Monday, January 17, 2011

So Are You Considering Buying A Goat???

Some people would never want a goat in a million years! The only cow I like is the kind  that comes Med-Rare on my plate.. They are good for someone else to raise but not me..

 Some things to think about when looking into buying a goat..
First Where are you going to keep them.. Most areas they can have a 3 sided shelter facing away from where most storms come into your area. Here all my barns and shelters face South or East. Most of our storms come from the North and West. Goats are herd animals so don't buy just one. You may just need enough milk for a few people but goats need companionship. So if you think you just need one Milking doe look at buying a wether(castrated buck) to go with her.
 Now you need to do your research Online, Goat books and Goat farmers in your area! The last one is the best source for info alot of times. The best book I have found for Dairy Goats Especially was Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats.
 Look through information on the different breeds and what is most available in your area. Just because they are a cross doesn't mean its not going to be worth less or not milk well. My Boer/Nubian Cross doe milked as well as some of my Reg. Nubians. She usually didn't milk as long. 
 When You settle on a breed or a couple of choices. Then start looking at local area ads like Craigslist to see the going price for what you want. 
 When you look at breeds you need to decide things like Horns or NO Horns. I disbud here and most dairy goats are disbudded.. Here is a blog post I did on that. Reasons I Don't Like Goats With Horns 
 Look at the pictures of the breed standards... You can find them in places like the American Dairy Goat Association/Breed Standards I take these as suggestions on what they look for..
 Now for the Nitty Gritty stuff...
 Health and Personality- You want sleek & shiny hair, Bright alert eyes, and Friendly goats. You can tell a lot by how they react to you. If they all scatter like they are scared to death. They will probably not be easy to handle. You can usually tell some one that works with their goats on a regular basis.. They will be over run with attention from their animals. They may be a little standoffish with a you as a stranger but not scared. Goats are really curious and if you enter the pen quietly they will usually approach you a bit cautiously at first then if they are really friendly usually one or two will give you a nibble here and there.. My goat pen you get head rubs.. They will take their heads and rub up and down the side of your leg. If they don't like you they will just stand behind me and glare out at the visitor.
Records- ask to see what deworming meds, vaccines and other things they may have been given. If you buy the goat then ask if they could please give you dates to know what was given.
 Rumens- Goats have to have well developed rumens to be healthy  make a lot of milk and stay in good condition. So a nice big rumen is a good thing. The rumen is on the left side of of the goat. It shows up in the Barrel of the goat about half way down the ribs to the hips it needs to flare out into a triangle shape.
 Pay attention to hooves they need to look nice and level. To show that they have been well cared for. Now if most of the herd looks good on their hooves but you have a few that don't.. Don't be quick to judge as some of them may have trouble and need correcting and you cant correct a hoof over night most of the time.  I have one that she has a hoof that grows under and is constantly needing trimmed and can get away from me.
 If Buying Does in Milk- Ask to milk her if possible. Is it easy? Does she Ever kick? Does she only like one person to milk? and of Course How much does she milk at peak? Peak is about 6 weeks after birth. She will be producing the max amount then. Most People will know their peak milking IF they have less than 10 does. 
  Ask how long does she usually milk? Does she milk the 10 months? Have they ever tried milking her through? Milking through is not breeding her every year and milking as long as she will keep giving milk. Popular practice in Australia and Great Britain. I have one that at peak milks a gallon and a half but her average is about a gallon. You may also want to taste the milk if possible. Some goats will have goaty flavored milk. It could be what they are fed, Mineral/Vitamin deficiency or just that goat's milk.
 Make friends with a good goat farmer. You can learn a lot from them. If you haven't milked before you want someone experienced to teach you how. Its NOT the same as milking a cow.
 You will also see more hip bones and the last rib on the Dairy breeds. Think of a Holstein and Jersey cows and how their bones show. Dairy Goats can be the same way. But overly thin is not wanted. Nubians are considered dual breeds and are for both meat and milk. I raise the boys for meat and the girls for milk..
 Looking At Udders-This is Hope from last year as a second year Freshener. She did Awesome. She is a dream to milk too. At peak she was giving me 3/4 of a gallon plus feeding twins. She has a nice round udder and the milk comes out easily. She also has nice attachments. The attachments mean at the top of the udder were it attaches to the body. You want it to be wide and well attached. You will see very narrow ones and it looks like a piece of skin about 2-3 inches wide then swells out to make up an udder. Most does will have swirls of hair right above the udder at about the placements of the attachment and this usually shows how well attached they are wide spaced swirls usually mean well attached udder. The sire's Testicles play into the formation of udders to so when looking for bucks look for well rounded and no split between the testicles.
Edited to say this about udders!!
 That you need to make sure they have just 2 teats! Even the boys. Its harder to see theirs but they are up on either side of the testicles.  It is hereditary I have seen it pass from Father to Daughter more than Mother to Daughter as Ihave one that has extra little nubs and none of her girls have ever had extra teats. I have always bred to bucks that didnt have extra teats.
  Thank You Tree for the reminder!!
  Age- If you are looking for babies then You will need to know if they are dam raised or bottle raised. How long were they on mom or the bottle? Ask how momma milks? Alot of people wean at 8-10 weeks but they do so much better if allowed to nurse to at least 12-16 weeks. They grow so well if allowed to nurse that long. Mine usually start weaning themselves between the 12-16 week mark and are usually to 1 bottle a day anyway.
 If you are looking at one already milking up to 3-4 years old is prime age for them. After about 6 yrs old they may start going down in milk production. That just depends on the goat really.  
 Okay so I know there is more to consider but I cant think of anymore.. I hope this helps some one who is looking into buying a goat or 2 for their home dairy.....


Anonymous said...

Yes, yes I am. Oh, wait. I already did, oops! Haha. I LOVE Storey's Guides for first-timer info. I go to them first when I'm considering raising something new. I even go back to them over and over to refresh my memory.
Good post.

Kelle said...

Wow, thanks Tonia for the great info! I did find some Nubians on Craigslist but called and wasn't impressed with the knowledge the lady had, actually it seemed I knew more than her and that's says a lot! I've been in contact with several other goat farmers in the are and will go see their operations. I bought the book your suggested from Storey.

Mike isn't real hip on goats yet and says he won't drnik the milk, so we'll see if he comes around otherwise I may just bag it and we'll continue to be milk free*sigh*

Brenda said...

Great info! And, good questions for the goat buyer to ask before buying.

WeldrBrat said...

That list of resources on my blog keeps growing. Here's another one! LOL Thanks for the wonderful info! You just added about 5 more chalk marks on the Goat -vs- Cow thought challenge going on at this house. Goats are way ahead!

Nancy said...

This is a very well-written post, Tonia. Seems to cover just about everything anyone would need to know before getting into the goat world.

I'm considering it -- but I fear I won't have the time with all the other critter we have.

Thanks for the information!

Feral Female said...

Good info for those who may be looking to get into goatherding!

tree ocean said...

that was an interesting post! I like how you spoke of the shyness. I occasionally have a friend help me tie to grain. Most of the goats don't want him to collar them so he gets frustrated, lol.

I sent him after my spotted dehorned one since he is friendly, and Moo walked quickly away with his ears back and then did a half jump head down thing. As soon as my friend gave up and went after another goat, Moo came running around behind me and started grabbing my shirt. It was funny.

I think the tendency for shyness or outgoing-ness is passed down either in the genes or social network according to were the Mom stands in the herd.

I have also found that a kid that seems very shy sometimes makes the best goat if you can win them over young.
(they'll still be a bit shy with everyone else, tho)

But my shyest goat was born here and the herd queen, her grandmother, adopted her. So she was the little herd queen, but we had to chase her in a big pen when she was very tiny and she never forgave us.

A small enclosure or paddock is important to have in the goat housing so you can corner them easily and not traumatize them by chasing them. lol ( pan of grain works good too! hehe)

A straight back, good teeth and two teats are important too. I'll never forget buying a buckling with one testicle!

the Goodwife said...

Great post! I'm not much of a cow person either unless it's bleedin' all over my plate. I love my goats and you gave a lot of great info!

Stone Cottage Mama said...

Thank you! Thank you! I just added this to my favorites and now the next step... convince the hubby.

I think I will also try to find a local goat person and become her new best friend. That is really good advice!

Anonymous said...

Good information but I already raise goats though!

Amy W.

tberry29 said...

Thanks Tonia for the info. I would love to have some goats one day. I have never milked anything before, Lol. And I hope to oneday have goats for that purpose. Fresh Milk! I do have one question though. Does fresh goat milk taste like cows milk?(I've never tasted FRESH cows milk either though) Is it an aquired taste? This maybe something I need to know before we get milk goats. Which isnt anytime soon, but just curious anyway.

~Tonia said...

Good goats milk usually doesnt have much flavor difference than fresh cows milk but goats milk is very white! They process Beta carotene I think it is better than cows.
Its not an aquired taste other than it is different than store bought. We refer to store bought as White water.Lol Tasteless and watery..

Elizabeth, Liz, Lizzy, MOM!! said...

I have goat envy! Love your blog, aspiring to own many goats in the future. Had 3 last year (all nubians) and need more!!! I plan to follow your blog for inspiration and would love if you stopped by to visit mine. Happy farming!


small farm girl said...

Great post! Even us that have goats like to hear about what to look for. lol. I just bought goats. Now I know what to look for.

Mrs. Joseph Wood said...

Great information! We love our goats!! We have Kinder Goats and normally have the kids reserved before they are born. We love to help families get started with goats and often they come out to the farm for months ahead of time to learn the basic care and feeding schedule.

Amy McPherson Sirk said...

Thanks so much for this post. I've been researching getting a goat for awhile now. I'm waiting for next year when I'll just be a student (instead of being a student and working full time). My main obstacle is fencing. I can't put up electric fence where I am and I'll need privacy from the nosy neighbors.

tattytiara said...

Woah that udder is huge - I had no idea! Very, very interesting blog post. I have a strong inclination to have a hobby farm someday, and goats are one of the animals I'm most interested in. Life would never be easy, but likewise it would never be boring!

Verde Farm said...

I definitely want goats. I want two and a girl and a whether is likely what I would choose. I want them to add to the life on our farm and basically for pets or potentially to make some goat milk soap if I could. I would like a friendly, small breed. Any recommendations for me?

~Tonia said...

Verde Farm- Nigerian Dwarf is the first breed that comes to mind they are good milk producers on an average the does are about 40lbs. They make great pets in come in all sorts of patterns and colors!
Having seen these little goats in person they are Adorable!! They make good pets too. If you are going to have them as pets I would suggest bottle babies. As they will always see you as Momma and be Much easier to handle On the average.. There are Always exceptions to the norm.

Anonymous said...

We've raised Nigerian Dwarf goats, that's what started our Mini-Nubian herd.

Amy W.