How to Weigh Your Goat (Without a Livestock Scale)
When you own goats, there will come a time when you need to get an accurate weight on them. This might be when a goat is sick and you need to give it medication, or if you own pack goats and you need to figure out how much weight your goat can carry. The easiest solution of course is to won a livestock scale and weigh your goats on that. Unfortunately though, livestock scales tend to be expensive to buy and a large object to store on a small farm. Another commonly used method is to measure the goat and use a chart to guess the weight. I personally have found this method to be extremely inaccurate.
So how do we weigh our goats? We use a human bathroom scale on a pedestal! Human scales can be purchased inexpensively online and at a variety of retailers. You can find them that measure up to 400 pounds- that's more than enough to accommodate a goat. When shopping for a scale, be sure to get one with the widest base you can find. The scale we use is 12 3/4 inch square. For this purpose, bigger is defiantly better. Also, try to find a scale with a textured surface so that the goat doesn't slip. If you can't find a textured surface, you can also cover the scale with duck tape. Just be careful not to cover up the numbers!
Next, find a way to lift your scale off the ground so that the goat has to jump up on it. We used a stump sawed flat on top. It is important to make sure that all parts of the scale are touching a solid, flat surface, so we cut a piece of plywood to rest on top of the stump and under the scale. When you cut the plywood, make it just a little bit bigger than your scale so that it can hold your scale in place, but not so big that the goats will stand on it instead of the scale.
Screw the plywood into the stump, and set the scale on top. Carefully put a screw on each side of the scale to keep it from slipping off the stump. Make sure that your screws don't put pressure on the scale causing the readings to be off. You should be able to lift the scale straight up off the stump, but it should not slide off when the goat jumps on it. When complete, your goat scale should look something like this picture.
The next step is to train your goat! Start by training the goat to jump up on to a stump that doesn't have a scale on it. Choose a command like "Up", and use it every time. Goats are quite smart, and can easily be taught this trick. Training seems to work best with two people, one to guide the goat and the other to hold the treats and give the command. With grain or some other goat safe food reward in hand, lurer the goat onto the stump using the Up command. I keep my goats on leash as I do this. The first few times, the person guiding the goat may need to lift up their front hooves onto the stump to get them started. Then, hold the treats in the air to encourage the goat to jump onto the stump in order to reach the treat. Start by praising and rewarding the goats for just putting their front hooves on the stump. Then, progress to only giving the food reward when all four hooves are on the stump. Encourage the goat to stay on the stump until you give the command for "Down".
Never loose your temper or get frustrated when training your goat. If you feel yourself heading in that direction, stop training and do something else. Training works best with multiple short positive sessions. I have also found that if I have a goat who understands the trick and one who doesn't, it helps to allow the goat who is learning watch the other goat complete the task. To do this, I tie the learning goat up to the fence within sight and have the experienced goat jump on and off the stump, praising and rewarding him all along. I often find that when I switch goats, the learning goat will eagerly do the same as the experienced goat now that he knows how to get the treats.
Finally, have your goat jump up on to the stump with the scale! It may take a few tries to get the goat positioned right, but soon you will both get the hang of it. I have compared our weights taken using this method to the livestock scale at our veterinarians office, and found this to be quite accurate. You can also jump on and off the scale yourself to test for accuracy.