Small ruminants…good, bad and ugly (Either way you need two)

No lie, I love my goats and appreciate my sheep, but they are not all sunshine and rainbows. They can be a huge pain in the rear. So, I\’ll let you in on the good, bad and ugly of both species. In no way an expert as I learn more each year and this will be more for entertainment than anything else. If you take valuable information from it that is an added bonus on my end.
So, let\’s start with the good. Other than literally being the base of my business, my goats have always had a little extra pull in my heart. They come full of personality and energy. Who can resist little goat kids bouncing around. The little ones are my favorite part. I don\’t have a favorite type or breed. I\’ve had nigerian dwarf goats, standard commercial dairy goats and more recently meat goats. The Nigerians were great, especially great for a small, new homestead. They provided enough milk to make some cheeses and other things but once my soaps took off they couldn\’t make enough milk for all of it so I bought a few nubian crosses. These are my current ladies and they pull the weight for soap making, lotion making, cheese and creamer for my morning coffee. Recently, though I went into meat goat breeds to give me more avenues to sell from. Plus, goat meat is delicious. 
Now those sheep, well, they are quieter than my goats. They avoid me and just do their own thing. Bonus is both eat shrubs and brush. I try to run the sheep with the cows so they can eat what the cows leave behind.
Then there\’s the bad. Though it is just nature if you are looking to get into the world of goats think in pairs. One goat by itself will be miserable and probably drive you nuts. This is the same with sheep, they need a buddy. Diets between the two species are different as well. Especially, with copper toxicity in sheep. Parasite load should be monitored as well. There is tons of great resources out there for care and feeding. One of our local feed mills even hosts small ruminant seminars. Because of my farming practices though my sheep and goats are primarily grass and hay fed. You could go on for days digging rabbit holes in the world of animal nutrition. Also helps to have a vet on call that can help in emergency, as well as help monitor herd health. 

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 Then, the ugly. How are your fencing abilities? Ever heard the saying if it won\’t hold water, it won\’t hold a goat? Both goats and sheep have remarkable climbing and jumping abilities. Though I do run my sheep inside the electric fence with the cattle, that thick wool prevents them from feeling that zap when the grass is a bit greener on the other side. They are now pretty dog trained and if I yell for the dog, they scramble back to where they belong. Personally, the sheep drive me nuts and I would not miss them, but they have become a cornerstone of my meat sales believe it or not. The goats don\’t get on my nerves near as much as the sheep, but they have high woven wire fences and do not get out as often on their own accord. Although, they do occasionally open the gate and go on adventures. 

This may have been very brief and if you read through, thank you. Goats and Sheep can be great additions to anyone\’s farm. They not only keep us entertained but balance it well with getting on our nerves. Valentine\’s day is around the corner and it\’s not too late to get that special someone a pair of goats or lambs. 

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