Everything You Should Know About Raising Goats
Thinking about raising goats? You’re not alone. After chickens, goats are the fastest growing livestock animal in the United States today. They’ve become increasingly popular on small farms and homesteads because they’re easy to care for and also very useful. In fact, a goat that’s raised right can be as loyal, companionable, and charming as a family dog, and in some cases, a lot more useful too.
If you’re intrigued by goats and are looking to care for some yourself, you’re in the right place. Here, we’re sharing everything you need to know about raising goats. From food to shelter, wellbeing, and everything in between, this article covers it all.
Before bringing goats home
Deciding to raise goats is a huge decision. To name just a few necessities, goats take a lot of time, care, equipment, finances, and resources. So, before purchasing any goats, it’s a good idea to think long and hard about why you want them. Additionally, it’s also important to do your research. Researching things such as breed and quantity gives you a glimpse into what it’s like to raise goats. This can ultimately help determine whether or not caring for goats is the right path for you.
Before bringing any goats home, make sure you select the right breed for you and your needs. Are you raising goats for milk? Meat? Fiber? As a pet? Depending on why you’d like a goat, you’ll want to raise different breeds at different ages.
To give you an idea, here’s a list of the most common breeds of goats for:
- Dairy: Alpine, La Mancha, Anglo-Nubian, Oberhasli, Sable Saanen, and Toggenburg
- Meat: Boer, Kiko, Spanish, Savanna, and Genemaster
- Fiber: Angora, Cashmere, Pygora, and Nigora
- Pets: Nigerian Dwarf, Pygmy, and Kinder
Another important element to know about goats is the quantity of a healthy herd. Some people make the mistake of only raising one goat. However, goats are very social animals. If you only purchase one goat, they may get lonely and loud, as they often call for company.
It’s best to raise at least two goats at a time. Preferably, we recommend purchasing both goats from the same herd so they’re comfortable with one another. This will keep your goats healthy, happy, and in good company.
However, while your goats may be happy together, you may not. Caring and raising for one goat alone is a lot of work. Adding two, three, or more goats can double or triple expenses and time for food, space, resources, etc. It’s important to keep this in mind when deciding whether or not caring for goats is right for you.
Feeding your goats
If you decide raising goats is right for you, it’s important to be prepared for feeding time once you bring them home. Contrary to popular belief, goats don’t eat everything in sight. In some cases, they can be picky eaters. This is why it’s important to get the right type of food, amount of food, and feeding equipment for your goats, so they can stay well fed and in good health.
Type of food
The type of food you choose to give your goats can play an integral role in their wellbeing. Generally, goats tend to eat plant-based materials such as shrubs, trees, hay, and grains. These items provide goats with an appropriate amount of energy and nutrients. However, there are many different ways to go about feeding your goats these well-balanced items.
Not sure what meal plan is best for your particular breed of goats? That’s where we step in. At Shoppers Supply, we offer a wide variety of goat food, catering to every breed, age, and gender of goat. From grower, dairy, show feed, and everything in between, we have what you’ll need. Stop by your nearest location to find the right type of food for your goats.
Amount of food
The amount of food you give your goat is also essential to their health. Too much food can make them feel lethargic, and not enough food can make goats irritable, which is why it’s important to find the perfect balance.
The right amount of food for your goats will depend on the size of each individual goat. Ideally, you should feed goats around 10-12 percent of their body weight per day. For example, if you have a goat that weighs 20 pounds, you should aim to feed them 32 ounces each day. This amount of food should be spread evenly throughout the day, not all at once. Most owners tend to feed their goats three times a day on average.
When raising goats, it’s important to know what supplies you need. Specifically, when feeding your goats, you may need the following equipment.
- Feed storage containers
- Feed buckets
- Hay manger
- Mineral block
- Water trough
When raising goats, there are many different components that go into their health and wellbeing. For example, it’s important to groom, brush, clip, and clean them on a monthly basis, at minimum. In addition, you should also keep up on their vaccinations and reward them with treats every now and then to keep them happy.
Grooming and caring for your goats helps form a bond between you two, which is essential for building trust and reliance. Grooming your goats on a consistent basis also allows you to become familiar with their bodies. Meaning, you’ll be able to better tell when something is wrong or when they’re impacted by a parasite before it affects the rest of your herd.
Signs your goat may have an illness
Unfortunately, even when you provide a healthy and happy lifestyle for your goats, there’s still a possibility they will become sick or ill. If so, it’s best to treat these situations immediately so the sickness doesn’t spread to the rest of your still-healthy livestock.
How can you tell when your goat is sick? It’s likely your goat is ill or unhappy when they show any of the following signs.
- Not eating or drinking
- Not getting up
- Pressing their head against a wall or fence
- Not urinating
- Pale or grey eyelids or gums
- Hot udders
- Runny nose or eyes
- Isolating themselves from the herd
If any of your goats show these general indicators, we recommend consulting with a professional for your next steps.
Goat space and shelter
Finally, the last important thing to keep in mind when raising goats is their space and shelter. These two elements help to keep your goats healthy and well protected.
When raising your goats, it’s best to have access to a large amount of space. Ideally, you’ll need a big outdoor area for your goats to range, exercise, and stay healthy. Keeping your goats in a confined area can cause them to become stressed, unhappy, and sick, as small spaces tend to lead to easily spread diseases.
To avoid these complications, give your goats enough space to roam. As a rule of thumb, we recommend having at least 10-15 feet of space for every goat. However, this may vary depending on the size and activity level of your breed of goats.
Shelter for your goats may vary depending on your budget and size of your outdoor area. However, in an ideal situation, your shelter would include a barn with plenty of space and fencing with strong, tall borders.
A barn is perfect for housing and protecting your goats and their kids. This shelter helps protects them from harsh climates, such as the extreme heat in Arizona, and from predators including mountains lions, wolves, and stray packs of dogs. When establishing your barn space, make sure you include enough room for water, feed, storage, lights, and a milking area if you’re going to be milking.
Additionally, fencing is also imperative for raising goats. Goats tend to be escape experts—they can sneak in and out of almost anywhere. To combat this issue, implement a designated area for your goats by installing a fence. We recommend creating a fence that is at least four to five feet tall and supported by sturdy wooden posts so your goats are protected and confined to their designated area.
Phew! That was a lot of information, but that’s because raising goats is no joke. It takes a lot of resources, time, and dedication to care for these furry little creatures. However, in the end it’s completely worth it.
Now that you know everything it takes to raise goats, it’s time to get to work before bringing your animals home. To get started, visit Shoppers Supply in Apache Junction or Chandler. There, we’ll have everything you need to create a healthy and happy life for your goats, for many years to come.