There is a lot to love when it comes to goat farming and raising livestock. Farm animals have many uses and benefits as well as having great personalities!
Why raise goats? Some of the benefits of goat farming include small business, clearing brush, and the production of products. Goats produce many beneficial products such as milk, meat, and fibers. They graze and browse the grass, bushes, and trees, making them the perfect tool for maintaining property.
Another benefit of raising goats is that they are kid-friendly! Children can learn a lot by spending time with livestock and learning about agriculture and farming.
I’ve spent a lot of time on ranches and farms and one of my favorite parts about goats, besides the delicious goat milk and cheese, is the laughs! Goats are extremely fun to be around.
Things to Know Before Getting Goats
Before you get started on your journey of goat farming, start with research. There are so many benefits to goat farming but knowing which goats to get for which reason can significantly help the process.
There are different breeds and types of goats, some of them are more beneficial than others for certain things like milk, hides, meat, and clearing brush.
The first question you should ask yourself is what is your purpose for raising goats? Are you looking to raise them for meat, for milk, or maybe just to clear brush on your property? Or maybe you want to make a small business from your goat journey.
We’re hoping that this article will help you make that decision by providing you with firsthand experience and a few resources I’ve found along the way.
There are people in your local communities that can help answer any questions that may come up in your research. Reach out to your local farmers, friends or people you know that have raised goats. Having a mentor in any process is priceless.
You can also reach out to your state department of agriculture or your state university Cooperative to talk with people who have experience with raising farm animals.
Visit state fairs and other events where people raise and show goats. Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions! The more you know the better you will be suited to start.
A Quick Look at Some of the Benefits Goats can Provide
When it comes to raising farm animals and livestock, there a very few animals that provide more uses than goats.
I’ve been around farm animals and goats since I was young. My family has raised pigs, cows, goats, and chickens. One of the best times I’ve ever had was rustling up a few goats with some of my friends to take to the auction.
That was also the first time I saw that raising goats is very profitable!
Some benefits to raising goats:
- Brush Control
- Goat Meat
- Goat Hide/Fibers
- Goat Milk and Cheese
- Goats are great pack animals
- Small Business
Goats are Great at Brush Control
Let’s start with brush control. Goats have been known to be able to digest just about any plant. One of the top benefits of raising goats is that they clear brush, help trim trees and take care of that pesky grass that keeps growing too high!
Goats don’t just graze on grass, they also browse, meaning they eat from brush and the bottoms of trees.
They help trim trees by eating the small stuff that grows up to about six feet. This is a huge benefit to the trees; it allows them to grow taller and to get airflow between them when in a thickly wooded area.
You can keep the grass in your yard maintained by rotating your goats from part of your property to another.
Goats Meat is Desired by the Major Population
Goat meat is one of the highest consumed red meats in the world, 63% of all red meat consumed worldwide is goat.
Although it has not reached the grocery stores in America yet, you can find goat meat in almost every Mexican meat market, and exotic meat markets all around the country.
With ethnic groups growing every day in America, foods that use goat’s meat are on the rise.
In America, our main sources for meats have been chicken, pork, and beef, but times are changing as our population gets more diverse.
Goat ‘s meat is leaner, has less fat and more overall nutrition than beef, chicken, pork, and lamb.
Cabrito which stands for roasted goat meat from young goats between the ages of 4 – 8 weeks of age, is one of the most delicious barbequed meats I have ever tried and is very popular with certain ethnic groups.
Goat Hide/Fibers are Profitable
Goats also provide hides and fibers that are used in some of the most comfortable fabrics available.
We all know that sheep are the dominate animal when it comes to fibers, but goats are also fiber producers, they make two of the most sought after and comfortable materials on the market, cashmere and mohair both come from goats!
With a loom and experience, you could even weave your own! Making yarn out of goat fibers is one of many hobbies associated with goats for people who love crafting.
When considering any of these benefits you will also need to note that there are certain breeds for the different kinds of projects and products that come from goats.
Goat Milk and Cheese
The first time I tried goat’s milk, I was about 8 years old. We went on a school field trip to a petting zoo, that had milking goats and I remember having a great time.
We lived in the country and I wasn’t new to farm animals by any means but to be honest I wasn’t exactly sold on the flavor, however a few short years later my family got two goats and one was used for milk and my opinion changed, like most good things with age.
In fact, goat milk was the first milk ever used by humans, and goats were the first animal domesticated by man in 10,000 B.C.
Goat milk also makes goat cheese. Most people have heard of or at least tried goat cheese, it’s used in many Greek and Italian dishes and is found in most supermarkets. In my opinion goat cheese is fantastic and has incredible flavor.
Dairy goat production is a very lucrative business and is suitable for many small-scale operations.
In many parts of the developing world goat milk is the main milk source for humans.
There are also a ton of health benefits. People with cow milk allergies can often times drink goat milk as an alternative.
Goats browse and graze on different kinds of vegetation, which can transfer flavors to the milk and meat, contributing to different types of specialty products that can be made from them.
Goats are Great Pack Animals
Goats are also raised, sold, and used as pack animals. They are able to carry 25% of their body weight and can travel up to 12 miles per day. They eat more brush and plants than a horse and require less water.
If you are someone with a small farm, or ranch, or even a big one, pack animals can be a must.
Other countries in the middle east use goats as pack animals as part of their survival and as a means of making a living.
When choosing a pack goat, make sure to identify the ones who are friendly to humans. You will most likely be getting very close to them, and will have to deal with their attitude when trying to get them to move heavy stuff long distances!
Small Business – Goat Farming Can be Lucrative
Now that you have an idea of some of the products that can be made from goats, let’s take a closer look at how goat farming can turn into a profitable small business.
Whether you are just raising goats cause it’s fun and beneficial or you are doing it to produce products, it can be very profitable.
Not only can you make products for yourself, but you can also make them to sell! There are many things that can be made from the goat, here is a list of 10 awesome goat products, although, there are many more!
- Dairy Products
- Goat Milk Formula
- Body Creams
- Fiber (Fabrics)
These are just some of the ways that you can run a small business from goat farming. You can also sell your goats and baby goats to auctions.
People buy goats for all kinds of reasons, sometimes just to use for brush control, as pets, for milk or meat or for children to raise for livestock purposes. Future Farmers of America (FFA) has helped children learn to raise all kinds of animals.
Livestock auctions are crowded with people interested in buying goats and I know from personal experience you can make a few extra hundred dollars to thousands of dollars just from auctions.
Raising farm animals like goats can also provide tax write-offs.
Breeding Goats and Other Information
Raising and selling livestock like goats is great because of their short gestation period (145-145 days) because of this you can breed goats twice a year.
Baby goats are called kids, and breeding goats is called kidding (I kid you not). Breeding can start at only 7-10 months old, which helps produce more milk in longevity.
Goat litters are usually between 1-6 kids, although, over 3 per litter is rare.
Female goats are called does and males are called a buck or a billy.
Some quick tips on breeding goats:
- Breeding and selection can promote rapid growth and good conformation, (strong legs, feet, and mouths)
- Good reproduction performance can mean a good compatibility with their environment
- The weaning period is a good time to introduce supplement feed and a limited amount of concentrate feed
- Improve heard management by not letting the bucks run with the does all year long
Goats need to have proper fencing. Cattle fencing is not sufficient for goats, goat fence must have smaller holes and be at least 48 inches tall. Broken fencing must be mended to keep goats contained.
Goats do not like to get wet. You will need to have an area that is covered for them to retreat during rain or snow.
It helps to have a dog, for herding and to protect them from predators. Goats can be preyed on by coyotes, mountain lions, and other fierce carnivores. A dog may not be able to fend every predator off, but their barks are usually loud enough to scare them away.
Dogs and goats usually get along pretty well.
What to do with Difficult Goats
Goats are stubborn animals, if a goat gets its head stuck in a fence, it will most likely return to the same spot and get stuck over and over!
Sometimes you will get a terrible goat, one that does not get along well with others, and chews things you don’t want them to chew. It’s best to get rid of problem goats, trade them, sell them, whatever you must do to bring peace to your farm.
A judas goat is a goat that will help herd other goats to slaughter, knowing that it will be kept safe, and allowed to keep its position.
Getting to know more and more about goats and how to take care of livestock will help prepare you for farm life. Farming and raising animals is a lifestyle and can be very rewarding. Goats take very little care, but you must be regular with them and make sure they are treated well.
What Breed of Goat is Right for You?
There are over 200 breeds of goat. Most likely if you are considering raising goats you have a specific use for them in mind. Choosing the right breeds for your endeavors can be critical for production.
The four main production types of goats are:
- Meat Goats
- Milk Goats
- Fiber Goats
- Pack Goats
Meat goats make up 80% of goats raised in America. Meat goats offer a low fat, low cholesterol meat that is good for you. Meat goat breeds include Spanish goats, Kiko goats, Boer goats, Myotonic goats, and Savannah goats.
Milk goats produce milk that can be made into multiple products, such as cheese, ice cream, yogurt and more. Milk goat breeds include LaMancha goats, Guernsey goats, Alpine goats, Nigerian Dwarf goats, Oberhasli goats, and Nubian goats.
Fiber goats produce some of the most sought-after fibers/fabrics such as cashmere and mohair. Fiber goats include Cashmere goats and Angora goats. The two can also be bred together to increase the amount of desired fibers.
Pack goats are goats that are used to move equipment and to travel, the same way a pack mule or horse is used. If you are planning on walking long distances with tools or equipment, then pack goats are what you’re looking for. Pack goat breeds include Alpine goats, Lamancha goats or Oberhasli goats. Pack goats should be people-friendly.
A Few More Goat Facts to Appease your Curiosity
|There approximately 450 million goats in the world.|
|Every state in America has goat farmers.|
|Goats can be born with or without horns.|
|Goats are bovines and are closely related to cows and antelopes.|
|A mature and healthy buck can breed up to 20-40 does.|
|Bucks can be very aggressive during mating season.|
Some Goat Farming Resources
Here a few resources we have found that should help in your research and information gathering process. You can also look to your local farming organizations and other farmers for more tips and pointers.
Starting a dairy goat business – PDF
USDA Small scale goat operation – PDF
102 Facts about goats – PDF
Are goats friendly? Goats are great around children. Unlike larger livestock goats tend to be small enough to no be dangerous for most kids. However, when a buck is in a rut, you want to keep the (human) kids away as they can have dangerous tendencies. It’s good practice to keep small children away from male goats in general.
Do goats make good pets? Believe it or not, goats make great pets! They have been known to be very good “companion animals.” Just a few quick searches on Youtube and you will find that goats make hilarious pets! They are full of personality and if you spend time with one, you will most likely fall in love.