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Friday, February 2, 2018

Goats on the Homestead

    We have been raising goats on our homestead for over 4 years now.  I share a lot of pictures and stories about our goats on my Facebook page, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.  Because I put my content out there, I have many people reaching out to me asking all kinds of questions about goats.  Today, I am going to share some of what I have learned so far.

homestead goats, what you need to know to get started, best dairy goats, best meat goats, goats on the homestead, why you should have goats, Dairy goat farm, goat cheese, goat milk soap, vaccinations for goats,
Contessa loving on her newborn baby "April"


What is a boy goat called?  What do you call a female goat?
    
     Goat terminology can be confusing so let's clear things up here first.  Male goats that are "intact" (meaning they still have their testicles) are called "bucks".  If they have been castrated, they are called "wethers".  Females are called "nannies" or "does" and baby goats, whether male or female, are called "kids".  I often call a male baby a "buckling" to make it easier for people when I am selling the babies. 

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A buckling born on our farm.


 Why you should have goats on your homestead:
     I think everyone needs goats on their homestead. They are by far our favorite farm animal that we raise.  They are also the most productive farm animal, in my opinion.  They do not take up nearly as much room as a cow does and they are much easier to handle.

     Goats provide our family with fresh milk and that milk gives us milk to drink but also the surplus of milk we use to make soap, butter and cheese.  They can also provide meat for our table.  Currently we are not butchering any of our goats for meat but that is an option if we ever decide to do so.

     An important thing to remember when considering goats is that they are HERD animals.  Do not purchase just one goat, they will not be happy.  Purchase a minimum of 2 or you will have problems.  Not only will your goat not be happy and thrive but they also get bored and become huge trouble makers.  Do yourself (and your goat) a favor and have more than 2.  

What kind of goat should you purchase:

     It depends on what you want the goats for:  milk, meat, both or just for fun.  We started out our homestead with dairy goats...Saanens to be more specific.  If you raise dairy goats, like we do, you will have plenty of milk to drink and still be able to make cheese, butter and soap too. 

     There are several breeds of dairy goats that are great for homesteaders.  From our experience, the five best diary goats for a homestead are:  Saanens, LaManachas, Nubians, Nigerians, and Aplines.  

      As it reads in Proverbs 27:27 (KJV) "And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance of thy maidens".  Right now, we own 16 goats and 10 of them are dairy goats so we have enough for that for sure.

        Good meat goats that we have raised are: Boer & Pygmy.  Both are good even for the smallest of homesteads.  And just so you know, any goat can be milked for human consumption.  It is just that meat goats and of course the Pygmy goat breed give less milk than straight up dairy goats.

  Land improvement:
      People often comment that they want a goat because goats eat everything or state they want a goat to mow their grass.  This is just wrong.  Goats do not eat anything and everything.  Also, sheep are what you get for keeping your lawns down...not goats.  Sheep are grazers but goats are browsers.  Meaning a goat prefers to eat weeds, shrubs, and trees...they rarely eat grass.  
  
      If you have an area that is overgrown with brush, a goat will clear that area out for you in no time.  They will also eat up poison ivy.  Before we go camping on the back area of our property, we always take down a few of our goats to clear out the thorns and poison ivy so we can camp without those worries.  Word of caution though:  if you have wild blackberries, like we do, be warned that goats eat these too.  I prefer the blackberries for human consumption and not for the goats.

 Goats of our homestead:

     We currently have 7 Saanen goats.  Five of the Saanens are nannies and 2 are bucks.  All five of the females are pregnant and due the end of February-mid-March.  Any of the babies that are born and are does will be kept; the young bucks will be sold.    Saanens are excellent milkers and are very gentle and docile.  

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Young buckling to be sold.

     Three of our dairy goats are LaManchas (2 male, 1 female).  The female LaMancha is with kid also.  We plan on getting 5 more LaMancha females this summer.

homestead goats, what you need to know to get started, best dairy goats, best meat goats, goats on the homestead, why you should have goats, Dairy goat farm, goat cheese, goat milk soap, vaccinations for goats,
Jethro, as a baby

     Our other 6 goats are Pygmy and Pygmy crosses.  We breed these to sell their babies as pets but any Pygmy can be butchered for meat too.  We have 2 male pygmies (including a Boer/Pygmy cross) and 4 females.

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Daisy Mae & Brownie, pygmy fainting goats

homestead goats, what you need to know to get started, best dairy goats, best meat goats, goats on the homestead, why you should have goats, Dairy goat farm, goat cheese, goat milk soap, vaccinations for goats,
"Midnight" 


     There is so much more to learn about goats that I have enlisted a few of my blogger friends to help out.

Additional Resources from fellow bloggers:

"A Life of Heritage" has written an article "CD&T Vaccination for Goats:  Necessary or Not?" that will give you the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself.  

Kristin on "MrAnimal Farm" has a great how-to post on  "Hoof Trimming:  How to trim you Goats Hooves".  

You can find a great article about goat milk soap on the blog "Grace and Garden Homestead" called "Making Goat Milk Soap at Home".  

"Better Hens and Gardens" has a post called "Giving Goat Injections" that I think you will find quite helpful and she also has on on "Making Goat Milk Cheese" that I think you will find helpful too.

"Healing Harvest Homestead" has a post on how to make Goat Milk and Honey Hot Process Soap.  Not only is there a tutorial but she also gives you the recipe.  

    
     I hope you found this post helpful.  If I haven't made it perfectly clear, goats are hands-down my FAVORITE homestead animal.  They are useful but are also tremendously fun to watch and are quite loving.

      You may also enjoy other posts I have done in the past over goats and homesteading in general.  Those posts can be found at:

Growing fodder for your farm animals:  https://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2013/12/growing-fodder-for-your-farm-animals.html

How to make a hay feeder from reclaimed materials:  https://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2018/01/how-to-make-hay-feeder-from-reclaimed.html

Adopting and Raising Dwarf Rabbits:  https://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2017/06/adopting-and-raising-dwarf-rabbit.html

Butchering and Compassion on the Homestead;  https://countrifiedhicks.blogspot.com/2013/04/our-1st-time-to-home-butcher.html

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