Goat Farming: Raising goats can be a lucrative and enjoyable farming experience, as long as you are well prepared.
Discover reasons to farm goats and what you need to consider to start a goat farm.
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What kind of investment do I need to make in order to start?
Starting a goat farm is easy, just buy some goats.
However, if you want to sell dairy products or meat from the goats.
Then you have to get your goats vaccinated.
Which will likely be one of your biggest expenditures.
You will also need land to graze your goats (not a lot, but some).
Watering troughs (which can be made out of improvised materials).
Harnesses and milk stand (if using goats for dairy).
And butchery equipment (if using goats for meat).
You will also need some manner of the enclosure to house the goats at night and during cold weather.
Check local zoning regulations.
Your local government may not allow goats, especially if you live in an urban area.
Contact the nearest zoning board, building inspector.
Or another regional government office to see whether it limits farmers to certain breeds.
Ban only uncastrated male goats (bucks), or impose some other limitation.
Check with your landlord or homeowner association as well.
- Make it clear whether you are raising goats for commercial or personal use, as different regulations may apply.
Plan on getting at least two goats.
Goats are social animals and are more likely to be uncooperative.
Or try to escape if kept alone. Always keep at least two goats in each enclosure.
Because uncastrated males (bucks) cannot be kept with females (does).
This may require purchasing more than two goats.
Keep reading for tips on deciding which sex of goats to purchase.
Decide how many male and female goats to purchase.
There are three main types of goats divided by sex: females, called does; uncastrated males, called bucks; and castrated males, called wethers.
Does need to be impregnated by a buck before they produce milk.
But raising a buck can require a lot of extra work.
Bucks require a separate enclosure, may develop a strong odor, and are often aggressive.
For the easiest start to your goat farm, buy two does.
And pay another goat farm for the opportunity to breed your does with its buck.
- Neutered males, or wethers, are not able to breed or produce milk.
- They are usually purchased as barnyard pets.
- Many goat farms end up with wethers when their goats give birth to extra males.
- If you do purchase a buck, consider spending extra for one with breeding papers.
- You’ll have a better idea of its traits and are less likely to breed defects in your herd.
Select the age of the goats.
Young goats are called kids, or bucklings, or doelings depending on sex.
When around 8 weeks old, they are typically cheaper than older goats.
And maybe friendlier if raised around humans.
But they require one to two years of care before they can be bred.
Produce milk, or be sold as meat.
A junior kid between 6 months and 1 year old will take less time to mature.
And may even come with the option to have it bred before purchase (so it produces milk sooner).
Finally, an adult or senior goat may be the cheapest option of all, but be wary of goat farmers selling useful milk producers.
They may be trying to sell the lowest-quality goats in their herd.
Choose a goat breed.
Some breeds are suited for milk production.
Such as Nigerian Dwarf, La Mancha, and Alpine goats.
Others are usually raised for meat, such as the Spanish or Tennessee breeds.
Finally, some farms raise Angora or Cashmere goats to sell their hair for fabric.
Find out which breeds are raised in your area, how large each breed grows.
And the physical and personality traits of each breed.
Some breeds tend to be more docile, produce bucks with a stronger smell.
Or be prone to certain health problems.
- Before deciding, you may want to read up on how to milk goats, slaughter goats, or shear goats. If you are not up to slaughtering a goat yourself, find commercial slaughtering operations nearby that will purchase your goats before raising goats for meat.
Plan out costs.
The costs of raising a goat vary over time and from region to region, as does the profit you can earn from selling goat products.
If you are planning to raise goats for commercial purposes, it pays to get a good idea of costs and expected profit.
Try to talk to several goat farmers or read recently published goat farming guides in your area to get a good estimate of the following costs.
If the resulting estimate is above your budget, you might decide to purchase fewer goats or a different breed.
Keep in mind that a goat farm may not be profitable for two years or more.
Especially if you are raising young goats or need to pay for initial setup such as fencing.
- How much does it cost to raise a doe, a buck, or a kid for one year?
- Try to find numbers for your specific goat breed if possible.
- If you are raising goats for milk, how much milk does one doe produce? How much can you sell this milk for?
- If you are raising goats for meat, how much does a slaughtered goat sell for? Do they sell for more during a specific time of year, such as Muslim holidays, Christmas, or Easter?
- How much on-hand money do you have available for unexpected costs, such as fencing repair or veterinary procedures? If one of your goats dies, will that cause you financial hardship?
Preparing an Enclosure
Build excellent fencing.
Goats are excellent at crawling through small gaps or climbing over fencing.
Five feet fences or higher of sturdy, “no-climb” wire fencing strung between posts is harder to climb or slip through than fences constructed with horizontal beams.
If you have both bucks and does, make sure to build a separate.
Strong buck pen with especially sturdy and tall fencing.
This fence will keep your bucks in a rut from accessing your does in estrus (heat); in other words, this will prevent your goats from unplanned breeding.
- Goats of significantly different sizes should not be kept with each other unless they are kids kept with their mother.
- Bucks can become aggressive when in a rut and near females, so a separate enclosure is highly recommended even if you don’t care about unplanned breeding.
Build a goat shelter.
But let the goats out during the day.
- Goats hate puddles and wet weather.
- If you live in a rainy area, you may wish to provide a larger indoor enclosure.
Remove poisonous or strong-smelling plants.
Getting Started with Goat Care
Remove the horn stubs of young goats. Most goat species grow horns, and if allowed to grow.
These horns have the potential to seriously injure other animals or humans.
This can be painful for the goat, and difficult without proper assistance.
The assistance of an experienced goat farmer or veterinarian is recommended.
Especially one who knows how to administer anesthetization before starting the procedure.
- If the skin on their forehead is easily moved around by rubbing, the goats are probably naturally hornless and do not require disbudding.
Castrate most young males.
Even if you are breeding goats, you typically only need one buck per 25–50 does.
Young, male goats that you do not intend to breed should be castrated at two weeks old or later.
But only if they are healthy.
Have a veterinarian administer a preventative tetanus shot before you perform the castration.
- Male goats grow large testicles, so even a castrated goat (wether) may not look as though it has been castrated.
Breed your does.
If you wish yours does to produce milk or kids.
You will need to breed them with a buck once the doe has reached breeding age.
Two to four breedings are usually enough to ensure pregnancy.
A normal gestation period is around 150 days, but this can vary by species.
Milk goats daily.
Find experts to consult in case of serious problems.
Find out where to sell your product.
You can ship products through online orders or sell them to a commercial vendor who takes care of delivery for you.
- Consider opening up your farm to visitors and charging people to visit. For this, you may have to train your goats to be pet-friendly.
How and where I can be trained in raising goats?
Attend agricultural exhibitions organized by your state.
There are always successful farmers with experience who can offer free training with vivid examples.
You can also consult your regional veterinarian for specific questions.
Or just do some general research online or at your local library.
If you have the means, you could even attend a school for an agricultural program.
How much money is needed to open a goat farm?
That depends on how many goats you plan on starting with.
A well-bred goat will go anywhere from $75 to $200, depending on its age and if it’s meat, dairy, or show goat.
There’s also the food and the housing, as well as medicine, cleaning tools, wages for farmhands (if you want them), vet bills, vaccinations, etc…
If you want to sell milk and meat, you will also need to pay legal fees.
Is there a more humane and safe method for castrating goats?
Yes, if you really want a safe castration.
A veterinarian that cares for livestock will be happy to do so for you.
But keep in mind going to the vet costs a lot.
A way that gets the job done as well would be to use rubber bands, which is a cheaper process.
Sanitize all of your milking equipment and keep your milking area very clean. This is important for the taste of your milk.
Frequently check your fences for holes. Goats can get out of very small holes – especially kids.
Feel free to get attached to your breeding does and keepers, but avoiding becoming friendly with your meat goats, or butchering may prove difficult.
Bucks often urinate on their legs or faces during the breeding season.
If you notice strong smelling or sticky material on their hair, this is likely the cause.
This behavior should not cause concern, although many farmers find it unpleasant.
Dairy does (females in milk) have to be milked at least daily, every 12 hours as usual.
Consider carefully before buying a milker.
They must be milked on their usual schedule, whether you are sick, on vacation, feel like it or not. It’s a huge commitment.
Things You’ll Need
- Separate barns for does and bucks
Goat farming typically requires daily care.
If you plan on going on vacation, you’ll need to hire an experienced farmer to cover for you.
When building fences, stay away from flimsy wire mesh and barbed wire.
Chain link or stock panels are much sturdier.
As long as the goat does not have easy hoof-holds for climbing.