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How to Protect Your Goat Herd from Toxins

After you finally get the goats you dreamed of to supplement your green lifestyle, you don't want to put them at risk or lose them from an avoidable cause. Goats are curious, and if there are toxins around, they may very well poison themselves. To protect your herd, evaluate items that you have stored or are in use in your yard, garage, or barn with an eye to goat safety. If you're going to drink your goats' milk or eat them, you are also at risk of ingesting any poison that your goats get into. Remove any items that might put a goat at risk, especially

  • Lead paint: Goats love to chew and will invariably chew on walls, especially if you don't want them to. Lead paint is common in old barns and other structures. To be safe, assume that the paint on old walls and doors is lead-based, and don't use those areas for goats. Bare, untreated wood is actually best.

  • Railroad ties: If you are putting up a new structure and have access to free railroad ties, don't use them. They contain creosote, which is poisonous to goats.

  • Plastic: Keep all plastic, particularly plastic bags and plastic twine, out of reach of goats. Goats that swallow plastic can suffer from a blocked rumen and lose weight or die. Swallowing plastic also causes symptoms such as loss of appetite, decreased milk production, and bloating. Be careful to properly dispose of plastic from mineral blocks or other types of feed.

  • Solvents and other chemicals: Make sure that you have removed any old kerosene, solvents, or other chemicals that people often keep in garages or barns. These hazards can sicken or kill goats. Even those stored on high shelves within a goat area aren't safe.

Store all feed away from your goats in an area they can't access. If they inadvertently get to grain, they will eat until it's gone — and then you will have very sick or dead goats. If your goats overeat, and you are unaware of it, you may not understand the cause of the symptoms they exhibit. The feeling of panic is terrible, and so is the guilt when a goat dies because of your mistake.

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