Are you looking into adding goats to your farm? Depending on your “farm” setup, you may have started with a garden, then added chickens and ducks, and are now looking to expand. For most of us, the essence of “farming” is a layer-by-layer, slow process of diligent work and adding on only after each skill and set up is mastered.
Our world is rapidly changing. In the blink of an eye, technology is exponentially exploding and growing, and in the last 100 years, we have seen a huge drift from the farming way of life. Now, however, more and more people are seeking and desiring a simpler way of life. Knowing what seeds were used to grow their vegetables and how produce has been cared for, knowing how animals are raised and what they are fed, are important to more people than ever before. One acre farms are popping up everywhere.
There is something so…satisfying…wonderful…blessed about being self-sustaining. Nothing beats picking fresh eggs for breakfast or going to the basement in the middle of the winter to pick out your very own canned vegetables for dinner.
Or pouring a fresh glass of raw milk.
For the longest time, as I was diligently working on the garden and getting the chicken house and chickens all set up, I dreamed of a milk cow. Fresh milk, cream, butter, ice cream, cheese…mmmmm. But we only live on about an acre of land.
You can find a lot of articles here on A Life of Heritage that will teach you about goat care and be sure to check out The Goat Health, and Information Bundle–it’s full of to-do lists, checklists, record keeping sheets, and resource pages that will get your new (or old) goat herd off to a terrific start!
I would go through all the pros (see above) and the cons: space requirements, size of cows, more hay needed, poop, amount of milk they produce, etc. (Producing a large amount of milk is good unless you don’t have any other animal to help consume it.) I.wanted.a.cow. But I couldn’t convince my husband to take the leap even though he is an avid cowman, aka cowboy!
So I put the idea of a milk cow on the back burner. I didn’t give up on the idea and kept thinking about other options…
Goats! What about goats?? We already had two pygmy wethers, who were more like our dogs. They ran with the dogs and were quite put out when the dogs loaded up in the back of the pickup and they couldn’t figure out how to get their short legs and large bellies loaded up too.
I began my research and started looking for milking goats in our area. After many emails and phone calls later, I finally tracked down goats in Washington, about 8 hours away. It just so happened we were taking two mares to be bred right by their home. What a happy coincidence! 🙂
So, why are goats a great addition to a farm? Because, really…you NEED a goat, there just isn’t any better way to say that.
Let me tell you 6 reasons YOU need a goat:
1. Goats are small.
This is a great plus for the small farm and acreage. When you don’t have a lot of room, you definitely don’t have room for a large animal. The housing and shelter requirements are smaller as well. I made a great goat shelter using pallet boards and the goats love it too.
2. Goats require less feed.
Goats eat about 3-5% of their body weight. A cow will eat between 2% and 2.2%. So, a 1200 pound cow will eat approximately 5 ton of hay a year. And a 130-pound goat will need approximately 2 ton a year. There is hay waste and many people give their goats free-choice hay, so when figuring out how much hay to put up or purchase each year for your goats, keep that in mind.
3. Goats poop less.
Goats poop everywhere but their small round droppings aren’t as invasive as a cow pie and in my personal opinion, don’t smell as bad. Larger animals who eat more, produce more fecal matter.
4. Speaking of poop: Manure for your garden!
Whoohoo! Seriously, it’s good stuff! And it really doesn’t stink.
5. They “usually” have more than one kid.
Twins are common in goats. And this year for the first time, both of my nannies had triplets! It’s a quick way to expand your herd and a good way to earn some income to invest back into your farm when you sell the kids. Kids are weaned at about 2 months of age, so there isn’t a long waiting period before they can be sold. The two months is just enough time for you to fall in love with the adorable kids before you say goodbye.
6. Additional source of income.
Ok, so unless you have a bazillion goats, you probably won’t be able to pay off the house. But you can sell the kids and it definitely helps in paying for THEIR housing, upkeep, and feed. Check with the laws of your state of course, but you can sell extra milk or herd shares. Check out this information: 5 Tips to Profit with Goats
I’m sorry…I just can’t stop at six…
7. Goat milk is delicious!
Although the cream doesn’t separate like a cow’s milk, there are many different ways to utilize goat’s milk. We don’t have the ability to free range our goats. Our goats are fed hay (and grain while I milk), so we have never had a problem with our milk tasting “off” from weeds they would be eating in the field. Do you know the value of goat milk and its astounding benefits? But don’t stop at just drinking the milk, make cheese and yogurt, and anything else you can dream up.
8. Goats are fun!
They leap and bound and will spring off the side of your barn and give you a happy greeting when they see you. They have no concept of personal space and will chew on your clothes and hair while standing on your toe. And those ears! We have Nubian and Mini-Nubian goats, and their ears are long and precious. A goat has a personality you won’t be able to miss.
The things my four-year-old son knows because of our goat ownership: where poop and pee come from (I’m sorry, it’s a topic that comes up a lot with a young boy), where babies come from, and how sometimes they need to be pulled, where milk comes from, how to trim hooves (at this stage he thinks he can do everything better than mom but then turns it over after a bit of struggle), how to water and feed, how to ride (or try to) ride a goat…do you get the idea? It’s fun to learn about goats at all ages!
10. Shrub and weed control.
Do you have an overgrown area of shrubs, weeds, or thick bushes, they will have it cleared in no time at all.
A goat is a very social animal and it is definitely recommended to own at least two goats but they can also be great companions to other animals as well! And duh! don’t forget about great companionship and therapy for you. Having a bad day? Go and sit with the goats. They will wuffle your hair and chew on the corner of your coat and demand attention–there is no better therapy than that. 🙂
I am a REALLY bad conversationalist. If people come over to visit it usually ends like this: “…so…um, do you want to go see the baby goats?”
13. If you want one, you get TWO!
Goats are a herd animal and will not do well if they are a single goat living alone. They really, really do need to have a companion goat friend to live with at all times. So, that’s good news for you! You get two out of the deal!
Goats are a great next addition to your farm! But there are still a few things I Wish I Had Known Before Owning Goats.
You may also want to read 5 reasons not to get goats. But don’t let that stop you 😉
So, what are you waiting for?? Do your research, prepare pens, find your goat, and bring her home! (Psst…go now and tell your husband the reasons you NEED a goat!)
If you already own goats, what would you add to the list?
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