Raising goats is a project that many homesteaders have embraced over the years. While this may seem idyllic and easy, it requires a lot of work, patience, and knowledge.
Whether you’re interested in raising goats as pets or for meat and milk production, there are certain things you need to know before investing in goats. From understanding the social nature of goats to becoming a hands-on farmer, it’s important to educate yourself before bringing these loveable creatures onto your property. Here are the essential things you should know before raising goats.
Selecting a Breed of Goat
There are two main types of goats: mini and standard goats. Miniature goats such as Pygmy and Nigerian dwarf goats weigh less than 100 pounds but can still be good milk producers. On the other hand, standard goats weigh between 100-200 pounds, and popular breeds include Nubian and Alpine goats.
It’s important to consider each breed’s advantages and disadvantages before deciding which goats you want to purchase. While standard goats are often preferred by farmers, mini goats can do well on smaller parcels of land. Selecting the right breed based on your available space and purpose is an important aspect of raising goats.
As a goat owner, you must shelter your animals to protect them from extreme weather conditions. The type of shelter you need depends on the climate of your area. If you keep goats in a warmer region, a three-sided shelter is sufficient, but baby goats may require more protection in enclosed and separate pens.
A raised shelter is often preferred to ensure the housing is clean and free from moist conditions. Most shelter designs allow the goats’ droppings to fall freely, keeping their pen clean and easy to clean. Raising the shelter and constructing it to avoid strong winds will ensure your goats are comfortable and healthy. The space inside these shelters should be enough for the goats to play, sleep, and eat.
Proper feeding is a crucial aspect of raising goats. Since they naturally graze, goats prefer to nibble on bushes, brush, and weeds rather than grass. A few acres may be sufficient if you are keeping a small herd of goats. However, you need to protect any trees in the pasture since goats love to eat bark and all the accessible leaves and branches.
You will need to ensure your goats have healthy pastures and a balanced diet comprising quality grass, hay, and supplements such as herbs and minerals. You must be selective about the herbs you feed your goats, as some may be poisonous.
When watering your goats, it’s important to provide enough clean water to ensure they drink when needed. Consider providing slightly warm water during cold winters to encourage the goats to stay hydrated.
Before beginning your journey into goat farming, it’s crucial to understand the basics of goat disease management. Keeping a healthy herd of goats requires knowledge of common illnesses and proper vaccination protocols.
Annual check-ups by a veterinarian can prevent disease outbreaks and ensure timely treatment if an issue arises. In addition, proper nutrition, housing, and sanitation practices are vital to keeping goats healthy. As a farmer, you must also be familiar with common illnesses, such as:
- Foot rot
- Goat bloat
- Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis
- Gaseous Lymphadenitis
Raising Your Goats
Now that you know what it takes to keep and care for your goats, consider a hands-on approach where you are fully involved with the day-to-day chores. This means being a keen observer and mastering the behavior of your goats so you can easily detect unusual temperaments and illnesses. Properly managed goats can provide a sustainable income source for farmers and an enjoyable hobby for those interested in animal husbandry.