Nomadic Herding/Pastoralism

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by Bitterroot Native, Oct 2, 2016.

  1. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    Hey guys! Been thinking a lot lately of nomadic goat herding. While not typically thought of as a bushcraft skill I think it falls well within the realm of bushcraft. After all, even Otzi the Ice Man himself had goatskin leggings and a few other articles of domesticated animal products on him. No doubt he spent at least some time working with domestic animals or at least traded with those who did.

    There have been many cultures throughout the millennia that lived off herding goats and other animals as a lifestyle. Goats can produce milk, meat, leather, and sinew! Truly a good animal to have around. They are also beasts of burden capable of packing small loads which for a bushcrafter would be more than sufficient. The best part is they can live on wild browse alone, no need to buy feed. If their food source is green enough and has enough water content, they don't even need to drink!

    A person could tend to a small herd, I'm thinking 2-5ish animals, and be able to go on VERY extended wilderness excursions with limited provisions. Of course supplementing supplies/goat meat and milk by hunting and gathering along the way. Even in the harshest of landscapes a person could thrive. It would be some work tending to the herd, keeping them safe from predators, learning basic animal husbandry ect. but I think it's a cool concept that would be at least worth learning more about. The research I have done comes up pretty empty, not a whole lot about nomadic herding AT ALL online. Anyone have any links or info on the subject?

    Having goats and using them as described is not really something a lot of people would be capable of or even be willing to take on, myself included as of now. As un-romantic as it sounds, roaming the wilderness for months with a small herd of animals that provides most of my needs AND carries my stuff isn't too bad of a daydream to have. What do you guys think?
  2. hidden_lion

    hidden_lion Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Palmyra, NY
    Goats are an ideal animal for all the reasons you mention, if you are on your own you would want to keep the herd size small, but you could have a great living that way as long as you don't run into governmental burdens or property rights issues. One Billy's and a few gals would keep you in meat and leather and milk with plenty to trade. one of my goals is to get a few pack goats. add a couple chickens to your goat cart/ wagon and you would be set
  3. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    Nice man! Glad I'm not the only one kicking this idea around haha. Good idea on the chickens too, fresh eggs would be amazing.

    I looked into the regs behind it all. Some act way back when (mid 1800's) pushed by huge cattle barons made it so nomadic herding was very hard to do, but not impossible. The act states that you have to have a "home base" for your animals. You must own land in order to have grazing rights on BLM, but even if you just had an acre somewhere that gives you access to grazing rights on BLM lands provided you have all the other permits ect. complete. From what I read its REALLY cheap, something like $1.50-$2.50 per animal per year or something similar. Very nominal fee especially with a small herd. All the legal bs would be worth it I think.
    hidden_lion likes this.
  4. hidden_lion

    hidden_lion Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2015
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    116
    Location:
    Palmyra, NY
    my only problem would be to convince the wife to do it. It would make for a great adventure to trek awhile with a small herd. Could make for a good book. Slap a GoPro on the goats and the footage would be fun. Maybe a month long expedition to really put it to the test.
  5. rattleweed

    rattleweed Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2015
    Messages:
    431
    Likes Received:
    243
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Seems like something that would work better with several people or a small group. The blm allocation system developed out of a need to prevent wanton resource destruction by itinerant grazers that had no long term vested interest in a given location. There are places where if you own private property next to blm, you are allowed one or two aum's, even though you are not the owner of the allotment. I don't know the details, but some research should turn up the info. It was like that in south east Oregon, 20 years ago when I worked on a ranch there. There are forest areas where you can graze you're horses or pack animals while traveling around. These rules have changed a lot over the years. I worked for a pack outfit in high school that stayed in a wilderness area all summer. We took grain for the animals , but most of the forage came from grazing . If it is ok to graze a horse or donkey or llama while traveling in an area, I don't see why you couldn't bend that to include a few goats. You could claim them as a pack animal easy enough. The chickens could ride on top as you travel around on an "extended" trip.
  6. shotgunpapa

    shotgunpapa Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    Adairsville Ga.
    I seen some were that goats are now being used for pack animals and there is a site that talks about training the goats and they also sale them.
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  7. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    I think you're onto something there rattleweed! Listing or calling them pack animals would probably give much more leeway in regards to grazing. I'm with you on having a small group. I solo A LOT but almost always prefer to have company unless I'm bowhunting. I live in Southwest Oregon right now, always wanted to check out the more remote southeast of the state. I wouldn't mind working on a ranch out there!
  8. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    Shotgunpapa, that's something I never considered, having to train them. I'll have to do some research on goat training haha. There is the old "stubborn as a billy goat" saying so I'm guessing it's a little hard to do or takes some extra time with them haha.
    shotgunpapa likes this.
  9. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    4
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Messages:
    40,073
    Likes Received:
    3,616
    Location:
    Texas
    Not to burst any bubbles, but you will find private land well fenced and not very welcoming to your roaming herd, whereas on National Forest land you would have to get a permit to graze them, and on National Park land I think you would be arrested fairly quickly. :) It is no longer the open lands of our ancestors ( where there was usually someone to contest your right of passage if not a member of their clan/ tribe/ group.)
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  10. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    No bubbles burst, there is an insane amount of BLM land out here in the west. A man could wander all he pleased in more than a few places and never come onto private property.
  11. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    4
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Messages:
    40,073
    Likes Received:
    3,616
    Location:
    Texas
    A man could wander, but I think they SELL grazing rights on most of that land. Might be a problem for man + goats.
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  12. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    Could be a problem if you didn't pay your fees which are really cheap. I think as pack animals you might not even have to pay, not 100% sure though. Haven't really researched the laws around this much. More interested in learning and studying the skills involved with maintaining a small group of animals on the trail than I am in learning U.S. domestic agricultural policy.

    Anyone ever had fresh/raw goats milk? I've never drank it, guessing it's not quite like the cows milk you buy in the store haha
  13. Guillaume Longval

    Guillaume Longval Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2016
    Messages:
    638
    Likes Received:
    1,768
    Location:
    Québec
    Just a though, native americans often had dogs for pack animals. I dont know if there was goats pre contact. The milk advantage is a huge one, but the stubborness?

    Anyways you made me dream about it. Thanks for the idea!
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  14. DarrylM

    DarrylM Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2016
    Messages:
    804
    Likes Received:
    1,413
    Location:
    NE Washington State
    Growing up a neighbor kid up the valley from me was allergic to cow's milk, so his folks started up a goat dairy. Ice cold from the fridge, their goat milk was a lot like regular milk, but, as soon as it warmed up, the milk took on some gamey-ness. Not unpleasant, but different. Diet plays a huge role in the flavor profile of the milk.
  15. Spotfire

    Spotfire Supporter Supporter

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Messages:
    393
    Likes Received:
    158
    Location:
    West Coast
    Goat milk can be excellent. It makes the best yogurt. I'm not entirely sure, but I think the level of "gameyness" or "goatness" in it is related to how much contact they have with male goats. Anyone else know for sure?
  16. shotgunpapa

    shotgunpapa Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    Adairsville Ga.
    Yes that is what i have heard also
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  17. Greebe

    Greebe Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1,553
    Likes Received:
    1,857
    Location:
    MN
    We have had a number of friends who raise goats. We are getting goats this spring. We will be raising them for meat and milk as well as keeping a group of wethers for a pack goat string. Just lined up some Alpine kids for the spring.

    Been daydreaming like you about roaming the woods with them. My plan is to take a group of goats and do the Pacific Crest Trail in the next five years. Think having the goats would be nice for hauling gear and food, but also the companionship. Socialized goats are much like dogs.
  18. CZ452scout

    CZ452scout Tinder Gatherer

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2014
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Northern Utah
    Look up Cannon at The Winter Moon Initiative – New Paths, Ancient Ways he has done what you're talking about. One of the keys is having the goats be pack stock, as they are allowed up to a certain number on federal land without additional fees. He did have an interesting run in with a mountain lion. He used goat milk, meat, brain tanned skins(and brains), and packing, and also foraged, hunted and fished. He also purchased beans and rice to make it all work, but that is cheap feed. He was also largely in AZ where you can change elevation and live year round in one state, making the whole hunting/fishing licenses a feasible thing. It might also work in places like Saint George, UT. The winters are just too hard in all the other rocky mountain/Federal land states. His biggest challenge was "community" which is why he was at Rabbitstick trying to find more community. I believe he currently has sold his goats to pursue other things but he would have lots of practical info for you. I'd also check out Kefir as a way to preserve milk sort term without refrigeration.
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  19. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2011
    Messages:
    1,537
    Likes Received:
    711
    Location:
    New Mexico
    This book:
    https://www.amazon.com/Goatwalking-...8&qid=1478220038&sr=1-1&keywords=goat+walking

    talks about this very thing.

    I have done a lot of hiking and packing using goats. Mine are big wethers (neutered males). I've gone all over BLM and USFS land, just hiking, camping out, hunting, exploring, and letting my goats browse on whatever is growing. I've never tried to live that way, for me it's just for fun. And I'm not "grazing" my animals, ie putting them out on the land and letting them live out there. I'm simply hiking around, camping, etc, and the goats are my pack animals. Besides, they don't graze. They browse. The eat very little grass, preferring trees and leafy stuff. I'm just a short term visitor, but if I tried to actually live out there I'm sure I would run into issues. As it is, I've never had any trouble with BLM or USFS field people, or with local cattle ranchers who have grazing permits. They see the goats eating juniper and brush and weeds as a benefit to the land and to their cattle operations. Bureaucrats in the main office may see it differently, but the people I've met in the field have always been curious at first, then supportive when they saw the goats eating stuff that was a problem anyway. The biggest problems with wandering around such country is predators and fences. I've never had trouble with wild predators, only other peoples' dogs. But if I weren't there with the goats they wouldn't last long. Mtn lions, bears, and coyotes would eat them up pretty quickly. Fences are a PIA but there's always a gate somewhere. I will occasionally remove a few tie wires from a barbed wire fence, spread the barbed wires apart, pass thru, and then rewire the fence at least as good as it was. These are fences on BLM and USFS land, not private land. I only go on private land with permission. But BLM and USFS land are open to the public.

    [​IMG]
  20. forginhill

    forginhill Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2014
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    837
    Location:
    the SW desert
    I can't speak to certain issues on this topic, but I do have experience with goats. We've kept goats for about ten years now. We use them for milk and meat. We have a large family and one good milker gives us enough milk for all of us with enough left over to make kefir and soft farmer's cheese. We consume all of the milk raw without any processing. Goats need a pretty healthy substantial diet to produce good milk. Being near bucks will affect the taste of the milk adversely. Foraging on wild brush will also make it stronger tasting. Some get used to the taste, some don't. If they're fed well and kept in a controlled environment the milk is delicious, without any funny taste to it. Goat meat is excellent as well. I have some hides, but they're just sitting dried with some salt on them. Haven't tried tanning yet, but it's on the to do list. We have some friends who do the pack thing successfully. They use Alpine (breed) wethers. You'd need to research the various breeds well to get the best option for what you want to do. I think it's a great idea. Maybe start out with some goats and learn how to keep them. Take day trips or overnighters for awhile. There are a number of veterinary issues you'd need to learn as well. We've had friends who have been experienced with goats and then had a bunch of them suddenly die off. Even though they're touted as being able to eat anything, that's not the case. They're rather picky and have sensitive stomachs. Hope that helps a little.
    Bitterroot Native and Harper like this.
  21. Spinymouse

    Spinymouse Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2016
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    140
    Try John Mionczynski's book "The Pack Goat." Humorous and very informative.

    I researched online for the rules on whether or not I could use pack goats in my local White Mountains National Forest. While they had rules for almost everything else, there was nothing about pack animals. So, I emailed them and asked. This was their answer:

    From: FS-r9 whitemtn Info <r9_whitemtn_info @ fs.fed.us>
    To:
    Sent:
    Tuesday, June 16, 2015 8:36 AM
    Subject: RE: WWW Mail: Animals

    The same would apply… But think keeping your goat on a leash on the trails would be the best idea even if it is trained to come to you as there are dogs and running children on the trails. If your goat grazes as it walks that would be OK but any extensive grazing damage would have to be repaired. Hope that helps.​

    Sadly, life keeps getting in the way, and I've been unable to take the critical step of actually getting and raising a couple of goats. :(
    Guillaume Longval likes this.
  22. Hans Hurlbutt

    Hans Hurlbutt Tracker

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2016
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    28
    I have a few goats, mostly for meat, one nanny is a dairy goat, when she freshens, I usually milk her once a day and let the kids (hers) take care of the rest of her milk, she is a heavy producer. I prefer fresh milk, unpasteurized, put don't like it or cheese after it has been "made safe", very distinctive flavor, some like it though. What I and the family don't use we give to the pugs who live it! Even cow milk is entirely different in the store than what it is fresh.
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  23. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2016
    Messages:
    301
    Likes Received:
    688
    Location:
    Oregon
    Thats awesome Gila Dog! Goats even eat juniper huh? They really do eat anything and everything lol. Living in such a manner would be difficult but for extended, multiday to multiweek excursions I think it would be a blast! Nice pic too, looks like some amazing country to explore.
  24. werewolf won

    werewolf won TANSTAAFL Supporter Bushcraft Friend

    Blog Posts:
    4
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2010
    Messages:
    11,156
    Likes Received:
    4,472
    Location:
    East Freetown, MA
    Gary Lafontaign used to tell the story of a friend who had a pack goat that ate escargot. They’d fish high mountain lakes and the goat would haul the gear for them. They got caught in a freak late season snow storm and the felt the only reason they got back was because the goat knew which way to go.

    People used to ask why the goat ate escargot and he’d tell you: “I own the goat my life he eats whatever he wants.”

    I delight in petting goats at every petting zoo that has them. If I ever owned one it would have bald patches I’m afraid.
    Bitterroot Native likes this.
  25. southron

    southron Scout

    Blog Posts:
    0
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2015
    Messages:
    490
    Likes Received:
    499
    Location:
    N.E Alabama
    I have a few thoughts about goats I'll share.

    1. Goats are escape artists so if one has them fenced in they will almost like magic manage to get out. If "teathered" they can chew threw ropes and escape. Just something to think on. I suspect if one turns them into kinda pets that they would be less apt to wander off, esp if they were not hungry.

    2. Goats can clear off a field that you might otherwise bush hog off and they actually prefer brush and browse more than hay although they need both, and maybe some grain supplement and minerals (salt blocks or cubes).

    3. If you are milking them you have to watch them for developing mastitis.

    4. If you are milking them you need to have a strainer and means of keeping things very sanitary. Any vet / animal coop / etc can tell you what would work best, but you need to wash the stuff and sterilize containers/ etc . Also some bag balm and something for your own hands as milking by hand can make inexperienced folks hands very sore after a few days and unless you have a kid you can put on the nanny half the time it is milk morning and evening 7 days a week so long as lactating job.

    5. Goat leather is very thin, and can tear pretty easy if not tanned very well.

    6. Goat hair from the belly is mohair, and spins up into the nicest yarn from which one can knit socks, sweaters / etc, or even use for weaving. (A simple drop spindle is more portable for spinning and can be made from a lid off a peanut butter jar filled with playdoe and a dowel and couple small nails or straight pins.)

    7. Goats can also be used as "pack animals" at least to carry their own food and some of your stuff. I have seen goats pull small carts and travois also.

    8. Goat meat is not my favorite. When you butcher them make sure you do not get any hair on the meat as that can give a really nasty taste to it.

    9. What the nanny eats often impacts the flavor of the milk. (Actually this it true for all milk. It is why human Mom's who are nursing have to watch what they eat or the baby gets gas or colic etc. Of course the first couple weeks colostrum is how babies get the mother's immunities so that is good for any baby, be it goat, human or other. JMHO on that.)

    10 I have milked goats off and on for 40 years, and I find that out of maybe 4 nannies only one consistently gives milk I really like, and taste depends on the one tasting.

    11. Never tried making a butter from the goat milk, but I have made goat cheese, and that is usually good if it comes from a goat you like the milk taste of.

    ***

    So over all I like a lot of what you say, but taking on goats on a homestead (which is my perspective) may be lots different from a more nomadic perspective. I would suggest getting a nanny and a kid and getting to know them first. (Goats are social and never happy without having a friend or three around) A billy is nothing but aggravation, and would need to be kept separate, and managed a lot. Might be better to arrange stud services or ABS (artificial breeding service) for that issue. Also Billies stink, and that is understatement.

    I have also seen a donkey put in with goats (maybe a burro would work similar) and they become the heard protectors and can also carry packs etc.

    It is a lot of work to keep animals, but can be very rewarding, just be cautious about biting off more than you are ready to chew starting out.

    One thing around here is if I want to sell goats, the messicans love to buy live goats from people, and that is a ready market if you need to sell off some. (Unfortunately they will also help themselves to your goats sometimes, thus the donkey / herding dog.)

    I saw one fellow with pack goats and a donkey who would put a couple cages with a couple chickens in it for eggs also and he would spend several weeks camping and traveling about. I think that the small amount of foraging done that way falls under camping rules instead of grazing law, but check on it.

    Oh in bad weather a tarp or something to get out of the weather kind of matters to goats, doesn't have to be much but a lean to or tarp shelter would be appreciated by them I"m sure. I make sheds and pile round bales or square bales around it in the worst weather and both my cattle , goats, and other farm animals seem to appreciate it.

    Of course YMMV and this advice is worth what you paid for it, but I have not only spent the night in a holiday inn, but I have been around goats for a long time, and have seen old grannies and young kids manage goats, so I told the worst. They are also affectionate pets, and the kids are easy to fall in love with.

    I swear they know when you are gonna butcher them and will beg you not to kill them. Gotta be tough about that.



    Well sorry for the random data dump, but that's about all I can think of about goats off the top of my head.

    Jim

    ETA: Oh, if you want steady milk, you want a milking nanny, and one that will delever as you finish off milking the first one so you can milk all year round. Ya gotta allow time for the fresh nanny to wean the kid before you start milking it so you want overlap in the time frame. They need more food if your milking them also. J.

Share This Page