Agricultural Issues - Raising Goats

Folks who keep goats have realized that a goat or two will give them four-legged mowers for the fields, fertilizer for the garden and inexpensive dairy products. Buy two of them because they like to hang out together.

There are five basic breeds of dairy goats:

  • Toggenburgs - brown, deer-like goats with stripes on their faces. Good milk producers.
  • French Alpine - many different colorations, good milk producers.
  • Saanens - large, creamy white goats from Switzerland. Excellent milk producers.
  • Nubians - large, short-haired goats with Roman noses and long, floppy ears. They give less milk but it's higher in butterfat.
  • La Mancha - a goat with tiny ears, generally good milk producers.

For a small operation, look for "grade" does (part purebred, part crossbred). If you buy them young you'll get a chance to know them before you have to start milking them. And you don't need a billy goat in a small herd. If you want to breed your does, take them to a billy who lives somewhere else.

A 7 foot high barn will conserve their body heat. A goat can tolerate low temperatures but damp floors and icy drafts will cut her milk production. Southern exposure will help keep the barn warm in the winter. In the summer, give them a light-colored interior and adequate ventilation to keep the flies down. The floor should be concrete or wood so it's easy to clean. You'll need a good supply of straw, haw or sawdust for bedding. Each goat needs about 3 square feet of floor space and each stall needs an overhead manger for feeding hay. Stall walls should be 48-50 inches high. You'll want to lay all this out so that manure removal is easy.

Goats also need to hike around and browse regularly. They can be tethered (to a small metal stake driven into the ground with a round metal swivel on top) or let loose in a pasture. For the pasture, fence it with a five foot stock fence. Goats also like to perch on high places so try to include some rock formations or ledge outcropping within the pasture.

Spring, summer and fall, they will browse on any bark, grass, leaves, or weeds they can get to. They will also need a good dairy grain (14-16 percent protein), fed morning and evening. Milking goats need about 1 pound of grain for every 3 pounds of milk produced. A pregnant but dry doe should have 1.5 pounds of grain daily. Kids and yearlings need less. Good quality hay is also essential: feed them morning and evening. Goats also like lots of fresh, warm water in the summer and hot water in the winter. A salt block is also a very good idea.

A milking goat produces 3-4 quarts of milk per day. Goat milk is very easily digested and is hard to tell apart from cow's milk. As with all dairy animals, you'll need to breed your does once a year to keep the milk coming. If your does are grade does, you can improve your stock by breeding them to the purebred bucks they most resemble. Most does are ready to breed at 18 months. Kids will be born 5 months after conception. Does should be dry for 2 months prior to giving birth and you'll want to be on hand for the happy occasion in case there are complications. Once you go through this cycle, you will really enjoy the next 8-10 months of drinking nature's most delicious milk. logo
Text Copyright © by All rights reserved.