If you’ve been thinking about rearing goats, milk breeds will make for a perfect start. While they require more attention and could cost you more money in maintenance costs, milk goats will turn your homestead to a happy breeding ground. For starters, this post is for you.
If you have not checked out this post on getting goats 101, do so. It will help jumpstart your understanding of these escapists homestead animals.
This post emphasizes practical approaches to rearing milk goats, something we believe will enthuse novice homesteaders to get started. Thus, you may want to get started by asking a few questions, such as the following:
- Where do I find milk goats, and at what cost?
- What do milk goats require to stay healthy and active?
- Which are some of the most prevalent challenges I am likely to encounter when getting milk goats?
Well, these questions could go on and on. However, when you factor in our practical guide to raising these animals on your farm, it should be hassle-free. Below, find out the nattiest and grittiest of everything you need to know.
Choosing The Best Dairy Breeds
The first step to getting milk goats is selecting the right kind. Of course, there are more than a hundred milk breeds, but the big question is which one is the best. Because you are looking forward to rearing goats that produce a lot of milk, you must make this decision at the earliest stages of setting up a farmstead.
In the United States, for example, there are at least eight dairy goat breeds. Of these, the Nubian goat is the most popular among farmers who venture into getting goats. It should, however, be of interest to note that they don’t produce a lot of milk in spite of being a top choice among farmers. The catch with Nubian dairy goats is that their milk has a higher content of butterfat than other breeds.
Apart from Nubian milk goats, Saanen has for a long time enjoyed accolades as top milk-producing goats, albeit with the lowest butterfat. You should check out facts you didn’t know about goats to learn more. You may also want to try breeding LaMancha goats, Toggenburg, alpine goats or the Nigerian dwarf. Take note that these are only a select few dairy goats you can keep in your homestead without regrets.
With the above information at the back of your mind, you should also note that the size of your farmstead also influences the choice of dairy goats. If you need milk for home or commercial use, that too is a vital consideration to make. Thus, there is never going to be a perfect breed at any given time because every kind comes with a fair share of advantages and disadvantages.
Purchasing Milk Goats
The next concern after choosing a preferred milk breed should be buying one. You can check out online goat sales, get one from a friend/neighbor of visit popular goat markets but that’s not the point. When it comes to buying dairy goats, you should do so on the premise of the following guidelines:
- You must put money on goats with a shiny coat. A bright goat often symbolizes good health.
- Look at the general body condition and also choose goats that have bright eyes. Anything, on the contrary, often suggests poor health.
- Make sure the dairy goat you buy is lively and exhibits a high level of alertness. With the aforesaid in mind, you should take a closer look at the udder/teats. It is to ensure they are well-shaped and that a goat you want to purchase does not have abscesses among other signs of poor health.
- Most importantly, involve a vet to examine help you examine the best milk breed for the money.
Fencing is up there among top priorities goat raisers have. These animals are notorious escapist and also curious animals. You may want to refer to the story of goats and the discovery of coffee to learn more. Therefore, fencing helps keep their movement in check. Most importantly, having their browsing areas fenced off help maximize the use of available forage.
However, before you embark on fencing pasture areas, you should factor in the number of animals that you have as well as plants within that area. Do not forget that budgeting for fencing materials and pasture management equally play significance. We advise against tethering goats because it often makes them feel caged-something that affects their feeding.
Housing For Dairy Goats
If you have learned how to raise cattle on a small acreage, you will not have challenges setting up a housing facility for dairy goats. But for purposes of helping farmers who are just getting started, housing goats is equally a vital practical approach to raising these curious animals. If you live in hot areas, for example, you must construct a simple structure to protect these animals from sun and rainfall.
For those who reside in cold areas, the emphasis on goat housing is always proper ventilation. It helps protect goats from snowdrifts and wind drafts. Sizing a goat house is another vital consideration to make. Experienced goat farmers recommend about 12-25 square feet per goat. In cold areas, goats spend a lot of time indoor; hence, the higher figure is suitable. In hot regions, housing is not a vital necessity, but it is essential.
Feeding Dairy Goats
The first thing you should note about feeding goats is that they are ruminants. They chew the cud. The question is, how does this affect your feeding approach? In a simple expression; goats eat a lot of forage. They like to browse trees, bushes, pasture plants, and also eat hay. The catch here is that while goats will never settle in one place when in the grazing fields, a farmer must know how to control their movement. Moreover, ensure they feed well.
A simple formula, therefore, is providing with them with at least 2 pounds of commercial goat feed every day and leafy forage. If you have a small grazing field, rotation grazing with save you extra costs that come with pasture management and fencing.
While goats are fierce animals, hence not prone to diseases, a farmer should have a robust and practical approach to their feeding, nutrition, and disease control. With these taken care of, the next question is, how should you milk dairy goats?
Well, experienced goat raisers advice that you milk goats at a 12-hour interval. And while at it, keep off dusty and feeding areas. But first, wash their udder and teats using warm water.
There are commercially available udders cleaning solutions that also stimulate milk to let down. With a little practice, especially if you are a newbie, milking goats gets more comfortable with every passing day. You can check YouTube videos on how to do it right-especially concerning hand positioning while ensuring your fingers have a better grip of the teats.
The Bottom Line
In a nutshell, with a reliable go-to guide on how to raise dairy goats, small-scale or large-scale farming becomes easy. At fromscratchmag.com,we always ensure you have the hang of it. Check out this guide on how to solve problems first-time small-scale farmer face.