How to Raise Goats
Do you want to learn how to raise goats? I did, about three years ago - and I've learned a lot since then. It's been such a fun journey, what with breeding, kidding, and milking!
Fresh Goat Milk...It's Simply The Best
There's just something satisfying to me about collecting fresh, clean milk from a plump udder....and of course, from a happy goat. :-) Then to drink a chilled glass of it later, or make rich creamy fudge out of it, or enjoy a bowl of goat's milk ice cream, well, it's just the best! I love being able to produce some of our own foods on our farm, and milk is no exception. You can even make luscious soap products with goat milk!
Yes, it's easier to pick up a gallon of milk at the store; certainly less hassle. But the health benefits of raw milk are incredible, plus it's just another element of being
My journey of learning how to raise goats has been an interesting one....lots of fun, but lots of learning along the way!
Why you should get a goat
One of the main reasons people decide to get goats is for their milk. In fact, that's the only reason I learned how to raise goats at all. Although goat milk has received a bad reputation for being "goaty", this really is not true. Goat milk purchased from the store tastes bad, yes! (I've experienced this firsthand.) But fresh goat's milk is absolutely delicious, much to people's surprise when they taste it for the first time.
So, why wouldn't you get a cow?
This is a very common question. Since many people are lactose intolerant, or at least have dairy issues, goat's milk has proven to be a terrific alternative. Goat milk is much easier to digest, making it a popular choice! Of course, if you don't have a problem with dairy at all, you could always get a milk cow. However, I have found that goats are smaller and much easier to handle and mantain, plus, they are much less messy. That's a big plus for me! Once I figured out how to raise goats, I was hooked.
And besides that, goats are just sweet little animals!
Goat's milk can be used interchangeably with cow's milk in your recipes. We use it in just about everthing and it has been wonderful. Plus, you can create all sorts of yummy treats with your goat milk. I have personally made delicious buttermilk, cheese, and ice cream using only goat's milk and it is so delicious!
Click here to find delicious recipes using goat's milk.
How To Raise Goats: Some Guidelines
Knowing how to raise goats encompasses quite a lot of information. For now, let me just give you a brief summary of what this entails.
How to Raise Goats: Shelter
If you're going to get a goat, you will definitely need to construct some sort of shelter. Goats don't need anything fancy, in fact, a three sided shelter will do very nicely. Your main goal is provide a place where your goats can get in out of the wind, rain, and sun. The floors can be concrete, wood, or just plain dirt. Plain dirt is probably the easiest to mantain; I have concrete and it's a slight pain to clean. :-)
Pens should be raked out periodically to eliminate manure and parasites. Concrete floors should be hosed down and treated with a chemical specifically suited for barns.
It's important to keep everything as clean as possible - not only the pens, but the milking area. If you have a milking stand, it should be hosed off / washed after each use. After all, it's where you get your milk; it should be the cleanest place of all!
How to Raise Goats: What to Feed?
Goats do well on a variety of hay types, including alfalfa, rye grass, bermuda grass, and oat hay. Milk goats should be fed alfalfa for the highest milk production. Your milk goat needs to also be fed grain to help keep milk production at its peak. A dairy goat ration can be bought at your local feed store. I have used meat goat ration before, but prefer to use COB (corn, oats, and barley).
Goats that are pregnant or are in milk should be fed alfalfa hay, as much as they will eat. Their bodies are very busy producing babies / milk, and they will need all the nutrition they can get!
There is a goat stereotype that has been around for ages...you know the old saying, "a goat will eat a tin can". Well, that's NOT true. If you plan on getting high quality, good tasting milk from your goats, they are going to need high quality, good-tasting food to eat! What comes in must come out - what they eat will affect the taste of their milk. That's why good hay and clean water are so important.
How to Raise Goats: Water
This is a big one for those milk goats - they will need clean water in large volumes. Lactating goats require a lot of water, and they like it very clean! I wash out my water bucket about once a week with soap and water.
Baking soda should be fed free choice. It helps to keep goats from becoming acidic and helps keep their rumen functioning properly.
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