Sunday, March 11, 2012

Raising Goats


Raising Goats on your small farm can be a lot of fun. Goats have a lot to offer that can benefit the small scale farm. If you are just getting started with your small farm or simply looking for something new, maybe this will hep you decide if goats are right for you.

Goats are used for many purposes on the small farm; they are used for dairy, meat and as an organic alternative to clearing fields of weeds and plants that other animals won’t eat – which makes them an awesome organic weed control system.

Raising Dairy Goats

Did you know that more people around the world drink goats milk than cows milk? Of course, if you live in the United States you might be saying something like, “um, that’s super and all but…eeewww!” I understand, in the U.S. cow milk heavily outweighs goat milk for human consumption BUT…that doesn’t mean that goat milk isn’t good and good for you. Goat milk is really not that different cow milk from a nutritional perspective and because the fat globules (oddly enough I do think globule is the technical term) in goat milk are smaller, it is generally easier for people to digest.

The American Dairy Goat Association currently has books for 8 breeds of dairy goat: Alpine, LaMancha, Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, Oberhasli, Saanen, Sable and Toggenburg. What this means is that these breeds can be registered and that the ADGA has recorded standards for how these breeds should look and to some degree act. However, that does not mean that they are the only goats that can be used for milk. If you have a pygmy goat that has recently delivered, milk away (ensuring the kid/s are taken care of also). In fact, you may not need as much milk as the “dairy breeds” produce.
Aside from just drinking the milk you can make cheese and butter as well. Ahhh, just think of the good times you will have sitting around churning the goat milk for butter. No, really, wouldn’t it be fun? I think so too.

Raising Meat Goats

Again, if you are in the U.S. you probably think of goat meat and go something like, “ain’t no way I’m eatin’ that. If God wanted us to eat goats He wouldn’t have made cows”. Well I don’t know about that because about 80% of the worlds population does eat goat meat. Goat meat, also known as ‘chevon’ and ‘cabrito’ and generally has a lower fat content that lamb or beef.

Boer goats are the head of the class when it comes to meat goats although Kiko and Fainting goats are also primarily used for meat. (although I think people use Fainting goats to try and win money on Americas Funniest Home Videos as well) Boer goats will grow larger than either of the other breeds and will usually top out around 200 – 300 lbs.
Some people say goat meat is a required taste, others just say it tastes different but is good and still others well tell you that a well raised and processed Boer goat doesn’t taste all that different that a home grown beef cow. In the end, you will have to decide. I know people that have no interest in even trying goat meat but as we look at raising our own food, I see goat meat being a staple in our freezer.

 Goats in general
 You can raise more goats than cows in the same amount of space allowing you to breed more often which in turn allows you to sell more often. You will also have goats maturing at regular intervals so there will always be fresh meat and milk if you want it. Goats are smaller than cattle so handling them can be easier as well. Raising goats can be very productive and rewarding, why not give it a try.

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