Should you get a goat? This post should help you make an informative decision.
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.
Jamie Gray says
This next year I plan to put the kids in the barn for the night and milk a bit in the morning. This will be the first year I have a barn to do that in 🙂
Do u have any for sale
What state are you
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Daley Bowman says
I used to have 2 goats and they died by eating poisoned berries. We hope that we can get a goat after we get someone to cut down the bush. 🙂
That sucks 🙁
Wat kind of goats are good with horses
Pretty much all of them but if you wanted some lean for a medium sized breed
Have one goat that needs company. Nanny please. That’s what I have with real nice big pen
goat master68 says
The kind of goats that are good with horses are the kind of goats that eat shamlock leafs. This is because of the herbal power contained in these leafs that will leave your goots more doscile and freindly. another way is to get millenial gaots because they will get along with anyone.
Susan Kingsolver says
Loved this article. We raised African Pygmies and also had a few rescue goats. They are such pleasant animals but like already said, it is hard to sell the babies. My mom loved goats milk and she always had a source. She loved the Nubians. I never acquired a taste for goats milk but it’s also hard for me to drink cows milk, love the new almond and coconut milks.
We spent hours a day around the goats and they kept us in great spirits. Been thinking about getting one and Mike gave me more reasons to do so. Great article.
Do nubians produce milk?
Nubians produce the best milk. They are however master escape artists! They jump like deer.
goat master68 says
I use their milk to power my car!
Tell us about that. !!!
Cliff Bloom says
I had a goat when my children (almost said kids) were young and couldn’t tolerate cows milk.
Goats are as smart as dogs and my goats & dog (shepherd collie mix) became best buddies. I used to load a goat & a dog into the car, crank down the windows & take them for a ride, dog poking out of one side & goat poking out of the other.
Goats are browsers, like deer, & do not graze like cows or sheep. 2 goats wiped out about 1/2 acre of multiflora rose in less than 1 summer.
Goats can fend off coyotes and stray dogs..
Goat meat is almost as good as elk, I would say a cross between deer, beef & lamb, but better than deer, beef or lamb. You have to castrate the billies early (2-3 months old) or they get a muttony, strong soapy taste.
If I ever got a goat or goats again I would have to make it for the goats lifetime commitment, like a dog.
kalule mike says
i as have 2 goats and iam trying to get another goat and iwant ashy goat ,and iam keeping them and our home its located and kasubi near hh supermarket please call me back and we communicate again at that this , and i not have apone that is for my mother and tell her to give me that pone to communicate again about goats and ihave more questions
Gloria Flora says
Ah goats. I’ve had up to a dozen at a time over the last couple of decades. Please leave horns on your goats if you possibly can. Horns are essential for self-defense, social identification, climbing, balance and very importantly, temperature control. Dogs are the worst threat to goats (except for the ones they are raised with).. Good fencing should keep dogs out. But wiith horns, a full grown goat can kill single attackers.
Responding to some of the comments in this thread.
1. You can easily learn to trim their hooves and give them wormer and simple shots. You don’t need a vet. They are very hardy and healthy animals. They don’t need baths but love to be brushed, especially when they are shedding.
2. Thorns? They love thorny bushes, nettles and thistles (tender tops). Very healthy for them but remember they will eat roses.
3. Bottle raised goats will be very easy to handle. Dam-raised will tend to be more skittish. Bottle-raise if you can or get pack-goats (wethers NOT bucks and/or females which can be milkers too). Quality pack goats are bottle-raised.
3b. Avoid getting an intact male unless you plan a full-on breeding/milking program. Castrate your little bucks. The personality differences and the social dynamics – often disruptive – with an intact male around are significant.
4. Don’t put up with a jerk. Some goats have bad attitudes. They don’t change. Put that goat on the menu. They can be very dangerous to other goats and people.
5. Goats are excellent at removing brush. Jaw size relates to the diameter of the brush/twig that they’ll eat. They love roughage so fallen leaves, bark and other cellulosic materials are essential in their diet. Part of the reason they’re prone to escaping…
6. If they are well-fed and happy, they are easy to contain. I trained mine to free-range, they stayed within sight of the house because they had the right diversity and amount of food they liked, water and shelter. Guardian dogs keep the predators at bay.
7. Spend time with them. They are much better behaved with regular interaction and they have endearing personalities (usually – see #4.) . They love to go for walks, but realize they will want to walk in a certain order – social structure is very important to goats. The matriarch goes first. The social director in the middle keeps an eye on both ends of the string, while the strongest goes last. But they’ll let you know how they want to line up.
8. Give them toys. A large wooden spool, a teeter-toter, a large pile of soil, anything to jump on. . They love to climb. Getting vertical advantage is in their genes. Take them to some cliffs and watch them go (try not to have a heart attack while watching, they are quite skilled at rock hopping).
9. Packing with your goats is a pleasure. There’s great equipment available. They carry a lot, they love to go on hikes but some may try to join you in your tent.
10. Goats are browsers not grazers. They much prefer brush, herbs, forbs, etc. They’ll eat grass if they can’t get anything else.. As mentioned above – get geese for grass, goats for brush.
11. Whether you’re into getting goats for packing, brush control, milking or meat. get a copy of The Pack Goat by John Mioncynzski. John introduced modern-goat packing to the US. A fabulous resource on understanding, training, caring for and enjoying your goats. Be aware, once you read it, you’ll find it very difficult to NOT get goats.
12. You have to be the dominant member of the herd. But force doesn’t work because they can be more forceful than you (and they like it!). They do appreciate innovation and cleverness. Read John’s book for some great techniques.
Thank you for sharing this detailed, information packed reply!
imlooking 4 great gaot bussinass
Great read! And I learned so much!
Thank you so much for this info it really helped me convince my parents
Alan Rippington says
No one mentions killing them! If you want milk you ave to have offspring. Unless you want a lot oif goats these will be superflous, as will nearly all male kids. So you have to kill them Nasty….
Milk from a clean goat that has been kept at cold temps just as soon as you finish milking tastes like fresh cow’s milk. No tangy taste. No getting used to it. Bad tasting milk is a sign of bad milk management or disease. I have Nubians but I don’t think this aplies only to this breed. Another point: goats will clear fields of brush and trim trees to a nice height BUT they still need to be fed on rainy days and in the winter. They need regular and periodic de-worming. They are not just eating machines. Think of them as pets with benefits!
Another good thing about goats is that they provide fertilizer.
Thanks, we were not shor if we should got one, my husband said we souldn’t because he said they did nothing.
I inherited a herd on a farm that I
Bought. They brought me the experience of a lifetime, and the grandad goat
Became my beloved pet. He was even my soulmate. Your husbandry not allow room in his life for such relationships. They can be troublesome because they are so intelligent and hence can be headstrong. But they will enrich your soul and life if you allow them to do so.
Enrich your soul and your life! That’s how I feel about my donkeys. Life’s too short to not have such friends.
Penny C. Price says
A well rounded article. I have read many and most miss one aspect or another. Thank you for your thoroughness, Mike, and thank you, Gloria for your response, especially the book recommendation and what to do with the jerks! Ha! I have spent years studying the different breeds to determine which breeds I would like to raise. It can be a difficult choice to make. I hope to have the living space to include them in the next year or so. I appreciate your inclusion of fibers but have not found good sources for learning about this aspect of goats or sheep.
Wow, thank you so much. This was very helpful!!
Reason number 8, if you breed the goats, you can eat the offspring and they taste terrific! Barbecue goat is amazing!
I think you forgot the 7th reason…
What is that
You left out the most important one – at least to me- Meat! I love my goats and for all the reasons above. I don’t milk though! They are also great at cleaning out weeds and opening up ares for gardens. They also fertilize the areas improving on the land!! And they are sooo entertaining!
Gail Gregory says
Just wanted to point out that keeping goats is not unlike keeping a small horse. They need a proper shed with hay on the ground, which all needs proper cleaning and upkeep, plus the goat himself needs an occasional hosing off. They need daily water and food. And they need a farm animal vet to come by and check on their teeth and trim their hooves regularly (very important).
And also, if you have a bunch of weeds in the general area you let them out at, they will eat those, they will eat your garden, they will eat your shrubs, flowers, chew on trees, and in general keep an area spotlessly clean. Some people actually “rent” goats, where you put them in a proper open trailer and bring some chicken fencing to keep them save and let them out to start eating whatever the heck is out there. So, be aware of their habit to eat anything they can get their mouths on!!!
I have about 3 acres within city limits in ohio, but am zoned agricultural and rather seperated from neighbors. Decided to have goats for milk production a few years ago. The 1st year babies turned into huge, rather wild males who were extremely strong, wild, and destructive. Impregnating their mom and the other female, they killed the babies when born and brutalized the one female to the point she had to have a gangrenous udder removed. Sold those wild alpine males off and now have an udderless Saanen and a sweet nubian female. No more milk right now, but they are great at brush cleaning and keep the poultry company. Definately have staged a couple escapes, but never leave the fence edges when they do escape. HAVE gotten to the garden area and topped the young fruit trees a few times. Generally only do so when I have forgotten to feed soon enough. It is NOT a walk in the park owning goats, but they certainly ARE loyal to people, would probably follow me to the coast if I chose to walk there.
What if you have thorns in your yard? is it dangerous for the goats?
Mine like the bushes that have thorns. Thorns are not an issue for goats
It’s true about the goat being a herd animal.
The way I kept my pet goat occupied was to keep
him adjacent to my German Shepherd. They became
best of pals.
We would all go on long walks together and Tim,
the goat, would frolic with the dog (and us).
More than once we turned heads of those passing by.
He was just another member of the family.
I’ve had a herd for about 20 years. They pay their way. I make cheese, (very simple to make) yogurt(also easy) and our drinking milk to make puddings, gravy and what ever. With good corrals they never get out. I’m in control, not them. Also, the meat is leaner than chicken and can’t be beat to make your own sausage or ground meat. As for vacations I have a friend who we swap doing each others chores and no money exchanged. I do have a milking machine to milk my nine girls twice a day. Any extra milk goes to the meat hogs that finish faster with the milk. Have also raised lots of bottle calves with the milk. One of my girls had quintuplets this spring and we saved them all. I could tell many stories about my wonderful goats but will stop here.
What is the best meat breed
Boar goats are excellent meat goats.
Ian Williams says
I would like to hear all your tails of goats, pros, cons, types etc etc, for me at the moment, everyday is a school day so anything your experience can teach me would be gratefully received.
I have been wanting to get a goat but I live in the city. The house next door is in the town.
The lot next door is FULL OF POISON IVY. I think it would be a profitable business to hire out your goats to clear out poison ivy for people.
It is much better than spoiling the wells around here with CHEMICALS…don’t you think?
Never thought about goats for poison ivy. Hmmmm. Are they alergic?
No, it is like candy to them… Rhododendrons, azaleas are another matter entirely… Google for a list of poisonous plants that harm goats…….
Charline Jolly says
YES! The City of Oakland , California, keeps a herd of goats to eat the Poison Oak/Ivy in the local parks. The City of Sunnyvale rents a herd every Spring to munch down the grass that grows on the municipal landfill. Very entertaining~
Many years ago we read an ad for Rent-a Duck Service. They would bring the ducks in for a few hours to clean out the snails and slugs from your garden, then collect them before they ate all the plants.
Jeff Moser says
I’ve always joked with my wife about buying a goat to cut down on my mowing time. Now you’ve given me some more ammunition! I think the chicken coop will still come first, though…looking forward to fresh eggs again.
Gramma Lynne says
Dustin, I’m not quite sure about the description of goat milk as “tangy”. I’ve never owned a goat, but when I can find it I love to drink raw unpasturized goat milk from a reliable homesteader who is particular about cleanliness, filtering and chilling the milk. I’ve found that the milk from an Alpine is just a bit sweeter than that of a Nubian and has a little less fat content on average. Both breeds have delicious milk if they are handled properly. If these gals were kept with a billie then indeed their milk would taste “goaty” – absolutely yucky. Also if they eat garlic it will flavor the milk just like it does for cows kept on pasture in the Spring (not “factory” cows).
The only reasons I don’t have any goats on my five acres is the issue with fencing and having to be home to milk (in all kinds of weather) for 10 months out of the year. If the little doelings or bucklings are left with the doe during the day and penned up separately at night, milking is only necessary once a day – in the morning before they are turned back in together.
So, Alpines for me? Maybe someday . . .
A ‘friend’ suggested a goat to me once when I was bemoaning the expiration of my lawnmower. He offered me a ‘little kid’ which he guaranteed would make my lawn like a bowling green. The ‘kid’ turned out to be fully grown with huge horns and evil yellow eyes which stared aggressively from its hairy black head. He ate everything EXCEPT grass! Despite having a steel chain attached to him – the rope had been chewed off when he escaped into my neighbor’s yard where he ate all his pumpkin plants and then lay swollen enormously like the Goodyear Blimp for 24 hours until the gases finally dissipated – he snapped it clean off, clambered over my other neighbor’s six foot high fence and ate every one of his prize roses down to the graft! Needless to say, he was executed the next day – the goat, not the neighbor – and recycled into ‘lamb’ roast and some delicious curry! NEVER AGAIN!
Such a sad thing to do to your goat..it wasn’t his fault. It was yours!! Poor thing!
Pamela Pfalzbot says
Hi again Mike,
Geez.. I should have checked my typing. The link should be http://www.goatworld.com. My apologies to anyone who tried to use the first link I posted. Anyway, I hope this will help anyone interested in learning more about raising goats! Thanks again. Pam
Pamela Pfalzbot says
As a long time reader of your gardening newsletter and after reading your article on “7 Reasons Why You Should Get a Goat,” I would like to return the favor and share a link to our website for more information on goats and their care. My husband and I have raised goats of all kinds for years now. We have a comprehensive website called GoatWorld.com where readers will find tons of information articles on how to buy, sell, trade and most importantly care for goats. My husband,Gary, is the main go to guy for goat info worldwide and welcomes new visitors and members to GoatWorld daily. If you or your readers would like to check out our site, just visit http://www.goataworld.com. Thanks for a great article and the many tips and helpful information you supply to us regularly regarding how to do a better job of gardening!
Is it hard to train a goat? How big of a shelter should they have to be physically and mentally healthy? How much does it cost to feed and care for them? Vet bills? Can they be in the same shelter as chickens?
Where can I find accurate answers to my questions? My husband Michael had a pet goat when he was a kid, but she would be mean to everyone but him. Ha
Charline Jolly says
Where are you? There is a goat dairy in Pescadero, California that would love to answer all your questions. They welcome visitors and have a small store on site for the cheese and sell baby goats for $25. The local stores carry their products too.
john hurley says
As I live in the city can’t have goats or other large animals
I have had goats in the past…Does take some good fencing to keep them on your property. The biggest reason I will not have them anymore is because if I did, they would be milk goats. The problem with that is that means being home 7 days a week to take care of them. I like to travel, even if for a weekend somewhere. Can’t do that with goats to milk. I can get someone to come feed most of my animals, but milk a goat??forget it. No one will agree and I can’t afford to pay someone every time I want to leave town.
I would love to have a couple of goats for weed/grass control and fun. However with only two thirds of an acre that’s impossible. Plus my front yard is full of gardens which a goat would love to endure. So for replacement of goats I have a couple of goslings. Would be nice to have an article on geese. They are easy to care for and provide great grass control plus have watch dog abilities like goats. And you can have them in the house once you train them with diapers which I plan to purchase next week. My two goslings sleep on a blanket next to my bed right now but the poos are horrible so diapers is a must..Thank you for all the great articles. One of these days I need to start making plant babies. I have loads of different kind of plants you would love to have. Have a great summer
Lynn McMillen says
I love goats. They are clean, smart, (they even smell nice as long as the scent glands are removed from the billies). They will eat just about anything green, they give easily digested milk. But you’d better have GOOD fences. AS Viki and Sandy noted, they are escape artists. They can climb fences. Heck, I’ve even seen pictures of them climbing and eating from low-growing trees with not-too-vertical branches. They can balance like a cat and jump like a deer. Also like a deer, they like bark and tender branches better than grass, so if you have any little fruit trees, you will have to make sure and keep the goats away. Just a few minutes, and goats will have the bark and branches stripped right down to nothing. Their manure is excellent fertilizer. MOst manure should be composted at least one year, or it can be too “hot” and burn tender plantings. If you want to use fresh manure, side-dress instead of top-dressing, or mixing in then planting.
BUt they can’t kick near as hard as cows, they’re easier to milk, and since they usually have twins, the reproduce faster, too. – Lynn
Our sister in-law gave us two orphanage goats at 2 months old. The boy goat- his mother did not want him and the female goat her mom die right after when she had her. My sister and brother in law feed them milk bottle for two months or so. They becomes very friendly to human and keep coming near to people. My sister in law gave the goats to us when we have purchase a house. We were hoping the goats will help us eat up the weeds in our less than 2 acres of land. We are so disappointed that they are so picky, only eat leaves on the trees and vines but not grass. Our land still have plenty of tall grass and other weeds. The goats eat all the leaves of our rose bushes. They keep going into the chicken coops to sleep at night while their pen they don’t go in. My husband has a fighting battle with them every night. He has to chase them out of the chicken coops every night. He cannot stand them goats! (-: Still they keep coming near him and not seem to remember that he has chase them every night and even day times. This make me think they are not a smart animal at all. They seems to not know to learn or remember things. They are a curious animal and compassionate but smart? I am not sure about that!
Goat milk does not need to be “tangy”. The milk reflects what you feed them. I always made it a point to give them fruit while milking–this makes the experience a treat for them and sweetens the milk. A few apples, peach culls, blackberries–whatever. Goat chow with added molasses also sweetens the milk. At night I would pour the goat milk into empty milk cartons–fooled a houseful of teenage boys.
Terry M Davis says
Was nice to read this article on goat ownership. I had always been curious as o how goats would be as pet. A few years ago, I bought a nanny and a billy Lamancha Goats.
They had a kid a little over a year later which I named Surprise, because that is exactly what his birth was to us.
This year, in March, along came a set of male twins… bringing the total to five. I find It very hard to get rid of any of them since we are all so attached to them and consider them family.
They offer much entertainment in their antics, and much love in their giving of affection.
I am 76 and ever since I was a child I have wanted a goat. Since we lived in town my father bought me the Dairy Goat Journal instead for about seven years. I live in Ga. and still only have about an acre so I guess I’m out of luck this life. I sure do know a lot about goats though
Viki Steiner says
I have had goats a couple of different times just as pets. The last two goats I had liked to graze in the yard and sleep on my husband’s bench. They ate my flowers, killed my new little fruit trees, and visited the neighbors regularly. I loved the goats, but you must have a secure enclosure for them.
Yes, they will hop up on any structure and over the fence they go. We used to snicker at the neighbor lady when her goats got into the vege garden. What a colorful vocabulary!
Speaking of goats, “Never let your goat get got.” If someone does manage to, “get your goat,” don’t let em keep it.
Another thing,,,,,, your happiness is much too important to be placed in the hands of undependable people or uncontrollable circumstances. If you are in the habit of doing so, you will never know when you are going to be happy! Take responsibility for your own happiness. Why not be happy all the time? You may be in pain, but you don’t have to be a pain in the ass,,,,, it’s a choice, you know.
Edna Kelly says
I have raised goats for years. I had 5 pure breeds of dairy goats, milked them, showed them and loved them. Then, when I moved, I decided to try meat goats. Boer goats to be exact. They are easier to handle than dairy goat breeds but it’s hard to give up the cute little ones each year.
I have used goat droppings “right from the source” with great success. They are like rabbit droppings and do not burn plants, no matter how fresh. Every spring, I would clean the goat barn and spread it about 6″ deep on the garden and then rototill it in. Spectacular results!
There is a market for “Real, Honest-To-Goodness Goat Poop”, as I named it. Bag it up into the 50-lb feed sacks that your goat feed comes in and it sells easily for $5 per bag. Make sure it’s nice and dry when you bag it and keep it dry. Much lighter weight and easier to handle.
If you only have one goat…. it will bond with you or your kids and will think it is a human. It never thinks you are a goat! I had a baby goat that was born during a blizzard and its mother couldn’t take care of it. Irving became a house goat and was even trained to do his duty in a certain spot.
Anything is possible with goats, as long as you learn to understand them and their needs.
Jesus. I have to fill a 50 lb bag with goat poop, and I’d only get $5 for it? I can’t imagine that’s worth it.
CAROLYN MORALES says
New garden plantings over aged manure such as planting this years garden in the soil of last years pen and rotating the pen to another site, and repeat?
Becky S. says
I’ve had a LOT of goats, and let me tell you, if there’s a way to escape a pen, or to push through a fence – even electrified – they’ll find it. Cheap welded-wire “utility” fence and chicken-wire will NOT hold them – they stand on it and break the welds, then squeeze through the gaps – or get their head caught in it – a good reason to dehorn your babies! Once they find they can push it up from the bottom, or down from the top, they’ll do it. They’ll also chew through wood, given time. The rigid metal hog/cattle/horse panel stuff fastened securely to STOUT posts is the best way to contain them. They also need a weather-tight shed where they can get in out of sun, rain and snow. They HATE being wet, and can also suffer heat-stroke if overheated.
A constant supply of clean water and clean feed is necessary. GOATS DO NOT EAT GARBAGE, and moldy anything is NOT on their menu. If you wouldn’t feed it to your horse, don’t feed it to your goat. They are very clean animals and will pick carefully through their feed to get only the cleanest material, so an above-ground feeder is ideal so they’re not sleeping and messing in it.
They will climb or jump onto & into anything they can, including the feeder, the shed roof, your cars (do you like the look of hail-damage?!), your house roof (if it’s low enough and there’s a way to climb onto it!) – whatever there is. That’s why many goat owners provide a playground for their little buddies – big wooden cable-spools, ramps, platforms, slides. There is nothing in the world as entertaining as a baby goat at play, except a BUNCH of baby goats!
Goat milk and cheese can taste just as good as cow’s milk and cheese, if it is filtered and pasteurized, as I always did with mine. Run it through a paper milk filter – or even a coffee filter – then heat the milk (stirring constantly or it WILL scorch) to 165F., then immediately lower the temp by setting the pot in cold water. Pour into a refrigerable container and keep it cold. Pasteurizing also causes the cream to come to the top more thickly than on raw milk, so you can skim it off easily and save for making butter, whipped cream, ice cream, cream cheese, etc. If you’re making cheese that requires the milk be heated, it will also be pasteurized in the process, so preliminary pasteurization is not necessary – just make sure it’s filtered. My milk and cheese NEVER tasted “goaty,” and I wouldn’t buy the stuff in stores that does! GACK!!! Stuff smells like they milked the buck! There’s no need for that, if you treat your milk properly – keeping the does far away from the buck also helps! Keep your milk containers scrupulously CLEAN, sterilizing them between batches, and you will have less trouble keeping the milk fresh. Drinking unfiltered raw milk is asking for trouble, because STUFF ALWAYS drops into the bucket during milking, like hair and bits of manure, adding tons of bacteria to the milk.
Goats also like to occasionally stick a foot in the bucket, or kick it over, so having a good milking stanchion (to pin her head and keep her from dancing around QUITE so much) is highly recommended. Plans are available online, and one is easy to build. I prefer one on which I can sit, so elevating it at least a foot off the ground is best. You can even build one with an old wooden door, pallets, or what have you – it just needs to be sturdy enough to hold you and the goat – and inside a building so you’re not sitting in rain or snow or blazing sunshine to milk. Milking is done twice a day, 12 hours apart – so you have to plan your life around that, too!
Goats are a lot of fun, and can be wonderful pets and companions, especially if you take the youngsters off of Mom at about 3 days, when they’ve had their colostrum (first-milk), and bottle-feed them so they look at YOU as their mama. Leave’em on mother and they’ll be wild. Hand-feed them and they’ll always be gentle and come to you.
Just some pointers from someone who has raised dozens of goats.
Becky, the old milkmaid!
Good article. We’ve had goats in the past and plan on getting more as soon as we can afford them and the things we’ll need for them. They’re smart and fun and incredibly useful if they’re set up properly. IME some of our dogs have been just as much if not more destructive and escape artists then our goats were.
CAROLYN MORALES says
What about goat droppings adding richness garden soil? Is this possible?
Do you have to use this years droppings next year or say, rotate your pens and garden beds to suit aged goat manure and your new garde?
Absolutely! Goat manure is quite rich and makes an excellent addition to your garden. it does not burn like chicken manure, even when fairly fresh.
Garry A. says
A good reason to have milk goats is, after feeding them poison ivy, which they eat like it is candy, then drink the milk you are able to have a resistance to catching poison ivy. It will late for several years.
Thanks for your info Mike . I raised goats for my kids and they are great. They will jump out of a low fenced pen. And if you let them pasture around your place they will go straight to your roses and strip the leaves right off of them. And you have to have a 3 sided shelter for them to stay warm in the winter or they will get sick and quit on you. Also the yelling of a goat can be irritating to your neighbors. And 90% percent of the world eat goat.
I agree that goats can add value, for meat or dairy; however, they are labor intensive (I’ve found more so than our cattle), and they are very vulnerable to a range of health conditions and diseases, some of which are transferrable to humans (an event referred to as “zooism”). I would recommend that anyone considering adding goats spend a good deal of time doing due diligence about the risks surrounding the selection, purchase and care of goats, and the risks that they present with respect to passing on negative health conditions to their owners and families.
I have raised goats for many years, and have no idea what zoonotic (not “zooism”) diseases you’re talking about.
My experience, and that of the many other breeders with whom I have contact, is that these animals are much easier than cows and others (though nothing is as easy as hair sheep).
Truly, I would appreciate you sharing any diseases that are transmittable between caprines and humans.
You really should mention that goat milk has different tastes, depending upon the variety of goat. I’ve read that some of the full-sized breeds have a “goaty” flavor, but my little Nigerian Dwarfs and my half Toggenburg/half Nubian both have milk that tastes like cow’s milk. The Nigerians taste like cow’s milk with added cream. Cheeses made from different goats will also taste different. I like some, detest others.
I’ve had some goats in the past and love them. I put 2 small goats in a portable dog pen in my field and let them eat the weeds and grass. Then every few hours I would move the pen. When they were done with the field it was time to start over at the other end. Unfortunately, while carring a bale of hay to them one winter, I slipped on ice and very badly broke my ankle. I had to have surgery, metal plates, screws, and bolts put in. So I had to sell my goats as I couldn’t care for them. I would love them again.
Thank you so much for this valuable information. I am in great need of a source of income other than working for $9 an hour, 5 days a week including holidays. I’m 54 and have raised my children and am now lacking corporate skills. I love growing vegetables and am very interested in learning everything I can about having a successful backyard nursery. It’s no fun being broke at my age. Thank you so much Mr McGroarty for sharing what you have learned.
If you have access to a computer with internet, go to YouTube and search for Backyard Income, worm farms, etc. There are an incredible number of tutorial videos available which can show you home to make some very comfortable incomes even with a small garden area. My favorite website is by RobBob who is in Queensland, Australia. He has a delightful laid-back demeanour and explains everything very clearly. He has links to a host of other useful sites.
Cynthia It will cost you quite a bit of money to properly fence your property for raising goats. You will need to buy “Goat wire” = squares welded together, about five feet high, using metal T-posts instead of wood posts, also, try using an electric fence wire along the top to help keep them in (most of the time). This will all cost money. You can use the same amount of land to grow plants to sell… You can make a-lot more money from plants than you can from goat meat, not sure about the money from selling goat milk or cheese (but that’s labor intensive and suddenly you don’t have vacation time, or much free time). Good luck and keep a smile on your face no-mater-what.
I agree with Lester about the cost of fencing, and I don’t have goats but donkeys, https://mikesbackyardnursery.com/2013/11/mike-and-pam-mcgroarty-with-their-miniature-donkeys-finnegan-and-fergus/. I keep giving the donkeys more and more room in an effort to make my growing area as compact as possible. You really don’t need a lot of room to grow plants.
Having had a goat when I was a kid and one as an adult, I will NEVER have a goat again. They are master escape artists and they do MAJOR damage every time, including fence damage wherever they get out. Loved the buggers, they were fun, just couldn’t handle em.
Busy B Farm says
FENCING PEOPLE!!!!!Every time someone approaches me at a fair or trade show (we make wonderful goats milk soap)about wanting to purchase a goat , I always tell them to fence well FIRST. Fence as if you are planning to keep domestic deer…which, by the way, goats are closely related to:-) The fastest way to ruin the wonderful experience of owning these great family farm friendly animals is by not protecting them and yourself ( and all of the plants you love and so dutifully cared for) with a high, sturdy fence preferably with hot-wire on the bottom and top. Prepare properly before you bring home your new little darlings, and you will soon find them to be one of the best investments you can add to a small farm.( you don’t have to like the taste of goat milk to get a lot of reward from owning them:-)
Robert Garthwaite says
I had several Swiss Alpine goats when I was younger, including a ram, but that’s another story. After trying to fence them in with increasingly sturdy, higher, sophisticated and expensive fencing I resorted to a suggestion an old farmer in the ‘hood had….tie the goat to a truck tire and rim and let them go! I tried a car tire but they’re surprisingly strong, and soon had a full blown truck tire with my ram tethered by chain. He’d hunch his neck, sort of crouch down and pull….and wind up a ways away, to mow down everything within reach.. Then repeat the process. Every night I brought him into his house, every morning outside he went, always with his water pan and leanto within reach. Worked great!!
Not really the best way to control a goat. As noted above, goats have no natural defense against predators. Tethering them in any way is asking for trouble.
Fencing is the best way to contain goats. My herd of Nubians never goes beyond its fence parameters. They are wonderful animals, and I cannot imagine life without them!
Why did you have a ram? Did you also raise sheep?
Yes, good fences are a must. run a couple strands of electric near the bottom and at about mid-belly height to prevent them from going under and rubbing against the fence. make the fence at least four feet high and run another strand along/above the top.
the best purpose for goats is to stew them with onions, peppers, and garlic and then eat the cabrito on a tortilla
They make delicious curry meat! Much better than beef or lamb.
Bought some goat cheese the other day to find out if it is indeed as nice as some people say. Good thing I did, I hated it. Ended up giving it to my dog. Besides, a goat just need one minute in a vegetable garden to cause some serious damage. Sorry no goats for me. I will eat the meat any day, but the milk? No thank you.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of BAD goat cheese and milk being produced commercially, or even semi-commercially. Milk from healthy goats, handled properly, does NOT have odd, tangy flavors. It is sweet, naturally homogenized, and doesn’t have the “cooked” taste of pasteurized cow milk.
Soft cheeses like chevre should also not have any odd flavors. Its tanginess is a natural result of culturing, just like you would expect from yogurt.
Goaty flavor develops for several reasons:
–poor handling. Milk needs to be strained and chilled immediately after milking, chilled meaning ice water or freezer, NOT just putting it in the fridge
–mastitis. Sub-clinical mastitis can cause off-flavor without any other noticeable signs. first milk should be stripped into a cup with a fine screen to detect small lumps that could indicate a problem, and also to eliminate the milk that’s been in the teat since the last milking and will have a higher bacteria count.
–keeping a buck nearby. The strong odor of intact male goats can affect the milk
–the breed of goat. Nubians and LaManchas tend to have the best tasting milk. Toggenburgs and some Alpines have really low butterfat, and it can be difficult to get really sweet milk from the. handling is extra important with these breeds.
–feed. Goats on browse might eat some strong-tasting weeds that affect the flavor of the milk; feeding cabbage to them could also produce funny-tasting milk
Hope this helps…
Nancy Benson says
I totally agree with everything in this article but I have another reason to add…..weed and brush control! Goats are voracious eaters and will quickly mow down the vegetation where they are kept…stripping brush of leaves and bark and topping weeds or mowing grass as close as your lawnmower! Also for that reason you want to be careful of where you pasture them as they will strip the bark off your well loved trees too!
Thanks for sharing that, but they do make great lawn mowers-weed whackers.
Not only brush, but Poison oak! It has been a problem in parks here in California, and herds of goats eradicate it. We also have a large herd munching grass at our local landfill. Fun to watch them gambol about.
cathi cogle says
Just wanted to give a heads up to anyone who is using goats for weed control. There are some weeds that ARE fatal to goats as well as other critters. Make sure you know what they are and don’t stake goats out in territory that has them (Nightshade comes to mind). Never put a goat on a chain or rope, like you would picket a horse or cow. A goat is a sitting duck for many predators, and I have had to repair leg damage to neighbors’s goat that had it’s rear leg ripped open from wild dogs roaming the area. They have no way to defend themselves. I have also had goats strangle themselves trying to get away from a predator. Dead is dead. Field fencing or cattle panels should be the only fencing used for goats. The other things(electric, hog wire, etc) simply isnt’ strong or tall enough (did you know goats will climb trees? They will if the tree will support their weight and is angled about 45 degrees or more). A goat can clear a homeowners shrubbery in less than a day. If you want good neighbors, make sure you have good fencing. For more goat information, there is Chevontalk.com, and they can answer all kinds of questions. Ive used goats for clearing acreage, harness work(trained them, too), milk and meat, and breeding. Know your breeds so you can get the ones that will fit your situation best. Happy goating/gardening!
Goats love kudzu, and are frequently employed in this area to get rid of it.
G. Norris says
Thanks for the info., yes, I have a few goats and let me tell you I prefer their meat compared to pork and beef. I have a little over 3 acres and mostly I have them to help w/ the weeds on my pasture. I am in partner w/ my tenants w/ these cute creatures. I love love all of them and I “suffer” every time we sell the babies. Right now we got ten baby goats ready for market.
I enjoy reading all ur postings and thank you very much.
Mrs. G. Norris…..
You’re welcome and I understand about the babies. It has to be hard to sell them.