Why You Should Have Goats on Your Homestead

A brown Nubian dairy goat with her newborn twins.

Are you considering adding goats to your homestead? Here are the benefits of owning goats and how they'll improve your land and even benefit your other livestock. Here's why you should have goats on your homestead.

You need to 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. 

Here are five important reasons why you absolutely need goats on your homestead.

Milk and Meat

Of course goats can provide both meat and milk.

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. 

A dairy goat will, of course, produce more milk, and a meat goat will provide more meat, but no matter what the breed, goats can provide both milk and meat.

A full size dairy goat will give more milk than a mini breed or a meat breed, while a meat breed will be heavier and provide more meat than a dairy goat. 

Although a miniature goat produces less milk, her milk can be higher in butterfat than a full-size dairy goat, depending on the breed. 

You can learn more about the various kinds and breeds of goats, and some advice on which goats would be best for your homestead here.

Goats are also smaller and easier to handle than a cow. Miniature goat breeds, while producing less than full size goats, are easier 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.

A brown Nubian dairy goat eating weeds and leaves in a pasture.

So rotating your livestock from one pasture to another, often followed by another species, and perhaps even a third, improves your pasture. 

Goats eat weeds and don't really want grass. Horses don't eat weeds, but will eat grass. So as the goats eat the weeds, the grass is more readily available for the horses.

Some people turn their chickens out into the pasture after horses or other large animals so they can scratch through the manure and eat bugs and seeds. 

Parasite Control

Rotating goats with another species or two on the same ground also 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.

The life cycle of the parasite is broken and all of the animals are healthier.

Goats are a great benefit to your garden

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. 

Goat poop won't burn your plants like some other manures will.

And of course goats will be happy to eat all those weeds you pull from the garden, too.

A1 versus A2 Milk

And then there is the A1/A2 milk issue. 

Very simply, A1 is a mutated beta-casein protein found in milk. Cows can carry either the A1 or the A2 gene. 

A genetic test can determine if a cow is A1 or A2. Holsteins, the dairy breed most often used in American commercial dairies, are almost always A1. 

But goats are always A2, and their milk is so much better for you.

You can read more about this issue and why people want to avoid A1 milk in this article, "You're Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk." 

A black and white dairy goat and her daughter, lying down in a pasture.

Some FAQs about goats

Goats are full of personality - some folks say goats 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 goat is a buck; a female goat is a doe. A castrated male goat is a wether.

A doe (female goat) has one udder and two teats. (Well, she should have two teats. Check before you buy a goat; some do have an extra teat but it is considered a fault.) In comparison, a cow has one udder and four teats.

A black and white spotted goat lying on a rock.

Goats are like potato chips, you can't have just one. But that's ok because goats are herd animals and do better with others of their own kind. 

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.

You can read about the fencing types that have worked for us and which ones haven't in this post about goat fences

As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I'm excited to also share my gardening tips with you - from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let's dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.

For more homestead inspiration, subscribe to The Acorn, Oak Hill Homestead's weekly-ish newsletter, and follow me on FacebookPinterest and Instagram. I'd love to see you there!

You might also like:
Best Fences for Goats
10 Must-Have Items for Goat keepers
Goats: What's Normal?

Here's why you absolutely need goats on your homestead.

This post was originally published on 1/25/2017,
and updated on 2/22/2024.


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