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Your smallholding questions answered

PUBLISHED: 17:58 25 April 2014 | UPDATED: 21:08 29 April 2014

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Oct 17, 2012: Every month a team of smallholding experts answer questions in Country Smallholding. Many are on livestock, as this one on keeping goats:

QUESTION:
I have a spare piece of grazing land which has an area of aproximately 500m2, and I was wondering if this is large enough to keep a small number of goats?

ANSWER FROM GOATS WRITER RICHARD PEMBLE:
An area of 500m2 is certainly enough to keep a small number of goats, but any potential goatkeeper has to bear in mind that the smaller the grazing area for his/her animals the more of the fodder has to be brought to the goats – in the form of branches (preferably twice daily) and freshly scythed or strimmed grass. Goat numbers have to be strictly controlled. It would also be advisable to go for one of the smaller and more docile breeds, like the Golden Guernsey. Fencing has to be highly secure, as smaller paddocks will quickly become boring for the ever inquisitive goats, and if a garden next door looks more interesting they will spend all their time devising a way into it….

Storage facilities for feed, hay and bedding materials (and the resulting muckheap) need to be carefully thought of. If only small quantities of hay and straw can be stored at any time, this not only makes goatkeeping a lot more expensive, but can also lead to shortages in severe weather situations.

As goats are herd animals at least two will need to be kept together, a mother-daughter or two sisters arrangement would work well, with kiddings in alternate years ensuring an all-year round milk supply.

One word of warning – chicken pellets are irresistible to goats, but can lead to bloat and/or acidosis. Feeding arrangements for poultry will have to be out of reach to any goats (and even more so - their kids).

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