View Full Version : Goat Packing

03-31-2003, 12:38 PM
Just to keep the knife thread on topic, and to maybe get another topic going...

Goats are great pack animals for quite a few reasons... they are low impact, non-alarming (few if any game animals will alert or at their presence), they can go anywhere, they browse not graze, they bond, and most are strong enough to carry about 50lbs over any terrain. While you dont NEED to tie them in a line for packing, it is often required that animals be tied in the backcountry and they adapt very well to it.

03-31-2003, 01:23 PM
Do they have to be lead, though, or will they stay close like a dog? How do they compare with lamas?

03-31-2003, 02:23 PM
They dont need lead, but alot of areas require it.

as for the llama question... here is what the "father" of goat packing John Mionczynski has to say on the subject:

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">"Llamas are good pack animals whos limiting factor for most is their purchase price. Llamas usually cost more than a good pack horse, sometimes considerably more, but they are cheaper to feed - about one quarter to one fifth the cost of feeding a horse. Goats are by far the least expensive pack animal to buy and maintain. In my area you can buy 6 pack goats for the price of one llama or three goats to one horse. and Llamas and goats are more versatile than horses, donkeys, or mules in that both can negotiate more difficult terrain and eat a wide variety of wild vegitation, so you can camp virtually anywhere and have acceptable pasture for the night. Goats are more versatile in this regard because they eat all the things llamas eat, plus a wide variety of woody stems and dead bark not on the llamas prefrence list. This is what the goat is most noted for in wolrd history - surviving in places where most everything else has been starved out by overgrazing

As a pack animal, the goat is most noted for its surefootedness. Its true that a llama can keep on going where a horse is locked in by rugged or rocky terrain. But the goat isnt even into its element until long after the llama has said whoa. Total ease in rugged out of the way places is the goats number one advantage. Besides being able to negotiate it, goats are most at home in that type of terrain... a pack goat can go where no other pack animal can go"</div></div>Sometimes even places we humans fear to tread.

03-31-2003, 02:26 PM
of note... Im not a goat packer... just very interested in the subject.

03-31-2003, 02:42 PM
I too am interested in the subject. I wish I had the place to keep a few goats to do that. But I'm not too sure how practical they are in the New England area. I suppose that I could use them in the White Mountains in New Hampshire or the Green Mountains in Vermont. Here in Massachusetts, the property for that is too expensive and I really do not care to run goats in the woods during deer season. We have fewer hunters now but I still wouldn't be all that comfortable with the idea.

Tim in Nevada
03-31-2003, 03:18 PM
If they can survive on weeds, I just may end up being the goat guru of the neighborhood. How much time is involved in training a goat to pack? I guess the up side is if you happen to get a mean one, you can always eat him to recoup the investment.(I'm not smart enough to put one of those little smiley faces in here, so that last statement really is a joke) Do they use females or cut males? I know a billy goat is about one of the most disgusting creatures on the planet. Any info is welcome, I didn't know they were that good of a pack animal. What kind are best for being around people and packing?

03-31-2003, 06:56 PM
Tim, training depends on pretty much the same factors as any pack animal Id say... Bond with them, slowly introduce the idea of the saddle and pack, slowly start adding weight, then give it a whirl... Some places will let you rent one (if you happen to have any goat packers close) so you can see how its done with a working goat. I wouldnt be surprised to see a good, well adjusted, goat be packing in about a month.

The British Working Goat Association recommends fixed, dehorned males be used for packing or carting (sidebar: Goats are known to have been used to pull dog sleds in the Alaska goldrush) however males and females both work well... Wethers (castrated males) are largest and can generally carry the most. Does are obviously a bit smaller but have the advantage of being able to provide milk and other dairy products along the trail. Personally, I would leave the horns on... its not quite as safe, but it will help the goat if they happen to have any predator problems along the trail.

Intact males are great to have if your running a breeding program, but I wouldnt be caught dead with one on the trail... too many problems! Not to mention the smell!!!

Any breed that is big enough to carry the pack will work, but there are obvious exceptions... You wouldnt want to buy a goat whose only job in life has been to make baby goats and squirt milk only put her in a pack... She would be miserable, probably have health problems (like cutting her udder on brush) and wouldnt be physically "programed" for feild life... common breeds that are used are Saanen, Toggenburg, Alpine, LaMancha, Boer, and a few others... However Nubians are notorious for being lazy slackers!

Ive been looking at the Kiko and Boer breeds for packing... both are meat goats (grow fast, lots of muscle and small udders) and are of excellent temperment from what I can tell.

Ed C
03-31-2003, 07:16 PM
Howdy Tim
Does that dry lake bed have any water in it yet? I got my apps and regs from Nevada yesterday.

Punch in Bob's web site then punch in pack goats pretty interesting. Also some good links there web page (http://www.helleknife.com) . I've been interested in them for a while. I've got the space and I'll pretty much keep or feed any critter that will stay with me. I wonder if you can ride one?
Good luck

Ed C
03-31-2003, 07:25 PM
I'm going to try this again if it doesen't work look under the thread on knives <a href="http://www.helleknife.com" target="_blank">http://www.helleknife.com (http://www.helleknife.com)</a> web pageknives (http://www.helleknife.com)

04-01-2003, 04:35 AM
Fellas, interesting topic about the goats! I grew up on a little 10 acre ranchette and we always had a couple of goats around the place. Never did try packing them, but did fix up a harness and sled that I used on one particular goat that pulled my little brother around. Took about a 3 days as I remember to train the critter to pull my sibling. One plus for the goat, at least in my experience, was the ability to catch them. Never remember an experience where we had to chase them down (unlike the horses). Pretty tame little animals. One word of caution to any of you would be goat owners is to keep them away from your and cars! For some reason they always climb to the highest vantage point within their given terrain. Many a goat were threatened to the spit by my father after catching them on top of his Buick. It doesn't take them long to scratch up a paint job. One question I have is what kind of pack saddle do you use to pack them with? I would guess something similar to a pack saddle used on horses is made for packing the goat?


Tim in Nevada
04-01-2003, 06:21 AM
Ed, no water yet, just a giant dustbowl. I just tell myself when the wind blows that it's a character building day. I've got horses and mules, but you know how much work they can sometimes be up on the hill. It might be worth getting a couple of goats and try them as packers.
Sgathak, thanks for the info. Tim

04-01-2003, 09:08 AM
I've been goat packing for five years. We have six wethers (cut males) from 3 to five years old. The five year olds are all over 200 pounds and about 36 inches tall. Generally, people pack with wethers because they are larger than the does.

Advantages to goats include not needing to lead them. If well bonded, they will just follow you where ever you go. They can live off the land with maybe a handful of grain a day if worked hard and they can go just about anywhere you can go without climbing equipment. Our goats can easily carry 50 pounds apiece (the five year olds). The rule of thumb is they can carry between 20% and 30% of body weight. Training was a breeze. We just put the pack saddles and empty panniers on for the first time when they were two years old and went for a walk. That was it. The key is having bonded goats that want to be with you.

Disadvantes are that they are slower than horses, they prefer a pace that amounts to a casual walking pace for a human. However, uphill or crossing a boulder field they are faster than we are. To pack at their full potential they need to be kept in shape which means taking them for walks 2-3 times a week. And you have your basic maintance: hoof trimming, worming, annual innoculations, etc.

I haven't hunted with the goats yet, just used them to pack float tubes into lakes for fly fishing. But my one deer experience so far was a week before hunting season, a buck that came crashing through the brush to get a closer look at the goats.

Tim in Nevada
04-01-2003, 10:06 AM
Once you get them to your camp, do you ground tie them or hobble them or tie to tree (if available) when you take-off for the day's hunt. Do they stay by themselves in a strange environment quietly, or are they anxious to go with you.

04-01-2003, 12:56 PM
We normally let the boys run free in camp then high-line them if they start getting underfoot. At night we high-line them. Not because they will take off, they never have, but because, if they are rested, they run around camp and make a ruckus at night. I've heard of people who tie them to a stake, but we've never done it. I don't think hobbling them would do much good, since they won't run off anyway (bonded goats that is).

I was surprised at how quiet the goats were when in the forest - just a tiny questioning bleat now and then. Particularly when somebody (human) falls behind on a hike. At home we get lusty bleats if they see us and think they should be fed.

Our goats don't like to be left behind. The first time we packed them, we pushed out in the float tubes to fly fish. When we got about 50 yards from the shore, they decided we were leaving them and made a lot of noise. They've gotten better as they have gotten older. Now they usually just browse along the shore. I heard of other people leaving their goats tied up in camp to hunt. I'm going to test it this summer. Highline them and see how much of a fuss they put up when I leave. And, if they do, how long it takes them to settle down.

04-01-2003, 04:21 PM
Levi... goat saddles are like small pack horse saddles.

Current models are shaped to fit the goats shape a bit better than useing an old pony or burro saddle

04-06-2003, 01:53 PM
Before I saw this thread I did a "goat" post on the knife topic. Might be interesting read for you.

I only bowhunt these days and was worried about having the goats with me while I was hunting. I seem to be able to hunt elk with them in "tow" without problems.

They DO NOT like to be left alone. They can make quite a ruckus, loud bleating. However you can train that out of them if you put in a lot of time. They just need to learn that you are coming back. Take them to a place that they are not familiar with, tie them up and leave (hide). Come back after several minutes and they will settle down. Repeat oftem! Also helps if they are tired, they just want to lay down and sleep.

I have read of a guy leaving a portable radio on in his tent and just snuck out the backside! Apparently worked.

No pack stock is perfect, but for me, goats seem to be the best answer.


04-14-2003, 05:30 AM
Hello goat packers--

I'll address these questions primarily to Bob and Montane, as you fellows have actual experience owning and packing with goats.

---Visitation/excercize frequency: looks like 2 or three times a week, right? It would seem that these visits would also maintain the "bonding" as well. So far so good?

---Transport: Here is the single biggest question I have...and I've not seen an answer to it so far in this discussion. How do you get two or three 200lb. goats from their pasture to a trail head 200 miles away that is located at the very end of a gnarly 4WD road? I have a 4WD van and a 4WD camper. I'd like for my pack critters to ride inside, as a trailer is not feasible on most of the jeep trails I ride on to get to my embarcation point. Will the critters eat the upholstery; poop and pee all over everything such that the interior of the vehicle is trashed forever? I trust you see the logistical issue I'm asking about. There is no question at all about horses: you must use a trailer, and stop driving short of your "preferred" parking destination. BUT, what about these (much smaller) goats?

---What's the life span of a pack goat?

---Will they speed up to man's walking pace if you're in a bit of a hurry to get somewhere? Like a campsite you'd like to reach while it's still daylight? Or do they go on strike, develop a "complex" and generally go into a tailspin?

---Is there a packsaddle manufacturer somewhere? Who and where?

I think that's about it. Thanks for any answers, guys.

04-14-2003, 10:29 PM
Goat Saddles


04-15-2003, 12:34 PM
Here is a good site with links for all related to goat packing. Pack equipment, books, magazines.
Goat Packing Home Page (http://www.srv.net/~goatz/packgoat.html)

04-17-2003, 05:37 PM

The better condition they are in the better they will perform on the trail.

If you want to put them inside a van...well there is an excellent chance that it will smell like goat piss until the smell drives you nuts and you then drive the van off the nearest cliff to rid yourself of the misery. For certain, no one would steal it!

Generally they only pee when the rig is not moving. I have noticed many times when stopping to gas up or check things out they take advantage of whizzing in the trailer after we have stopped for a short while.

Also, it does not take much a of trailer to transport them...don't think of a two horse rig, smaller works well and can tow without too much problem. However, backing up on a narrow mountain road is never much fun. If you do a trailer you need something to act as a windbreak and don't get something that has those little crappy donut tires. 15" tires works best.

You could probably carry them inside your van if you put in several heavy duty furniture moving pads and when you stop get them out PDQ. (Let me know how it all works out /images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/smile.gif

I suppose you could make a large diaper sort of arrangement...heck with all your designing skill you could make them and sell them to other goat packers. Stock #PPPP, Patrick's Pee &amp; Poop Preventer!

Oh, and goat poop is just about like deer pellets. NBD.

I would not worry too much about them chewing up the rig. If it is a concern you can buy a muzzle and that will prevent them from any chewing.

Yes, you can hurry them along for an hour or so to get somewhere faster. They just can't keep up the pace for a longer period of time.

I had one goat that loved to hunt. He always walked beside me (room permitting) and was one heck of a game spotter. Their vision is about 8 times better than ours.

Their best packing life is from about 4 to 10. I have one that is 12+ YO and I will pack him pretty light this year.

Hope this helps,


04-17-2003, 08:00 PM
Yo Bob--

I'm still chuckling over your post. You are suggesting I do WHAT with a high-tech diaper and a two hundred pound male goat???????? (I wouldn't look for stock # PPPP anytime soon folks.)

Seriously, your post is very welcome. I think the heavy pads might be worth a shot. You obviously understand the problem with trailers and end-of-4WD-road circumstances. And a small trailer might just work a lot of the time. Say, reckon I could train the buggers to help me man/goat-handle the trailer around the other direction so's I don't have to back it up? Which I'm NOT skilled at by the way.

And thanks to the rest of you guys for good input on a tantalizing topic. Maybe I'll scare up a local outfit and rent a small string. Just enough to tote a 12-man tipi, Elk steaks, corn on the cob, fresh salad, and watermelon (a whole one) for desert. WOW. Oh, the possibilities. How 'bout a 12 volt TV and car battery to power it? And so on...endless possibilities.

04-18-2003, 02:06 PM

I guarantee that you will be tossing in all sorts of extra stuff when you are not the guy carrying it!!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a couple of steaks and a cold beer about the third night on the trail. You can get use to it.

Good luck!