Goats can provide milk and meat for the whole family. You can also use their fur to spin your own yarn or sell the fibers to companies who would do the same. You can also leash-train your goat so you can take them along on hikes and use them as pack animals. Raising goats can also help teach kids responsibility. There’s plenty of benefits to raising your own goats, whether you do it for their milk, meat, or weed-removing abilities. Here’s some topics to think about if you’re considering goat raising.
You’ll need to decide how many, what breed, and what gender early on. Different breeds of goats are good for different reasons — it just depends on what you’re raising them for. For example, Saaens produce a lot of lower quality milk while Nubians produce milk great for making cheese. You could also raise Angora goats for the mohair or Cashmere goats for their fibers.
Female goats need to be bred in order to produce milk, so there’s another thing to consider. You probably don’t want to keep a male goat. Having bucks around can make your doe’s milk taste bad. Keeping does and bucks apart when the does are in heat can also be more challenge than it’s worth. Instead, consider renting out a buck when it comes time to breed. Male goats are usually used for meat, supplying an average of 30 lbs.
Because goats are highly social creatures, try to buy more than one from the same breeder/farm at a time. This way your goats can find comfort in their litter mate when they arrive in their new environment.
Goats are grazers and browsers, so keep them in grassy areas or areas with pesky weeds you’d like removed. They don’t like fences and will make escape one of their top priorities, so put fencing first. Goats will climb, dig, knock down, and eat their way out of a fence. Most goats can also jump over 4-5 feet, so keep that in mind. Owners usually use tall wire fencing with electric fencing at the top. Read this page about fencing for more info.
Some people use tethering to keep their goats in one place, but this can be dangerous and unsuccessful. Goats love to climb, so tethering could lead to strangulation. It also prevents goats from being able to escape any predators that find a way through your fence.
Feeding Your Goats
Because goats can nibble on everything from tin cans to clothing, people think they aren’t picky eaters; however, they’re quite the opposite. They tend to graze on woodier, more nutritious plants and materials (like bushes and trees) and a variety of weeds. Don’t get a goat if you’re expecting them to trim your grass for you — grass will be the last thing they go for. 90-100% of their diet does come from hay or pasture (we’re talking green hay or alfalfa, not yellow hay). They will naturally avoid poisonous plants and unnatural materials such as rubber. If your goat starts eating fence posts and the like, it may be a sign that they are under-nourished. You can also get hay racks like this specifically designed for goats.
Read this webpage to learn more about feeding goats. This website says that “Second-cut leafy hay with some clover, vetch and dandelions is a perfect combination.” Dairy goats and does who are nursing have greater nutritional needs and will often require supplements or commercial feed.
For more information see this website.
Given the right nutrition, fencing, and care, your goats can be a resourceful part of your backyard farm.
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