Goats

Introduction

Using these notes

These notes:

    • have been written to be consistent with community, industry and research and teaching based animal welfare legislation
    • apply to all schools in NSW, government and non-government
    • contain standards (in a red box at the beginning of each section) and guidelines. The standards must be met by schools, in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Research Authority. The guidelines are the desirable practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes
    • reflect available scientific knowledge, current practice and community expectations.

Each section of these notes lists any approved activities, with their approved categories, that are applicable to goats. A complete list of the approved activities for all species can be found in Approved activities.

Category 4 and 5 activities may be undertaken by students only if prior written approval from the SACEC has been obtained using Application form 1.

Before a teacher demonstrates a category 5 activity to students, the teacher must have written certification from the SACEC. Certification is sought using Application form 4.

 

Varietal range differences

Breeds commonly used in Australia can be divided into the following production categories:

Fibre

    • Angora
    • Australian cashmere

Dairy

    • Anglo-Nubian
    • Toggenburg
    • Saanen
    • British Alpine

Meat

    • Boer Goats
    • Kalahari Red Goats

 

Schools that wish to maintain a goat enterprise need to select a breed based on consideration of the local climatic conditions, space, enclosures available and accessibility of markets for any outputs.

Breeds of Goats

Breeds of livestock

 

Physical characteristics

Size: Measured at the withers.

Dairy goats:    does — 73-93cm

                    bucks — 90-95cm

Angoras:         does — 50-55cm

                    bucks — 60-65cm

Weight: Varies with breed.

Dairy goats:    does — 55-64kg

                    bucks — 60-65kg

Angoras:       45kg

Age at adult size: Approximately 1.5-2 years
Weight at birth: Dependant on breed. Usually 2-4kg
This is an approximate. As the weight is dependant on the age of the doe, feeding regime of the doe, breed of buck, whether a single or multiple birth.
Gestation period: 145-153 days.
Number of offspring: 1-3. Twins are common and 150-180% kidding rates are common.
Range of breeding ages: Sexual maturation occurs in the first year of a goat’s life when they reach 16-20kg, which is usually around 6-8 months. Earliest mating age is about 7 months depending on the individual goat.
Weaning age: 3-5 months
Healthy characteristics: Temperature: 38.9 – 40.5°C
Heart Rate: 60-100/min

 

Vision

Goats have prominent eyes on either side of their heads enabling them to have a wide field of vision, 320-340° and a binocular vision of 20-60°.This characteristic is typical of prey species. This is in contrast to predators that have eyes on the front of their heads. Goats can determine some bright colours from shades of grey.

 

Behavioural characteristics

Goats are agile, alert and observant animals. They will seek out shelter from rain, wind and cold and will avoid water logged or muddy areas. Kids like to play together and all goats like to climb onto high platforms and areas. Providing goats with large rocks, logs or mounds of dirt will discourage them from climbing on fences and other structures. Goats will escape if fencing is low enough to jump over or can be pushed up or to the side.

Goats are prey animals and find comfort in herds where a leader can keep watch to protect the herd, however unlike sheep they will often spread across a paddock to graze. They have a very good sense of smell and will investigate food by sniffing it first.

Goats develop their own personal space referred to as their flight zone. A herd of goats have a collective flight zone determined by their individual characteristics, breed, age, environment and previous handling experiences. Goats raised in a pen with close contact to people will have a smaller flight zone and be calmer when being handled as opposed to goats raised in a paddock.

 

Temperament

Goats are agile and playful and should have space to run. If possible it is advisable to provide objects for them to climb on. This will hopefully discourage them from climbing on fencing and other structures.

In general the goats used in school situations should have reduced flight zones and be familiar with people due to extensive and appropriate handling. Goats are rarely aggressive towards people but individual goats, most commonly bucks, may have more aggressive tendencies.  These individuals should be culled and not used in the school situation.

Behavioural profiles of domestic animals