Advice from goat owners wanted

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by jettgirl24, Nov 29, 2010.

  1. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    Hello Everyone! My boyfriend and I are going to be purchasing my parents’ home this summer when they retire and move to Eastern Washington. It’s a great place with WAY more space for us than our current place in the city. It sits on 5 acres (2.5 of it is cleared) and has a 6-stall barn for the horses. I’ve got my retired horse and a mini-horse there now and I'm already making big plans for the rest of the property [​IMG]

    I plan to board a two or three other horses to help pay for a some of the mortgage so the horse barn will be full. I’m also planning on converting the large shed into a chicken house with two separated areas, one for my current laying flock and another pen for a breeding flock (not sure what breed yet!). My other plan is to get a few goats, something I know absolutely nothing about! We would like the goats for pets as well as for milking. As I said before, only about 2. 5 acres is cleared so the bulk of the pasture will need to go to the horses until we can start clearing more of the land. Since we want to conserve space I was thinking about getting either dwarf or pygmy goats. I’m hoping those of you with goat experience can help me out with answers to some of my questions.

    - I’ve heard pygmies and dwarfs can be good little milkers… Is this true? Is one breed better than the other production wise? How much milk can we expect to get from a goat this size?

    - I’m early into thinking about this, but I am looking at getting two does and a buck so that we can breed them and keep ourselves in milk. Is this an acceptable ratio of boys to girls? Will they need to be separated?

    - Should I have concerns about a buck around two small children (ages 4 and 8)?

    - What sort of pasture would three pygmys or dwarfs require? How big would a goat shelter/barn need to be?

    - What other feed do they need to supplement pasture grass and about how much do they generally need?

    - How often do the does need to be milked when they are producing?

    - Are there any other important things I should know or plan for before diving into goat ownership?
  2. misschickenlittle

    misschickenlittle REALLY wants a new title

    Oct 30, 2010
    I've been doing a lot of reading today about goats because I want a couple too. I think I'm going to try to get the Kinder goats. They are good milkers and a little bigger than the dwarfs / pygmies. Check those out too. I'm not an owner either but I am researching them all to find what's best for me. I hear they are very friendly too. Which is necessary at our house to with the small children.
  3. Crazyland

    Crazyland Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 14, 2009
    Sandhills NC
    aren't pygmies meat goats? So you are wanting to get Nigerian since they are milk goats?

    Knowing Washington, you should be able to get a little larger goats to help with the brush in the 2.5 acres that is not cleared yet. You have a lot of tasty weeds for them. [​IMG] At least my parents do and they are just across the water from Seattle.

    I am working on getting some kids myself next spring. Even had the hubby looking at the different breeds. [​IMG] Hopefully he will go with what I want when we do go pick some out. I want some Spanish cross. Good amount of milk and some meat on their bones.
    I am looking at crosses since their price seems to be cheaper than a full breed.
  4. BlacksheepCardigans

    BlacksheepCardigans Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2010
    Southeast NH
    I can answer the questions, but you really need to get yourself a good book or two, and get good information from your county extension agent as well. Goats are raised poorly by so many people, and they get a bad reputation as being difficult or worthless, when they are so incredibly rewarding if you do it right. But they are not "throw them in the yard" animals. They reward you for good husbandry.

    1) Dairy goats need a barn. It doesn't have to be fancy but you should give them at least one of the horse stalls. You also need a clean and dedicated area to milk.

    2) They need grass hay and grain. Brush goats, which will clear your trees but will not eat your grass (goats are browsers, not grazers) are not milk goats. If you want milk, they need good food.

    3) Pygmies do not produce milk well. Nigerian Dwarfs are pretty decent but if you want to keep a family in milk get a couple well-bred does from one of the swiss breeds.

    4) No, you do not want a buck. Most home producers will never want or need a buck. A top-quality stud service costs less than feeding a buck for even a month or two, and bucks smell hideous and taint the flavor of your milk. Just plan on hauling your girls to be bred once a year, usually at the same breeder you got them from.

    5) Since goats will not eat your pasture, the "how much do they need" is actually not answerable. A good heavy milker will eat maybe four flakes of hay and several pounds of grain a day; they also need free-choice minerals and your extension agent can tell you want else is needed/appropriate for your area.

    6) They are milked twice a day (usually fed their grain while they are being milked); you need to separate them from the babies and the babies are fed multiple times a day. They're not a set-it-and-forget-it species. They are bred once a year and milked for up to ten months (305 days), though many people dry them off a little earlier. Staggering your breedings - breeding one doe to freshen early and one to freshen late - will help you keep yourself in milk all year.

    If you do it right - buy good does, breed them well, feed them well, house them well - with two does you will have fantastic milk and cheese, and at times be flooded with both, for the whole year.
  5. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    Are the goats going to be separate from the horses or with them?

    If you want goats to clear brush, get a couple of wethers (castrated males). They are usually friendly and in abundance. If you decide you don't like them, then you can eat them. [​IMG] You wouldn't want to eat a buck. Very gamy and goaty. Yes, dairy goats need a good diet. While Nigerian Dwarves are very cute and produce decent milk, they can be a bit of a pain to milk in that their teats are small and don't adapt well to milking machines.

    If the dairy goats are going to be with the horses, two or three does of larger breeds like LaManchas, Alpines or Toggenburgs would be fine. You could always get bred does and if any of them have bucklings, castrate them, let them clear brush and eat or leave pets as their temperaments indicate. Your children could also do 4-H with nice wethers and they also make nice pack and driving animals. If not, eat 'em.

    Keep in mind--and part of the reason I no longer have my goats--that when you milk, you must do it twice a day, approx. the same time every day. Seven days a week, for as long as they are lactating. You literally become a slave to milking cycles. I compete too much with my horse to milk a dairy goat any more. If you plan to travel much or want a day off once in awhile, you will need to find a good goat-sitter that the goats like that can take care of milking and milk handling.

    That being said, I miss milk from my own animal. I honestly enjoyed milking and spending time with my goat, I just didn't like HAVING to milk.
  6. Jasmine1998

    Jasmine1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2010
    Montgomery County
    We have about 1/2 acre for our 3 goats. They really don't eat the grass, but they do love to eat the brush. We also have horses too, but the goats are only allowed out with the mares. The gelding is too fiesty & they faint when he comes near them. You may want to also really think about getting boarders as you only have 2.5 acres of pasture. With the 2 of your own + 2 or 3 more boarders you will not have any grass left due to overgrazing & if it rains, with that many horses you will have a mud pitt very quickly.
  7. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    Thanks for the advice! As far as the horses, we have a great set up and kept our five horses there for many years, but we're down to two at home now. My dressage horse is boarded. Having run a medium sized boarding business here in the area prior to moving to this house my family became well accustomed to what it takes to keep pastures grassy and dry (mud free paddocks for winter and in summer rotate, rotate, rotate [​IMG])

    Since we are set up well for the horses and I really need the space in the barn for them we plan on building a smaller barn on the other side of the property near the chicken house that will be dedicated to the goats. I'm glad to know that we won't need (or want) a buck and that it's fairly inexpensive to breed the does, that will be one less thing to worry about! One thing I will have to do some thinking about is the amount of milking requirements. Twice a day could become quite a chore, especially with my competition schedule in the summers. I am gone quite a bit during that time.

    Can anyone suggest some good books to pick up to learn more about this so I can see if it's something I want to delve into?
  8. michickenwrangler

    michickenwrangler To Finish Is To Win

    Jun 8, 2008
    NE Michigan
    "How to Raise Goats"

    I think it's put out by the FFA, it's big and colorful w/ lots of pictures

    If you do dressage, I think it'll be a little harder for you than me. I do endurance so I camp and actually thought of taking my goat with me. However, I have only 1 horse and I was afraid goat would bleat and pace and get into trouble while I was competing. As much as I miss the goats and milk, there was no way I could have gone to competitions and milk.
  9. dutchhollow

    dutchhollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2008
    SW IA
    I also vote for two does of a larger breed, no buck. If you leave the kids with the doe, you can (after they are a couple week old) separate them at nite, milk for you in the am, then leave the kids with the doe all day, so you only have to milk once a day, and if you are going to be gone, leave them with them at nite.
    As everyone else said, they are brush eaters and won't really effect the pasture.
  10. jettgirl24

    jettgirl24 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Duvall, WA
    I hadn't thought about it before but I actually might be able to take one or two little nigerians to shows with me... We always camp out at shows and a lot of people bring big barking dogs with them... I would think a goat would be less of a distraction than a dog and what a cute show companion [​IMG] LOL

    I'll definitely pick up the FFA book and check it out. Milking once a day would definitely be manageable for me... How long do the kids usually stay with their mothers before being weaned if you're allowing them to nurse?

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