I did an article a while back about milk stand manners and after some recent encounters with some other goats I thought it might be a good idea to do an article on just plain goat manners.  I know that may sound like an oxymoron but it really isn't.

 

Goat manners are very important for everyone to live happily together including the goats.  One of the things that stuck in my mind about the goat breeder we purchased our goats from was when she said teach them right away to have manners or you will regret it.

She gave us a few tips which worked for us but some people may not like to use.  They may not be practical if you have a large herd that contains a lot of kids.  They do work well though for the person that only has a few goats and has a more personal relationship with the small herd.

I only have two Nigerian dwarf dairy goats so it was relatively easy to socialize my goats and teach them who the head goat it.  I do still have to remind Tsarina every now and then that I am the leader of their herd.  When we first picked up our goats they were about 8 weeks old.  When we picked them up to put them in the car for the 2.5 hour ride home they protested quite loudly.  The breeder told us to go ahead and put the collars on the goats so that we could leash them and make sure they didn't get away from us and make a run for it.  She then warned us that we could use the collars to train the goats but you must be hyper vigilant to keep an eye on them and make sure they do not get caught on anything with their collars.

She told us to keep them tied or leashed for the first week or so just out of reach of each other but could see each other easily.  The reason for this is you want them to become dependent on you for comfort and not each other.  The first day they cried so loud my heart broke.  The second day one cried and the other kind of said what the heck.  By the 3rd day they stopped crying but were still a little nervous about being handled by us "humans".  It only took a few more days and they walked up when they saw me and eagerly awaited the treat that I was bringing them. 

When we finally let them loose they ran like crazy but came running to me when I came in the fence.  They came to just about every woman and child that came to visit but were still a little stand-offish about men.  Eventually even Buckets, my standoffish goat, allowed Ronnie to pet her.  After being roughed up by a 3 year old they do not care to be around people under 3 feet tall.   Now granted we did teach them to come to us with bribery and they are always looking for something when I enter their yard.  They come running even when I don't have something but they do complain about it.  If you have goats you know what I mean about complaining.

The point of all this is that there are times that you need to handle your goats and you do not want to have to run around trying to catch one for one reason or another.  You also do not want to be in a situation where you are bowled over by a goat on the charge.  Even though Nigerian dwarf goats are small they are still very strong and can certainly knock you from you feet without much effort. 

All this came to mind because we went to pick up the little rent buck for this years breeding and it took 4 of us to trap the little guy in a corner because they were not socialized and wouldn't even come when bribed by treats.  By the time we caught the little guy (he is only 6 months old) he was fit to be tied.  When we put him in the truck he cried all the way to our house.  Luckily we were just around the corner this year and not to another town like last year.

This is the 4th day that the little fella has been with us and he is just at the point where he will come within about 6 feet of me but if I reach my hand out he runs.  Of course his reaction to the does is not like that at all.  They all seem to get along very nicely until it is feeding time and well that's another story.  

It was when I looked at the little fellas hoofs that I thought he could use a little trim and then I though boy that would be a nightmare with that herd because they practically stampeded to get away from us when we came in their pen.  

Last year we had a 5-year old buck that we borrowed and he was very bad mannered.  He would knock me against the walls in the goat house.  He wouldn't let me get near the girls some times he would charge you if he saw you had water.  He was just very ill tempered.  

Our girls can be rambuncious to say the least but they have leaned if they do not behave then their food will be removed until the next time I come out.  It only took doing this a few time when they learned I lead the way and they stay until I tell them otherwise.  Do they listen so to speak?  No, not really.  They come when called and they stop when I do because they want food.  It's that simple.  They get a mix of grains that are safe for them while I trim their hooves and if they do not behave then they are removed.  It is the same method we used to train them on the milk stand.  Tsarina is very well behaved on the stand 99.9% of the time.  Bucket, well Buckets is.........well she is behaved about 90% of the time but she gets hobble strapped when she misbehaves and that takes that behavior away for quite a while before she tries that again.

The bottom line is you want your goats to be safe and you to be safe.  You want to be able to  handle your goats without drama and without having to break records for speed to catch them.  It is important that you can handle them for their basic care needs and for your safety.  

You need to start "training" them as soon as you start handling them.  When our does kidded last year we made sure and handled the kids every day.  Tsarina would have given us her kids without care and as expected Buckets was very protective of her little guy but they all came to us and they all like human contact.  By the time the kids were weaned they treated us like the head of the herd.