Loading Goats Onto A Trailer

By Terry Golson


Yesterday, the Goat Boys traveled to their new home in Maine. I transported them in my horse trailer.

My goats are skittish about new things and don’t like to be out-of-sight of their barn. They’ve lived in the backyard, without venturing beyond the fence, for many years.

How do you load goats into a trailer without stress or fear?

Start with a ten-year relationship of love, trust and comfort. (The Boys’ birthday is this Friday. They’ll be ten! They came to live with us when they were 9-weeks old.)

Put on their leashes. Just in case. They’re goats. There’s usually a “just in case.”

Have goats that know the sound of their absolutely, very favorite food, when it is rattled in the scoop.

Smile. Enjoy it. They’re goats. Everything that you do is an opportunity for enjoyment.

Ask them to follow you. They’ve been following you around for years.

Reward the forward movement, not the stopping.

 

Give the gimpy slow one tangible encouragement!

 

Use body language that is relaxed, but with purpose. Goats like that.

 

Let them look, but not for too long. You don’t want them to overthink it.

 

Go forward to the adventure! Even skittish goats are curious. They’ll be confident if you are.

 

Take a moment to appreciate that you’ve gotten this far. But then keep going!

 

When you’re in the trailer, get down on their level and celebrate.

 

Once you arrive at your destination, set yourself up for success. Notice that I’ve made a channel from the trailer to their new home. Where to go is obvious. Still, you want that grain scoop rattling in your hand. It’s goat marching music!

 

Once in, hang out. Let them settle while you’re still in view.

 

I knew that Pip and Caper would be okay when the guinea hens came over to check things out. Guinea hens are sentries and yell when they see something new on their property. Pip and Caper were only surprised, but not panicked, when the guineas honked at them. The boys took a look, and then turned to eat the excellent hay that this place has. The goats say that hay quality determines the rating of a hotel. This one gets five stars.

Satisfied that the Goat Boys would be fine without their security blanket, i.e. me, I left.

Reports are that they have already helped the farmer man with his tools when he hung their feeders. I think that Pip and Caper are going to enjoy Noisy Farm.


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18 thoughts on “Loading Goats Onto A Trailer

  • Cynthia Metivier

    What an exciting adventure. I wish your whole family, people and animals, only the best. Maine is a nice New England state.

  • Durbin Goodwin

    When I die, I want to come back as either your horse or your goats. The care you give your animals touches my heart with happiness. Ten minutes down the road, then visiting will be so easy. Looks like things are really shaping up well for this new adventure. Have you completely moved to Maine now? What is the story on Phoebe?

    • Terry Golson Post author

      We won’t move until the end of May. We have construction to do at the house.
      Phoebe is staying put. Three young children will be moving in here, and she will be quite spoiled with carrots and attention.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      Goats actually aren’t grazers as much as they’re browsers – so a grassy field isn’t high on their list of things that they need 🙂 The extra-large stall and enclosure is enough space for these old boys. They’ll have access to more in the future. The farm has lots of pasture – but it doesn’t yet have goat safe fencing. Eventually they’ll get out and find the weeds that the horses don’t like. For now they will be given lots of interesting branches, like blueberry and pine.

  • Karen Pryor

    Beautiful step-by-step luring, with reinforcing pauses, of the goats from HOME to weird new places. No moments where a goat turned and headed back, or tried to avoid the trailer. Clever to maintain your peaceful relaxed body posture–and smiles, whether goats read that or not, it works. They just came right along.
    All the photographs are superb, thank you Steve for capturing the event. Such a nice visual narrative. I am relieved that they took it so well and were cosying up to the farmer already, as he hung up their feeders. And good hay! Awesome.
    I’d like to visit Noisy Farm some day!

    • Terry Golson Post author

      Thanks, Karen. As you well know, there are different ways to use lures. Just to explain to others – I did not hold the food out in front of their noses and lure them forward. That can be a frustrating thing to do to an animal! Rather, the goats already knew to head to the noisy feed scoop. It was just a matter of knowing how far was too far before the lure wouldn’t work, and to reward before the behavior broke down.
      Next time you visit, we’ll pop in at Noisy Farm. It’s as cheerful as it is noisy. You’ll love it.

  • Kim

    I am totally biased now, but this is my favorite post yet! Those sweet souls continue to settle in, and they are a bit more adventurous every day. They seem pleased that we have been briefed about their favorite treats, and they have started to call after us when we walk away. We are looking forward to sunny, warm weather for sunbathing and excursions to the pasture.

    • Terry Golson Post author

      They only talk when they’re feeling confident, so that tells me that they’re not scared. They also only talk when they think that there’s someone to listen – so that tells me that they know you are someone to communicate with. Excellent!

  • chickencarol

    So glad that all went well. It’s sad to see them leaving you but as you say you can visit them. It’s so good that they have a happy place to live out their retirement years. I still can’t believe it’s ten years as I can clearly remember reading the first goat post when they arrived at your place, such sweet little things. They have had a lovely life with you and you will always have your memories.