mineral free-choice, so get a feeder to hold it. This one hangs from a fence; others attach to the wall with screws. If possible, position it under a roof to keep the mineral dry, and hang it slightly above their reach so they can't deposit "goat berries" in it. You can put a concrete block underneath it for them to stand on and reach the mineral. Some mineral feeders are divided with two cavities, one for mineral, the other for baking soda. You can also find plans and photos for homemade mineral feeders online.
10. A leaf or fan rake - this is the only thing that works for me when cleaning goat berries on a dirt floor, just rake the berries and straw into a pile and shovel them up.
Number eleven (if I were writing a list of the Eleven Must-Have Items for Goatkeepers) would be a hay rack to keep hay off the ground. Goats love to strew hay around, sleep in it, poop on it... in other words, they'll waste it. I have a steel hay rack that clips to the fence with spring clips and holds two flakes of hay at a time, but you can also build one that holds up to a whole bale of hay.
To see how I used to store these and other supplies, you can visit my before-the-fire Feed Room post.
Every goatkeeper will have their favorite tools, so you might have a slightly different list. What would you add?
Five Must-Have Consumable Items for Goatkeepers
6 Must-Have Items to Milk a Goat
Goat Fencing - What Works and Doesn't Work
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