New Kid on the Block

Mar 27, 2023


A change of address can be stressful— after all, you must become accustomed to a new environment, new friends, and a new lifestyle. This goes for goats, too!
 
Many goat owners are growing their herd this spring, whether for brush control, milk, companions, or livestock shows. When a new goat arrives, it must be acquainted with the herd and given time to settle into its new home. Too much stress can cause health issues such as lethargy, decreased appetite, digestive upset, dehydration, and higher susceptibility to certain illnesses and respiratory infections.
 
To overcome these potential health problems, here are three steps for introducing a new goat to your herd:
 
  1. Quarantine
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, new goats should be isolated for a minimum of 30 days. Infectious diseases do not always produce visible symptoms, and even for previously healthy goats, the stress of a new environment may cause an illness flare-up. Reciprocally, goats in your existing herd may be carrying a disease that your new arrival isn’t healthy enough to fight off yet. Therefore, house your new goat in a safe, dry isolated area while you monitor its acclimation. During this time, keep excited dogs and noisy children away to reduce stress and offer fresh, clean water to prevent dehydration. Slowly adapt your goat’s diet by mixing feed from the previous owner into your feed so the animal does not have a negative reaction to a sudden ration change.
 
  1. Explore
Once your goat is finished with its quarantine period, you will need to give it a chance to explore its new environment without competition from the rest of the herd. Lock your herd up and turn your new goat out into the pasture for a couple of hours by itself. Ensure it locates the fence lines, shelter, feed, and water sources. Letting your new goat roam for a couple of hours may also allow you to determine if it is an “escape artist” type. Secure any holes or weak spots in your pasture fencing before your new herd member is left alone overnight.
 
  1. Introduce
The last step is to introduce your new goat to the rest of the herd. Goat herds are built on exclusivity and hierarchal competition, and newcomers will have to fight for a place in that pecking order. Don’t immediately turn the herd queen or head buck out. Begin by introducing a couple of good-natured animals and letting them get settled for a couple of days before turning out the rest of the herd. This will ensure your new goat has more time to adjust and will be less apt to be injured by the more aggressive herd leaders. It is typical for new goats to hang on the outside edges of the herd for weeks, or even months, but if they have access to food, water, and shelter, this should not be a reason for concern.
 
            Your local Co-op has goat care essentials to keep your herd healthy and productive this year. Visit us for feed, minerals, dewormers, animal health products, fencing material, show supplies, and more!
 
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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