Thinking about raising Goats

jgarzasrMarch 27, 2009

Can anyone on this forum give me some info, and help me decide if I really want to try out this venture. We started raising chickens last year - and it has been fun (besides the neighbors Dogs being a problem). However, on another path to be self sufficient - I was thinking about Goats. Just a couple to provide milk, and possibly meat also. My questions are: How much money does it cost to feed and keep a couple goats? (I was thinking Pygmy breed). Also - we live on 5 acres but it is all wooded - is that an OK environment for them, or would they destroy everything? Also - are they real stinky, dirty?

As you can see I have no experience with Goats besides the petting zoos - so we'll have a lot to learn. But any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

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we've had Nigerian Dwarf goats for 3 yrs now and it's been alot of fun but there have been some bad times to but we learn as we go and are getting better at it. We started with a doe and a wether well now we're up to 38 and still counting. As for as trees goes goats do love to browse and will eat leaves off the trees as for as they can reach. They are good for clearing brush areas but they're not really grass eaters. As for as being stinky only the males when they are in runt. With 38 goats our feed bill runs about 300.00 but we feed goat pellets and hay as ours don't get to browse except when trimming the trees. Pellets in the morning and the hay is free to them all day long. I'd say they go thru a square bale of hay a day more in the winter time. Learn all you can about them and the parisites that would affect them in your area and also check to see if your area is deficient on minerals such as copper and selenium. Never own goats before either but I couldn't imagine life without our little goats. We do milk ours but we don't eat them but hubby said if they keep populating ( they are hand bred so the population explosion is my fault shh so don't tell hubby)we're gonna get a liking for goat meat real soon.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 6:46PM
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You might want to visit a farm or two that have goats to see what is entailed in raising them. You might try checking with your county extension agent or a 4-H club to locate a farm near you. Pygmy goats are cute but don't provide much milk and are not very easy to milk. Dairy goats and meat goats are not as economical to raise as they used to be due to the price of feed. Also, if you had problems with your neighbors dogs with your chickens, you will have bigger problems with dogs bothering your goats. Fencing is very important to keep out unwanted visitors.
There are some good books on goats available at most feed stores or check your local library. I would suggest learning as much about them as you can before you take the plunge.

Oh, they don't smell,unless you keep a buck. And they are very clean, smart, funny animals to have around.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 3:36PM
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I have only one piece of advice, GOOD FENCING!!! Goats really do eat everything and it took me three years to come up with a fencing solution my Boer doe couldn't get out of. It ended up being chain link fence btw. Electric fence didn't faze her, she chewed holes in the metal fence we had, you know the kind that's for horses with all the squares. She chewed through it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, I lost a lot of beautiful flowers to her when she escaped and got in trouble with my mother because the first place Brianna headed was my mothers flower garden!! I still love her to death, but she has been a real pain in the bum sometimes, lol so make sure your up for an adventure of a lifetime, and make sure you find good information on clipping their hooves because I still have trouble with it. Goats have great personalities though and are a ton of fun! Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 8:06PM
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riley I have to agree. I have 2 Nigerian Dwarfs. Both wethers (castrated males) and one of them is a real pain. I used to let them out whenever I was working in the yard. One of them is cool, will browse, eat leaves and do food oriented stuff. The other is "all boy" so to speak, climbs on everything. chews everything, is a bully and generally a pain in the butt. He gets in the chicken coop and eats the food, knocks down everything in the barn. geez i CAN GO ON AND ON. I can not get anything done with him around so therefore I do not let them out unless I am just sitting in a chair chilling. My punishment for that is whenever I am in the yard they cry and cry and cry. They run around the barn so they are always in a great position to see me and scream on the top of their lungs trying to get me to let them out. If I give in and let them out then they stop crying. Thats my fault though because I broke a pattern. I used to let them out everyday but when Ricky started with all his devilment I stopped. Lesson learned. Don't start something with them that I am not going to be consistent with.

My goats are both bottle fed goats and that made them very friendly. I recommend everyone buy bottle fed although not everyone agrees with that. Again it is my opinion. If you want really friendly goats from the get go bottle fed is the way to go. It is possible with other goats but just takes more time...

My goats have been dehorned and I like them like that. The previous goats got hung up in the fence once or twice and in MY experience dehorned is safer for them. Everyone does not agree with that either because they think it is cruel. I guess it is a matter of opinion which scenario is cruel.

As for feed my goats mostly browse and then they get a cup of food a day so feed lasts quite long. They will strip the bark off of trees and will eat all the unwanted (an maybe some wanted) brush. I am not sure about the validity of them not being grazers because they have eaten all the stuff on the ground too.

They do bully each other & there is a "pecking order" that even you as a human have to respect (giving the head goat more attention even if you don't want to). There is a lot to raising goats so the best thing you can do is ask a lot of questions and read as much as you can.

I like Nigerians over Pygmies. And with all my complaining I love my goats and would not trade the experience for anything

    Bookmark   March 28, 2009 at 9:58PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

You have gotten some good advice here. I have Pygmy goats and I must agree that they really do eat just about anything you don't want them to! Mine are free range and they come up to the house sometimes but I have a motion-activated sprinkler called the scarecrow and it keeps them away from my one and only flower bed. They never leave the property or go far from their pasture mates.

If you are going to confine them I highly suggest it be with lots of room and sun. They do like to sit in the sun. Mine will move around to where the sun is peeking in through the trees in the winter. They would be very unhappy in a situation where they could not be involved in the "outside" world. I have found that to be the #one reason people can't keep them in fences.......they are gregarious and charming animals that like to be involved. I have never had one jump up on a car or anything. They have lots of rocks to climb on and donkeys and horses to keep them company. They are very attached to the donkeys.
And a I too would never trade them for all the mischief they get into sometimes!!

You really need to do your homework and I also suggest to buy bottle fed or at least handled goats. It makes a huge difference on how they are imprinted.

Good luck.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 8:12AM
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msjay, I started the same thing with Brianna! Lol, its impossible to go out in the backyard now and not have her crying. I keep her on a leash now if I let her out, or in the winter I just let her go because there is no garden for her to eat and she doesn't go more than 20 feet from me. I bottle fed Brianna too, but out of necessity not choice. I rescued her from the butcher when she was so small she fit in a shoe box. I didn't have any other goats at the time so milk replacer and a bottle was the only way to go.
I would recommend it though, good bonding experience. She doesn't try to buck me at all, I wonder if that's a result of the bottle feeding?

OP- goats love to climb like nhsuzanne said, and they love the sun. For mine I constructed a platform on one side of the barn with stairs up to it and its right in full sun. She LOVES IT!!!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:37PM
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nhsuzanne(z5 SW-NH)

OP, I wanted to add that unless you are going to start breeding goats I would not get a billy/buck. Here is my whether Pygmy Rock.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2009 at 11:42AM
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how did that leash thing go? I brought collars for my goats and made them wear them from day one but they somehow manage to get out of them. Not sure how. I think they will hate being tied up but I want to try it so they can start eating the other stuff when I am outside.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2009 at 12:33AM
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the leash works great, I've had a collar on her since she was a baby. Its a red dog collar, goes great with her white and brown fur! : ) I'd post a picture if I had a photobucket account thing, but I don't.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2009 at 8:57PM
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