Goats have been long considered the poor man’s cow. Considering the times that we are in, these ruminants might just be the practical man’s cow or better yet a prepper’s cow. Goats are low-maintenance livestock compared to cows. Just give them a sizeable area of land with lots of grass, water and adequate shelter and you’re good to go.
Raising Goats for Milk, Meat and Profit
You can raise goats for their meat or milk. Meat from goats is low in fat, and their milk is just as nutritious as cow’s milk. You also have the option to be a goat breeder. Whichever you choose, there will definitely be fun in the process. Goats are known for their lively behavior. What better way to enjoy the homesteading or farming life than raising these amusing creatures?
If you are looking for a guide on how to raise goats, look no further. Here are some tips that will introduce you to a life of self-reliance that is challenging yet exciting and fulfilling:
16 Tips on Raising Goats
1. Before Buying
Although you probably are excited to buy goats and bring them home, taking some precautions to make sure that you get healthy goats is an important first step.
2. Know the Basics
A female goat is called Doe, while the babies (females) are known as Doelings. For male goats, the term is Bucks, while the male babies are called Bucklings. The males that have been neutered are known as Wether.
3. Goats are Social Animals
They belong in a herd. They depend on this for their own safety. Never keep just one goat.
4. Goats Need Shelter from the Rain and the Elements
A shelter for goats doesn’t need to be too extensive, but they need to be out of the rain (they need a roof), and it’s best if they have three walls to protect them against strong winds. Straw makes good bedding for goats, and they love to sleep on wood; I’ve built my goats a simple lumber “floor” that they seem to like a lot.
5. Material Storage
Aside from the housing itself, you also need to consider the place where you will keep the feeds and other things necessary for raising goats.
6. Goats Like to Eat a Variety of Things
Grass, bark, oats, grain, poison ivy, kudzu, occasional bits of paper, their own milk, the dogs’ food, and hay. With all of this variety, the hay must be the most expensive and of the best quality, but whatever you do, do not let the hay touch the ground, or it becomes tasteless and bitter, almost worse than life itself.
7. “Stubborn as a Goat” Isn’t Just a Saying
When you hear the phrase, “stubborn as a goat” you usually think of someone who is hard-headed and has a one-track mind. Well, goats are the same way. To be able to get around this, you have to learn how to think like a goat, if something is blocking their way from getting food or water and they don’t know how to solve it, they need the one with the higher mental power to solve this puzzle for them.
8. Befriend Fellow Goat Herders
There are very few small ruminant vets around that are well versed in goats. Goat herders who work with goats everyday are more likely to be able to help you treat common health problems and give you advice when you have a sick goat.
9. Milking Tips
The ONLY way to get milk from a goat is to get a female doe pregnant so she can have babies first. Each time a goat has babies, this kick starts her milk production and is known as a FRESHENING. It’s very similar to humans. At first the mother has a lot of milk, but then gradually over the course of about a year, the amount of milk reduces. Typically, goats have their babies in the spring, then at 8 weeks you can sell the babies and enjoy milk for almost an entire year.
10. Goats Can Climb, Jump, Crawl and Run Over or Under Anything They Want To
If they stay in their pasture, it is because they want to be there. You need to have good fencing before you get a goat or two.
11. Always Seek Out the Services of a Veterinarian
As a rule, goats are very hardy animals, and are quite low maintenance too. But if you are selling the meat and milk of the animals, you need the animals to be issued clean bills of health. Besides, having a vet on your farm’s payroll is mandatory in most states.
12. Trim Their Hooves
You may think that they don’t need any care but if you don’t trim them, they can lead to certain conditions like foot rot and foot abscess and I’m sure you don’t want that to happen. So if you want to learn how to care for your farm animals, start with hoof care.
13. Give Them Room to Explore
The goats, like any other kind of farm animal, will want room to explore and roam around. While you will certainly want to have a fence on your land in order to keep them secure and on the farm itself, there should be enough space so that they do not feel cooped up, as boredom will not be good for their growth.
14. Winter Tip: Keep Them Off the Ground
If the proliferation of portable cots, sleeping pads, and fancy sleeping bags is any clue, then this means sleeping directly on the ground is no fun. Goats have the same opinion as human campers. When given the choice, most goats prefer to rest off of the ground on sturdy resting platforms or deep bedding piles. An easy to clean resting platform is ideal because it keeps the goat off of the soiled bedding which can limit parasite populations.
15. Recognizing Heat in Breeding Goats
The onset of fertility in does appears early in life, sometimes as soon as two months of age. Normally, goat fertility begins between four to six months old.
The range occurs because goats breed seasonally in the fall. To ensure an optimal outcome, does should not be allowed to breed until they are at least seven months old.
16. Find Good Quality Hay
Outside of the growing season, hay will be the main ingredient of your goats’ diets. Your hay will essentially be the pasture for your goats during times when fresh browse is not available, so it is important to find a good source of hay. Hay should be available free-choice year round, even during spring and summer, as a source of roughage and fiber.
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16 Tips for Raising Goats