Getting Started with Goats
Is your site suitable for goats?
Are you legally allowed to keep goats at your site? You can find the city’s ordinance about keeping goats in residential areas here:
You also need to make sure you clear your project with your school’s administration. Small Middle School is one AISD (Austin Independent School District) school which has navigated these waters successfully, and has included goats on its campus. You can find out more about their program here:
Preparing your site
You should plan to have at least two goats – a single goat is a lonely, unhappy goat. Goats will need a safe and dry place to sleep, as well as a secure enclosure. They’re quite the escape artists, so you’ll need a very sturdy fence (livestock panels are handy for this)! If your goats will have a large place to roam, you should plan for their house to be at least 15 sq. ft. per adult (standard sized) goat. If your goats will be confined to their house and enclosed yard, you should plan to have 20 square feet per adult standard-sized goat in their house, plus another 30 square feet outdoors for exercise. Goats also need to climb and play, so plan to locate or build them some structures for that. Goats will need sun, shade, constant access to fresh and clean water, and protection from the weather. You can read more about planning your goats’ habitat here:
http://www.weedemandreap.com/how-much-space-need-raise-goats (also a good site for basic information)
Planning to build
There are so many different types of goat shelters you can create! Goats will be happy in any basic shelter that protects them from the wind and rain; something as simple as a shed will work. Once you have located a site that has fairly level ground, and protection from the elements, you can start making some decisions about what sort of shelter to create. You will need a sturdy fence, and particularly at a school, you will need a way to lock the gate into the goat pen. Below are some links for shelter building ideas, as well as a couple book recommendations.
Simple pallet shelter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fURAGnAz_V0
Very simple shed, explained in pictures: https://sensiblesurvival.org/2013/08/18/build-a-portable-goat-shed/
You can also buy pre-made shelters: http://www.portablelivestockshelters.com/Goat_Housing.html
Book on backyard goat keeping (some information will also be applicable to schools): http://www.mountaineersbooks.org/City-Goats-P992.aspx
Book with a variety of animal shelter plans: https://www.amazon.com/How-Build-Animal-Housing-Stanchions/dp/1580175279/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1480789002&sr=8-1&keywords=how+to+build+animal+housing
Budgeting for materials, supplies, and goats
Once you have decided what kind of shelter and enclosure you are going to build, you’ll be able to start creating your budget. You will need to include prices for all of the building materials for the shelter and fence, as well as the other equipment that goat husbandry requires. If you’re keeping goats, you’ll want drinking water containers, a manger for hay, a feeder for grain, and a feeder for minerals. You’ll need a shovel for cleaning out the goat barn and goat yard, hoof trimmers, insect control measures, hay and grain, and basic preventative and first aid medications (such as dewormer). You’ll need a place and containers to store all of these things. As mentioned in the site preparation section, goats need structures to climb on and toys to play with. If you decide to milk, or harvest meat or fiber, each of these will require specialized equipment. Research all of your costs thoroughly before beginning your project, so you know exactly how much money to raise or budget.
Home Depot or Lowes will have all you need for construction, and their employees are helpful for budget creation. If you take a building plan in to Home Depot, they have a department which will create a budget for the project for you.
Raising Goats for Dummies is actually a pretty good reference on preparing for goats. Here is their list with some required items you’ll need to budget: http://www.dummies.com/home-garden/hobby-farming/raising-goats/preparing-your-property-for-raising-goats/
Callahan’s is a good local general store for a wide variety of equipment, food, and farm medical needs. Contact them here: http://callahansgeneralstore.com/
Tractor Supply Co is another good source for livestock needs: http://www.tractorsupply.com/?cm_sp=Header_Nav-_-Links-_-Logo
Find goats and a vet
Once you have prepared a site, decided on a shelter and pen design, created a budget, and built your goats’ new habitat, you’re ready to bring your goats home! You need to make sure you have found a local vet who can care for your goats when they need it. Elgin Veterinary Clinic accepts goats (http://elginveterinaryhospital.com/), as well as Sunset Canyon Veterinary Clinic (http://sunsetcanyonveterinaryclinic.com/).
There are a number of local, reliable sources for goats. Check out the South Central Texas Goat Club (http://www.sctexgoatclub.org/classifieds.html) and Harlequin Goats (http://www.harlequingoats.com/Site/Welcome.html) are two you might consider. It is also a good idea to join a goat club or association, like South Central Texas Goat Club. This will give you a community of people and resources to help you with your venture. If you decide to go the craigslist route, make sure you research the seller and the health of his/her goats.