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How to Train Your Goats for Packing

If you're raising goats as part of your effort to live a green lifestyle, you may want to train them for packing. Although you can train almost any goat to pack, you're better off looking for a goat with certain qualities:

  • Large: Dairy wethers are the most highly valued goats for packing. The bigger they are, the more they can carry.

  • Friendly and energetic: Pack goats have to work with you as a team, so they'd better like humans. They also need to be able to take on the task of walking and carrying supplies.

  • Intelligent and curious: Intelligence and curiosity are good indicators that the goat can be successfully trained to pack. They will be in new and different situations where curiosity, rather than fearfulness, is important.

To train a goat to pack, first make sure that he is accustomed to being handled and is calm. The basic steps for pack training are:

  1. Teach your goat to accept being tied.

    This is important because the goat will need to be tied when you stop to camp, eat, or just rest.

    Make sure your goat has a sturdy collar that isn't too loose. Tie the goat to a gate or fence at back height with a rope or lead that is a foot to a foot-and-a-half long for a short period of time.

    Stay nearby to ensure that your goat doesn't get hurt. If the goat starts to get tangled up, calmly untangle him and tie him to the fence again.The goat should accept being tied up after only a few sessions.

  2. Teach your goat to follow you.

    You will be leading your goat when you pack.

  3. Teach your goat to stand.

    Your goat will need to know to stand when you're putting the pack saddle on him, or at other times on the trail.

    When you are lead training and you come to a halt, say "Stand" or "Stop." Pull up on the lead rope if your goat doesn't stop. Practice this repeatedly, rewarding your goat when he complies, until he gets it.

  4. 4. Teach your goat to wear a pannier.

    He will need a pannier to carry gear. Otherwise your goat will just be hiking, rather than packing.

    First, show your goat the pannier and let him examine it. Gently place the pad and saddle on his back. Tighten the cinch strap, then fasten the breast collar and, last, fasten the rump strap. Check to make sure that two fingers fit between the goat and the cinch strap.

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Let your goat get used to wearing the pannier while it's empty and to go through steps one through three. Take him hiking with it empty. Before you load up the pannier to go on a hike, determine how much weight your goat can safely carry. Overloading a pack can injure the goat.

A yearling pack goat can carry 10 percent of its body weight in a pannier. An older goat can carry up to 15 percent of its body weight.

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