Before we got Goats we did a lot of research so I thought it might be helpful to others to go through the notes we made here. Our sources stated that Goats are hardy animals and easier to keep than cows. They forage well on pastures that may not be ideal for cattle and generally are not as expensive to keep as cattle. They are highly intelligent and friendly animals that are good to have around. Keeping goats for milk is a good idea because they are easier to manage, and their milk has unique properties that make it ideal for human consumption.
Goat’s milk has been found to be healthier than cow’s milk according to research conducted by the University of Grenada. It is also hypoallergenic due to its similarities with human milk. A large number of People who have problems with cow’s milk experience no problems at all with goat’s milk.
We liked the idea of adding Goats to our menagerie. Just from the point of view of keeping them for milk they have a lot going in their favour as far as we could see :
- Goat milk cheese, ice cream, and yogurt are could be made at the homestead
- Goat milk soap is rich in minerals and proteins and is gentler on the skin
Choosing a Dairy Goat Breed
There are various breeds of dairy goats but only a few are suitable for milk production. Some of them including Toggenburgs, Alpines, Oberhalsis, and Saanens do well in cooler climates. These breeds originated in the Swiss mountains. Other breeds such as Nubian and LaMancha goats originated from the tropics and they thrive in hot climates.
Housing and Fencing
Dairy goats need to be housed in a dry, cool place that is free of drafts. If your goats are kidding during winter, you will need a warm, enclosed barn. Good, sturdy fencing is necessary for your goats, it may be worth considering an electric reinforced one.
Feeding Dairy Goats
For dairy goats to do well, they need to have a foundation of good forage including shrubs, woods, and grasses. This is a very suitable environment for them because they can roam around and eat to their fill. Another common practice is to free-feed them using high quality hay. It is essential to learn some good tips for feeding your dairy goats in order to keep them well-fed. Additionally, ensure that the forage area is free from any poisonous plants. You can consult your county extension agent to help you with this exercise.
How to keep a healthy herd of Dairy Goats
Healthy goats are easy to keep but sick ones need a lot of attention and time in order to restore them back to health. The best option when it comes to the health of your goats is to do your best in order to prevent diseases. Here below are some tips on how to achieve this goal :
- Establish Vet CareYou will need to look for a farm veterinarian to help take care or treat the animals when need arises. You should actually establish a relationship with a vet before you bring the herd of dairy goats home. The ideal vet should have the necessary expertise in handling diseases related to dairy goats. Better to have a vet in mind before you need him, than ring around in a panic trying to find one when time may be of the essence.
Ensure that the kids in your goat farm drink the colostrum so that they can get an initial dose of immunity. Colostrum is the thick and rich substance that is produced by the doe for several days after it gives birth. Your vet will give you advice on the specific vaccinations that the kids will require.
- Common Causes of Illnesses and InjuryThese include:
- Poisonous plants,
- Foot Care – Goats need to have their feet trimmed from time to time. The exact schedule depends on various factors.
- Goat Diseases – Goats suffer from disease just like other livestock. Some of the more common diseases include:Enterotoxemia,
Caprice Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE),
Caseous Lymphadenitis (CL).You need to consult your vet if you suspect any of these diseases in your herd. Additionally, before you buy goats from a breeder, ensure their herds are free from any of these diseases.
How to Manage Milk
Dairy goats should ideally be bred once every year in order to continue producing milk. You should stop milking them while they are pregnant. Milking can be resumed one week after the kids are born. Once the kids have weaned, most dairy goats will continue producing milk for quite some time. You should ideally milk once every day until the kids wean and twice every day thereafter. Keep the kids and the separated overnight in order to increase milk output each morning. The kids usually get plenty of milk during the day.
Goats are easy to milk by hand. However, you will need a raised platform for your goat to stand on while milking her. You can seek for advice from a local farmer, or watch an instructional video in order to learn how to milk your goats properly.