Packgoat selecting and training
By Ruth Gallaty Dart Ranch NM
I've been meaning to write about how we select and train packgoats. So here goes.
We first had to select the best goats to hopefully get the best babies. What we're looking for is large, long legged, muscular wethers some times does as well. Many pack with does and just don't breed them so their udders don't get large. We found here on our place that we really like the Boer/dairy cross breeds the best. They eat less and have more muscle mass from the Boer and great long legs from the dairy we use. We use Sannan, Alpine and Nubian. We've used the LaManchas but they're a smaller goat and we've avenued away from them. Also the foundation stock we use also produces very sweet and friendly goats, we actually have one doe that is our pure Sannan that produces very people friendly babies even though we leave the babies on her now. Yaaa. Okay now come the babies.
Like I said we want our babies to be big, long legged, muscular, good conformation and friendly. Most of our babies we bottle raise so they attach to us as their herd. We start the babies training out with them just following us for their bottle to drink. We do this every feeding. We show them their bottles and walk a little ways and then sit down and feed them... We continue this process until they're weaned. At this point they understand that they follow us. Like we're their mommies. Once they're weaned we take them on short walks with us. About maybe 1/4 a mile to start out on this is done every other day or so. Not far and we increase this as they get older to where they are taking training walks of a 4 mile round trip weekly. This also helps us to determine if they are going to have the stamina they need to be a packer. Even though a goat is large and all sometimes they just don't make it as a packgoat. So far we've had really good luck.
Once the goat reaches a year old we put a VERY light (empty) soft pack on them just to get use to having it on their backs. Just for a short walk. Once they reach 2 years of age we then start them out with carrying small amounts of weight in their soft pack. No more than 10lbs. (I like to give examples for expecting our animals to pack a lot, no matter which animal it is)(My example is, it's unreasonable to ask an animal to carry a lot of weight if not conditioned right, (I believe an animal should only carry 1/4 of it's own weight and only if it's in top fit condition) imagine yourself trying to carry a heavy pack after a long winter of sitting on our tussies and then trying to pack 100lbs of stuff up a mountain)(I sold a doe to a man that was 4 months pregnant and he took her on an 8-mile hike and then called me and said he couldn't understand why she didn't want to go near him) He expected to much from a goat that not only was not conditioned but very pregnant) How cruel was that!!!Anyway.... 2 years old is at this age that they've been trained to take long walks carry something on their backs so we can now at 2 years of age take them out to the mountains and pack them over night with the older more experienced packers. If you go to our website and look under packgoats you will see a smaller black goat with a light weight pack on his back with not much in it. He was a little over 2 years old and hubby had him on one of his official over nighters. This basically what we do. It doesn't take much at all to train a goat to pack something on their backs. Maybe a few minutes to get them use to it. It's not like a horse or mule. Goats are so easy. It's mostly the conditioning and getting them use to following us that takes the time. Hope this helped out in explaining what we do here to train packgoats. We sure enjoy it. And anyone can train their goat to pack. You can take your goat on a leisure walk carrying your water or lunch. I would suggest that if you take treats for the goats that you carry them yourselves other wise if you put it in the goats pack most likely the goat will try to pull at and get into the pack they're carrying. NOT a good thing....Happy packing. Ruth
Ruth, I truly enjoyed this reading. Very interesting and you also wrote it so well. Thank you!
I enjoyed reading this as well, thanks Ruth.