If you raise sheep and goats you know how hard it can be to find livestock equipment that works for these smaller four-legged farm animals. Just recently I was trying to find a larger stock tank that was only a foot high. I could only find one manufacturer and they were out! How could there be ONLY one option?!
One of my favorite go-to goat (and sheep) supply source is Premier 1 Supplies (disclaimer, this is not an ad, just me professing my love!). Right before the holidays, I took a 5.5-hour road trip to southeastern Iowa to pick up our new border collie puppy from Fiona, who’s the livestock manager at Premier.
While I was there she gave me a tour. I learned the owners, Stan and Jean Potratz, had started Premier, I suspect unintentionally when they began raising commercial lambs in the late 70s. They couldn’t find the quality equipment they wanted, so they decided to import what they needed. That led them to sell some equipment as well, which then grew to serve sheep and goat farmers, nationwide. They still live on the farm today, which also houses Premier’s offices and warehouses. I love that they also use and try out a lot of the equipment they sell right on the farm.
My favorite goat gear from Premier 1 Supplies
1. PowerBilt Panels + Wire Panel Connector Hinge
These two products work excellent together. We use them all the time for a quick setup for pens for kidding or monitoring goats with health needs (aka a clinic pen!). Because they’re fairly small, 4×4 ft., they’re easy to move around and set up. We’ll also use two of them together for helping sort goats into a catch pen/working chute.
The Connector is a curly-cue style wire, which threads into two panels. It can help create a freestanding pen corner or hinge for a door. They also can work great with other livestock panels you get from farm supply stores.
2. Power Link 4.0
I like these alligator connectors for connecting our portable fencing for rotational grazing. I’ve used other brands, but this one seems to hold up the longest with the weather and UV rays. Whenever I place an order I always like to add a few more on my order.
3. Elecronet fence
I know I talk a lot about another portable fencing option, but the electronet fence is such a great tool if you’re grazing goats and sheep outside of permanent pastures and want more peace of mind. We live in the upper Midwest and predators are a reality, so this fence has been a great option for us as we graze our woods and hayfields, where we have no existing fence. Premier offers a really high-quality net fence option.
Since the fence is always in high demand when I’ve ordered in the past few years, here are a few things I like to look for when I’m picking one out:
- Double stake for a good hold and easier to put in the ground
- Shorter spans between posts. We are using this in the woods, so I prefer to have this since we are not running straight fence lines. I like that it has less sag, which to me means less opportunity for something to jump in or out. If a tree or brush falls, less of the fence is collapsed. Of course, the added posts mean it is a heavier option.
- Height: 42” has been a good option
4. Prima Heat Lamps
This is a great heat lamp option that’s built to provide heat more safely for goat kids. I love that it is very durable in how it’s built, as well as has a great protective guard. This newer model is much easier to open the guard cover to change bulbs as well.
5. Stomach tube feeder
This is a tool a shepherd should always have on hand but hopes to never need to use it. These are harder to source from your run-of-the-mill farm supply stores, so I always make sure I have one or two in my supply cabinet before the kidding season starts. I use the stomach tube feeder with their catheter tip syringes.
6. Bottle baby feeding: DIY bucket feeders
I prefer to not have bottle babies, but if I do have them using a bucket feeder is the way to go. Premier has all the tools to make your own. You can buy a pre-drilled bucket ready to go. I like to use the translucent paint buckets with measurements on them from the hardware stores, but works great! Here are the tools that you’ll need to make your bucket:
7. Pritchard Teat for bottle-feeding
These are the best hands down for bottle-feeding brand new kids. They fit on a soda bottle (or a Fuji bottle, my favorite choice). Make sure you’re buying this brand, not the look-a-like option, they don’t work the same. I always like to have a 2-3 on hand just in case I need to bottle feed.
8. Small Flock Drencher
I’m always making sure I have 2-3 of these on hand. They’re the best tool for administering medication or dewormers if needed. They’re right-sized for goats/sheep and help make sure the medication is consumed. These are also hard to find in brick-and-mortar stores.
9. Kiwi Crook
This is one of my favorite handling tools, especially when I need to catch just one or two goats that I need to work with. We have two (his and hers!). This minimizes goat rodeo action!
10. Custom ear tags
We just started using the Q-Flex 3 Ear Tags, custom made for our farm, with our farm logo, farm premise ID, and our color of choice. This most recent run we purchased pink to easily ID our doe kids. We will continue to use our white tags for our buck kids/weathers. They’re also scrapie-approved.
11. Breeding Harness
I like using the harnesses with our bucks at breeding time. Since we don’t do any preg checking, it’s been a great way to know pretty accurately when to expect kids to hit the ground during kidding season. I’ll use different colors with different bucks if we’re running the whole group together. Every day I’ll record when a doe is marked. Give or take a few days, in about 150 days I know I can expect kids. I also like they offer cold-weather crayons since our weather starts to change as we get into breeding season.
12. Marking Paint
I like having 3-4 different colors of marking paint, that way if we’re working goats and need to mark them for future sorting, breeding, or watching for health concerns I can do that by color. Most stores only sell one color option. I prefer the nozzles that aren’t the skinny 360 applicators since I always manage to drop one while working goats and then the top breaks off!!
Not a comprehensive list
I’m sure I’m missing some of my favorite tools. I order a lot more than what’s listed above, but these are some of the go-to products I use or make sure I have on hand from Premier.
When I was on my tour, I met the marketing staff and they even asked about what type of product needs I might have that they aren’t offering. I love that they are always looking for new options to better serve farmers. So keep that in mind and don’t hesitate to reach out to them!