There are many benefits to raising a herd of goats on your small hobby farm or acreage. Goats make great pets as well as have benefits as livestock. If you choose, goat milk is a great choice for your family, and you can also make soap from the milk. If you have a weed patch, or unused part on the farm, goats will keep the area nicely mowed and help control the weeds around the farm. Goats are not a care-free animal, so you will want to become aware of the chores and duties involved with owning a small heard. I will list a few tips to help you get started, or just to simply ponder over!
First of all, you will want to do some very careful planning, and gain lots of information before you jump into the hobby of goat raising. Look around the area and see if there are any other goat owners. If so, you may want to set up a time with them to tour their farm, and ask a few questions. This is a great first hand account of what it can be like to care for goats. You can also gain a great resource should you need some help once you purchase your herd! You will also want to research different breeds. Each breed has their pro’s and con’s. You will want to research what the best breed for you will be. Temperament, size, eating habits, cleanliness, and hardiness are all factors you will need to consider.
Next you will want to plan the proper housing and living environment for your goats. Goats are fairly simple to house, but you will need shelter, pasture, water and feeding areas. If you do not have any other livestock, the start up fee may be a bit higher since you’ll be starting from scratch. Goats can share shelters and pastures if you would like, but it may be the most beneficial for everyone involved if the goats have an area all to themselves. You will also need to consider an area to store the feed, and other materials. You can easily set up a divider in their shelter and use this for storage. A trailer is also something to consider should you need to haul a goat to the vet, to a fair for showing, or just to deliver somewhere. Fences and gates need to be very secure and checked often. Goats are well known for their amazing ability to escape! They are very curious by nature and will explore all their options!
You will also need a plan for maintaining your goats. Before your purchase you may want to find a reputable vet in your area. Some vets will make house calls for goats, some like you to bring them in. These are things you may want to discuss before any purchase is made. Worming, hoof-trimming, vaccinating and other simple medical tests may need to be done from time to time. With the help of a great vet, these tasks are very simple and accomplished in a very timely manner. Without the help of a vet, a deteriorating goat can become very ill quickly. You can also ask the vet what types of materials you need in your goat’s first aid kit for easy care done by yourself.
The next thing you should do is research feed. What exactly does your goat need to eat? How much forage, how much grain, winter eating habits, and signs of malnutrition are all things you should know. Knowing this before hand will give you a greater ability to keep your heard healthy and your barn stocked of needed feed. You can also get a better idea of the cost of feeding the animals once you know what they need. This is where a good friend in the business can come in handy! Go back to the goat farm and take extra special notice of what they are feeding their goats. Ask any questions you have and once you have the answers, you are ready to talk with a goat breeder about purchasing your herd!
Goat raising can be a great activity for your entire family. Kids and adults alike will find much amusement from your herd. Once you are well established, you can have many years of breeding, showing, selling or just enjoyment!