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Goat Packing

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by norcalblacktail, Feb 11, 2010.

  1. norcalblacktail


    Jan 17, 2008
    I figured I would share this here for those that dont know about it and for those that have done it so I can get any advice they may have. Its something that not alot of people know about so I thought it may interest a few of you.

    In the very near future I plan on purchasing 2-3 pack goats for backcountry hunting and wilderness excursions. I have talked with a few people that have used goats in the backcountry and they say they will never again take another trip without them. I figure since I cant afford horses, mules, trailers etc. that goats are the way to go. I am going to buy them as either bottled babies or started kids so they will be able to bond with me. They will be a mix of Alpine, La Mancha, Oberhasli, and Toggenburg that have been bred for their temperament and stamina. A mature pack goat can carry 40-50 lbs of gear/meat all day and can go places that even we would hesitate to go. You dont need to pack food for them because they can eat pretty much everything and as long as there is water you are good to go.

    Anyone ever do any goat packing before????

    Here are a few pics and vids (not mine) for you.


  2. Calebklyne


    Aug 5, 2009
    looks pretty cool, and do they just not run away?
  3. RickJ


    Mar 2, 2003
    Mobile Food, Gives me a good Idea! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Iboschi


    Sep 17, 2009
    Neat idea. Never heard of it. Seems that goats life 15 to 20 years. A bit longer than dogs so thats good. Hows the temperament? Can they come inside the house etc?
  5. norcalblacktail


    Jan 17, 2008
    Ya...basically from what I know once you bond with them and they bond with each other they wont leave your side or each others. At night they will make a bed near you and during the day if you want them to stay somewhere you tie one up and the other wont leave.
  6. flnder


    Nov 30, 2003
    I don't know nothing,but I saw an article in backpacker or american survival about using llamas. the only thing i recall was the llamas rode in the back of a dodge minivan
  7. paleojoe


    Nov 5, 2009
    Never for backpacking but I have worked on goat farms in my day.

    You do have to be mindful of worming, flu-shotting, nail-trimming, etc. as well as ticks...
    They will browse and browse, and as for keeping them in an area on your property, it better be well fenced with plenty of food supplement, weather shelter, and water. In the rains, they will mash an area into a muddy patch if not allowed enough space....

    They are stubborn about where or what they want to do also when being guided. You know the saying!

    At night I'd worry about predators. Especially when young. Also, in the morning, they will wake before you and start browsing for food. They will very easily wander off.
    Sheep attach more to one another and you than do goats. But goats do tend to stick together, and will tend to be close to you if you have a good relationship.
    Keep in mind goats and sheep are reactionary based on fear too.

    If you're ready for the raising commitment, I'm sure they'd be great!

    I've seen hikers with dogs wearing similar packs as well... They praised them as being very efficient. Might as well share the load!
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  8. sambo.


    Dec 30, 2009
    hehe, where i live, we just race 'em!
  9. paleojoe


    Nov 5, 2009
    They're browsers. Consider what their natural habitat is.
    They can be clingy if they have a good relationship with you. This means your present with them on a regular basis.

    As for the house, not unless you want scat everywhere, pee everywhere, hoof-trampled rugs and couches as well as chewed tables, couches and well, everything. Unless your house is a barn!

    Not to mention the hacking, bringing in of ticks, sneezing, numbing on your clothes, etc.

    Not domesticated for keeping as house pets.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  10. bmilla35


    Aug 29, 2007
    Very cool Norcal...love the idea :thumbup:
  11. Bushman5


    Oct 31, 2007
    my neighbour where i grew up had pack goats. They make great security for your camp at night.
  12. paleojoe


    Nov 5, 2009
    It's kind of the other way around for them, you're their security. That is a big part as to why they stay so close to you, like sheep.
  13. mtnfolk mike

    mtnfolk mike

    Mar 21, 2006
    ha.. great stuff Nate... :thumbup: i have heard of folks useing goats in the backcountry...that would be cool... :D
  14. Raining

    Raining Gold Member Gold Member

    Oct 13, 2006
    Interesting. I've seen the use of llamas but not goats. Let us know how it goes! :thumbup:
  15. Pritch


    May 3, 2006
    The NW Pack Goats always has an exhibit at the sportsmen's shows around here. I spoke to one of the guys and he said he "high lines" them during the day while out hunting or they would insist on tagging along.

    A coworker of my wife brings a couple when backpacking.

    Edited to correct: It is the Evergreen Pack Goat Club that exhibits.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
  16. baldtaco-II


    Feb 28, 2006
    Brilliant and totally new to me. My woman would really like me to get llamas or alpacas for doing that. Coincidentally made worse last night with an episode of My Dream Farm [S1, 5 of 6] that had the cutest looking juvenile alpacas, all white and spindly after shearing save for a top bonnet. She'll be here in a bit and she's going to love this when she sees it. So good.
  17. baldtaco-II


    Feb 28, 2006
    And sometimes you beat them? Boom Boom.
  18. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    Ha, awesome!!! If you do it, keep us updated.

    I heard about these a long time ago, and always thought it was a cool idea. I looked into them a bit too. I guess if you raise them, they follow you around like a dog, can carry a ton of weight and go all day, and like you said, they browse, so you don't have to bring food for them.

    If I was in the country were I had enough property to keep a couple, I would do it! But, being in the city, the wife ain't to keen on it.

    Just think of how many miles you could cover in a day, if you weren't carrying a 35lb. pack?!
  19. stingray4540


    Mar 26, 2007
    P.S. My wife hates you now...

    I wonder what the rules are for goats in parks? Like places like Yosemite, Big Basin, Point Reyes? A lot of those places don't allow dogs or "pets", so I wonder what they would say about pack goats? I guess rules only tell you what you "can't" do, so if it doesn't say anything about goats, you're good to go?
  20. hollowdweller


    Sep 22, 2003
    I've raised goats for milk and meat since 1988.

    Goatkeeping is a major commitment so you would need to weigh how much they would help you on your occasional trips versus your everyday chores taking care of them no matter if you have the flue and a huge fever or are busy with something else.

    I have never packed with goats but they will easily follow you thru the woods.

    Here's some food for thought.

    Goats HATE rain and getting their feet wet, so you are going to have to overcome that.

    You would want to choose goats that come from bloodlines that have very good feet. A lot of goats have uneven hoof cloves and weak pasterns so if you want to use them for packing I'd for sure educate myself as to what a good goat hoof and pastern look like.

    If a goat or their older relatives have uneven pasterns, crooked canon bones, uneven cloves, shallow heels or spread toes avoid them.

    Also something to consider is CAE, Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis. It is a retrovirus that is transmitted mainly from the dam to the progeny via the milk and colostrum. Some goats have it and never have symptoms but others wind up with severe arthritis and have to be put down.

    Also make sure the herd is free of Caseous Lymphadenitis a disease that cause internal and external abcesses on the lymph glands.

    A good goat kid will be taken from the mother before it can ever suck, and then bottle fed using heat treated colostrum and pasteurized milk to eliminate transfer of CAE and CL.

    If you can get those kids say at 4 weeks and then continue to feed them yourself 3 times a day about 12 oz of pasteurized goat milk until they are 3 mo old you will be pretty much guaranteed a healty kid

    Also then you could feed them out in the rain or pur them knee deep in a creek while they are eating to overcome the goats natural hatred of getting wet so they will cross creeks with you.

    I have never raised any pack goats, but I have a friend who is a scout master who has.

    He was telling me this story that he took the troop and goats on an overnighter in the wilderness. The next morning all the goats were gone:eek:

    So he and the troop weren't but a few miles in and hauled the goat packs back after calling for the goats over and over. When they got back to the truck all the goats were there hanging out waiting to go home:rolleyes:


    Who did you work for?? There's a lot of famous herds and dairies out your way.

    PS I would reccomend goats with at least SOME saanen in them. Saanens are the largest breed and the calmest personality. Reason they are the most popular for dairies. Nubians are psycho but large and probably a good cross with saanens because Saanens often have foot problems and Nubians have the best feet(generally) Alpine/Saanen cross is also good but Alpines fight a LOT so you run the risk of getting that.

    One more thing: Normally people bring wethers(castrated males) to pack with but you can bring a milker and then you have milk on the trail. However when doing this do not pick a heavy milker. Not only will her udder get caught on stuff the hiking may throw her into a negative food to milk ration and she might get weak. Pick a low milker with a small udder and good feet.

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