Our small family farm is located in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. We lovingly raise registered miniature goats (Pygmies and Nigerian Dwarfs) as well as registered miniature sheep (Olde English Babydoll Southdown and Harlequin). All are gentle, playful and make perfect pets.
Both goats and sheep should eat good quality (not stale, not moldy) hay and pasture. This is their primary diet. You can supplement with a little grain daily. Do not overfeed grain – goats and sheep will plump up quickly and being overweight is not healthy. Providing loose minerals “free choice” (meaning they have access to it and can eat whenever they feel like it) is essential. We also provide baking soda free choice – they will eat it when needed to regulate their rumen. Caution: sheep are highly sensitive to copper and it can kill them but goats need copper. Most minerals & feed labeled for goats only contain copper so be careful. If you have sheep only or goats and sheep together, you must get a mineral and feed that are labeled for sheep.
Clean, fresh water is vital 24 hours a day. Goats in particular are picky drinkers. They will go without rather than drink dirty or stale water.
Goats and sheep need protection from the weather so some type of shelter is required. Large dog houses can work as can lean to’s or a barn. Sheep are heartier and will stay outside more often even in very cold temperatures or damp weather but goats do not. One drop of rain will send them scurrying to the barn.
Fencing is a must to protect animals from predators. Neighborhood dogs, coyotes, etc can and will attack livestock and your animals have little defense except to run – so protect them!
First and foremost, find a good large animal vet. This is your best resource for maintaining healthy animals. Goats and sheep are pretty low maintenance: their hooves need trimming 2-3 times a year. We vaccinate annually with CD&T to prevent enterotoxemia.
Worming is a topic of much discussion in the livestock world. Intestinal worms are a big threat to your goats and sheep so you will have to worm them from time to time. Do not worm routinely! This practice has caused resistance to the drugs. We utilize the FAMACHA method and only medicate individual animals as needed.
Goats and sheep are herd animals meaning they do not like to be alone. Their nature is to be with a herd always. Single animals do not do well and often do not survive. So you need to plan on having at least two to keep each other company. Most people start with either 2 females (does/ewes) or a female and a castrated male (wether). Wethers make wonderful companion pets as they are very sweet and gentle. They can be a “buddy” for a male or female animal.
Contrary to the cartoons, goats do not and should not eat just anything. If you want healthy animals, you must be responsible with your feeding program. Goats are browsers; sheep are grazers. Goats eat a little here, a little there, focusing their eating on the tops of the plants. They frequently will stand on their back legs to reach up to a tall plant or tree. Both goats and sheep are great for clearing brush but must always be protected from predators.