Are goats for you? If you are thinking about getting a goat then there are some things to consider. Goats can make wonderful additions to families who keep them as pets, raise them for milk, or maybe just for fun. But before bringing a goat home, here are six things to consider.
What kind of goat will you get? Different breeds have different amounts of milk and different qualities of milk. Some are better suited to dairying than others, some like being milked more than others and some breeds give more milk than others. If you’re looking for a dairy goat, the Nubian is one of the best known, along with the La Mancha, Alpine, Saanen and Toggenburg. The Nubian produces more milk than any other breed, but does not produce as high a quality of milk due to its high fat content (good for butter and cheese making). The La Mancha is just behind the Nubian as far as quantity of milk goes but is also a good choice if you want to make cheese or hard cheeses since it has a higher protein content than most other breeds. The Saanen produces more milk than any other breed but has less fat content (not good for butter or cheese making). The Alpine has less fat content still and produces less than half as much as either the Nubian or Saanen.
200 square feet of outdoor space per goat is the recommended minimum, but this can vary depending on how much time they spend outside. Goats are browsers and will happily eat a wide variety of plants in their grazing area. The more land you have to feed them, the less food they will need to be purchased or grown. You should also consider water availability on your property when deciding if it’s suitable for goats.
Goats and cows can get along pretty well. They both like to chew on things and they both like to eat grass. But if you put them in a pasture together they may try to fight each other over food and water sources. They also have different personalities, so some will be more aggressive than others.
You should always separate your goats from your cows at night when it’s dark. Goats are nocturnal (they prefer to sleep at night) while cows are diurnal (they prefer to sleep during the day). So if you don’t separate them at night, then there is more of a chance that one will attack the other during feeding time in the morning or evening.
In most areas, keeping animals is a matter of zoning and licensing. You can check with your local planning department to see if they have restrictions on raising animals. In general, though, there are no restrictions on raising goats in residential neighborhoods.
If you live in a climate where the winter is cold and dry, it will be necessary to provide hay for your goats. The quality of hay is important. If you can find “grass hay” that has not been cut too short, it will be better than alfalfa or other legumes.
If you have access to good quality hay in winter months if your herd is not large enough to graze outdoors year-round, this can be fed instead of grain. However, if there is no grass available, or if it is too wet to pasture them outside, then you’ll need to supplement with grain.
Goats need attention every day — they need to be fed, watered and given fresh hay or pasture at least once a day. In addition, they should be checked daily to make sure they are healthy and clean. You also need to keep their pen clean and remove any poop so that flies don’t lay eggs in it. It’s important to have time available for these tasks because if you don’t, your goats will suffer from neglect and disease.
Are you prepared for the possibility that one or more of your goats might die? Goats are living creatures and anything can happen. A goat could get sick or injured, die from an illness or accident or be stolen by someone who wants them for meat or breeding stock. If this happens, it’s up to you as the owner to decide what should be done with the remaining goats (if any). If you don’t want them anymore but still want someone else to take over their care, then find another home for them or sell them at auction with no guarantee that they’ll be taken care of properly by the new owner.
So let’s recap. Do you want a goat? Goats can be fun and educational, but if you don’t have a purpose for one, it’s probably not worth it. Are there any specific reasons why you want a goat? Also, are you willing to dedicate the time and money that these animals require? In the end, if you can answer yes to all of those questions, then goats may very well be right for you!