Goat Coats
Maxine Kinne

Following anaesthesia to X-ray an injury in 1984, Chloe's temperature dropped dangerously. A sweatshirt wasn't enough to raise it because she was not producing heat internally. She needed a heating pad and a heat lamp for a few hours. That was the first time one of my goats had been anaesthetized, and I learned three things:
* Carefully monitor body temperature until the goat is completely normal following anaesthesia.
* You never know when you will need suitable goat clothing.
* Our clothing doesn't fit goats. And if you manage to get it on a goat, it won't stay put.

Late the next autumn, Smidgie began to lose hair at an alarming rate. How was I to keep her comfortably warm enough through the winter? Despite many different medical tests, her exact condition defied diagnosis for nearly 18 months. By then, her symptoms indicated adrenal gland cancer (Cushing's disease), which was confirmed at necropsy.

Numerous measurings, fittings and alterations were needed to perfect the design. I made several colorful coats so Smidgie was never uncovered while her soiled raiments were cast upon the waters of the Maytag. These goat coats have come in very handy through the years.

I've seen several designs and found them wanting because they are so much more complicated and expensive to make. They require trim sewn on all cut edges. Expense is driven up with wide nylon webbing and quick-release buckles or snap rings. These are fine if you want show coats - they can even be embellished with herd names or logos. But for pure utilitarian convenience, polar fleece is my fabric of choice. A single layer has great insulating qualities. The cut edges do not ravel, it is soft and easy on the skin yet wears like iron, and it launders beautifully. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns for flashy goat finery. One 28" to 30" remnant yields two adult Pygmy-size coats.
 
Custom measure (any size or breed):
1) Base of the neck to base of tail
2) Elbow-to-elbow over the back
Cut the fabric to those measurements.

Fitting around the neck and shoulders.
Fold fabric on center back line. Cut a 4" V-shape from center neck to chest front. Measure 4" from center neck line for center lines of 1" darts. Taper 6"-long darts on both halves. Sew center front chest seam together.

Ties are made from selvage edges of polar fleece or 1" bias tape folded and zigzagged together lengthwise. Sew the darts and front seam, then fit the coat inside-out on the goat. Mark tie locations just behind the front legs, in front of the hind legs and about halfway up the goat's side. Sew ties securely to the wrong side.

Leave the ties longer on one side to be able to hide the bows under the coat to thwart the wearer and envious herdmates who might nibble on and untie it. I always used a stanchion for fittings, and the side I was on dictated leaving longer ties on the side furthest from me. Tie them as securely as you would a child's shoelaces. I tie a large bow, then tie the bow together. During the final fitting, make sure that the rear ties are not tight enough to interfere with the udder or milk vein in late gestation and lactation. Do not tie the coat on snugly.

Without ties or a belly band sewn on underneath, the coat will be removed or wadded into an unsightly mess under the goat. Disheveled goats are unhappy and quite unfashionable. Even with ties, belts and associated security devices, the creative caprine finds ample opportunities to twist and mangle the attire into a mere shadow of its former sartorial splendor. Here's how to avoid this embarrassment. Hopefully.

Belly band.  To retain additional body heat, add a 10"-wide belt of the same fabric instead of one set of ties. Cut the band 8" to12" wide by 14" to16" long (for Pygmies). Sew it between the tie marks on the side furthest from where you will stand to tie it on. To tailor the belt to the paunch, sew a large dart at the edges closest to the chest and the udder. Add ties to the two corners of the band to correspond with the ties on the other side of the coat. The belly band is a good place to insert a heating pad. If it is necessary to use one, constantly monitor the goat due to the possibility of electrocution (biting the electrical cord) and to make sure the heating pad stays in place.

If your goat has real trouble keeping the coat on, it can be stabilized by sewing on a 12" tie at the center back at the neck to tie to a collar.

Masculine adjustment.  A coat with a belt is better for bucks and wethers than one with ties. The rear tie can rub on and irritate the penile sheath. Fit the coat on the male and mark a circle several inches in diameter around the end of his sheath. Remove the coat and cut this fabric away. This will let him urinate without completely soaking himself. After all, don't want him to end up with a "gunky dingle."

 



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