March 5, 2014

Why You Should Have Goats on Your Homestead

I've been labeled a goat enabler by my friends. Perhaps the worst thing you can say to me is "I'm thinking about getting goats". Immediately I will be on a quest to find you a goat or two and make your dream come true.

Goats are a wonderful homestead animal, giving milk and meat, improving pastures, and enriching the garden.



Milk and Meat


Any breed of goat - dairy or meat, full size or mini - will provide milk and meat, while needing less space, feed and water than a cow. Goats are also smaller and easier to handle than a cow. A full size dairy goat, of course, will give more milk than a mini breed or a meat breed; a meat breed will be heavier and provide more meat than a dairy goat. Mini breeds are easy for children to handle.

Pasture Improvement


Goats are browsers rather than grazers; they prefer weeds, shrubs and trees to grass. They improve pastureland by eating the weeds and brush and leaving the grass. Goats are often used to eradicate brush and clear land. Goats love poison ivy and blackberry thickets, for instance.


Parasite Control


Rotating goats with another species or two on the same ground helps to control the parasites of each animal. Parasites of one species, such as a horse or a cow, cannot survive in a host animal of a different species, such as a goat, and vice versa.

Gardening


Goat droppings, like rabbit droppings, don't need to be composted before adding to your garden, although letting them age for at least a month or so is recommended. It won't burn your plants like some other manures will.

A1 versus A2 Milk


And then there is the A1/A2 milk thing. Very simply, A1 is a mutated beta-casein protein found in milk; cows can carry either the A1 or the A2 gene. There is a genetic test that can determine if a cow is A1 or A2; Holsteins, the dairy breed most often used in American commercial dairies, are usually A1. Goats however are always A2. You can read more about this issue and why people want to avoid A1 milk in this article, "What is A1 versus A2 Milk".


Some Fun Information about Goats

Goats are full of personality - some folks say they have too much personality.


A herd of goats will have a boss goat called the herd queen. Her daughter is usually high up in the herd hierarchy too; I call her the princess.

An intact male is a buck; a female is a doe. A castrated male goat is a "wether". I chuckle when I see an ad on Craigslist for a "weather" or a "whether", spell-check likes to change it to one of the other spellings.

A doe has one udder and two teats. (Well, she should have two teats. Check before you buy a goat; some do have an extra teat.)


Goats are like potato chips, you can't have just one. Goats are herd animals and an only goat is a lonely goat that will always be in trouble, getting loose, eating your roses, jumping on your car. Of course, without good fences your entire herd might be likely to get out, but one loose goat will be more likely to stay in the vicinity of the still-fenced-in herd and get into less trouble.

Do you have goats on your homestead?


You might also like:
Goat Fencing, What Works for Me (and What Doesn't!)
10 Must-Have Items for Goatkeepers
Goats: What's Normal?



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at:
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38 comments:

  1. Just a few..lol troublemakers

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  2. We purchased our first goats this past September after goat-sitting a 2 week old, bottle-fed Nubian kid. It was all over then...I HAD to have goats! He came up for sale, along with 3 others (2 Nubians and 1 LaMancha),so now we're learning the ropes with 4 wethers. This spring we'll enlarge their pasture...would love to hear your suggestions for goat-proof fencing! -Mary

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  3. Michelle, troublemakers? Lizzie's not a troublemaker...

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  4. Mary, the joke about goat fencing is that if it won't hold water, it won't hold a goat. While I don't find that true, you do need good fences. It's a great question, I'll write a post on it soon!

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  5. Goats are the livestock for us, besides chickens. I agree with you, Kathi. They are smaller, and if you work with them to tame them down, pretty easy to handle. The meat is excellent and so is the milk. We make butter, cheeses, yogurt and kefir from the milk, as well as feed it to our Pyrenees and chickens, have it on cereal and drink all we want. And besides all that, I really like and enjoy my goats.

    Thanks for the question.

    Fern

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  6. Lol! Just the post I needed. We want goats so badly!

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  7. Hello, I've been wanting to have a dairy animal for a while and a goat seems to be a good choice. I have a chance to have a freshened nubian nanny for the season and I'm seriously considering it. The problem is this: I also keep Corriedale sheep, only 8, and they are a large breed. The goat owner has asked me what I'm planning to do about the mineral situation. Sheep cannot eat copper, goats need to. I'm thinking maybe I could offer minerals while milking or have the goat housed separately at night. Do you have any thoughts about keeping a goat or 2 with sheep?

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  8. That's a good question, Julie. Yes, you could offer minerals when milking, but you'd also have to provide them during the time your doe is dry. You could house your goat separately at night. You might also be able to put the mineral feeder up higher than the sheep can reach, or even build a platform for the goat so that she can reach her mineral. I don't have much experience with sheep and whether they will jump up like goats will. The goat owner is correct that goats need much more copper than sheep.

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  9. I've been trying for years to get my husband on board with a goat or three :) Honestly, we can't really have them at our current home, or I think I would have worn him down by now :)

    We had goats on the farm where I grew up, they were there mainly for poison Ivy control...well, that and being adorable.

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  10. Bekah, they are very good at being adorable.

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  11. Fern, chickens are the perfect first homestead animal, and goats seem to be the second most popular. Like you, I really like my goats and enjoy having them around, but I also use the milk for just about everything.

    {Blogger is being kind of strange today; comments are showing up out of sequence and yours was really late.}

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  12. Great post Kathi!
    I like goats, but you have to be ready for the "goat" attitude :)

    They can be "lovely" at times! But they do bring a great deal to a homestead.

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  13. They do have an "attitude", don't they, Sandra?! On the other hand, there are a lot of benefits to having goats.

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  14. We have a wether. Totally recommend a bottle-raised goat - very lovey & affectionate. He is leash-trained but comes along better just calling him. He came as a companion for the pony but has been great "helping" with the yardwork. I picket him around the horse trailer or near brush piles & he eats the brush & weeds saving the hubby much weed-whipping. He loves the yellow rocket & burdock in the pasture so the grass has come along much better. My husband doesn't "get it" on why we have the goat but since he's low maintenance & does on save mowing/weed-whipping he doesn't care much. :) A lot of people talk about the smell. When our wether came home he did smell like a skunk because he had been in with his un-fixed father. I treated him a few times with dry dog shampoo & brushing him with baby powder every day (sprinkled it on, rubbed it in & then brushed until it was all removed) like you would with a skunked dog & the smell was gone - he doesn't really have a smell of his own any more than the horses now.

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  15. Hi April, I totally agree that bottle-raised babies are extremely friendly. Phoenix still thinks she's a person and is offended that I make her live with the other goats. I want my does to raise their kids, and it does take time and work to keep the kids friendly, but it's time well-spent.

    And that's the good thing about wethers, they don't smell like bucks do!

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  16. I LOVE my goats and can't imagine not having them around. It doesn't matter what kind of a day I'm having, when I go down to milk, it always makes me happy! :)

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  17. I agree, Candy. They're always glad to see me, even if it's just because I have a feed bucket. :-)

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  18. I was ignorant about A-1/A-2 until I read your post via The Homesteaders Hop. Now we have one more reason to love our goats:)

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  19. Glad to help, Diane. As you said, another reason to love goats.

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  20. I can honestly say that I never considered having goats. After sampling goat milk last night for the first time, I can see the benefit of giving these critters a try.
    Thanks for sharing your outdoor post on The Maple Hill Hop!

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  21. Hi Daisy, thank you for stopping by. After chickens, I think goats are the next logical homestead animal. Besides, I just like them.

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  22. Kathi,
    No goats on our homestead yet but I'd love to have some. Thanks for your informative post!

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  23. You're so welcome, Nancy. I hope you can have goats someday.

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  24. Great post Kathi!! I'm counting down when we can have goats! It's going to be sooo fun!! Lots of great information. :)

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  25. Thank you, Mary. I hope you can have goats soon! They are a lot of fun.

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  26. I really want goats (for a few years now). We need a different hometead for that because our HOA would lose their mind. I can't wait to find our forever spot!

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  27. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead5:43 PM

    I can only imagine what your HOA would say! LOL!

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  28. We're trying to get started with a couple goats, but I'm at a loss. Started doing research, but just haven't found any really amazing all-inclusive type blogs. Like from the beginning type. I'm not positive we are capable. Well, I'm sure we're capable, but I'm nervous. We're thinking of renting some first, to kind of check em out. But haven't even found a real close place for that. Ugh. Any suggestions for nervous beginners? Well, nervous considerers, lol? We want to know what we're getting in to, otherwise it's just not fair to the animals. We currently only have chickens, which are my addiction, and a cat who hates the chickens because we love them more than her now. At least that's what she thinks. I imagine. Anyway....I want goats! To clear the land, give us milk, I say meat, my DH says NO (baby), and to further our grandkids exposure to farm life. :)

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  29. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead7:03 AM

    Hi Susan, thank you for researching first, that's smart! Fencing and shelter are important first considerations. You can read about goat fencing here. Shelter doesn't have to be fancy but goats don't like rain, and they need to have shade and of course protection from the cold too. Next, you might browse through my past goat posts (Click on "Goats" in the menu bar under my header, or Click Here). If you have any more questions, please ask and I'll do my best to answer!

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  30. mention how goats help keep snake population down.

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  31. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead9:05 AM

    I've been told that too, Charles. I don't have any scientific proof, but I rarely see snakes even though they are very prevalent in Oklahoma. I do believe it's true.

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  32. What are some of the best "how to" resources to study on goats, regarding raising, housing, feeding, milking, etc.?

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  33. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead12:10 PM

    Hi Bill, there are several books that are worth reading. "Raising Milk Goats Successfully" is a good book for beginners, and is the one I started with. It covers all the basics.

    http://amzn.to/SvFcR5 (affiliate link)

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  34. We would like to get several goats. We have 12 acres in Virginia and have a lot of ground to clear (saplings, seedlings, tons of brush), but need direction as to the best way to keep them fenced. We have 5 dogs and are concerned about how they'll react to the goats.

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  35. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:00 PM

    Fencing is the biggest challenge with goats. Here's what has (and hasn't) worked for us:
    Goat Fencing

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  36. We just bought our first two Kinder doelings last month. Looking forward to breeding them this Fall! Can't wait to enjoy all that wonderful milk.

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  37. Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead6:55 PM

    Congratulations on your two new goats, I hope they are bringing you joy.

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