August 21, 2013

10 Must-Have Items for Goatkeepers

There are certain pieces of "equipment" that are needed for keeping goats. I started with buckets and a hay rack, and accumulated additional things as time went by. When the barn burned down, most of my equipment was gone and I had to gather things all over again.

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?

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Related Posts:
Five Must-Have Consumable Items for Goatkeepers
6 Must-Have Items to Milk a Goat
Goat Fencing - What Works and Doesn't Work

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Love reading about homesteading. Hope to do it one day. (gonna tweet and pin this) Have a lovely day!

  2. Thank you so much for passing this along! I hope you can grasp your dream one day.

  3. I hope to have goats too someday. Until then, it's fun just reading and dreaming about them. Thanks for the great post!

  4. Thank you, Leslie. I you can get goats some day, and until then you are smart to read as much as you can about them. You'll have a headstart when you do bring them home. :-)

  5. Great list! I only have two goats, but I have most of the items. Only thing I would add is a brush, because mine like a little personal attention during the day :-)

  6. That's a good addition to the list, Joan. That was one of the ways I tamed down my first two weanlings, by brushing them. Hope especially really liked being brushed.

  7. This is good info to know! I've been watching Craigslist, etc to find a couple of pygmy or dwarf Nigerian goats to add to my homestead. If I can ever find some, I'll need to get busy with this list!

  8. What a great list. I will be saving this for later and sharing it now :-) We participated in a goat share for several months and it was a great learning for us! We hope to have our own goats (on more land) some day in the future, so a list like this is perfect! Thanks!

  9. Great list!
    My list would include clippers. The girls have to clip for 4-H, but I like to clip before we start milking in Spring.

  10. For dairy goats I would add udder wash, teat dip and clippers (like Sandra). Visiting from the Home Acre Hop today. :-)

  11. I've had goats for almost 2 years and I still managed to get some good tips here! It's always nice to see how other people do things and get ideas! Thanks!

  12. Great and informative post! I'd love to have goats one day and this will help me get started. Now, will you come over and convince my husband? Hahaha! I've got to get him on track! :)

  13. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I will be featuring you this week, so please feel free to come grab a Featured button!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  14. Thank you so much for featuring my post, Kathy!

  15. Congrats on the feature!

  16. Kathi, as we prepare for goats come spring, I've been reading and pinning several of your goat posts- thank you for all of this wonderful information! From one blogger to another, I know how much time and love go into these articles that help our fellow homesteaders. It's a beautiful thing- thank you!!


  17. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:12 AM

    Thank you, Erin, I'm glad the posts have been helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

  18. chelsey8:09 AM

    Absolutely love my drench syringe, changes everything

  19. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead8:18 AM

    I agree, Chelsey!

  20. This is great! My husband got me 2 goats for my birthday, they arrive in May and we are starting to get their pen together.

  21. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:34 PM

    Happy birthday, Anna! You are about to begin a great adventure!

  22. I had no idea that goats needed leashes, ha! They are on my wish list, so this was a very educational post! Thanks! (Found this via the Our Simple Homestead blog hop!)

  23. Hello Karissa, I'm glad you stopped by and found this post helpful!

  24. Such simple things that make life so much easier.

  25. What a helpful post for anyone who is looking to raise goats, Kathi! I've pinned it to my Sustainable Living board on Pinterest and will share it on Twitter. Thank you so much for sharing it with us at the Hearth and Soul hop.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing, April!


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