Looking for the best goat breeds for your homesteading needs? Here's different breeds of goats and why they'll benefit you and your backyard farm. Part of our Homesteading Guide: How To Keep Goats.
Best Goat Breeds For Your Homesteading Needs
If you're new to the world of goats, you might be surprised to learn that there are many different breeds available, each of which serves a specific purpose. Ultimately, deciding on a breed will require some research, and there are many pros and cons to weigh before you make your selection.
Raising goats is becoming quite popular, and it can certainly help promote a self-sustaining lifestyle. Before you begin, try to identify some goals for raising your goats. For instance, raising goats as pets is quite different from raising them for meat or milk (although you'll find that there are types that support multiple purposes). Let's review some of the basics about goat breeds, based on their purposes.
What Breed of Goat Should You Buy?
Best Dairy Goat Breeds
- La Mancha: These medium-sized goats are sturdy, have favorable temperament, and produce milk with about 4% butterfat.
- Nigerian Dwarf: Nigerian Dwarf goats are quite small in size, and in addition to being great diary producers, they also make idea pets because of their size and ability to be trained easily. They can produce up to four pounds of milk per day and have a lifespan of eight to 12 years.
- Alpine: Also known as the French Alpine goat, this breed is medium to large in size and can weigh up to 125 pounds. Their milk is high in protein and has 3.5% butterfat. They are a hearty breed and live well in nearly any climate.
Best Meat Goat Breeds
- Boer: Boer goats have long ears and hanging horns. They grow quickly and are thus ideal for meat production. Mature bucks can weigh up to 300 pounds.
- Kiko: Known for their inclination to eat just about anything in sight, Kiko goats grow quickly and also require less feed than most other breeds. The females also produce great milk.
- Spanish Meat: These goats are also referred to as “brush” or “scrub” goats, due to the fact that they like clearing brush. They can eat large twigs and leaves, and can weigh up to 200 pounds.
Best Fiber Goat Breeds
- Pygora: A cross between Pygmy and Angora goats, this breed is muscular but docile, and therefore also make a great pet.
- Cashmere: As you might guess from their name, cashmere goats produce cashmere fiber. They have an outer layer of hair, known as “guard hair”, which is thicker than the soft, coveted hair underneath.
- Angora: These goats are known for their thick, long fleece. You may hear their hair referred to as “mohair”. Typically, these medium-sized goats have shiny secondary hair that can grow about one inch per month.
Best Pet Goat Breeds
- Pygmy: While these small pet goats aren't always used for milking, they can indeed be milked. Their lifespan is about 10-15 years, and males can weigh up to 70 pounds. Pygmy goats are intelligent and docile.
- Mini Dairy: The mini dairy goat is well-known for its favorable temperament, and they can be kept in backyards as long as companionship and shelter are provided. They may live up to 20 years old.
- Kinder: Kinder goats are mid-sized goats and while they are playful pets, they can also be used for milk.
As you can see, there are many goat breeds from which you can choose. While the breed you choose will depend on your needs and desires, it's important to remember that regardless of their intended purpose, all goats are herd animals. As such, they prefer companionship and enjoy bonding with other goats. So, if you're considering raising goats, you may want to opt for two or more instead of just one.
To learn more about goat raising and selecting a breed that's right for you, please visit www.GoatSmarts.com.
Want to see some cute baby goats to make your day? Then watch this video from MashupZone:
Have you decided what goat breed you'll have? Let us know below in the comments!
I think the author of this article is either terribly biased, or cosmically misinformed. Why is there no mention of Nubians?
Nigies are cute and all, but it is difficult to milk those tiny teats, and you require hog fencing to keep them in. The marginal difference between Nigie and Nubian milk fat percentages is hardly worth mentioning when you consider that Nubians not only give abundant, fat-filled milk, they also carry quite a bit of meat on their carcasses. Surely, not as much as a Boer, but for a dual-purpose goat, you can’t go wrong.
Lamanchas have a much lower percentage of butterfat (no where near 4%!), but they produce more milk, so that’s the trade off there.
Alpines are rather aloof in temperament, and frankly, they can be downright snotty at times. They are not what I would consider a pet.
You don’t mention another popular breed, Saanens. While not exactly personable (they can be dumb as a box of rocks, to be honest), they are great producers, and are really quite nice when cross-bred with Nubians or Boers.
For production and personality, Nubians are certainly an excellent choice for the homestead.