There has been a rise in the urban farming and organic homestead movements in recent years.
With eye-opening documentary films like “Food, Inc.” and “King Corn” making a huge impact on the way people throughout the modernized world are viewing farming practices and localized consumerism, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that more people and younger generations are becoming interested in farming and gardening at home.
Growing a garden of herbs, fruit trees, and vegetable beds in the backyard is growing increasingly popular, as is visiting the weekly farmer’s market for fresh produce instead of the nearby super-sized box store.
In the same vein, more and more people are choosing to raise animals at home that would not have been though of as the typical “pet” just a decade ago. This includes chickens, sheep, and goats.
Of course, chickens provide fresh, organic eggs while sheep provide wool and natural grazing. This article will focus on the seven best reasons why a person should get a goat or two for their home.
As you will see, goats can be both a fun and lively home companion as well as a functional and productive contributor to the family!
Producing your own milk for the family is healthy and nutritious, not to mention cost effective. Droughts throughout farming regions and lack of congressional support for farming initiatives have resulted in a rise in milk costs.
If you get a goat for your home, it can provide you and your family with a regular supply of milk. Another advantage of raising a dairy goat is that they are smaller in size than cows and, hence, are less expensive to house and feed.
Goat milk does have a different natural composition than the milk that comes from a cow. The taste is a bit more tangy than cow’s milk, but it is a taste that, once acquired, is just as delicious.
Goat milk has also been shown to be often digested more easily by people who suffer from lactose intolerance or minor dairy allergies than cow’s milk. If you or a member of your family is sensitive to cow dairy, goat milk just may be a wonderful alternative for you.
Keep in mind that caring for and tending a dairy goat does take some know how and a daily upkeep and care regimen, so be sure that you have the shelter, tools, and information necessary for tending to a dairy goat and its kids, especially during the winter season.
Perhaps even more coveted than goat milk is goat cheese. As stated previously, those who suffer from an intolerance for cow’s milk cheese can often stomach goat cheese much easier.
Goat cheese or chevre has that distinct tangy goat milk flavor and is easily spreadable, accompanying toast and honey perfectly. It is also a delicious addition to quiches, frittatas, and salads.
Learning how to make goat cheese from your goat’s milk can not only be a delicious endeavor, but a profitable one as well.
Goat cheeses in supermarkets and specialty grocery stores have become increasingly popular and often fetch a higher price than regular cow’s cheddar or jack cheese.
3. Function and Recreation
Another reason to own a goat is the utility and recreation it can provide your home or farm. If you do farm or garden, whether it is as a hobby or a living, a goat can provide excellent help.
Instead of a dairy goat, you can keep a wether – a castrated male goat. Wethers can be trained to pull small carts or carry packs and function well with a lot of human contact.
Instead of regular milking, they require regular exercise, which is why putting them to work regularly for a reasonable amount is ideal.
Wethers do require training from about 3 months old, but by the time they reach one year old, they should be able to, for example, accompany you on a hike while carrying a small soft pack containing about ten pounds of supplies.
When the whether is two years old, it will be strong enough to pull a cart or carry a full sized pack. In general, a healthy fully grown goat can carry 25% of its body weight comfortably and pull a cart weighing about twice its weight.
As you can imagine, a wether can provide a good deal of utility and help. Instead of having to strain yourself pushing around a wheelbarrow or making extra trips on foot to carry materials, a got can help you carry supplies and equipment or haul a small harvest or crops from your garden.
Everybody knows the efficacy and safety provided by a good, loyal watchdog. But what about a watchgoat? Goats will bleat at everything and everyone that passes by your house, so you will always be kept aware of when somebody is near your property.
The surprise of hearing a goat bleating can startle off any potential intruder or solicitor.
Though one might not immediately think of goats as a logical choice as a pet, these animals surprisingly exhibit many character traits that make them wonderful animal companions.
The fact that they are not as traditional as dogs, cats, birds, or fish, goats can actually provide wonderful companionship, entertainment, and joviality to your home.
Because most people associate goats as being only petting zoo or farm animals, they do not realize that they are actually very affectionate, loyal, intelligent, curious, and loving creatures.
This is why more people are keeping goats as pets with great success!
If you own a property with ample fenced-in outdoor space and an outdoor shelter, large goat breeds such as Nubians or Swiss Alpines are a great option.
However, even those with more limited space – but still with a decent amount of land – can look into a smaller breed like pygmy goats.
There are a few key things to be aware of if you are interested in keeping pet goats. First, keep in mind that goats are instinctively herd animals. This means that they naturally crave the presence of another of their own species.
Because of this, it is ideal for you to keep at least two goats as pets. This way, you will not have to leave your one singular goat by itself if you are not at home and tending to it.
Because they are intelligent and curious animals, boredom and loneliness may lead to destructive behaviors or attempts at escape. Do not let this warning deter you!
The same holds true for the more intelligent dog breeds as well. A goat’s intelligence and natural curiosity should be nurtured by you through a variety of rich stimuli and varied diets.
Also, make sure that you have enough space on your property to prevent your goats from feeling restricted.
Lastly, be sure to check with your city ordinances and find out the policy on animals and pets. Some municipalities do not consider goats as pets and, instead, only livestock.
If this is the case, it may not be legal for you to keep goats in a residential area. It is worth check up on, however, as having goats as pets can be a truly enriching and wonderful endeavor.
6. Wool fiber
If you are especially crafty and have an interest in specialty fabric spinning or knitting, you can also consider owning a goat for the fibers and wools their coats produce.
Keep in mind that not all goats are created equally in terms of fibers. The most common goat wool comes from the Angora goat breed. Their coats are a long, curly wool often referred to as mohair.
The most coveted goat fiber, however, is the soft, fuzzy undercoat of wool that all goats produce in the cold winter months.
They produce this extra coat of wool to help keep them warm and, when made into fine clothing fabric for human, is very valuable. This, of course, is cashmere.
If you are considering getting a goat for the wool they produce, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, the ideal goat to keep for fiber is either a female or a castrated male.
Second, because you want to collect or shear high quality and clean fiber, you will need to be extra vigilant about keeping your goat’s coat clean all winter and harvest the fleece annually.
Last but not least is the entrepreneurial side of goat ownership. All of the previously mentioned endeavors can be enjoyed by your family solely. However, you can also consider the profitability of goat ownership.
Depending on your community and the market for such items as fresh, organic goat milk, goat cheese, or goat mohair and cashmere, you can develop a business selling these products your goat or goats produce.
If you get a goat for dairy production, you can also consider breeding the goats and selling the kids to other individuals or families who are looking to get a goat.