GETTING STARTED RAISING

DAIRY GOATS

PREPARATION BEFORE PURCHASING YOUR DAIRY GOATS
  • EDUCATE YOURSELF - Research, ask questions, and learn everything you can about dairy goats.  If you visit our goat farm we suggest you take pictures, bring a pad of paper to write things down and ask any goat related question you want.

  • HOUSING - You will need housing that is free of drafts.  An enclosed barn would be great and is best for kidding, especially over winter.  In your barn, you will need to be able to separate your space into at least 3 areas.  One for the does in milk (3 and older), one for kids (under 1 year) and one for yearlings (1-2 year old does).  Bucks should be housed in a separate building, away from the does in milk, otherwise the milk will taste tainted.  

  • FEEDING - GRAIN - Grain adds protein, vitamins and minerals to a goat's diet. Grain can come in different forms: pelleted or texturized.  For first timers, we suggest using Purina's Noble Goat which is a pelleted grain for your goats that under 2 years of age. For goats over 2 years of age, we suggest using Purina's Goat Chow which is a texturized grain.   

  • HAY/ROUGHAGE -  The key to quality milk production and good health is providing quality hay/roughage. Goats are ruminants, so the majority of their feed consumed should be roughage. "Good quality" roughage could include, fine stemmed quality hay, such as 2nd or 3rd cutting of alfalfa, timothy or orchard grass.  

  • WATER - Providing fresh water to your dairy goats daily will help them produce more milk.   A water source such as a frost hydrant, will be needed near your housing.

  • FENCING & GATES - Goats are curious.  Their curiosity can be curbed with proper fencing.  We use 48" mesh fencing and wooden fence posts.  Tube gates work okay, but mesh goat gates work best.  

  • PASTURE -  Goats are foragers, they like woods, shrubs and grasses to graze on.  Feeding high-quality hay and alfalfa is also a common practice, especially when pasture is not available.  If you plan on letting your goats graze be sure your pasture is free of any plants that may be toxic.  You can check with your county extension agent to help you figure out if you any of these on your land. We are fortunate to have pastures so we can rotate the animals.

PURCHASING DAIRY GOATS

 Now that you have your preparations done, you are ready to buy your first goats!

 

The first thing you should do is decide on what breed of dairy goat you want. The following website,  http://www.ansc.purdue.edu/goat/factsheet/breeds.htm is one place you can get information on different breeds of goats.  Pictures will not show you the personalities each breed has, so we suggest visiting farms or fairs before making your final decision.

Once you have decided on your goat breed, we suggest purchasing from a reputable breeder.  If you are going to spend money feeding a goat you might as well feed a quality goat.  Why spend money and time breeding poor quality goats.  

Goats are very social, so we suggest housing more than one goat together.  If this is your first purchase, we suggest starting off with 2 yearling goats, not in milk. Even though this may not seem like a big start, it will give you an opportunity to learn about goats, prior to getting into a milking routine.  If you plan on breeding your does, you may want to purchase a buckling too.  Bucks will also need a companion, of either another buck or a wether.  

Below are some items you can discuss with the seller.

  • Health Record - Diarrhea, coughs etc.

  • Last Shots (what and when they were given)

  • Worming (what and when it was given)

  • Tattooed? 

  • Feed (what type of feed they give, so you can transition it to your feed)

  • Registered with ADGA or not

  • Disease Free - For Nubians we ask about, CAE Free and G6S Normal

  • Bill of Sale - Ask for a bill of sale from the seller.  

When picking up your animal from the seller be prepared to take your goat/goats home with the following things.  Collars to walk them, a ziplock bag to put some of the seller's feed in and an enclosed trailer or truck bed with straw on the floor to transport them. 

"FIRST TIMES"

You are home with your goats!   There will be many "First Times" and you might feel scared and doubt your abilities, but remember every goat farmer has been in your shoes at some point in their life.  Below is a list of "First Times" with links that you can click on, to get more information.  

  • First Day on the Farm with Goats - Remember your goats are in an unfamiliar surrounding and will bleat a lot for the first few days.  Spend as much time as you can with them until they know who you are and your routine.

  • First Birthing - 

  • First Sickness -  

  • First Goat Escape - Proper fencing will keep goats from escaping, however, if they do get out, a can of feed will usually bring them back into the barn.  Remember that if you keep your goats tame, they will not go far from home.  You can usually bring them back into the pen by putting feed in the feed trough.  

  • First Hoof Trimming -  

  • First Hair Trimming - 

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  • First Goat Show -