Introducing Goats to an Established Herd
While most often introducing a new goat goes off with little to no problems, sometimes a referee is needed. I have learned a lot this year with introducing goats, we have added nine goats this year!
Each goat came under separate circumstances, creating many different outcomes. While some went off without a hitch, others required more time and work.
We started our herd with two pygmy goats, Coco and Lucy, a few years ago as strictly pets. Last October we added a “pregnant” Oberhasli doe, Ginger.
Ginger, Oberhasli Doe
Here comes Ginger
Coco, our dominate Pygmy, was very aggressive at the start, so we kept Ginger secluded not wanting to take the chance of losing the baby. Once we figured out she was not pregnant, we put them together a few hours at a time, placing Ginger in a separate stall at night.
Within a week they got over their issues and became best friends. Coco, Lucy, and Ginger are to this date inseparable, we believe Ginger identifies as a Pygmy, NOT an Oberhasli…
Gizmo, “Big Mama”
We then added Gizmo, our second pregnant Oberhasli, she was very close to due when we got her, therefore she was kept separate from the others. After she had given birth we waited until her doeling, Izzy, was a good size to introduce them.
Gizmo had playdates with the others for a few weeks before we introduced Izzy into the mix. Gizmo became the herd queen quickly, but not without a fight from Coco.
Gizmo took the longest of all our goats to introduce full time. We had to separate her and Coco on multiple occasions because of the constant head butting.
Make room for Mabel
Mabel, our third Oberhasli doe, came in and went directly in with the herd. She came from the same farm as Ginger, which seemed to make things go much easier.
She was well excepted by all the goats and even became Izzy’s favorite aunt. She fell directly under Gizmo in the pecking order. At this point the herd pecking order was Gizmo, Izzy, Mabel, Coco, Ginger, and then Lucy.
Mabel “Sweet Cheeks”
It takes two
Next came the twofers, J.J and Zoey. J.J came to us on a Saturday and Zoey on Sunday from two separate farms. J.J a gorgeous yearling and Zoey a mere three-week-old baby.
J.J needed massive medical attention, therefore she was kept excluded from everyone till we got her to the veterinarian Monday morning. She had recently had a baby, way too young, suffered from Mastitis, rain rot, a fungal skin infection, and a bacterial skin infection.
Once she was on the proper medications and the doctor cleared all her lab results, we started introducing her and Zoey. She took Zoey in like her own right from the start!
We even gave them matching mommy daughter collars. They were inseparable from that moment on, even as of today.
As we began to integrate them into the herd, a problem arose. I had always read that goats will not gang up on each other that they fight one on one. Umm NO!
They ganged up on J.J badly, not so much Zoey. It took weeks to have them excepted completely into the herd. The new herd order: Gizmo, Izzy, Mabel, Coco, Ginger, Lucy, Zoey, then J.J.
J.J our little princess
Here comes the boys
A few months later we brought in our first buck, Harry, and his best weathered friend Mikey. They were kept in a separate house and pasture so no problems adding them into the herd.
The girls were all very interested in these two. They ran along the fence line strutting their stuff and driving Harry crazy.
Last but not least
Cami, our final doe, showed up a week later, a gorgeous two-year-old. She came from the same farm as Gizmo and Zoey.
Zoey and Izzy are half-sisters with only a month between them in age. This introduction went relatively easy, maybe because our herd queen knew her.
Therefore, she fell right into line. The herd order did change a bit with Cami’s addition: Gizmo, Mabel, Izzy, Coco, Lucy, Ginger, Zoey, J.J, and Cami.
Izzabella “Izzy Bizzy”
Over the past few months, I have seen some very neat arrangements. This is how we typically find the girls hanging out: Gizmo, Mabel, and Izzy;Coco, Lucy, and Ginger; J.J, Cami, and Zoey; Gizmo, Izzy, and Zoey; J.J, Cami, Zoey, and Izzy; and sometimes Mabel and Cami snuggle at night.
However, Coco, Lucy, and Ginger are always together it never changes. When it is feeding time Izzy and Zoey are always together with either Gizmo or J.J, but never do you see Gizmo and J.J together.
Coco is still our most aggressive goat when a new doe is added. Yet Coco knows not to mess with Gizmo! It is an awesome thing to see their social dynamic and how it has changed along the way.
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All photos submitted by author.
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