Goats as pack animals?

10:59 a.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Anyone ever hiked with goats as pack animals? A goat farmer friend wants me to try it. If you have done it please share your experiences.

I usually like to carry my own stuff but the pictures of goats all packed up are intriguing. It might make trips with the little ones more doable.

11:47 a.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I have never done it, but I read a story once about a guy called the Goatman, he had 27 goats that carried all his stuff and he traveled around the USA walking back in the 80s and 90s. Seems like a better idea than even Llama's as the goats are easier to care for, not so big and you could also milk them every morning for fresh milk!

11:53 a.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I have seen before- it certainly made me smile, it was just so funny and unexpected. I asked them if they were ever problematic, and they said you had to pick one that was laid back but still active.

12:51 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I had heard about it a few years ago and did some research and it looked like it might be a good way to go. You do need to start training the goats at a young age in order for them to preform well. If you do an internet search you will find a ton of information. Everything from training to gear and even a national organization for goat packers.

1:54 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Pardon me while I act like like a middle-schooler and snicker at the title "Goat Packers"....

2:10 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I like the idea because I could get my large but young family farther from civilization if someone else (goats perhaps) carried some of our stuff.

Lots of people eat goats in this part of the country so I think a kid (goat) might be easy and cheap to come by. It just might be too much to resist.

Any admitted goat packers in the forum want to share experiences?

3:26 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I have never personally done this but it sounds interesting and I have met a guy who had a goat that hike with him, it was pretty tall, its back was probably just over 3 feet high and the man said it easily carried 20lbs for him without any problems.

3:55 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Pardon me while I act like like a middle-schooler and snicker at the title "Goat Packers"....

You're Baaaaaaaaaad!
Ed

4:10 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I would think feeding and watering the animal would be your biggest challenge. Obviously you wouldn't want the goat to carry only its own supplies, that would defeat the purpose, so finding places to legally pasture the animal might prove difficult. Still, if you know people who are familiar with such challenges this would be a fun way to travel.

4:53 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I would agree, and I think that trying to keep a goat from eating everything it sees would be incredibly difficult.

Thats why I just wrestle a grizzly into submission and have it carry my whole pack for me then let him stay in the woods when i leave ;)

But in all honesty it would take a bit of work but im sure it would act very similarly to a llama both probably having their own challenges but if you can figure out the ways to deal with them would be very beneficial.

8:41 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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I know someone who has goats for pack animal use. I never got to see them in action when he lived here because they are not allowed where I usually go backpacking (Sequoia/Kings Canyon).

He seemed to think that it works really well.

10:50 p.m. on June 10, 2010 (EDT)
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Thats why I just wrestle a grizzly into submission and have it carry my whole pack for me then let him stay in the woods when i leave ;)

I hadn't considered that before, I bet that's the real reason Grizzly Adams had Ben the Grizzly bear (old tv show). I wonder how much a mature grizzly bear can haul?

12:36 a.m. on June 11, 2010 (EDT)
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A former climbing partner of mine described using them for backcountry climbing trips in the U.S., for which carrying in large amounts of gear is often necessary. He indicated that the animals he used were raised and trained by his family specifically with the purpose in mind, and were strong, hardy, and substantially able to fend for themselves, even in rough country.

I never got to see them in action, but he spoke extremely highly of their abilities and of the luxuries of a goat-supplied backcountry camp. Made me a bit envious, in fact.

8:44 p.m. on June 17, 2010 (EDT)
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We have not used goats as pack animals, but did farm with goats for 13 years. Among the advantages: Goats are at least a friendly and people-centric as dogs - and they won't chase squirrels and porcupines! They'll carry up to one third of their body weight. Goats are "browsers" rather than "foragers." They actually prefer to nibble at brush and small trees - so fancy grass is not a high priority. They may need to pack along a grain supplement if they are working hard - but you'll be able to learn much more by checking out the web site of "Windy River Pack Goats" - http://www.goatpacking.com/

We first learned of Windy River from Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz who chronicled their goat adventures in a book entitled "The Year of the Goat - 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese." Margaret's accounts of trekking with goats are informative and amusing and Karl's photos are breathtaking! http://www.karlschatz.com/yearofthegoat/

2:04 a.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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I personally own 5 wethers that I use as packgoats, and I have a doe that we milk every evening that produces 1/2 gallon of delicious milk.

You can see a couple of my trip reports on my blog at www.bearriveroutfitters.com, using my goats.

I am now 52 yrs old, going on 53 and would never go back to lugging all of my gear by myself.

Goats are fun to go hiking with- last summer we went into the Wind River Range for 6 days...we took a lot of gear, but I only carried a little more than 10 lbs myself.

Goats are VERY alert and can spot wildlife rather quickly.

Below is a URL for a 4 page discussion over at www.backpacker.com.

http://www.backpacker.com/cgi-bin/forums/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=852107219;t=9991133828;st=0

12:21 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Nice blog vigilguy, I enjoyed it. I bookmarked it so I could go back and read it as you add to it.

The goats looked like they did an admirable job, I noticed you seemed to have only two goats out with you, do you use your five goats in rotation, or how does that work?

Looked like beautiful country, and I really liked the clear water you were fishing, I only get water that clear when fishing shallow water at our local lake, or when I head up to the mountains to fish streams.

Thanks.

3:47 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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My #3 guy got injured last summer, so I left him home. #4 and #5 goats were yearlings last summer and were too young to pack, but they have grown considerably this summer, so far, so I will be able to use them soon.

We usually fish in lakes above timberline in the Winds and the water is crystal clear and COLD.

7:18 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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What about predators? I would think that bear, mountain lions would be problems. And god forbid...GOAT RUSTLERS, LOL

7:58 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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And one could always take extras to eat like the old eskimos did on long unsuccessful hunting trips with their dog teams. I read about that in a book called"To the top of the World" by a anthropogist who lived with the eskimos back in the 1940s.

11:39 p.m. on June 20, 2010 (EDT)
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Predators? One would think that they are a magnet....but that does not seem to be the case. Several of us in the packgoat community have bells on the collars of our goats, our intent is to have wildlife associate bells with humans.

In the backpacker forum link, I provided a photo that was taken when a black bear came wandering through camp in the middle of the day...the goats and bear bear just stared at each other, then finally the bear moved on. Grizzlies may be a totally different matter.

I have recently purchased a LGD (livestock guardian dog) to protect my goats when in the Winds, from predators and also domestic dogs that are unleashed and find entertainment in harassing my packstock. Hopefully that will help as well.

10:06 a.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
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If, I were running packgoats in bear country, after a lifetime of wilderness experience in Grizzly country, I would not even consider going out without a dog of the appropriate breed.

I prefer pb Rottweilers for my companion dogs, but, while they can outpack and outpull about any breed, they are not my first choice as a "bear" dog. This, because they are TOO brave, tough and will attack and never quit, until the bear kills them.

I know one of the top breeders now working of "Karelian Bear Dogs" and "Laikas", the Russian version thereof and would choose one of these to work with my packstock. Most dogs are a liability in Grizzly country and we were not allowed to take them into the field for that reason in my time working for the Forest Service here.

A Karelian will "bay" a bear, but, then, as with any "protection dog", YOU have to eventually deal with it, unless it decamps as many of them will. So, this should be taken into account, as well.

I would not overly concern myself with Black Bears if I had a few mature packgoats on the trail, but, a Grizzly is a totally different issue and presents a good reason to deal with it in another fashion.

11:12 p.m. on June 21, 2010 (EDT)
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A big enough dog and he could pack for you.

7:43 p.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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My cousins in the Shenandoah Valley raise goats for milk and cheese. They have a big ol dog who lives with the goats. My spelling is way off, but it's a Great Pyrenees, aka Polar Bear.

Just to add, she is as sweet as candy, but will bark at anything that comes close to the pen/field. She's huge!

9:14 p.m. on June 23, 2010 (EDT)
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Actually your spelling is correct. Based on the Pyrenees I've been around they are an excellent example of large dogs that can be very gentle, and still stand their ground formidably when it is necessary.

That's a cool photo, how many goats do they have?

1:42 a.m. on June 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Troutunter


She is so gentile with me and the kids, it really is a contrast to what I have heard during the night and her barking, which doesn't happen all to often. They have nearly a dozen, but from what I hear there are a couple additions in the last month that they can keep around. Don't quite know how that works, but I think it's something like boys and aggressive males halt the milk production. Don't quote me though... Someone on here outta know.

9:56 p.m. on July 11, 2010 (EDT)
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Im jumping in here.

Pack goats can go anywhere you want to hike. but if you can carry your own stuff..whats the deal? just go..........There arntt many people who will rent their animals...only reason to line up pack animal is if you have .. children , old people, or disability to carry a pack. And then, yes I can recommend goats to the enth degree, wouldnt be out there without them.

1:19 a.m. on July 12, 2010 (EDT)
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Virgilguy

Nice blog.. Nice lil videos in there too! I liked the one of you catching the fish!

As far as keeping the goats at home, I guess you raisd them to pack? Did you have to start them at a young age to carry stuff or how did you do it? I want to go up to live and hike in southwestern Utah in the next year or so. I know people there that raise goats on thier small acreage.

You orsomeone said they were browsers not foragers, do you carry any extra food for them or just let them eat what they can find?

I am your age, 54 last January. I want to continue to hike and camp but not so willing to carry all the weight to stay outdoors for a month at a time like I like doing. I am thinking maybe goats would be the way to go. And you mentioned a 1/2 gallon of fresh milk everyday. I love goats milk and that would be an added bonus.

9:31 p.m. on July 28, 2010 (EDT)
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Sorry about the delay....I don't get on the forums much anymore.

Thanks for the kind words.

These are goats specifically bred for packing, and there is a difference between pack goats and DAIRY goats. I got them when they were babies, but I can put a saddle on them when they are around 2 years old or so and they do just fine. No break in period.

I only pack in some Calf Manna for energy, they forage for their food.

I don't go anywhere in the back country anymore without them. No more heavy packs for me, nor do I need to go UL.

I am doing an overnighter in my area this Friday, 3000' in 3 miles (Wellsville Range). Yes they are going with me to pack water and gear.

3:46 p.m. on October 3, 2010 (EDT)
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Ive quite enjoyed this thread, so I thought I would put in my two cents. I have my own herd of pack goats and really have enjoyed the freedom they give me to get out into the backcountry more often. I even use them for hunting. I took a nice bull elk this year during the archery season in Idaho with my two favorite Oberhasli goats by my side. The hauled my gear in and packed my elk out. I pack about 50 lbs each goat for longer trecks, but try to keep it lighter if we are hiking over dead fall in the deep woods while hunting. They just follow like dogs, and even help me spot game. They have packed me and a scout group into the Wind Rivers, packed me into numerous high mountain lakes, and lots of day hikes.

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