Organic Broadcaster

Goat farmer finds new book a welcome resource

By Leslie Svacina

When it comes to goats, there’s not much research, health care products, equipment, reference books, or even veterinarians who have basic knowledge about or are willing to work with goats. Goat producers usually put on their “goat glasses” and adapt sheep or other ruminant information to manage the health needs of their herd.

That’s why Gianaclis Caldwell’s new book, Holistic Goat Care, is such a welcome resource. The book is a comprehensive guide to raising healthy goats, and solving health issues that arise. It’s well suited for both the new and experienced goat keeper, and covers all types of goats. Topics include:

  • Starting and managing a herd, and understanding goat behavior
  • Farm management, nutrition needs, and feed choice
  • Basic skills for managing herd health
  • Breeding, pregnancy, delivery, caring for kids, milking
  • Managing specific goat health problems, including signs and symptoms, as well as treatments and prevention options

Caldwell presents the content in an easy-to-read manner that flows well, whether one reads the book in its entirety or uses it as a reference guide. Throughout the book, she blends her practical experience with goats with science-based information. Caldwell also takes a broad holistic approach to health care for goats.

While the goat resources that do exist touch on many of the same topics, most do not have the depth of this book, nor recognize holistic management practices.

Since there are few veterinarians in our area who are knowledgeable on goats, I’ve added a goat veterinary textbook to my stack of resources. While Holistic Goat Care doesn’t dive deep into veterinary medical speak, it is a great resource for goat producers. It is much easier to read than the veterinary textbook, and explains terminology and practices for those who may not have formal training or background in animal science. The book also includes a variety of supply lists, check lists, terminology, signs/symptoms, resource lists, photos, troubleshooting guides, A-Z list of disorders, and a glossary. Additionally, the value of the content is more reasonable—about $40 versus $100 or more for a textbook.

I especially liked the feed choice section, which includes information about pasture, grazing, browse, and forages. Other feeding options were covered, but since I practice rotational grazing, I really appreciated the information in this section.

I also liked the information on the role of minerals, vitamins and supplements, covered both in the feed choice and nutritional needs chapters. The book covers how minerals interact with each other, their impact on a goat’s development, signs of deficiencies, risks of an overabundance of minerals, and approaches to supplement for minerals.

The step-by-step instructions on how to do your own fecal float test to look at parasite loads are good, too. She includes a supply list and instructional photos. There isn’t any information on what certain parasite eggs look like. However, that information is easily accessible online or through a consult with your vet.

I never want to lose one of my goats, but I also recognize the importance of continuing to learn how to care for my livestock. Over the years, I’ve had our veterinarian out to the farm to do necropsies. While observing live animal behavior and symptoms can help us draw conclusions to why a goat may have an ailment, it doesn’t always tell us what is actually happening or why. Necropsies have helped answer these questions and as a result I’ve made some adjustments on feeding and management practices. It’s not always feasible to get a vet out to our farm or bring the animal into the clinic. This guide helps solve this challenge by providing clear instructions on doing a necropsy.

If you’re getting started with goats, the first part of the book includes a variety of information on goat behavior, fencing, feeding, animal handling tips, and so on.

While this book isn’t a substitution for veterinary care, it is a very comprehensive holistic health care reference that all goat farmers should consider having on their bookshelf.

Leslie Svacina owns Cylon Rolling Acres in Deer Park, Wis. She raises meat goats on pasture.


The MOSES online bookstore also has these books on goats:

Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat and More
By Deborah Niemann
2013 | New Society Publishers
285 Pages | $24.95

If you’d like to incorporate goats into your sustainable homestead, Raising Goats Naturally is an excellent resource to use both as an introduction to the topic and a day-to-day goat care primer.

The book describes goat breeds, housing, and fencing, and provides advice for daily goat maintenance, including chapters on feeding, breeding, disease, parasites, and pregnancy and birth. Furthering the idea of using a self-reliant model, author Deborah Niemann also dives into goats’ multiple production uses—dairy, cheese, meat, and soap, and includes home recipes for all of those products.

The book contains numerous black-and-white photographs and illustrations, and helpful sidebars that offer perspectives from sustainable goat farmers around the country.

Niemann is a homesteader, author, and self-sufficiency expert who raises livestock, fruit, and vegetables on her family’s homestead.

The Dairy Goat Handbook: For Backyard, Homestead, and Small Farm
By Ann Starbard
2015 | Quarto Publishing
192 Pages | $19.95

Learn about dairy goat ownership from a farmer with fifteen years of experience. Ann Starbard raises her own goats, and with her husband has built a robust goat cheese business. The sell from their farm, markets, and to numerous retail outlets, including Whole Foods.

This book is aimed at the smaller-scale goat farmer. Starbard walks readers through the early steps of goat ownership and into daily management, health troubleshooting, and dairy production. Learn about different breeds of goats, how to contain and manage your herd, and how to breed and manage dairy production.

Full-color photographs are plentiful, and the book features sidebars with charts and advice.

Hailey Melander is the MOSES Communications Coordinator.


From the November | December 2017 Issue

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