Beginning a goat rearing operation on your small holding may seem like a daunting endeavour, one that can be compounded if you have little or no experience in keeping goats. However, you need not fear!
This post is jam-packed full of helpful tips that will help you on your goat-rearing journey. Let’s get into it!
This tip is specifically tailored for those of you who are just getting started in their goat keeping journey. Goats are wonderful animals to rear on a small holding because they have so many uses: dairy goats produce ample amounts of lactose-free milk, which can be consumed by people and infants with lactose allergies. The relatively high fat content of the milk makes it perfect for soap, yoghurt and cheese crafting. Goats meat is a lean, tasty source of protein and you can also loan out your flock to clear bushy areas.
While their uses are numerous, a beginner keeper should focus on a single avenue. Rather invest all your attention and inputs into mastering one speciality before you consider another.
Just like dogs, there are so many breeds of goat, each of which with their own characteristics, strengths and drawbacks. A ‘one size fits all’ mentality does not apply to goat keeping. Some breeds might be more domesticated than others and some may be able to produce more milk and meat. Other characteristics like size, weight and reproductive potential will also need to be taken into account.
After you have decided on what speciality you are going to focus on, you can start picking the breeds best suited for your needs. Luckily, we have 2 videos to help you in your decision making. Check them out for 5 of the best meat and milk breeds you can consider for your homestead!
Because they are social animals, you should never keep a solitary goat. Instead, always make sure you have at least 2 in your herd at a time. Does can be kept in the same enclosure without any problems. Billy goats can be extremely difficult, but castrated goats – which are known as ‘wethers’- are much easier to manage. As long as you have multiple goats in your herd, your animals will feel a lot safer and as a result your job will be far easier.
Even if you are focusing on one speciality, there are many things that you need to learn before you can consider yourself an expert goat keeper. If you are rearing your goats for meat, then this tip is something you definitely need to take seriously. Billy goats are notorious for their rowdy, stubborn nature. They buck and challenge each other frequently and exude a less than pleasant odour.
Even though does are easier to manage, they can produce copious amounts of milk and will birth at least one kid a year if covered by a male. This means that flock numbers can increase quite rapidly. This will result in an ever-increasing demand for shelter, food and other inputs. Therefore, its best to start off with a couple of goats and add to your herd as your experience develops.
Never underestimate the escaping ability of your goats! Use a strong material to erect the pens and make sure your fence is at least 1.5 metres tall. Keep the mesh as fine as possible and you can reinforce it with wood and chain. You can also satisfy your goats adventurous spirit by constructing a multilevel shed for them to climb on. For your shed to be an adequate shelter for your herd, make sure at least 3 sides are enclosed and a roof must be provided to protect the flock from extreme weather. Be sure to construct your enclosure in a well-drained area to keep water from pooling.