You have been excessively scrolling Pinterest checking out every pin of cute baby goats you can find, and you are ready to take the next step in homesteading and start you a little herd of goats. Why not right? You have brought up all the valid points like dairy independence, health benefits of goats, and weed control you got the family on board. So now what? Here is the 411 on raising goats, that you will want to know before bringing home your new four-legged babies.
Raising goats for beginners
If you are starting with kids or baby goats, you are in for a treat. Yes, kids have a ton, and I do mean a ton of energy. Naturally curious and full of energy, super cute and fun but also a little mischievous. So be warned the first year to maybe two years goats can tend to be a handful. The good news, they do eventually calm down.
Goats like humans are creatures of habit. If you start off letting a goat have the run of the place, they will. So letting your favorite 3-legged handicapped goat, do whatever he wants, because you don’t have the heart to make him be in the back pasture…. Well, porch goat you have (not that I have learned that by experience).
Now, no one accuses me of ruling with an iron fist around the homestead, no around here the animals are fairly spoiled. However I have learned, if you value trees, gardens, flowers or shrubs then goats need a set of boundaries. A pasture, run or pen does great. Since they are creatures of habit it best to start them off where you want them to be.
Fencing for goats
Since of course you are being wise and giving them a pen or fenced off area to be in. Make sure you are using a sheep or goat (or possibly even smaller hole) fencing. Goats are, by the way, notorious for being little escape artists. You may think you have everything as tight as possible and little Houdini will have found a way out.
Feeding your goats
Past the bottle phase feeding goats is a breeze. Yes, goats have the list of things they can’t eat, but not to worry they don’t tend to eat what they can’t unless that is the only option. Goats are great foragers, certain weeds, flowers, grasses and brush material they will actively seek, but they also aren’t super picky. Garden waste or kitchen scraps like veggie peels or carrot tops are absolute favorites for most goats. Produce gone bad? Toss it to the goats!
In the winter goats can do well on alfalfa, prairie grass or a mixture of the two. Check your area for selenium levels, as this is very important for breeding goats. If your area is low on selenium you will want to find a supplement with selenium in it. Mineral blocks are a simple solution for this.
Depending on where you live goats may not need a whole lot in the way of housing. In many cases a small shelter to stay dry in. Pallet houses, IBC totes, and small sheds or goat barns all make great shelters. If you live in an extremely cold climate you may want to research in your area what goat owners do for shelter and housing.
Raising Goats & Keeping bucks
Bucks well where do I start? I’d say that ’s a whole other animal…but they are not it really, you would just think so. Bucks can be great, sweet as can be, like a lap dog. Well, then they go into rut. There is nothing particularly fantastic about a goat in rut. They smell, and I do mean bad. Bucks they “perfume” themselves, which (be forewarned) is a little gross to watch. Bucks in rut are stubborn, and they will try their absolute best to find any female in heat. This may not be an issue if you have all one breed or an open herd of Boer goats. However, if you have both full-size goats and smaller goats like Nigerian Dwarfs, you must be careful to not let full-sized bucks breed a small doe.
Other things to consider
Since you are now delving into the world of raising goats you have some time but there are other things you may want to consider.
- will you be breeding your goats?
- will any males need to be castrated?
- if you are breeding how do you feel about disbudding? (Preventing horns from growing) This is something that has to be done in the first few days of life.
- what is your plan for medical issues? Will you be taking the natural health approach or will you use the conventional approach?
Congratulations on your decision to dive into the world of raising goats. Goats will try your patience, just trust me, it’s a goat thing. However, goats are wonderful too, loving, affectionate and playful. For milk, meat or pets goats can be a great addition for a homesteader. Even many urban homesteads are keeping goats for milk! Dairy independence, self-sustainability, weed and brush management and companionship goats are versatile. Once you get a few goats you will see you are well on your way to being the “crazy goat people”♡♡♡
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