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Goats - how much work are they?

Posted by mersiepoo 6a Pa (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 11, 08 at 21:47

I really want to get a goat or two..or 4. I'd like to get a female for milking, but my husband is totally not into it because he says it's enough work dealing with the chickens/guineas. We have some fenced in property (not all of it though) and nice grassy fields and stuff. Are they expensive to raise, is milking a huge chore and how long do they usually produce milk? Is it a major endeavour to get them and keep 'em? Thanks for any advice, I really do like goats, they are so cute! I love how they like to play by 'butting' you, ha ha! Thanks for any info! :)
mersie


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Boy that's a loaded question if I ever heard one! As the old saying goes.."One mans junk is another mans treasure." Same applies to work. What one considers a pain in the keester is someone elses enjoyment.

You can make it as hard or as easy as you want with goats. If you grow into a herd of 50 - 100 commercial does with 150-kids constantly running around...you bet it will be a "TON" of work. If you get 2 or 3 does and love / pamper them...it is nothing but enjoyable. Like I have said on here before...they are like Lays potato chips...you can't just have one because they are addicting! Also with just a couple does you won't need a buck. When the does come into heat...take them to a buck.

Another suggestion is to educate yourself on goats. Do not just go to the sale barn and buy whatever they have. As a matter of fact...DO NOT BUY SOMEONE ELSES PROBLEM! Find a breeder in your area and get your goats that way. This way you will know what breeds are available in your area so it isn't hard finding that buck when the time comes. Example...you do not want to buy Boers or Alpines when there aren't any around for 3 - 4 hours from you. If there are plenty of Kiko's / Nubians...buying those breeds might be easier down the road.

Make sure before you buy the goats (least 2 they are social animals) you ask the breeder about vaccinations, CL / CAE and registration papers. Now if the goats look healthy / happy chances are they are, but I like knowing that the goats have been vaccinated with BoSe, CD & T and have been treated with Albon at the very least. Oh...don't forget about worming them either...

The most work you will have involved with goats (small herd) is nursing them back to health. If you start healthy it is easier to keep it that way. There will always be trimming feet, cleaning stalls, regular vaccinations and loading / unloading hay.

Goats only need a basic structure to get in out of the weather. A draft free barn is nice in the winter if you live in colder climates, but my bucks and wethers just have a "lean-too" and they do great in the winter. I do have a barn where the girls sleep and have the kids. Boys are supposed to be tough...haha. Also to check your fences to make sure they are goat proof is like this. Take a bucket of water and throw it on the fence. If any water got to the other side...so can a goat! They need good fences!

You already realize that you will have to feed / water at least morning and night. If you have dairy goats they will need milked morning and night. If you have a pasture where they can graze / browse then feeding should be a minimum expense for a couple goats. But if you have little / poor ground...feed gets expenseive when you have to put hay / grain in front of them all the time.

I know of people with 9 - 10 year old goats still having babies...which mean they still are producing milk. I do not know what the avg life expectancy is. I would think a 12 - 14 year old is a very, very old goat.

We love our goats. We just keep having babies and adding on to the barn. I wanted to stop around 10ish does but we are past that now and keep going. As a matter of fact...I am looking for farms in WVA so we can expand. The wife is NOT HAPPY....yet! Does anyone out there from WVA know of any farms for sale? I am searching the internet and doing a lot of "coveting"...sorry Lord. I found several in Roane County...looks promising! Does anyone want a "good neighbor?"

I hope I answered a couple of your questions anyway...

Brian

PS...you notice I didn't mention kidding season. To me that is nothing but pure enjoyment...but then again...I am not kidding 100-does either...LOL!


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

LOL, thanks Brian for your informative and entertaining response to my question. :) Hey, I can ask my friend about farms for sale in WV, her sister owns a real estate company in WV, I think it's ball real estate?

I learned the hard way about not buying other peoples problems, although I started out with good stock, just couldn't pass up a 'freebie' offer, which was the downfall, uck! I never realized how many parasites chickens can have. Giving 30 birds a bath was fun! :) They look SOOO small after they are all wet, those feathers really poof them up! :)

I am sure it's an addicting hobby, I started out with 6 guineas and 4 silkie banties, now I'm up to 50 birds and climbing. I want to improve the soil/forage for them, we have a skinny field in front of our house, there is a main natural gas transmission line that runs right in front of it, and goes up the hill. I guess field fence wouldn't work with goats? We had 3 pigs one year, used pallets and wire for the fence which worked, but I would want them to do foraging of course, since it's healthier for them. :)

OMG, you have 100 does, wow! What do you do with all those goats, ha ha! :)

We would have to work on more fencing for them, as we have such a long road frontage (which is fenced) but they would start eating all the trees that I have kept safe from deer (by putting fence around them). I know they love to eat everything, I remember a kid eating my dress when we went to the petting zoo when I was little. They are so cute!

I think the hardest thing would be convincing my husband to get some, hee hee! Our neighbors have goats, but we don't really 'talk' to them (the neighbors, not the goats), they are a bit too nuts (to put it mildly).

How do you manage that many animals..wow you guys must have a biiig farm! :)

Thanks for your answer! :) I have read that you need to rotate their pasture to keep parasites to a minimum. I wonder if it would be bad to keep them with free ranging chickens/guineas, since they might 'share' parasites?


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Mersiepoo...NO I only have about 30ish total! That includes the 14-kids we have had since 26-December. We will keep 5-doelings of the 14-kids...the rest will be sold / taken to fair for market projects. When all kids are gone...we should be back down around 20-goats total. This is what I said...

"PS...you notice I didn't mention kidding season. To me that is nothing but pure enjoyment...but then again...I am not kidding 100-does either...LOL!"

I would like to have 100+ does if I can find a farm! I would love to have 200+ and make a living at it. Constantly having kids and taking them to market or selling replacement breeding / show stock. Probably won't happen...but I can dream.

You need good fences for goats...but there is a lot of farms that have goats in fields with the standard cattle 6" x 6" woven wire fencing. This fencing costs less than stock panels or goat fencing...but if you put new fence up...use fencing designed for goats. They climb and rub up against the fence. They will walk down a regular fence...then you have to start all over in 5 - 8 years. That is unless you have plenty of pasture that they are happy in. If you have fence that runs along a tree line...they will stand on fencing to get to the leafs.

I know you read in the books about alternating pastures etc, etc...but I don't know anyone that does it. That is one of the main reasons to buy healthy goats. If you don't bring a disease to your farm...and you vaccinate and keep them healthy...no worries about disease (for the most part). You are always going to have to worry about pneumonia, selenium deficiency, worms and heriditary issues...but you do not have to worry about the communicable dieseases if you don't buy someones problems. I only have one pasture.

You can also bring in diseases from other peoples farms or they can bring them to you. For example; if you go to look at some goats for sale and walk through their barn or field...whatever they have you could potentially bring back to your farm on your shoes. Always wear plastic booties when on other peoples farms...and have them wear them when they come look at yours. I have a friend that is now constantly battling "foot rot" that he thinks came from someone that was on his farm early last spring. He has been raising goats since 1999 and never had an issue...now he is constantly doctoring a goat or two.

Me personally...if I go to someones farm, when I get home I go straight to the house and change my clothes and boots. Before I wear those boots to the barn again I scub them in bleach water. When someone brings a doe to me to have bred I will scrub their feet in a bleach / soap solution before I even get them out of the trailer or truck. I also inspect the doe for absesses or any visable health issues (running nose, lice, diarreaha butt, etc). If they look funny to me...they don't even make it out of the trailer. If the owner of the goat has a problem with that...tough! He can go and get someone elses genetics and contaminate their goats!

I have chickens free ranging in with my goats. No disease or health issues. One thing you have to watch out for is chickens pooing in feed trouphs(?) / pans. I am sure contaminated feed is not healthy for the goats. Also mice / rats in the barn peeing / pooing in the water buckets / feed pans. We clean our water buckets with bleach once a week.

I attached a new picture album my wife sent me this morning. You can also look at our goats on our temporary website which is on "my page."

God Bless,

Brian

Here is a link that might be useful: Updated goat kid pictures


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Love this goat thread!

Just curious - how much do goats need to be fed in the summer if they have plenty of pasture to graze?


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

That is another loaded question...and one I can't answer. I have to supplement year round with grain / hay. I only have probably 3-acres of pasture.

I know goat people that have plenty of pasture / browse that they only supplement with grain / hay in the coldest winter month(s). They also leave out plenty of trace minerals for the goats to eat at their leisure.

I would think it would depend on the type / amount of pasture that is available to them...???

Some out else can chime in at anytime...LOL!

Brian


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I would love to have a few milk and cashmere goats! I read books and looked into it for awhile, but it just seemed like so much work. All that sterilizing the milking equipment daily, ect. ect. I just don't have time for all that work in addition to the chickens and vegetables.

Is it really time consuming to care for milk goats and all the equipment? Is it a full time job to milk and clean and sterilize every day?

How do you do it all?

Some of the time problem is my own doing. I work full time outside the farm and have another part time pet portrait business on the side. I find myself quite frustrated with the lack of time I have to spend on the farm, which is what I really want to do!


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I have had Oberhasli dairy goats for the past 11 years. I milk 365 days a year and twice daily. I have stainless steel milking buckets that I wash twice a day with hot water and soap. I don't sterilize anything. I do pasteurize my milk and I have never had any problems with bacteria, etc. If you were to use a milking machine, cleaning up is quite a different matter with all of the hoses, etc. But, using a milking machine for just 5 or even 10 goats is like using a blender to chop up one tomato, not worth the clean up. It takes me maybe 15 minutes to milk my 4 goats by hand.

I also feed my milking does a high protein dairy ration specifically formulated for goats. They get this twice a day while they are on the milk stand. They also get alfalfa and some grass hay. I would still give them grain if they are milking and on pasture. They need that extra protein to make good high quality milk (in my opinion). The type of dairy goat you own also makes a difference as to how high the fat quantity is in the milk. Nubians have the highest butter fat content, Saanans the lowest. But, Saanans are also the largest producer quantity-wise. The other swiss breeds like Oberhasli's, Alpines, Toggs, all fall in the middle in terms of butter fat quantity. I make cheese year round and I need milk with a good butter fat ratio and feeding grain helps me achieve that.

I have my goats in a large pen built from cattle panels during the day. They go into a two stall barn at night or if the weather is bad. I take them for two walks a day around our property (10 acres) and they browse and munch on pine branches for 30 minutes or so. They follow me without leashes, etc. We walk for longer periods during the warmer months. I can't imagine being without my goats. They are smart, funny, and very loyal.


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Hmmm You have me rethinking my decision not to get milk goats. I would really like to have a couple of milk and cashmere goats and make cheese. Do you keep a male or breed them off site? How often do you need to breed them to keep the milk flowing and what do you do with the offspring?


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I do not keep bucks, but have a friend who has 3 Oberhasli bucks I can choose from when I do breed. I tend to milk my goats for usually more than a year or two. They are pretty heavy milkers and it is possible to milk them for years. I have one doe,who is retired now,that I milked continuously for 4 years and she milked a gallon a day for all of that time. I don't like to breed every year because there are only so many people who want baby goats in our area, and there are already quite a few breeders around. If I get does out of a breeding, I keep them. The boys, I have neutered and usually train them as pack goats and sell them for $100.00 or so. But, trying to find homes for the boys is sometimes a challenge. Some of my friends put their wethers(neutered males) in their freezer for food, but I haven't done that yet. We raised meat goats for years and I prefer to eat them. I get too attached to my dairy goats to eat them.:-)

But, if you have a doe that is a pretty good milker, you can always try to milk her through her breeding season. The volume of milk will fluctuate some during their cycle, but usually comes right back up when their cycle is over. A goat that is a "light" milker will come into heat and the volume will drop and won't pick back up. Basically, she is just drying herself off. But, heavy milkers can perk right along. Works for me!


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Sounds so easy! I had considered putting the males in the freezer but don't know about butchering them myself and don't know if the cost of having it done makes the cost of the meat prohibitive? I will eventually learn to do it myself, one thing at a time. Have to learn to milk a goat first...


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Now I have to figure out a way to convince my husband we need goats! :) Maybe telling him they are good at pulling logs would help? :D


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Couple of questions on this end...can you put goats with other animals, (swine, chicken??)

How do the Nubian, dairy goats do in scrub areas. I need the scrub cleaned out and plan to put in hogs. Am going to do a movable chicken coop to pick over the area for seeds, but the land currently has memmosa trees (horrible nuisance) and I wondered if the goats would clean out the memosa sprouts while they were young.


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Goats are livestock and you will find all kinds of different opinions on whether you can pasture them with other animals. I have some free-range chickens and they co-habitate fine with my goats. I know of people that have their goats with horses, Alpacas, Llamas, donkeys and sheep. I am not saying there aren't problems from time to time...but nothing is perfect.

I have Alpines and Boers. When they are grazing / browsing in the pasture and along the creek...they act the same. I would assume that a Nubian isn't any different.

I have no idea about the memosa question. Maybe someone else can answer that or you could Google "Toxic plants for goats" and see if it pops up!

Brian


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I would pasture goats with any equine or ruminant livestock, but not with hogs. A man in the Northwest developed a land clearing method using goats and hogs in moveable pens. He put the goats on the land first. When all the vegetation was stripped above ground, he moved the goats to a new plot, and moved hogs into the area vacated by the goats. The hogs then rooted out the roots of the trees and nuisance vegetation. When everything was cleared, he sent both the goats and hogs to slaughter. I don't remember the guy's name, but he made a substantial fortune by using his method to clear previously unusable land, especially waterfront property. The owner of a fence place up here told me he uses hogs to clear stumps by stomping corn and other grains into the ground all around the stumps he wants removed. The hogs find the grain and dig it out. Apparently, once they find the grain, they keep digging thinking there must be more down there somewhere until all the dirt is removed from around the stumps. I think he then easily pulls them away with the tractor. I have no idea whether Mimosa/Memosa is toxic, but I am betting local goat owners will know in your area.


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

Mersie, Just use the old..."look what followed me home!" Goats can be so darn likeable that chances are he will enjoy having them. Providing you can keep them contained and out of areas where they can get into trouble...like gardens and flower beds.
My goats get along fine with all of the animals here, horses, pot bellied pigs, chickens. But they have their own pens to keep them out of the other animals feed. And they have plenty of room when they are out with the other animals. I wouldn't house them indoors together...feeding time would be a disaster because goats will eat everyones feed, or get themselves hurt trying to.


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I told my husband today, "Hey, goats can be taught to pull loads for you!" I mean the bigger goats, not the pygmy's of course. :)


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RE: Goats - how much work are they?

I have (2) 75% Alpine / 25% Boer wethers that would make excellent pack and/or cart goats. Check out my website...they are on the kids page. We live in Clermont County Ohio (SW corner of Ohio) about 40-minutes east of Cincinnati.


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