Goats are great for the homestead. Keep reading to learn the benefits of raising goats and some tips on how to get started!
- image via goat lovers anonymous on instagram
Farm Animals: Why Goats Are the Best Option
If you are in the market for the perfect animal, prepare to be swept off your feet. The answer is goats! Following are some of the ways in which goats make wonderful additions to any farm, make great pets, provide a variety of products and services around the homestead and are easy to keep.
Goat Dairy Products
Milk from dairy goats retails for sometimes twice the price of cow's milk, but can be produced on your homestead for far less. Goat milk is wholesome and delicious on its own and amazingly sweet and tasty. It can be used in cooking, made into great yogurt and a wide variety of cheese products, as well.
Nothing beats easy homemade feta or seasoned chevre made out of fresh farm milk from your favorite goat. Guests at my homestead practically swoon at the taste of my spicy soft cheese spread on a slice of crisp oven-toasted crostini. Most soft cheeses are amazingly easy to make. Sweet goat ricotta takes less than an hour and has been made in my kitchen by visiting children.
Cheese by-products are excellent additions to the diet of other farm animals such as pigs and poultry, making goat milk an essential link in farm food synergy.
You'll also like: Goat Cheese Recipes
Breeds with long wooly coats are shorn annually, or possibly more often in certain climate conditions, and the coats are used to create roving and fine yarns. Other breeds grow an undercoat called cashmere which can be combed out and used for fiber.
Most of the planet eats goat meat. Here in the western world, we are not as acclimated to it as are other cultures, but we would do well to develop a taste for it. Goat meat is lean, healthful, low in cholesterol and economical to produce.
— Homesteading (@HomesteadingUSA) March 23, 2016
Goat Brush Clearing
Goats gravitate towards “mid-level browse”, meaning they prefer to eat vegetation taller than the grass but shorter than trees. This includes shrubbery and brush which is often tough for homesteaders to control on their own. Goats are the perfect solution for persistent weeds and noxious invasives. A herd of goats can do the work of landscaping equipment, but with far less expense and impact.
Goats can help with garden cleanup as well. They can be finicky and all herds have their own preferences, but they generally like vegetable greens. Mine make short work of the large leaves and stalks of plants such as cauliflower and brussels sprouts, thereby freeing up a lot of space in the compost pile.
Goat Ease of Care
Goats require very little beyond food and clean water. You will want to provide them with basic veterinary care and maintenance, shelter and protection as necessary in your location, and some routine grooming and hoof care. Beyond those essentials, goats are surprisingly undemanding.
Goat feed entails only browse (or grass if no browse is available), hay in off seasons, and grain. They eat a wide variety of vegetation, including Christmas trees and dry leaves. – It is important to note that a few species of evergreen trees are toxic to goats, and that leftover sprays, tinsel, and ornament hooks are potentially dangerous.
Most goat owners like to give supplements as well. Minerals and extra nutrients are often said to improve goats' health and appearance, but may not be necessary in every situation.
Goats can often be loaded into the back of a station wagon or covered pickup and transported to the veterinarian, which is usually faster and cheaper than waiting for health care to come out to the farm as is done with larger livestock.
If your goats are pets, you will probably find that they are less expensive than traditional companion animals such as dogs and cats. As livestock, they can be less costly than larger animals as well.
Housing for goats is uncomplicated. In some climates they need only a three-walled shed in which to take shelter from inclement weather and to get out of the sun and wind. In colder areas they need more protection. Goats take up a great deal less space than larger livestock, allowing a penny-pinching homesteader to get bang for the buck in infrastructure costs.
Goats' smaller stature make them a better choice for handling and managing. Even full-sized goats are nowhere near as strong and weighty as cattle or pigs.
Goats are just plain fun to be around. They are sweet-natured (some breeds and individuals more than others) and agreeable. They are clever, friendly, and easy-going. Kids are especially entertaining and adorable.
Who doesn't want to play with cute baby goats all day?
Goats are the perfect hybrid of livestock and pets, being hardy enough to embrace barnyard and pasture life without being fussed over, and interactive enough to be a treasured pet.
Goats are clean, too. Some owners bathe them and others do not. As long as they are kept in decent living conditions and, with the exception of males during rutting season, goats smell pleasant and keep themselves tidy. Their feces are small firm pellets which compost easily and smell far less pungent than that of other barn animals.
Goats are truly amazing creatures. If you start off with a pair (a far better idea than having just one, since goats are herd animals and crave companionship of their own kind) it will be hard to stop at just two. It is just so easy to say yes to goats, but doing so just might turn out to be one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself and your homestead.
Want to know more about milk goats? Find out more from this video from Becky's Homestead:
What do you think about having goats? Let us know below in the comments!
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