Pack Goats

Since our somewhat disastrous experience with pack llamas last year (see Llama Hike), we have been trying to decide what pack animal would be best for us.  We both realize with our backs that we cannot backpack without help anymore.  And I am not ready yet to give up backpacking altogether.  So we have been considering pack horses, mules, donkeys, llamas and goats and finally decided that pack goats make the most sense for us.  So we have been looking for large goats to train to pack this winter and spring to hopefully be ready by the summer for at least day hikes.  We first bought Sparrow above.  He’s a Nubian-Boer cross goat whose 9 months old and already 100 pounds.  He is a friendly goat.  He won’t be ready for much weight this summer as he will still be growing, but he should become a very large strong goat with time.

Then today we visited the New Moon Farm Goat Rescue and Sanctuary where we met a lot of different goats.  But the best by far is Zeus.  He’s an Alpine mix wether of 5 years old.  He and his companion Lily came from a home that couldn’t keep them but had cared for them well.  He is friendly and well behaved.  He is also large and gorgeous.  Here he is peeking into the cab of the truck on the way to his new home.

 

Here’s Lily, his companion at New Moon Farm.  She is a La Mancha goat with a “precocious udder”.  She is also quite friendly.  I have never been attracted to La Mancha but have always heard people talk about their great personalities so now I will find out for myself.  So far, so good.

 

Here they are arriving in their new home,

 

walking to the barn,

and apparently seeing llamas for the first time.

 

They will be quarantined, then go on walks, then learn to carry packs.  Goats are usually friendly, people oriented and food motivated so hopefully will be easy to persuade to carry packs.

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10 Responses to Pack Goats

  1. Teresa says:

    I hope they work for you. I think it would be a blast to go hiking with goats. I personally think those La Manchas look like they had their ears frozen off. You’ll have to let us know if they really do have great personalities.

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    • Thanks Teresa. I hope it is a blast- but they can be annoying independent too. I always thought one of the best features of a goat are the ears and La Manchas look funny. I will let you know if her personality makes up for her lack of ears.

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  2. Chai Chai says:

    I will be interested to see how this works out. I’ll be sure to look here for training updates. If I tried this with my goats they would walk in circles as they tried desperately to get at the food in the packs they were carrying.

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  3. Michelle says:

    How wonderful that you got “rescue” goats! I’ve never heard of anyone using pack goats, but sounds like they could work for light packs. I would worry about using them in wilderness areas with large predators, though. They are a much more attractive size than a pack horse or llama, and without the self-defensive reputation of a donkey or mule.

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    • At the very least they have a new and permanent home. They are supposed to be able to carry 1/4 to 1/3 of their weight. I am aiming for 1/4. We will have to be vigilant about predators. I am kind of hoping Walker, one of our pack llamas, might still be able to pack so we could bring him and the goats. We shall see!

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  4. Denise says:

    Sparrow is such a cutie. And I had no idea there was a goat sanctuary in Arlington. That’s cool. Hope the goat packing works out for you!

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    • Sparrow is a cutey. Zeus is really impressive- the photos do no do justice to his size and majesty. Lily is really friendly. I have known about this sanctuary for a while from petfinder. It is actually even better than I expected. The goats are very well cared for and there’s an amazing variety there. I really hope this packing thing works out too. Our backs need some younger help!

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  5. Nancy K. says:

    I’m with you on the LaManchas. So you may not be surprised that I’m a big fan of Nubians. Although I’ve heard that they’re not the brightest goats in the herd.

    I’m sure that’s a lie started by some LaMancha breeder!

    😉

    Good luck and keep us posted with lots of photos…

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    • I like the looks of Nubians but hear from multiple sources that they do not have great personalities for packing. Sparrow is a little Nubian (and may have other dairy breeds in there) so we’ll see how he turns out as a packer. Don’t worry about lots of pictures 😉

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