Choosing livestock · Farming with kids · Goats · New to farming

GETTING YOUR GOAT…

The Littles and I have been wanting goats for quite some time.  When I first started talking about goats, I don’t think Charming Hal took me very seriously.  Maybe that’s because initially, I wanted fainting goats.

I’m sure you can see why.

They  just crack me up. But for some reason Charming Hal doesn’t think hilarity is a sufficient enough reason to purchase, care for and feed livestock. I guess he has a point. So, The Littles and I  decided to think more practically. People own goats for a variety of reasons. We just had to figure out what our reason was (besides a good belly laugh) and then find the right goats for us. Here are some of the reasons to owns goats;

A CLEAN UP CREW

A lot of people buy goats to have around a farm just to keep the brush and weeds cleared. Using goats for this purpose is called mitigation, and it can be very effective.  Since all goats are ruminants (they have four stomachs), any goat would make a good cleaner upper.  But they aren’t lawnmowers.  Unlike other ruminants such as sheep and cattle, goats are not so much grazers as the are bowsers. (They are actually more closely related to deer than they are to cattle and sheep). They prefer nibbling on trees, leaves, and bark over grass. For this reason, goats are great for mitigation, but murder on landscaping. It’s not a good idea to get goats to clear an area unless that particular area is well-fenced.

MEAT ON THE TABLE (and money in the pocket)

 

image source: backcountryboers.com
image source: backcountryboers.com

I’ve heard people say that raising meat goats is more profitable than raising cattle. I haven’t done the math, but it just makes sense. Goats cost less to feed. Even after all my research, I still don’t know exactly how much grain and hay it takes to feed meat goats, but I am confident that it is considerably less that it takes to feed cows. I know of one goat farmer who only feeds his goats when weather conditions are extreme – drought, snow, etc. Otherwise, his herd is quite happy to eat off the land. The skyrocketing cost of hay and grain has been devastating to many cattle farmers. Goat farmers haven’t taken the same hit.

There is also an increasing demand for goat meat. This is due in part to an increase in Ethnic populations. For Muslims and Hispanics, for example, goat meat is often a cultural staple. There are several meat breeds to choose from.

GET MORE FIBER

I was unaware that goats raised for their hair are called fiber goats. I was also unaware (and this is embarrassing) that cashmere, angora, and mohair, all come from goats. I thought these were types of wool – i.e. from sheep.  Wouldn’t it be fun to have one of these cutie pies trotting about the farm!

image source: mohairsandmore.com
image source: mohairsandmore.com

DAIRY QUEENS

I tried goat’s milk years ago and thought it tasted like a goat smells. Yuck! But as a part of my research to find our family’s perfect goat, I tried goat’s milk again. The breeder who let me sample her stock told me that the taste of the milk depends on the breed and the feeding conditions. Apparently this breeder had the right combination because her goat’s milk was yummy. In fact, it tasted a lot like rich cow’s milk. I also learned that goat milk has smaller proteins, making it easier to digest than cow’s milk.  This is why it is a great alternative for people who are lactose intolerant or even for some with a milk allergy.  Just as there are many meat breeds there are several dairy breeds to choose from.   Also like meat and fiber breeds, they are all pretty darn cute.

dairy goat

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS

Showing goats is a big deal at most county fairs, and there is a lot of information about how to choose a show goat and how to show a goat, but I was surprised to find very little information on what kind of goats you can show. I think this is because it varies from fair to fair. The most common and most popular category appears to be the meat goat category. At our county fair meat goats are by far the most popular and the only goats eligible for the Premium Sale (where you can make a little money and still keep your goat). I found that in other places dairy goats are also popular and can make it to the Premium Sale. Even if a goat is only up for a blue ribbon showing seems like a fun way to interact with your goat and to get to know other goat people. To find more information on showing goats check out 4H or your local county extension office.

SO, WE BOUGHT A GOAT (and then more goats)

After extensive research and numerous visits to goat farms, we finally decided on Nubians. Nubians are milk goats that are known to be friendly and fun. Their milk has a high butterfat content, making it rich and creamy  –  and they have smiling eyes and floppy ears (a major selling point). To be truthful, I don’t even know if I want to milk goats, but I do know I don’t want to slaughter or sheer them.

Another thing I know is that I don’t want to spend $300 on a goat – not until we know what we are doing. Fortunately, I found a reputable goat breeder who was looking for a home for a bottle baby.  Meet Isabel.

Isabel

She is ridiculously cute. She’s tiny and vulnerable – which is why I am only mildly embarrassed to admit that we are keeping her in the house (mostly on the sunporch) for the time being. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until we had settled on Isabel that we learned that little detail about dairy goats not making the premium sale at the county fair.  And since in addition to maybe one day milking, The Littles also want to show, the search was on for a Boer goat. Meet Jake.

Jake

He is a fine little fellow from good stock.  And while I can already predict that he will not be gracing anyone’s dinner table, he is a nice looking meat goat. I’m not sure the same can be said for his friend Bandit.

Bandit

Bandit is small for her age because she was orphaned. Her previous owners called her Bandit because she would sneak in under the other goat mammas to nurse. We got Bandit because we worried Jake would be lonely until Isabel is big enough to join him outside. (Also, I am a sucker for orphaned baby animals). We are now the proud owners of three goats!

One dairy goat for milking. One meat goat for showing. And one little goat for company.  That my friends is how serious farmers choose their livestock!

This post was linke at The Prairie Homestead Barn Hop

Barn-Hop

Linked at My Healthy Green Family

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13 thoughts on “GETTING YOUR GOAT…

  1. Stopped by from “From the Farm” blog hop. Next year when my husband graduates and finishes his clinical’s we hope to move across the state. One of the things I have always wanted was to have goats for milking. I love goat milk, cheese and butter. When I was younger I knew someone who lived next door to a lady who had goats. I just loved visiting with them. So cute and friendly. When I got older I lived next to a college town that partnered with a goat farm. They had the most amazing farm fresh milks and cheeses. I imagine the way you obtained your three are the say way I would obtain mine…pretty much how I gather all my pets!

  2. I found this very interesting. I know nothing about farming, however I think goats are great animals. Thank you for sharing. I shared this on my blog FB page, I have a couple readers (who are family) who have hobby farms, I am sure they will find this a good read.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for sharing. I was nice of you to read a goat article if you aren’t planning to get goats. 🙂

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