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.
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.
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.