Pets & Animals

Advice please, keeping a goat vs sheep....

MiserableMoo! writes in Pets & Animals

Hi, I'm wondering if anyone can give advice please on what would be easier to keep, a goat or a sheep (ewe and lamb probably, for a milk supply after weaning the lamb).
I do lots of cooking/baking and would like to start producing my own cheese/yoghurt/ice cream/butter etc (NOT meat!).

I'm not new to keeping animals (have done all my life), at present we have chickens/ducks, 4 rescue dogs, 2 horses and a pony. We own 2.44ha and rent 2ha, so space not a problem.
If we got just a milking goat, could she be kept with our pony - what about fencing? We have electric fencing around our paddocks, at 50/100/140cm (with galvanised wire, not tape/rope), but this wouldn't be enough to stop a goat getting at our neighbours magnificent veg patch, would it? I'm not keen on tethering, so maybe a goat isn't the answer?
Would a sheep be easier to keep in? Our garden is fenced by 1.5m high wire mesh type fencing (to keep the dogs in!), would this be enough for a sheep? Or would it be better in our fields - would the electric fencing stop it from getting out - or would it's wool stop it working effectively? Would the garden be better suited with it's 1.5m high mesh fencing?
Are vets fees and upkeep approx the same, for both goats and sheep?

Is there anything else I should know/think about before taking the plunge (besides the importance of regular milking - having totalled up 4 years feeding our children, I know how painful it can be to not be milked on time, lol)?

Thanks :)

Posted on: 20/05/2011 at 14:50

Hello, I can offer suggestions but not definite advice. I was a small farmers wife in a previous life ( small farms tend to need the wife t muck in and help outside)

Sheep, i and many others think should not be kept without anotherr one for company. jacobs and some of the rare breed which are light boned are also nimble and right houdinis.I wouldnt have trusted my jacobs ot to learn to climb square mesh, if they hadnt already got their horns stuck.

Goats ditto about the horns also they can climb an jump; think mountain goat. Incidentally some sheep can be quite nifty jumpers, even some of the heavier breeds like sufolks.

I still love them and theres nothing cuter than lambs and kids.

Jacobs by the way have good feet, less chance of foot rot, ad are not usually greedy so less chance of mucky bums, even with their tales, plus they swish their tales against flies like horses.

Best of luck whatever you decide,

Regards J

Posted on: 20/05/2011 at 14:53

Just don't get goats because you are told they will eat anything they won't , sheep I confess I know nothing about .

Posted on: 20/05/2011 at 20:50

I have 4Ha and have had up to 12 goats at a time, presently only 4, for as many years.
They are hard to keep in, I've let them wander too much in the past due to this .. and consequently anything I've planted has been well munched.
I have fencing minimum 1m60 high with a wire about 20cm above this .... It is important to check these escape artists do not find a weak spot, or make one, because they will if they can, or attempt to jump. ... they've been in their enclosure now for over a month (due to my neighbouring farmer planting some tasty looking maize next to them) and I think they're quietly planning their exit routes. It may be though they are not as young as they once were.... time will tell .... as with anything you have to keep a beady eye on things ....

I've no experience with sheep but I understand they are more fragile, my goats seem to pretty much look after themselves, and once you've got the hang of what they must not eat there does not seem to be much that is easy to do wrong.
Keep them away from Rhododendron, Yew branches lying on the gound, Hemlock roots, make sure they've some shelter and some hay or a little feed in the winter (this last winter mine managed pretty well with very little brought in food) and that's about it - they all have their own character, and this is what I like about them ..... they're most certainly not sheep!


Posted on: 20/05/2011 at 22:25

Apples is quite correct .. they don't eat anything ... usually only the things you dont want them to eat!
They're good on brambles though ... ivy too ...and love oak leafs and many other tree leafs and bark (.... on trees ...not like dogs!)

Anyone know what likes dock, thistle, nettle and hemlock ?

Posted on: 20/05/2011 at 22:29

A goat is a better escape artist than a sheep, but sheep aren't bothered by electric fences.Both should be kept in pairs.I would say your fence as long as its tight and well achored at the bottom will be fine for sheep.

Posted on: 21/05/2011 at 16:21

My goats eat docks, thistles and will eat nettles if you cut them and leave them a day, they eat dead leaves alsorts, I guess it depends on the individual goats!

Posted on: 21/05/2011 at 16:50

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