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.
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.
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.
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 GoatsGoats 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?
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:
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email