When is the right time to start raising goats on the homestead? Prior to adding goats to your farm make sure you have adequate fencing, have selected the best breed for your needs, and your intention as to why they are on the homestead is clear.
It’s important to know if it is the right time for goats adding goats to your homestead. A common question I hear from friends and others is, “Can we buy a goat from you?”
Right there, an important teaching moment has been presented.
What You Need to Know Before Raising Goats
Yes, goats are cute and goat kids will steal your heart! But is it the right time for goats on your homestead?
Goats are herd animals and they are not happy by themselves. Goats need at least one other goat to be happy. The herd gives them a sense of security. Goats that are kept alone may spend all their time trying to break out and find a herd.
So the answer to the question is, “How many goats can you house and care for on your property?”
No one can argue that goat kids are adorable farm animals. Before you jump into goat tending think about what you want a goat to do. Goats can be raised as pets, weed eaters, milk providers, and fiber providers.
The difference will help you decide on the breed of goat to purchase. There’s nothing wrong with having a couple of pet goats. Goats are entertaining and friendly. They may even keep you quite busy keeping them safe and repairing the trouble they cause!
Feeding Goats on the Homestead
Goats prefer to browse for weeds and plants and tree leaves. They don’t graze like sheep and cattle, although some sheep and cattle will browse and graze. The goats will require good browsing plants or good quality hay, when they must be kept in a stall.
Fresh water has to be available at all times. A goat grain ration can be fed in small amounts, but hay or browse should be the main food for the goats. The exception would be kids and pregnant and nursing does. These typically get extra grain for growth and milk production.
Raising Goats for Milk
Milking goats will require breeding. After a few months of milking the does are dried off as the pregnancy reaches the last trimester. The pregnancy lasts for 150 days give or take. Once the kid or kids are born, the milk begins to flow again.
There are different methods of managing a dairy goat. Some let the kid nurse for a few weeks and then begin milking. Other goat owners use various combinations of the kid nursing and milking. In backyard farming we often make up the routine that works for us as long as the animals are well cared for and healthy.
How to Build a Milking and Grooming Stand for Goats
Raising Goats for Fiber
Fiber growing goats are another way goats can add productivity to the homestead. Angora, Pygora and various Cashmere producing goat breeds are sheared once or twice a year. The mohair fiber from these breeds is sought after in the specialty yarn market.
Selling the fiber from your goats can add income to the homestead. If you love fiber arts such as spinning, knitting and weaving, you can use the yarn to make garments for your family or to sell.
Raising Goats for Meat
Often, people raise goats on the homestead for meat production. Goat meat is popular with many ethnic communities and restaurant chefs.
No matter what type of goat you decide is right for you, they will need some sort of shelter. Often a shed will be plenty of shelter. A stall in a barn can be used too, but goats will appreciate a fenced area to investigate on nice weather days.
Many goats do not like wet weather. Often the goats will prefer to stay in the shelter on rainy or wet days. If this is the case with your goats, they will need dry hay to eat while inside.
Raising Healthy Goats
Lastly, consider the yearly vet visit to keep your goats healthy. A yearly checkup and any booster vaccinations you and your vet agree are necessary will add to the cost of keeping goats. In the end, many of us feel this is all worth it. Goats add a richness to the barnyard and can add income to the farm bank account.
If you have seriously thought about all the points concerning goat ownership, get ready to welcome the kids to your homestead!
More on Goats:
Janet Garman is a farmer and author of numerous books including The Good Living Guide to Keeping Sheep and Other Fiber Animals and 50 Do It Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens.
She shares homestead information from her property, Timber Creek Farm where they raise sheep for fiber, chickens, goats, and more! Follow their journey online!