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Old 03-01-2011, 02:31 PM   #1
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Anyone raise goats?

I was reading a very good article series on Mother Earth News about raising goats. I was wondering if anyone on here does that?

I would love to have the fresh milk and be able to use it in cheese making (though I guess that can be tricky because the fat droplets are very small in goat milk), for yogurt and more.

Also the meat, especially of the young goats, is supposed to be quite tasty.

I'd have to make it a long term goal. I also wanted to raise chickens last year but decided I didn't want to invest the time to do it.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:45 AM   #2
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I have a friend who has two goats, but not for milk or meat. They're male, and she keeps them to help clear her property. All livestock is a commitment, but you have to have a relatively large area to keep goats and must be willing to move their pens, walk them, etc.

They're really cool though. If you want to breed them, the males smell very strongly if not neutered.
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:19 AM   #3
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It's always a good idea to grow your own food and raise your own livestock. In this way, you can be sure that what you're eating will not really harm you because you know how you grew and raised them. Raising livestock like goats requires investment in time and resources. I'd like to do that too, at some point in the future.
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info. I'll probably keep researching the idea and wait a while to make sure my interest doesn't just fizzle out as often happens to me. I live on what was an old farm and there's plenty of space and resources to have a couple of goats. The article series on Mother Earth News is really good, it has a lot of detailed information about how to go about it.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:56 AM   #5
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I raise Saanen and LaMancha Dairy Goats. What do you need to know.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:10 AM   #6
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Hello, thanks for the info. I guess I'm just trying to figure out roughly how much time per day it takes to care for a goat or two. I'm trying to figure out if I can reasonably make the commitment to care for them.

At some point I'd really like to raise goats and probably some chickens. Let's face it; supply chains are fickle. Even at the hint of a storm coming the supermarket shelves start getting bare around here, gas stations run out because everyone fills up their tank at once, and so on. Having your own quality food source helps isolate you somewhat anyway.

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Old 03-02-2011, 10:36 AM   #7
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I have two goats who I milk once a day. One is an alpine and one is an alpine/nubian. We have had goats for about 11 years and find it is very easy to raise them about 99% of the time. They run loose on our 5 acres, put themselves to bed, eat mostly a diet of browse, and are very gentle and affectionate. The 1% that is difficult is birthing and if they get sick. Our adults have never gotten sick, but sometimes the babies have had problems. Because our goats run loose they also rarely need hoof trimming, and I have stopped even vaccinating because we don't do shows where they can pick up disease. They have never gotten parasites either.

So I guess in short, a few goats living a natural easy life are about as easy as well-trained dogs to take care of, maybe even easier.

And speaking of dogs, you need a good one to protect your livestock. My neighbors who have shunned that advice have lived to regret it. Mine is just a mutt, but she knows her job and does it well.

Chickens are pretty easy too with the right setup, but of course there are more predators after them than there are with goats.

Cheese making is super easy with goat milk, not harder than cow's milk. Raw goat milk makes the BEST cheese! You would start out making easy stuff like chevre and yogurt, and then you can work up to feta and cottage cheese, then mozarella and queso fresco, and I would get really good at that before attempting the harder cheeses. A lot can go wrong with hard cheese after you have put a LOT of effort into it.
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:09 AM   #8
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Wow that's great, thank you for the information! That is making me think the goat project might just be a go. I'd love to let them just roam outside as they'd like. I could get a dog too to protect them, that wouldn't be too big of a problem. I'm not sure how/if they'd stay on just my property and not wander to the neighbors? It's about 40 acres with a creek running through it. There are some semi-open fields. That'd be great if they could keep the field chewed down because otherwise it has to be brush hogged every couple years or it gets overrun with briers.

Thanks for the cheese info too that sounds interesting.
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Old 03-02-2011, 02:22 PM   #9
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Wow that's great, thank you for the information! That is making me think the goat project might just be a go. I'd love to let them just roam outside as they'd like. I could get a dog too to protect them, that wouldn't be too big of a problem. I'm not sure how/if they'd stay on just my property and not wander to the neighbors? It's about 40 acres with a creek running through it. There are some semi-open fields. That'd be great if they could keep the field chewed down because otherwise it has to be brush hogged every couple years or it gets overrun with briers.

Thanks for the cheese info too that sounds interesting.
You are very lucky to have 40 acres! We only have 5. Plenty of food on 5 acres for two goats. Be sure to read up on poisonous plants, although really only a few are dangerous (like rhododendron, camas, hemlock). Most of what they say was poisonous my goats eat all the time like elderberry and bracken fern. I guess the bracken fern with the black veins is the one to watch out for.

Though there will be some things to learn, it's not nearly as complicated as the books make it sound. That is geared toward people who pack a lot of goats into a small space. We spent our first year being so stressed out about doing everything by the book, when really they mostly take care of themselves.

One supplement that really has helped keep my goats in good shape is kelp.
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Old 03-02-2011, 04:23 PM   #10
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Awesome, thanks for the info. I'm going to continue looking into it some more. It sounds quite doable really, and the excellent products and meat would be welcome. It looked like some people sell the young, especially if they are from a good lineage.

The 40 acres is the old family farm. I don't know for sure how many generations it goes back since I myself have not seen the deed, but in those days 40 acres was the standard plot being sold by the Holland Land Company.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:49 PM   #11
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Mermaid, do you happen to know how much milk you receive each day? Or does it vary? I am also desiring to have my own goats and chickens one of these days, but I need the right people around me to let me know the basics and what to expect.

I want to speak to my local raw goat milk farmer about raising goats, so that maybe she can give me tips that I can apply later on. Are there any surprises about raising chickens and goats that no one every told you about?
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Old 03-03-2011, 09:38 AM   #12
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Raising goat is not that easy thing as it seems
People in villages have the trend to raise goats but are failed .
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:37 AM   #13
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Mermaid, do you happen to know how much milk you receive each day? Or does it vary? I am also desiring to have my own goats and chickens one of these days, but I need the right people around me to let me know the basics and what to expect.

I want to speak to my local raw goat milk farmer about raising goats, so that maybe she can give me tips that I can apply later on. Are there any surprises about raising chickens and goats that no one every told you about?
How much milk you get depends on: breeding of the goat, diet, access to clean water, how often you milk, the age of the goat, and how long it has been since kidding. The typical American way is to "push" each goat to her max by over-feeding grain and certain supplements, plus having her kid every year. I don't agree with doing it that way. I have excellent milkers who can give about 1.5 gallons of milk a day, but since they have a diet of about 90% browse (some alfalfa, some grain) and I only milk once a day, they give about a half-gallon during peak season, and sometimes only a pint at the lowest point. It is much easier on the goat that way. Alpine goats can give milk for years after one kidding, so right now one of my alpines has been giving milk for 6 years after her last kid. My alpine/nubian kidded about three years ago and is still giving milk.

I think the average hobby farmer/homesteader should probably be happy with a half-gallon to a gallon of goat milk per goat per day in peak season, depending on if you milk once or twice. Do get your does from a good milk line if you can.

Do be careful right after kidding to milk the doe as often as needed to take the pressure off her udder. It could cause mastitis (which none of my goats have ever had).

Answering the question of what did I wish I had known, I think I was told wrong about bottle feeding the kids. Conventional wisdom is that if you bottle feed the babies they are gentler, and I don't think it is true. It's a total waste of time and very stressful to have to bottle feed. If you can leave them on their momma, but play with them often, they turn out much healthier and happier. You can still take extra milk when the kids are nursing unless there are three kids on a doe, then they will need it all for 12 weeks.

The most stressful things were de-horning, and my first two or three birthings. I almost fainted one time when my doe's water had not broken, and this huge white mass with eyeballs floating in it started coming out--I really thought it was some sort of mutant thing! Then the gush came, and the pretty little baby was out and all was well, but my legs stayed rubbery for quite a while!

Most of the time it's just a peaceful quiet scene of goats munching and softly calling to me whenever I walk outside. Day after day after day that's how it is.
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Old 03-03-2011, 10:58 AM   #14
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That's great info. Do the goats do alright in the winter? It gets down to maybe 10F around this area but sometimes for several weeks straight in the dead of winter.

Yes reading the Mother Earth News articles, the dehorning and castrating sounded like they would be a little hard to actually do, at least until getting used to it.
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Old 03-03-2011, 12:34 PM   #15
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That's great info. Do the goats do alright in the winter? It gets down to maybe 10F around this area but sometimes for several weeks straight in the dead of winter.

Yes reading the Mother Earth News articles, the dehorning and castrating sounded like they would be a little hard to actually do, at least until getting used to it.
We've gotten down to about 3 degrees here on occasion, though it does not last for weeks. You would need to have a shelter and allow some poop/straw buildup before winter, with more clean straw on top. The decomposing of that creates heat when the goats lie on it. Use a product called Stall Dry to kill the ammonia fumes. Try not to have kids until weather is warmer. Give them extra grain and treats during cold weather. If one seems to be in distress, they will usually drink a pan of warm water with a little molases and feel better. It can be a pain to make sure the water does not freeze. I have also seen people feed them warm oatmeal in cold weather, though I never have. You will have to have hay if forage is covered in snow.

I also do recommend a goat yard connected to the shelter so you can keep them penned up from time to time, or they can go there if they feel unsafe. That's the setup we have, although the gate is almost always open for them to come and go as they wish.
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Old 03-03-2011, 01:57 PM   #16
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Thanks for the info. I think I could set all these things up. There are a couple buildings that would be useful for the goats but I'd probably have to build something separate since the landlord's wife has around a dozen cats living in the other buildings. There's a place nearby I could buy hay for them in the winter as needed.
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:10 PM   #17
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Thanks for the info. I think I could set all these things up. There are a couple buildings that would be useful for the goats but I'd probably have to build something separate since the landlord's wife has around a dozen cats living in the other buildings. There's a place nearby I could buy hay for them in the winter as needed.
They might coexist fine with the cats, and it would help keep the rodents out.
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Old 03-03-2011, 02:19 PM   #18
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That probably would work. I know the lady doesn't want the cats to go outside so I'd have to make sure they couldn't get out. One building used to be a barn and it has like these feed trough doors where the cows used to be, so I might be able to block off that end of the building to keep the cats out of there.

It's funny you mention that stall dry. The cats have litter boxes in there but they just go anywhere they want I think in the buildings anyway. You can smell the ammonia sometimes just walking past the building.

Thinking about it, the lady absolutely loves animals. I think she'd love having some goats around. She would probably help me take care of them too.

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Old 03-03-2011, 04:09 PM   #19
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That probably would work. I know the lady doesn't want the cats to go outside so I'd have to make sure they couldn't get out. One building used to be a barn and it has like these feed trough doors where the cows used to be, so I might be able to block off that end of the building to keep the cats out of there.

It's funny you mention that stall dry. The cats have litter boxes in there but they just go anywhere they want I think in the buildings anyway. You can smell the ammonia sometimes just walking past the building.

Thinking about it, the lady absolutely loves animals. I think she'd love having some goats around. She would probably help me take care of them too.
Why in the world does she not want her cats to go out? Do you mean they spend all their time inside a little building? Am I misunderstanding what you said? I hope so!
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Old 03-03-2011, 04:28 PM   #20
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There's some coyotes and possibly foxes around, and I don't think she wants them to get hit in the road. People dump stray cats off on this road quite often so a lot of times she takes them in. The buildings are quite large, it's a big barn and then a separate equipment shed that could fit a couple big tractors. They have windows that open and are screened so they can lay in the sun and such. It's actually a pretty nice setup for cats. She takes good care of them and spends a lot of time on them.
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Old 03-03-2011, 06:07 PM   #21
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There's some coyotes and possibly foxes around, and I don't think she wants them to get hit in the road. People dump stray cats off on this road quite often so a lot of times she takes them in. The buildings are quite large, it's a big barn and then a separate equipment shed that could fit a couple big tractors. They have windows that open and are screened so they can lay in the sun and such. It's actually a pretty nice setup for cats. She takes good care of them and spends a lot of time on them.
It's nice that she takes in strays and I'm glad to hear they have a decent space in there. I still think she should allow them outside, though, like maybe after you get a dog and get it trained right to keep the predators at bay. Cats need fresh air and real sunshine, not just through windows. I had one cat that was outdoors for 15 years, two others who were outside 10+ years, and one right now that has been outside for two years. Only one had death by predator when she got very old but refused to come in the house because she loved her freedom so much. It was her choice. We have bears, cougars, bobcats, foxes, raccoons, coyotes, lots of each. But, we also do have Lucy, the farm dog who stays up all night in all kinds of weather (by choice) to guard the others. I'm sure our kitties would not have lasted long at all without Lucy around.

I know, it's not anything to do with the goat question, but being an animal lover myself I hate the idea of any cat spending its entire life inside.
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Old 03-09-2011, 02:03 PM   #22
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Thanks for the info. I can make a gentle suggestion to her, but since they're not my cats I'm not sure what she'll say.

Anywho, my quest for goats has taken an interesting turn. Through realmilk.com I found out there is farm a few miles away that sells pasteurized and unpasteurized goat milk, fudge, cheese, and other products, and also sells goats, so I am going to have to check that out. I'm hoping he does unpasteurized cheese too, though I suppose I could make my own with the unpasteurized milk.

This farm says everything is 'chemical free'; not sure exactly what that means I'll have to ask. They have beef too, but they feed it a lot of grain so I already have another nearby source for grass fed&finished beef.
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Old 03-09-2011, 02:53 PM   #23
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Thanks for the info. I can make a gentle suggestion to her, but since they're not my cats I'm not sure what she'll say.

Anywho, my quest for goats has taken an interesting turn. Through realmilk.com I found out there is farm a few miles away that sells pasteurized and unpasteurized goat milk, fudge, cheese, and other products, and also sells goats, so I am going to have to check that out. I'm hoping he does unpasteurized cheese too, though I suppose I could make my own with the unpasteurized milk.

This farm says everything is 'chemical free'; not sure exactly what that means I'll have to ask. They have beef too, but they feed it a lot of grain so I already have another nearby source for grass fed&finished beef.
Yes! Any time you have a good nearby source, I think that's the way to go unless you just really really are attached to having your own animals for the experience of it or the companionship. I think it's actually cheaper to buy meat, milk, etc. than it is to raise your own in most cases. There are many surprises and hidden costs in raising your own animals.
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Old 03-09-2011, 05:47 PM   #24
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Yes, thanks for the help. I'm going to check out the farm. I found they have a small web site. It said their cheese and other products are made with the pasteurized milk. But I'm guessing purchasing the raw milk and then making my own products would work. Or maybe they would make them for me; maybe just most people buy the pasteurized products.

I see this farm has pigs too. But their food mix for the pigs and cows includes soy so I'm not sure what to think about that.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:05 PM   #25
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I don't raise goats, but I've certainly been around plenty of them, and I'm going to just add - the kids are the cutest dang things you ever saw! They run, jump, twirl, climb things - they're amazing little creatures. They grow up pretty fast though, darn it!
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:14 PM   #26
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I don't raise goats, but I've certainly been around plenty of them, and I'm going to just add - the kids are the cutest dang things you ever saw! They run, jump, twirl, climb things - they're amazing little creatures. They grow up pretty fast though, darn it!
I love pygmy goat babies. Hysterical to watch them bounce all over the place. The adults...well, they're fine until they open their mouth. They sound like they're dying.
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Old 03-23-2011, 01:52 PM   #27
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I've just recently joined this forum, so I'm coming into this conversation a little late! I have two dairy goats, but.......sigh......they are apparently high priestesses in some goat chastity cult. Despite a five week 'date' with a stunning and extremely willing buck at a friend's farm last fall, Fiona is definitely not pregnant, and Maeve is either not pregnant or carrying the tiniest single ever. When I did have goat's milk it was awesome, and I made some nice beginner-level cheeses. But it looks like I'm out of luck this spring. Anyone have success with breeding for fall delivery?
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Old 03-23-2011, 02:09 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by katie in progress View Post
I've just recently joined this forum, so I'm coming into this conversation a little late! I have two dairy goats, but.......sigh......they are apparently high priestesses in some goat chastity cult. Despite a five week 'date' with a stunning and extremely willing buck at a friend's farm last fall, Fiona is definitely not pregnant, and Maeve is either not pregnant or carrying the tiniest single ever. When I did have goat's milk it was awesome, and I made some nice beginner-level cheeses. But it looks like I'm out of luck this spring. Anyone have success with breeding for fall delivery?
Bummer! My Alpine joined the chastity cult at about age 4. She is robust and healthy at age 12 now, but just decided that bucks were too stinky or something and wouldn't let one near her after giving birth only three times. What most people do in my area to induce heat is to give selenium shots. I have a nurse friend who can get it at vetserv.com, but if you can't get it due to some rules (certain dispicable people were using it to slowly poison their unwanted spouses), then hopefully some veterinarian may oblige. Fall birth is no problem unless you live in an extremely cold area.
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Old 03-23-2011, 03:55 PM   #29
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Fencing!

I have 18 acres and had 12 goats. The fencing was decent. Enough to keep the sheep in and the horses in but not the goats. They had plenty to eat on our property but they were too nosy and had to keep breaking through the fence to see what the neighbors had to eat.

And my favorite one got hit by a car because he got out through the fence and broke his leg badly. We had to put him down by shooting him.

Don't enter into this lightly. Read up on proper fencing, routine vet care and vaccinations, goat diseases, etc.

I found a home for my goats because I couldn't keep them in the fence and the neighbor threatened to shoot them if they got back through.

If I could replace my entire fence with goat friendly fencing then I would because I would love to have more goats. I will just have to live with the happy memories they gave me.
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:24 AM   #30
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Selenium shots. Awesome! I can do that, I've given them other shots. I'd rather have fall births anyway, to be honest - I have more time to make cheese in the winter.

Sorry to hear someone else has a goat in the Chastity Club, but you'll get a kick out of this story - another farmer friend and I met at a coffeeshop in the upscale town where we have our market. I was bemoaning the fact that Fiona's still not pregnant and we realized the nosy lady in the next booth thought we were taking about a teenager! She was getting more and more indignant and making louder and louder comments to her friend about irresponsible parents (me, apparently!) so I finally leaned back and said "um, Ma'am, we're talking about a goat."
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