After you fall in love with your first bouncy horned minion the number one, absolute first, mano e mano question is…how much is this going to set me back exactly?
How Much Does a Pack Goat Cost?
Find below a basic budget for keeping a pair of pack goats as of 2016. Note that you will in general need at least two goats because most goats will happily destroy your fence if kept in isolation and go for a little stroll in search of a friend. Unless you have a horse or dog or something around it manages to bond with, then you can have one and no fence drama. It may also be important to consider the value of your time that will be consumed with trimming hooves once a month, FAMANCHA Scoring, health, training, hauling to the trail, and filling the eternal black hole that is the feed trough.
UP FRONT COSTS –
- Hay feeding equipment (hay nets @ $10-$25 each)
- Grain feeding equipment (buckets/pans/your wife’s mixing bowls @ $0-$15 each)
- Goats (varies; $75-$350 each)
- Goat shelter (varies; $0-$350)
- Goat fencing (varies; $300 is a good budget for electronet/charger for a small paddock)
- Storage for hay (must be safe from water and preferably dark as sunlight degrades hay quality) – (varies, $0 to $150 or more)
- Hoof trimmers, ear tagger, other miscellaneous (varies, budget about $50)
- Equipment (saddle, halter, lead rope, etc.) – (varies, budget about $400)
TOTAL : $1400
RECURRING COSTS –
You will need grain and hay generally for a goat, unless you live somewhere where good pasture is available year around. In general, a single goat will eat one 35-45 pound bale of hay per week. Goats are notorious hay wasters, therefore I recommend using hay nets with small (2 inch or less size) holes OR a manger designed for goats to help slow their ability to throw your dollar bills on the ground and pee on them. Always check your local hay prices and availability as hay costs vary greatly across the country (craiglist is a great way to do this). Also, the best price for hay is had during the summer picked up directly from the field it was baled in – if you buy in small lots over the winter or buy from a dealer who trades hay but doesn’t produce it the hay price will be much higher. If you can handle round bales (these weigh between 600 to 1000lbs generally) these are much cheaper per pound than square bales. When purchasing hay, fescue is cheapest, but it will stunt growth in young goats less than 3 years of age. You will have to buy coastal, timothy, or something else to avoid this. Avoid high alfalfa hay in wethers castrated at less than a year of age – the calcium can contribute to stones, (alfalfa is also VERY expensive).
Hay will mold if keep on flat ground. Generally people put pallets under the hay to allow air to circulate and avoid moisture retention. Anything that lifts the bales off the ground and provides air flow will work however. I have seen tender foot trays from dog/cat kennels and cheap studs from Lowes laid out 1 ft apart work well. In some instances hay may be stacked on DRY concrete floors without putting something to air flow under it, but if in doubt, protect your investment and add air flow. Hay must also be protected from drips/rain/water running into the barn from the hose spigot outside. Moisture creates mold…which poisons goats. You want to keep hay dry! Also, it is important to avoid exposing hay to light if possible – sunlight destroys the vitamin A in the hay, and in general lowers the quality.
*As an added note – if you live in an area where hay is very expensive or not readily available you can feed chopped hay, haylage, and “bagged hay”. It’s kind of like buying dog food for goats in that you just go to the store and buy a bag as needed. High Uintas Pack Goats has a great listing of companies that sell these buy it off the shelf ready to use forages.
- Hay bale cost per bale – $6 for a decent coastal grass bale
- Cost to feed 2 wethers for a 6 month period when pasture is dead – 6 months x 4 weeks x 2 goats x 1 bale each x $6 bale = TOTAL OF $288 FOR HAY FOR TWO GOATS EACH YEAR
ANIMAL HEALTH & CARE
General care of animals and their sudden need for health care after unexpectedly deciding to do something suicidal adds to the cost of keeping them. Again, this is for 2 goats
- Vaccines (administered by you- $10, administered by a vet – +$40)
- Dewormer (1x or less a year – $20)
- Emergency unexpected veterinary needs (occasional, $200 for a single visit is a good minimum to expect if you can handle most health care things yourself)
- Vacation sitter (your neighbor is free, but you may have to pay someone to make sure your goats don’t go as wild as you are planning to go down in Cancun)
TRAVEL, TESTING, PERMITS
- Permits ($0-$35) in the state of North Carolina are generally free, and many states don’t require a permit (just a phone call to give them a heads up at the park). However, it’s always wise to have some room in your budget for unexpected fees!
- Gas Money – Unless you plan to walk to the trailhead you do need gas.
DON’T FORGET YOUR TIME!
As the husband says – goats take a lot of love, a lot of patience, and most of all, a lot of time. If you value your free time at 1/2 of the amount you make per hour at work, do you feel sufficiently rewarded spending your free time not just hiking with goats but also cleaning, feeding, restocking hay, negotiating hay prices/sources, mowing the pasture, moving fence, repairing fence, chasing goats on the lam, going to the feed store, dealing with a foot abscess, dealing with neighbors who are interested in goats, calling the park service, putting in permit requests, getting blood pulled for disease testing, updating herd records, training…training…training, buying litter for the truck bed, FAMANCHA scoring, more cleaning, and trimming hooves?
If so, then you may have yourself a new and very engrossing hobby….