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Goats are a lively and productive alternative to keeping dairy cows on your homestead. As a huge bonus, their milk is flavorful and full of nutrition. Use this quick guide to understand the basics of keeping dairy goats.

Legality

Always check your local ordinances and laws for livestock restrictions. Even if you’re allowed to keep chickens, it doesn’t mean you’re allowed to keep livestock. Don’t skip this crucial step!

Food and space

Where will you keep your goats? Ensure they have adequate shelter, housing, food, and water. A fence is necessary for shelter from the elements, as well as a fence.

Find your goats (yes, plural)

Goats are herd animals. For this reason, you should never buy just one goat. They can become depressed if separated from their friends, just like human beings. Always buy at least two goats so they have a companion. Opt for dairy breeds like Nubian, Nigerian Dwarf, or Sable.

Basics of goat breeding

Goats are mammals, which means they produce milk for their young. Just like humans, goats only produce milk for a certain time after giving birth. For this reason, you need access to a male goat to breed females for milk. A female goat can be bred every 12 – 15 months.

Make sure you have a plan for the kids! Many goat owners sell the babies at 8 weeks old to turn a profit. The mother goat will continue to produce milk for 10 months after giving birth, although the amount of milk decreases over time. Let the goat dry up for at least two months before she’s bred again.

Milking

The big upside to goats is that they produce more than enough milk for both you and their kids. You do need to milk a goat daily, and sometimes even multiple times per day. You can get more by milking up to three times a day, but make sure you have a plan for the milk. A goat can produce up to a gallon a day after birth, and about a quart a day 10 months after giving birth.

Always practice safe, clean milking procedures. This keeps your goat healthy and comfortable while preventing sour flavors in the milk.

The bottom line

Goats are a fun, lively addition to any homestead. Keep in mind that dairy goats can be a lot of work, but they can pay off in tons of milk and laughs.

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The Best Farm Animals to Keep In the City

If you’ve ever visited the countryside, you know the joy of having animals on the farm that you can take care of. In the city, you’ll never see a cow except for on a milk carton and the same applies to other farm animals. The obvious reason for this is that larger breeds of farm animals need a specific environment to live in; so the city’s pollution and noise are a big no-no. Luckily, you can keep a few kinds of farm animals at your city home. While it does depend on your area’s jurisdiction, these animals pose the least problems.

Chickens

I’ve already written about the basics of how you can raise chickens from chicks and then move them into a coop. Chickens are also very quiet (not talking about roosters!) so you won’t get in trouble with the neighbors either. Not only will you be raising home-bred chickens that taste better, you’ll also get fresh eggs at home. You can choose to sell these products to your neighbors or consume them yourself. Moreover, they also provide high-quality manure that works well as fertilizer or an addition to compost. You can choose from a variety of breeds, based on whether you’re raising them for the eggs or meat.

Quail

For city dwellers, quail are the best farm animal to keep if you have minimal space. Though they mature a little slowly, you will find that they’re much more fun to keep than chickens. When 24 weeks old, quail begin to lay eggs so if you want to grow some chicks, you’ll require an incubator. While the bird itself tastes delicious, their eggs are too; you can raise a fine amount selling quail eggs.

Ducks

If you can handle their sometimes-aggressive attitude and loud quacking, I recommend that you raise ducks. Now, most people don’t consider duck meat and eggs to be a delicacy, but they are expensive from their ordinary chicken-based counterparts.

Therefore, whether you have a taste for duck eggs, want to make some extra money on the side, or simply think ducks are adorable; you have your answer. You’ll find that a few rare species can even lay almost as many eggs as a chicken, which would be a score. You’ll need more space for these ducks, not to mention a small pool, but other than that you’ll be fine.

Pygmy Goats

Enough about the birds, you want a herd, don’t you? Pygmy goats aren’t just your ordinary petting zoo animal, but they make great urban farm companions as well. Although they don’t serve as a large source of meat and milk, you can’t underestimate certain breeds like Nigerian Dwarfs.

If you’re interested in drinking fresh organic milk, you’ll be happy to know that they can produce up to a liter of milk every day, as long as you feed them good quality produce. However, if you are not interested in keeping them for their meat, there is always the option of having them as pets that produce manure that is rich in nitrogen.


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