Hiking with kids is fun, and if you breed your doe a necessary part of hiking during the spring. There are a couple of pitfalls to it though, speaking as someone who’s fallen in that spike pit so many times they installed a revolving door of stupidity.
1. Kids have short legs, ergo kids cannot walk as far as adult does or overly ambitious humans.
Okay, this should be obvious, but apparently it wasn’t to me when I started hiking with my first set of kids. Up to about a month of age kids are not good for much more than a 3 mile hike in good weather. In deep snow that requires their dam to break a trail for them they are essentially helpless and will require being packed out of the snow drift on your shoulders! The youngest I have ever hiked with kids is two weeks old, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
2. Curb the enthusiasm. Kids need time to grow up.
If the kid isn’t ready to be separated from mom for a few hours at a time, it isn’t ready to go on a hike, even with mom. After trial and error it seems like most goat kids are ready to hike with mom at one month of age, but keep the hike short. They are ready to hike on their own with you while mom stays at home somewhere around the 3 month mark, and can go fairly long distances (+5 miles).
3. Collar training and water training need to start early if you want to hike with kids.
It seems to work best if kids are first taught to stand tied with their mother next to them and their siblings tied with them. Do that as close to every day as you can manage for two or three weeks starting a week after birth and then stop. Tie them until they stop pulling back or freaking out, then give them some grain and let them go. Watch them while they’re tied to make sure they don’t get hung up in anyway, (and you will be amazed at the ways they think to get hung up). Once they’ve got the picture they’ll remember that they can’t escape the leash. Don’t let them come untied during this period – or the idea that the leash is absolute and they can’t escape won’t be cemented into their tiny mischievous brains.
Water training works the same way. Weather permitting, take your two to three week old kid and put his hooves in water, (in the water trough works pretty well), and just hold him there till he realizes he’s going to have to cope with the water. Make it rain grain after he calms down. Do that every few days for a month or so until he figures out that water = grain and the good association kicks in.
The above two practices mean that if you need to, your kid can be leashed, tied, and taken through small water obstacles (like deep puddles) when out hiking with mom. Check out my Idiot’s Guide to Training Pack Goats pages for more on turning that baby horned fluff ball of trouble into a real packing goat from this stage.
4. Is mom ready to hike?
Difficult kidding or if the doe is an extremely heavy milker will delay when she can hike with the kids. The udder is supported by ligaments that stretch with time. The more the udder bounces (say from hiking) the faster the ligaments wear out and the sooner you end up with a goat that is dragging an udder on the ground. So if she milks like a cow, she stays at the house.