Are you considering raising goats on your farm or homestead? Goats are one of the most popular animals worldwide. They serve many purposes. Goats provide many things to many people such as milk, meat, companionship, and hair that can be spun into yarn.
Raising goats is inexpensive because they require simpler housing than other forms of livestock. They do not have a large area to live in.
Goats are very easy to handle as their temperaments are pretty good overall. Transporting goats is fairly easy. They can actually ride in the backseat of a car, the bed of a pickup truck, or in pet carriers. Goats can also be shown.
Raising Goats: The Work Involved
There are daily routines that need to be done when raising any type of goat. With meat goats, however, those chores only last a few months as they go to slaughter usually at a young age. All other goats, however, require certain responsibilities daily, year-round.
Responsibilities may include:
- Milking your goat, dairy goats.
- Trimming the hooves, every 2 weeks to every 2 months
- Clipping the hair, usually once or twice a year
- Feeding the goats, both daily feed and supplements if necessary.
- Supplying a water supply daily.
- Socializing with them, they love human contact.
What Type of Goat Should I Get?
Deciding what breed and type of goat to get is completely determined by what you want from your goat. When meat is your purpose, then purchase a meat breed. If you want yarn from your goat, then purchase a fiber breed. Milk is provided from a dairy breed.
Some people do not have a lot of room to raise a goat, these people should choose a miniature breed. If, however, you wish to simply have a pet to enjoy the company of, any goat that strikes your fancy should be a great choice.
Be aware, goats are not solitary animals. They do not like to be alone. If you are going to start raising goats, know that you must have at least two so they can keep each other company. Goats also do well with other animals like sheep, cows, chickens, and ducks.
How Long Do Goats Live?
A goat’s normal lifespan is around 10 to 12 years, however, some goats can live as long as 30 years. A meat goat is usually only about a year.
A dairy goat will produce milk productively for about 7 or so years. A fiber goat’s productivity lasts about 7 years also.
You should take into consideration how long productivity lasts in order to plan ahead to get more goats before a product like milk or fiber is no longer available to you.
How much space is required in raising goats?
The nicest part about goats is that they require very simple housing. All that is needed for goats is a well-ventilated area, free of drafts, that allows them to come in and out of the weather and sleep comfortably.
Their pen, however, is not as simple. Goats require strong fencing, as they often push along the fence to scratch their backs. They also need a more complicated latch. They are very curious animals and can figure out a simple latch easily.
An average size goat needs at least 15 square feet of space indoors and 200 square feet of space outside. If you raise miniature goats you can get away with about 10 square feet inside and around 150 feet outside. Remember, these are minimums.
What Do Goats Eat?
The main diet of goats includes; hay, grains, and water, but they also like to graze on pastured land and browse in wooded areas.
The more the goats graze and browse the less feed you will need to supply, thus saving you on food costs. Sometimes supplements will be needed in feeding your goats.
What About Goats Horns?
Even though some goat’s horns can add a bit of character, horns can be dangerous both to you and your goat. Horns get caught in feeders and fences. Horns can injure you or a nearby animal also.
Even though some goats are pleasant enough to leave their horns on, it is better when purchasing your goats to require the breeder or seller to remove the horns. This process is usually done between 1 and 3 weeks on a newly born goat, so chances are when getting a male this has already been done for you.
When Should You Buy Your Goats and From Who?
You always want to buy your goats when they are very young. This allows you to learn their traits and temperament and train them the way you see fit. Most kids. baby goats are born in late winter or early spring. Just like puppies, goats can be sold as soon as they are weaned which usually takes place around 6 to 8 weeks of age.
If you are purchasing a more expensive or higher quality breed, especially from a breeder, you may have to make a deposit much earlier than the kid is born. Livestock auctions are not really recommended when purchasing your goats because you usually get no history on the goat, you don’t know what kind of condition the goat was raised in, and you probably won’t know anything about the individual that sold the goat.
Options to find sellers for goats are to contact your local agricultural center, talk to feed store owners, as they may know breeders who shop in their store or look for a local goat club in your area.
What Does it Cost to Raise Goats?
The average cost of feed and supplements for one year and one average goat can be figured by finding the purchase price of local feed and hay in your area. On average, one goat consumes about 1,500 pounds of hay and 400 pounds of concentrates per year.
Multiply those numbers and you will have an average amount to budget for. The costs of housing your goats will depend on how elaborate your housing will be and what you already have to use, the same applies to fencing.
- Other cost factors to consider:
- Veterinary care
- Breeding Fees
- Dairy supplies (dairy goats only)
- Shearing costs (fiber goats only)
Return on Investment
In the end, a goat is productive and useful to the average homesteader. Each doe (female goat), will provide you with around 90 quarts of milk per month for about 10 months of the year. This is an excellent way to become more self-reliant.
Goats’ milk can be drunk and made into cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream. many people use goat’s milk in beauty products and candles made at home. Any extra milk you receive from your females can be fed to chickens, pigs, calves, and puppies and used in feeding orphaned wildlife. Each doe that is bred, will provide you with one kid or more per year.
You will get about 25 to 40 pounds of lean meat from each wether (male goats that have had their sexual organs removed). This meat can be broiled, baked, fried, barbecued, and even stewed. Many ethnic communities pay top dollar for goat meat.
If it is fiber goats you raise you can look forward to around 5 to 7 pounds of mohair from your Angora goats twice each year, and less than a pound a year from your Angora goats, thus the reason for Angora being so expensive and in demand. Learn more about fiber goats at Timber Creek Farm.
Goats will give you a little over a pound of manure daily which can be used as a fertilizer in your flower and vegetable gardens. Some of the goat’s products can be sold locally to help pay for the costs of raising goats. This is also an excellent way to make an income from your farm or homestead.
You can’t put a value on the years of joy and happiness that raising goats on the homestead will bring you. Do you raise goats on your homestead? Tell me all about them in the comments below!