I wrote a post titled “I Hate Goats“. It was one of my first goat posts and I still stand by a lot of what I said in that post.
That being said I have learned a thing or two about how to keep them quiet…ish. And since you’re probably already pulling your hair out let’s just get right to it, shall we?
Here are my tips for not letting goats….well, get your goat.
1. Have a schedule and keep to it.
Implement a routine. Goats love routine, I suppose it helps them feel secure because they know what’s going to happen each day, and when they are going to get fed (the most important part of the day for a goat). It took several days for them to figure out that constant crying was no longer going to get them new hay. But thank the good Lord they FINALLY did figure it out! So be strict with them and yourself. Decide when is the best time for feeding time and stick to it! Now, if I am a few minutes late they start the charade, but I was the one who was late so I suppose I deserve to be yelled at.
2. Give them time.
Every goat is different when it comes to adjusting to their new home and surroundings. My two goats came from two different herds. They were both pulled away from their mothers and fellow herd mates, stuffed together into a dog crate in the back of a strange SUV and driven thirty minutes to a new home with new smells and sounds. They didn’t know each other and they didn’t know me. Some goats adjust fairly quickly, others pretty slow. It took mine about 3 months to finally settle in. Yes, you did read that right. 3 months!
3. Give them space.
Goats naturally live in herds, unfortunately for me my goats quickly labelled me as one of their herd mates. This was fine until I left them alone. In their mind I was lost so it was their mission to “call me” until I came back. You know, for my own protection and stuff. To not get into that mess be sure to introduce yourself to your new goats, but also give them space and time to adjust to their new home without you. If your goats already know you, but seem to have developed the same separation anxiety mine did, continue on to the next point.
4. It’s OK to let them cry.
Because my goats were always calling me (and when I say calling me I mean screaming for me) I began the dangerous cycle of giving them more hay to keep them quiet. That works for about as long as it takes for them to eat the hay and then it starts over again. Do not get into that trap! Take it from me, it is hard to get out of that. So here’s what you do: you establish a routine (as stated in point 1), and you stick to it. Feed and walk away. The screaming is dreadful. Phoebe has one of those cries that knocks around in your head and makes you want to cut off your ears so you don’t have to hear it. But then something magical will happen. Slowly the crying will decrease. Soon it’ll be just a little bit when they see you walk away, until finally no crying at all.
5. Make sure you are prepared for goats.
We weren’t prepared. We rushed into it way too fast. May was a very busy month for us, with a ton of changes that happened all at once. Because of this we were thrown off course with our goat plans. The only thing that was set in stone was that they were coming June 20th. I brought them home in the afternoon, but their barn was not finished until that night. We had no fences in, so we tied them out. We tried this for several months and it was just not for our goats. I know several people who tie out their goats and it works well for them. It was nice because we had so much land that need clearing we just moved their ropes each day to a different section of land, and let them eat away, but we have trees and rocks and all sorts of things for them to get tangled around. So we opted for a fence. And dug every blasted hole for the fence posts by hand. But it was worth it. They run and jump and play more than they ever did before. We did get a bonus out of it however, our goats are leash trained. They walk better on a leash than my dogs do!
6. Never underestimate the power of a good treat.
For my girls it’s raisins. Once they started getting better at being left alone I would periodically go out and give them a raisin and a good pat. Then walk away. At first they would cry a little bit, but now when I go out they come running to greet me (even though I very rarely give them raisins anymore), and they accept that when I’m leaving I’m leaving, but I will come back (maybe even with the kitchen scrap bucket!). Don’t completely ignore your goats, just set time for visiting and walk away when you’re done, no matter how much they cry.
7. BE SURE THEY HAVE A BUDDY!
I CAN NOT stress this point enough. A single goat is a lonely goat, and a lonely goat is a loud goat. Goats have very strong herd instincts. It’s what makes them feel safe, it’s what gives them confidence and it’s what stops them from actually loosing their mind. A lonely goat will go insane. They are an animal that *hear me now* can not be alone. If you have a lone goat that is probably the #1 reason it is crying. Get it a buddy. Like yesterday.
It’s been quite the journey, but I now have quiet(ish) goats. They still talk to each other and make little barnyard noises, but there is no longer the constant screaming.
So what are my thoughts on goats now? Well they’re ok. I guess. If nothing else you do get used to them.
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