Kids Playing With Kids: It’s a Goat Thing!

-by Kym Sunday, a Cox Farms Farmhand

Our focus this spring and summer was on new “kids” (the term used for baby goats) being born into the Cox Farms family. Now, it’s well into fall, and our second round of “kids” is arriving in the Fall Festival Goat Village. There’s been a kid explosion at Cox Farms! Between all the youngsters running around with their parents, and our bustling goat village, “kids” are front and center at Cox Farms!

A mother goat at Cox Farms

Why have so many goats been born?
Well besides the obvious, we normally keep our “bucks” (boy goats who are not fixed) and “does” (girl goats) in separate pens.  Way back in the (not so) cold of winter we introduced our breeding buck, named “Buckshot,” into the main herd of does.  Over a period of a few weeks he mated with about 30 different does.  Roughly 150 days after the first pregnancy our kids began to arrive, and they kept coming, and coming, and coming: 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . 26 – try and keep count after that!

Most of our does had twins, and most of our kids were bouncing baby bucks!  They could stand within minutes after birth and were able to move with the herd right away.  They are very playful and fun to watch!  Once we got through the main “kidding” period, Greg, our primo goat caretaker, started placing tags on the kid’s ears (think pierced earring).  The kids will wear their tags for their whole lives.  They will tell us what year they were born, that Buckshot is their father, they are ours, their gender, and help us keep count of our kids.  Our 2012 kids wear cool Cox Farms yellow tags.

Here is a picture of a “kid” goat wearing a identification tag.

Your questions about goats – answered!
I am about to celebrate my 4th Anniversary with Cox Farms.  During that time I have been asked many, many questions by children of all ages about our goats.  I have learned more than I ever thought I would by working with them, but once the kidding started it became obvious that I needed to learn more about our goats.  Here are some of the top questions I get asked about all the goats at Cox Farms.

How many kids can a doe have in a litter?  How long to they live?
A doe can have between 1 and 6 kids in a litter; twins are most common.  They live about 8-12 years old.

How much do the newborn kids weigh?  What about adult goats? 
That varies by breed, but our kids have weighed in at a whopping 2 to 4 pounds!  They grow like weeds, and don’t stay small for long!  Adult goats can weigh anywhere from 20-350 pounds!  Ours are mostly under 100 pounds.

What kind of goats do you have?
Most of our goats are lovable “mutts” – mixed breeds.  We have a few “fainting” goats in our herd.  Of course they don’t really faint!  When they feel panicked, their muscles just freeze for about 10 seconds.  That results in the goat falling on it’s side.  Don’t worry.  They get right back up and go about their business.

Do goats bite?
All animals can bite.  Goats don’t usually bite – at least not intentionally.  They don’t have upper front teeth.  They have a hard “gum pad” so if they do accidentally “bite” they are not likely to do any serious damage.

Do goats get sick?
Of course!  Like humans, goats occasionally get sick.  And, like humans, our goats have their own “doctor” – a wonderful local vet.  Fortunately we have many animal lovers who work at Cox Farms and some great customers who look out for our animals.  They are quick to point out anything that seems amiss.  Any illness is caught and treated pretty quickly.

Are goats smart?
Oh, yes!  They are very curious, too!  They love to explore new places and quite often they figure out how to get out of their pens!   Once they do, good luck keeping them on the INSIDE.  Even kids will get out of the fence, but they will not go far from their mommies.  Some goats can jump as high as 5 feet.  A few of our goats have been known to jump the fence and come visit us all over the Fall Festival – including the Festival Market!.  Our goats also recognize certain farm vehicles – the ones that bring them food – and will come running when they see them.  Also, goats use their upper lip and tongue to explore anything new.  They investigate things like your clothing, camera cases, hair, purses, and anything else you are carrying by nibbling at them.  Occasionally they eat them, too – oops!

Speaking of eating, what DO goats eat? 
Folklore will have you believe that goats will eat just about anything – even tin cans!  That is not exactly true (it’s true that they do like the tasty glue from can labels).  Like I said, goats investigate new things by nibbling them, but they will spit out anything that doesn’t taste good.  What they really like is to browse on vines, shrubbery, and tall weeds.  They will stand on their hind legs to reach tree branches.  You will notice that we have a hard time growing trees in the goat pen!

Our goats love the sweet feed that we give them, which is specially formulated for healthy goats.  They also love alfalfa hay.  Kids will nurse from their mothers until they are 2 to 3 months old when they will eat what the rest of the herd eats.  Please don’t try and feed our goats the corn you find around the farm.  It upsets their tummies!

You can tell a buck from a doe because a buck has horns and a beard, right?  False.  Both can have horns and beards.  You have to look closer than their horns to tell the difference.

Can goats see in the dark?
Yup – they have excellent night vision.  I often see them out browsing after dark.  They have rectangular pupils, like an octopus of all things!

Can goats swim?
Goats hate to get wet.  That is probably why I have never seen a goat swim.  Interestingly though, they are excellent swimmers.

Goats seem skittish.  What is the best way to pet them? 
Don’t go right for the top of the head like you are petting your dog.  They can’t see what you are doing so it makes them nervous.  Come at them from the front towards their chin.  They can see you and won’t be as scared. They have a couple of sweet spots where they liked to be rubbed – on the side of their neck where it meets their chin, their breastbone and their armpits.  It is easiest to pet them while you are feeding them.

Do they make good pets?  Can they be kept alone?
Goats make excellent pets, but please do your research and DON’T keep them alone.  Be sure you are allowed to have goats where you live, you have enough room, and you learn how to care for them.  Goats are herd animals and need the company of at least one other goat.  They will also readily accept other animals like cows and horses (and llamas like our very own Chewy!) as companions.

Goats need companions! Here, a mother takes care of her “kids” at Cox Farms.

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