Everything you ever wanted to know about raising goats but were afraid to ask is here in this handy and informative how-to primer.
Smart, a veterinarian who has raised her own goats, notes the titular animals are hardy, useful creatures—a source of cashmere and angora wool, low-lactose milk for those allergic to the bovine variety and lean meat for a wedding-feast shish kebab; when tethered to a post they even make serviceable “organic lawn-mowers.” But farmers trying to procure these goods and services profitably must pay close attention to the animals’ care and maintenance, a task made easier by this comprehensive, easy-to-follow manual. The author addresses every aspect of goat health and welfare. Goat forage and dietary supplements are covered in great depth, with step-by-step procedures for formulating feed rations that the critters will find nutritious and palatable. The text describes common diseases along with symptoms, treatments and tips on drug administration. A long chapter on goat breeding includes sections on hormone injections to manipulate the breeding season and commentary on the “unique odor and disgusting behavior” of bucks. The information Smart provides is exquisitely detailed—see “Procedures for Examining Manure for Parasites”—and summarized clearly in tables. (The book’s main deficit is its lack of drawings and diagrams, which would come in handy for sections on building shelters, castrating bucks and performing autopsies on goat carcasses.) She leavens the data and procedural with sprightly anecdotes on goat antics, including vignettes celebrating their preternatural climbing ability, skill at using their horns to escape confinement and destroy property and habit of fainting under pressure. Occasionally Smart takes a literary turn too many, as in this parasitology lesson rendered in soliloquy: “?‘I really don’t remember my life as an egg; once I was passed in the feces, I quickly turned into a first-stage larva.’?” But novice goat farmers and old hands alike will find here a wealth of expertise presented in a straightforward style.
A lucid, engaging, authoritative guide.