Raising Goats 101: Beginner Tips and Practices [2020]

For thousands of years, humans have been domesticating goats. But don’t get it twisted. This review isn’t about history or something like it. At fromscratchmag.com, while we always strive to provide our readers with the best, dependable and reliable information, we also reconcile facts with recommendations on the best animal products for the money.

And if you are a follower of this blog, chances are high you must have landed a top quality lawn and gardening product too- through our regular updates.

Now, here is another chance to not only choose something for the money but also increase your knowledge about domesticating goats. Are you a chicken farmer and if not, have you tried raising goats? The truth is that s homesteading practice do not just involve lawn care or DIY projects for compost manure.

Goat keeping is another that you should learn. If you can rear goats, making sure that they feed well, they have a shelter and are free from diseases that ravage homestead animals, we will give you a pat on the back.

But first things first, you need to ask the following questions:

  • Where to get goats?
  • Should I buy a goat?
  • What is the best goat to get for starters?

Like puppies or dogs, goats often make homesteads lively, except that they will always keep you on toes given their browsing agility when climbing over fences-which is the fan of keeping them anyway! Without good and secure fencing, however, they can stray far in search of greener pastures.

If there is an old adage that goats have mastered and practice better than any other homestead animals, it is that ‘grass is always greener on the side.’

See Also: The 10 Best Fences for Goats, Cows, Horses, and Sheep

Goat 101: Choosing The Right Breed

Owning goats, while it is fun, isn’t always going to start by saying I want a goat. Experienced farmers will tell you that it is no mean feat getting started. You must, first of all, understand that with more than 210 goat breeds in the world, you have to narrow down your search to the best and most preferred and viable types.

Also, it is imperative to rear these animals on the premise that you need them for milk, meat, hides/skins or any other reason.

Now, before we dig further into, here is a quick run-through some mesmerizing goat facts:

  • It is an undisputed historical fact that goats were among the first animals to be domesticated, somewhere around 10,000 B.C.
  • Humans first got their animal milk from goats.
  • Female goats are referred to as goat ‘nanny’ or ‘doe’ while ‘buck’ or ‘Billy’ refers to as male ones. A kid is a name for young ones while ‘wether,’ refers to castrated breeds.
  • Nannies can have as many as six litters, but the most common range is 1-4 litters, which also signifies why goat population keeps rising.
  • Males and female goats have beards, but not a must, especially for the latter. It is also noteworthy it is not all the times they will have horns.
  • The life expectancy of goats ranges from 8 to 12 years. However, some can live for as long as 15 years.
  • When nannies lactate, it is important to keep them away from bucks so that their milk doesn’t have a ‘goaty’ taste.
  • Just like dogs, goats are very social with humans. Thus, when it comes to answering a question like, where can I own a goat, all you need is proper housing regardless of location.
  • Among the many animals that humans domesticate, goats are some of the cleanest.
  • Dairy breeds do not have a lot of subcutaneous fat.
  • There is a high demand for goat meat in the U.S.A and a result; Australia and New Zealand export a combined 1.5 million pounds or more to America every year to suffice rising demand. However, Asian countries have a higher population of goats than any other continent. China, for example, has approximately 170 million goat population.
  • Many centuries ago, humans used goats to nurse babies.

Which Breed Is Good For You?

The foremost important question you should ask before deciding on whether to rear goats or not is the right breed.

While there are people who only want to keep these animals in their compound in the interest of nature or as a fulfillment of their hobby, you can also raise goats for the following reasons:

  • Keeping goats for meat is a common practice that has thrived through generations. Given that they have leaner beef than any other animals we domesticate for food, goat meat, experts say, is very nutritious and healthier.
  • Another reason for rearing goats is because of their milk.
  • Keeping goats for their hides/skins/horns is another practice that preceded all the above and is still popular today.

However, when it comes to selecting a breed, factors such as growth rate, multiple births, and conformation (legs, mouth, and feet) are important.

Out of known 210 breeds, only 60 are officially recognized. In America, for example, Angora goat, whose origin can be traced to prehistoric Turkey, is a popular breed.

Now, let’s take a look at each of the above reasons we can shed more on why owning goats is a practice that is here to stay for generations to come.

Keeping Goats for Meat

Given the current price per pound for goat meat, there is no doubt it is a booming market. Goats grow very first, which is also another reason why their meat fetches more money for a farmer than beef. With an earlier example about huge imports of meat into the U.S.A, boar goat is a common breed. It has a large muscular and large frame.

Native to South Africa, boars have a high rate of growth and highly fertile, hence preferred by meat producers. They can be red or brown/red, short-haired, with long ears, docile and have short horns curved closer to their heads.

A post published on Penn State Extension opines that consumption of goat meat alongside mutton (sheep) comes forth after pork, beef, and poultry. In America, the last decade has seen a rise in goat keeping.  Two major reasons explaining why it thrives in American are:

  • Demand for a leaner and low-fat diet, something which meets the interest of goat meat consumers.
  • It is an ethnic delicacy/serving alongside gourmet foods.

Mature bucks can weigh up to 175 pounds and not anything less than 125 pounds, while the weight of mature nannies ranges between 80 to 90 pounds. Apart from Boer, other common breeds for meet include:

  • Spanish goats known for their long-twisty horns. They are also medium in size, short-haired, lanky and found in different colors.
  • Tennessee fainting goat, as the name suggests are nervous animals that often fall or faint when something startles them. They are also referred to as myotonic, stiff leg or wooden goats. These breeds have a black or white coat, short or long-haired, have protruding eyes and can weigh up to 200 pounds. It is also noteworthy that some people keep them as pets or for novelty.
  • Brush/hill/briar/native goats, usually hardy and a crossbreed of meat and dairy breeds. These breeds are also known as browsers because of feed mostly on shrubs and vegetation.
  • Kiko is another goat bred for meat given their large frame. They are hardy hence thrive under in difficult conditions. Their horns are out-swept and spiral. Most notably, Kiko grows very fast and weigh up to 300 pounds.
  • If you want to cross-breed goats, then Textmaster, Moneymaker and Savanna are ideal choices.

Dairy Goats-What You Should Know

Another way to go about rearing goats is for their milk, ostensibly, dairy breeds. It is more fun because Does or Nannies are docile, therefore, easy to handle. What’s even more fun is that you also get to make a lot of cheese. It is because, with up to 90 quarts of milk products you will get every month from dairy breeds, not to mention 10 months of breeding, there is really no excuse why you shouldn’t make lots of money with goat milk.

You can become one of the biggest producers of cheese with dairy goats by choosing the best breeds. Some of the best milk breeds are Nubian goats, Saanens, LaMancha, Oberhalsis and Alpines.

What You Need To Own Goats – The Necessities:

Now, before you scroll down to learn more, a question of what you need to own goats is something our readers keep asking. Well, we did some homework and came up with the following, which include product recommendations from the best goat keepers:

Fencing

Premier PoultryNet plus, White, Double Spike, 100-inches L x 48-inches H

A good fence keeps movements of goats in check, which is why farmers must put money on the best fencing product in the market. And if you ask fromscratchmag.com which one is worth the money, we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Premier PoultryNet Plus, a double-spiked fence from Premier 1 Supplies.

There are many reasons it is a top choice goat keepers such as:

  • It is proven to be effective in restricting movements of goats, sheep, poultry, cattle, and other farm animals so that they don’t get destructive or wander far.
  • It guards your herd and flocks against deer, fox, stray dogs, raccoons, and skunks.
  • It comes meshed so that you are ready to set it up upon delivery at your doorstep.
  • Premier PoultryNet Plus is electrifiable.
  • It allows you to fix posts after every 6.8-inch, thus steady and sturdy. Of its 12 horizontal stands, 11 are electrified.
  • It is lightweight for easy installation, only weighing 23 pounds.
  • For Premier PoultryNet Plus to be effective, use energizer but not continuously. AC or AD solar energizer is recommendable.
  • Putting money on this fencing material is a sure bet on value for money because while it is affordable, its effectiveness is unquestionable.

Feed

Manna Pro Goat Treats

Treating your goat to a nutritious supplement means you must put money on the best product on Amazon. On this premise and of course after doing some research, Manna Pro Goat treats top the list.  We chose it for this review because of the following reasons:

  • It comes in nugget form, hence easy-to-feed goats.
  • It does not only give you value for money but your animals will also love it.
  • Manna Pro treats is irresistible; thanks to anise blend that delivers a licorice flavor.
  • Because it is a perishable product, keep it in a cool and dry place.
  • Shipping weight measures only 6.1 pounds and givens that Manna Pro-animal treat is also affordable, you cannot afford to miss it in your next delivery from Amazon.

You may want to also ask, what size pin does a goat need, and we would be glad to assist with recommendations for the best products on Amazon.

Minerals and Baking Soda

Manna Pro Goat Salt, 8lb

If you are looking for the best mineral supplement with baking soda for your angora or pygmy, then Manna Pro Goat will not only last long but also prove its worth. Farmers who have put money on it love it because of the following reasons:

  • It exists in loose form for easy feeding.
  • It is a blend of minerals and vitamins; hence a powerfully fortified product for milk goat breeds.
  • Manna Pro goat salt enhances growth in your homestead animals so that they are always healthy and strong.
  • It features chelated minerals that facilitate absorption and use in the body.
  • If you are keeping show goats, then you would love this mineral salt because it enhances coat appearance.
  • It has aluminum chloride which together with microbial components promotes faster growth in goats.
  • It weighs 8.6 pounds (shipping weight).

Use This Feeder:

Fortifex Mineral Feeder for Small Animals, 1-3/4 Quart, 2-compartment, Black

It is advisable that when feeding your breed to Manna Pro salt, put it inside Mineral Feeder for small animals from Fortifex. There are reasons why we find it worth the money such as:

  • It features an HDPE fortally-EPDM rubber build.
  • Its top flanging means you will have put money on a durable product.
  • Fortifex Mineral feeder measures 6.2 x 12.8 and 8.8 inches.
  • It is affordable and lightweight (15.2 ounces shipping weight).

Dewormer

Merck Safeguard Goat Dewormer, 125ml

Homestead animals are prone to diseases, thus, deworming them very often is something every vet would advise. But you may want to ask, what is the best dewormer to use on my goats? Well, here is fromscratchmag.com; we always strive to bring you the best of products at your fingertips so that you are only a click away from purchasing them on Amazon.

Now, when it comes to putting money on the best dewormer, we recommend Merck Safeguard from Durvet. You can buy a pack of 2 or 3 depending on the size of your money. And when it comes to its effectiveness, many love it because of reasons such as the following:

  • It is an effective killer/remover of stomach/intestinal worms.
  • Merck Safeguard removes more than 10 different types of worms in cattle.
  • It goats, studies show Merck Safeguard eliminates adult worms in the stomach such as Teladorsagia circumcinta and haemonchus contortus.
  • You will spend a few bucks on this product, hence very affordable.
  •  It weighs 5.3 ounces (shipping).

Hoof Trimmers

Because of the grazing style of goats, also known as browsers, their hooves tend to get out shape quickly. Thus, experts advise that you trim them every 6-8 weeks. But here is the big question: What is the best hoof trimmer in the market? Well, after searching all over Amazon, we would love to recommend the following:

Zenport Z116 Hoof and Floral Trimming Shear, Twin-blade, 7.5 inches

Zenport trimming blade isn’t just a top choice for farmers who want to keep floral in good shape and size but is equally a multipurpose homesteading tool. It doubles as a perfect hoof trimmer for a goat because of reasons such as:

  • It is easy on your hands, thanks to study PVC handles.
  • It features twin-blades, sharp and with no coating.
  • You are assured of clean filing when you put money on Zenport trimming blade.
  • Moreover, you won’t spend a lot of money on this item, hence affordable.
  • At only 7 ounces, its weight is not overbearing on the effort of a user.
  • It measures 8 x 2.5 1 inch (product dimensions).

Keeping Your Herd Healthy: Kidding

Dr. Ken Andries of Kentucky State University is an Extension Animal Science Specialist. His views on keeping goats, particularly ensuring they are healthy are pure gold. He opines that after buying the animals, the first step toward raising a healthy breed is developing a good breeding program with the help of a veterinarian.

His key pointers to kid processing, which is about raising goats from birth include:

  • Kids must have access to 2 ounces of colostrums with the first 6 hours of birth and a further 4-6 ounces within 24 hours. It is because colostrums are rich in antibodies hence helping fortify their bodies against disease attack at early stages of growth and development. You can use colostrums from other Does from a goat farm nearby but it is vital that it comes from the mother.
  • Before a Doe gives birth, it is advisable to ensure proper feeding. It is the only way of ensuring that they have large amounts of colostrums after birthing kids. Also, with good feeding, you are sure to have healthy, bouncing, playful and happy kids added to your breed.
  • If you are breeding goats for meat, you can also settle for pygmy. Native to West Africa, they are most ideal for petting but also for meat given their fleshy bodies. Pygmy goat size chart indicates that their sizes range from 60-80 pounds for bucks and 50-75 pounds for Does.
  • If you live in Se Deficient areas, Dr. Ken Andries advises that at birth, give kids a shot of Se to keep them safe from a white muscle disease. He also says that you should spray or dipped them in 7 percent iodine at birth.
  • As the kids grow into Bucks and nannies, it is important to keep them in good health. Common health practices at 4 weeks and beyond, Dr. Ken advises are enterotoxaemia and tetanus vaccination once every year. Give kids a booster when they are 8 weeks old. Deworming two weeks before kidding, also as and when necessary, keeps your breed in good health and stead.
  • Always include coccidiostat in goat feed to cushion them against Coccidiosis (diarrhea). It is, however, advisable to consult with your veterinarian on the right dosage.
  • When it comes to keeping your goat breed from food scald/rot, Dr. Ken Andries advises that you trim their hooves, preferably, every 6-8 weeks. Most importantly, dip their feet in a foot bath that contains 10 percent solution of zinc sulfate or copper sulfate.

Signs Of Healthy Goats

It is often easy to tell if your goats are healthy or sickly. Healthy goats chew cud, have a shiny coat, sociable, have strong feet, eat well and have clear/bright eyes.

It is possible with a great nutrition program for goats, proper living conditions, observance of vaccination, deworming and schedules; and professional kidding.

It is also advisable that goat farmers keep track of all these breeding activities. In a big way, they influence timing for milking goats or slaughtering for meat. Never forget that carefully reading product labels and consulting your veterinarian regularly will keep your breed out of trouble.

In the end, you will have reliably answered to a question of what do goats need.

What Is The Proper Way To Milk Goats?

If you are familiar with milking dairy cows, then handling nannies or Does shouldn’t be a problem. It is an easy process that involves a few steps. Now, to anyone who would wish to learn the proper way of doing it, there isn’t rocket science in milking goats. Here are straightforward tips:

  • It is advisable that you milk a goat 12 hours apart, which translates to once or twice a day.
  • Use clean milking equipment while ensuring an area where you do it is tidy.
  • It is important to chill the milk as soon as you finish.

Something that is also worth taking into consideration is that as opposed to cow milk, goat milk is homogenized, making it difficult to separate cream when making cheese. Moreover, because of small fat globules that make it naturally homogenized, goat milk is very smooth.

Housing For Goats

Like any other domestic animal, goats need proper shelter so that they have a place to stay during the night and from harsh weather conditions such as storm and cold. But here is the catch. How do you construct a house? Well, here is what you need to know about goat barn essentials:

  • A three-sided building is often good to keep them sheltered.
  • You can have dirt such as wood shavings, hay or straw on the floor as bedding, ostensibly to help keep them clean and dry.
  • Within a pen, you can also secure a small room where sick or breeding goat can stay, undisturbed.
  • When it comes to how much room does a goat need, it is imperatively to keep it relatively sizable. It should be big enough to accommodate all your breeds with enough space for moving about and not very tall to let in cold. Most importantly, the pen should be safe and secured.
  • Still, on the size of a goat house, 1.8 x 1.8 x 2.5 meter makes for a perfect room, good enough for up to ten animals. With every adult needing a space of 0.75 x 4.5 x 4.8 meters, building them a house is both easy and cheap.

Fencing For Goats

Lets’ face it. Goats are pretty adventurous and their behavior often indicating that grass is greener on the other side makes them hard to cope with in grazing field. Thus, once you know where to get a goat and is started, you should always know they are browsers-animals that love feeding on brush, bushes and tall grass. With this at the back of your mind, fencing their feeding zones is of critical importance.

The big question is how do you do it? Well, as opposed to constructing a house for them, fencing often comes with challenges. You can never tell if they will climb a pole and jump over the fence into someone’s farm. Given their notoriety for escaping (escapists), you build a fence taking into account the following:

  • It is important to reinforce electrical fencing with wire.
  • Poles for support corners should be long and hard to climb to keep the fence high above 4 to 5 feet, not less.
  • Always use sturdy materials for goat fencing, and most importantly, keep checking to make sure they are break-proof. You might just spot escape routes that need fixing.
  • When using latches on entrance doors, choose something that is strong and hard to open. Goat can get ever more notorious when they use their mouths to explore the possibility of unlatching.

Benefits Of Rearing Goats

If you haven’t reared goats before, but contemplating doing so, getting to know about some benefits may be the inspiration you need to get started. Take a look.

  • Whether you are a homesteader or a farmer, goat keeping makes for a perfect addition to your hobbies.
  • Milk from goats is a powerful ingredient in soap manufacturing, especially for people with sensitive skin.
  • There are farmers who keep goats for purposes of clearing shrubs and bushes. Because these animals are browsers, they east most types of weed, hence are loveable bush hogs.
  • Goats are a rich source of food, both for home consumption and commercial purposes.
  • Fiber is another reason to rear these animals. Whether you need mohair from Pygora, Angora breeds or cashmere, fiber makes for perfect yarning and knitting raw materials.
  • Dung from goats is ideal for making biomass fuel given that it is rich in fiber. It is also a perfect add-on to compost manure, which is good for home gardening.
  • They produce a lot of milk, often more than needed for home use. Therefore, you can sell excess milk or use it to make goat yogurt, cheese or any other value-added product.
  • From making drumheads, shoes, gloves, and rugs, their hides and skin fetch good prices in traditional markets.
  • Given high costs that come with dairy cows, it makes a lot of sense to say rearing goats the best and cheapest alternative if you are looking to produce milk and meat. With professional goat magazines and books, everything is ready and set. (pdf)

Frequently Asked Questions About Goat Rearing:

There are ups and downs that come with getting goats. Thus, to help you evade trouble, fromscratchmag.com also helps you find answers to questions that farmers asked frequently such as:

Q: Can I Keep Goats As Pets?

A: The truth is if you are mad about goats, you can pet them, specially selected breeds such as pygmy. However, we wouldn’t advise so. It is because these animals can sometimes be unpredictable and can potentially headbutt a child.

You don’t want to imagine if a breed with horns is the goat in question.

Q: Do I Need To Supplement Their Feed?

A: Well, while goats are natural feeders who love fending for themselves, it won’t hurt to give them food supplements such as grain and mineral salts. It is especially recommended when getting Does so that after breeding, they give birth to healthy kids, not to mention plentiful milk.

You can buy supplies from online retail platforms like Amazon or from an animal feed store nearby.

Q: How do I know my goats aren’t eating well?

A: It is easy to tell of the animals are not feeding well, bearing in mind sickness symptoms we explored earlier in this post. All you need to do is run your feel their sides with both hands. If their ribs are protruding, it is that time you ensured they feed properly.

However, it would interest you to note that because goats are ruminants, having a protruding stomach often indicates good health.

Q: What Is The Best Mineral For Goats?

A: Feeding your goat on minerals once in a while isn’t a bad idea. They need it as part of a health check. However, it is important to make sure minerals are loose (not blocks) and most importantly, contain some amounts of copper as one of the ingredients.

Anything with salt is also advisable. Most importantly, always check product labels, and of course with advice from a vet.

Q: Do Goats Suffer From A Nutritional Deficiency?

A: The answer is a big YES! Sick goats may mean they are nutritionally deficient. It could be a lack of sufficient amounts of copper or selenium in their bodies. Therefore, a good mineral feed is the best treatment you can administer in such situations.

A rough coat that is devoid of shine means copper deficiency, and if often riddled with parasites such as ticks and worms.

Q: Do Goats Like It When You Scratch Their Horns?

A: We get this question many times and our first response has always been that goats like being petted. However, when it comes to scratching their horns, assuming you now know how to buy a goat, not every breed has horns.

However, those which do have horns love them scratched, including hooves, chest and any other part. All you need to do as most experts say, ‘think like a goat’ and you will learn how to handle your one.

Conclusion

In the end, it is always our wish that you put money on the right product, and of course with reliable information as a backup. Having read thus far, we would wish to hear from you.

Are you a homesteading enthusiast would love to start getting goats? Or is your friend thinking of raising a herd of milk breeds? What about meat goats-do they enthuse you?

Share with us your views, suggestions, experiences, and questions in the comment section below. And as always, we would love it when your friends get to read this amazing post about raising getting goats 101.

Therefore, feel free to share it across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Google+ and others. One more thing: Keep checking our blog for awesome posts like this one.

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melissa

I am a homesteading enthusiast, a published writer, and director at FROMSCRATCHMAG. My experience in areas such as brand management, graphic design, and photography are valuable additions to our writing team. When I am not writing or publishing anything, I am out gardening in my small farm or cooking. I am also an herbalist, an experience I use to spread the word about sustainable living.

  1. Bildad Okumu

    Goat’s are great browsers too. They love eating weeds hence can be used to clear land.
    Goat milk makes a wonderful, soft and mild soap used by sensitive – skined people.

  2. Eunice

    These are interesting facts about goats I haven’t really thought of. For me, I’m trying to get started keeping goats, especially for milk and meat. It’s healthier and more nutritious because it is a leaner beef. Thanks to this guide, I now know just the right place to look.

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