Considering Dairy Goats

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Broke Down Ranch, May 20, 2008.

  1. Broke Down Ranch

    Broke Down Ranch Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    OK, so we have still been thinking on some dairy goats, and not just 1-2 but mayb 10-12. I'm thinking I would like to learn how to make cheese as I think not only would my family like it but the market here would be great. See, I have been considering my own little farmers market but that's a whole 'nother story.

    Anyway, The goats would have between 3 and 4 acres to live on. I know they can not just live off foraging and still produce milk. But our pasture has really great grass so how many goats could I comfortably fit on that amount of land without having to buy hay all the time? They would get goat feed and garden scraps along with the grazing. Also, would it be beneficial to have a buck all the time or should I just borrow one now and again when I need my does bred? How often would I worm them? What is the withdrawl time when worming? I was thinking I wanted them dehorned but DH says with the horns we could tie the heads easier for milking. ANd I have been readin about chilling the milk ASAP - why? I mean, I can see needing to get it chilled so it won't sour but I have read of people chilling the milk WHILE milking.....

    OK all you goat people - help me out here. I really want to do goats but need some goos solid info before I jump in... [​IMG]
    Last edited: May 20, 2008
  2. Sparklecoon

    Sparklecoon Songster

    Apr 1, 2008
    North Carolina
    I'm getting a couple babies at the end of June that, fingers crossed, will be family milkers someday.

    From the dairy folks I've talked with you'll save yourself alot of time by getting a milk stand, it anchors the head with no need to worry about horns one way or another.

    I would also check your states regulations on selling dairy products, their are very strict guidelines that need to be followed. Mine will just be giving milk (and cheese and yougurt) for me and DH with some given to close family.

    There are plenty on this board who are loads more knowledgable than i'll ever be (Miss Prissy comes to mind).

    I'm sure they'll be along shortly to give you some more info.
  3. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    I have some knowledge with dairy goats.

    1) Many people who milk their goats do not let them out on pasture during milking season (which can mean pretty much all year) as the milk does change taste according to what the goat has eaten. Thus, they will keep them in a fenced area that has no access to weeds, foliage, etc. and feed them hay, grain, etc. That way the milk flavor never changes due to feed.

    2) Milk can quickly take on the taste of the surroundings while milking. If you milk inside a barn that smells strong of manure/animals... your milk can actually take on that taste. Thus, people often milk outside in good weather and/or have a special area in the barn or shed away from the stalls to milk.

    3) I would suggest not having goats with horns just because of the potential for injury to other goats (they butt heads when playing and when determining who's boss), to themselves (they can get their horns caught in fencing and other things) and to people (especially children).

    As already stated - have a milking platform made and use it to contain your goats while milking. They are great and easy to use. Most people offer their goats some grain to eat while they are standing there getting milked.

    4) Goats actually don't eat much grass. They are foragers so they want the weeds, bark from trees, leaves, flowers, etc. Having them on your pasture that is just grass and then feeding them yourself will, as stated, help with the taste of the milk.

    5) If you haven't done this before then start out with two or three goats for a year or so and see how you like it and what's involved. Jumping in with ten or 20 goats is a disaster waiting to happen in my opinion. There is always a learning curve when adding any new animal to your family so start small and then add more when you are completely comfortable with those.

    6) I totally agree that you need to do a thorough research on the rules/regulations in your state (you may have already done this). In Colorado we are not allowed to sell goats milk unless you buy a Dairy Herd Share from the seller.

    Sounds like you are doing a great job asking the questions up front.... keep asking and good luck.
  4. SueNH

    SueNH Songster

    Feb 24, 2007
    Try a pair of goats first. Goats have a sense of humor some people can't deal with. Some are very emotional. Most are escape artists. They will eat your most valuable landscape plant before you know it. They love roses.

    One milker will allow you plenty of milk for soap or cheese. I say get two because they are very social. Without a friend they will come looking for you.

    I've had goats that knew to unplug the electric fence, use doorknobs, chase cars and joggers.

    They can leap to the roof of an expensive car in nothing flat.

    Still I have goats but 3 are enough for me to keep track of.

    Last edited: May 20, 2008
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    Quote:I would be extremely careful before getting your goats. AFAIK, there are no exemptions in place in the US for making goat cheese out of your own home then selling it (even at farmer's markets). You'll have to be approved as a Class A Dairy, first. This will probably require a separate processing kitchen (outside your house). Call your Extension office to get started and pointed in teh right direction.

    Lots of things are exempt for sale from your own home without going through food safety inspection. However meat and dairy are not.

    Quote:None. Goats will starve to death on grass, especially if lactating. You'll have to be bringing in higher protein feed for them year around (I use alfalfa pellets) if you expect them to produce milk without losing condition and robbing their bodies of nutrients.

    Quote:With 10 I would get a buck for sure.

    Quote:In the first year I deworm every other month. Once lactating, I only deworm if they show signs of anemia. The withdrawal periods on dairy safe dewormers vary from no withdrawal to 28 day withdrawal.

    Being in Texas, I have no idea what your parasite loads are like.

    Quote:Dairy animals must be dehorned. You use a milking stand for goats, not tieing their head down. They're way to wiggly for that.

    Quote:It prevents a "goaty taste". The faster milk is chilled, the better.

    Quote:Sounds a little obsessive t me.
  6. Nupine

    Nupine Songster

    Nov 21, 2007
    You are going to need hay no matter what, goats like grass, but certainly can't live on it. If you have say 20 meat goats on 20 acres of thick brushy stuff, then sure, but not 10-12 milkers on 4 acres of grass. Yes, have them dehorned. Actually, the proper word is disbudded. You don't tie them, you put them in a stanchion, like a cow. So horns are easy to remove with a burner, and are completly unneeded, unless it is very hot. For that many does, get a buck. He will need to be kept seperate from your does, and he will need a wether companion. You will need a Grade A Dairy as Greyfields said. That may cost 10's of thousands of dollars by the time it is done. Few goaters have the cash for that.
  7. greyfields

    greyfields Crowing

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I calculated it would take me around $30k to set-up a commercial kitchen/dairy building on my property.

    Now with 10 milkers giving you 60-80 lbs of milk per day you'll get 20-30 lbs of chevre per day. So, you're talking 140-210 lbs of goat cheese per week. Assuming you can sell it all and fetch $15/lb, you're talking about revenues of $2,100 to $3,200 per week. Then decduct your cost of business, packaing, labor, insurance, supplies, equipment, etc. It seems to be potentially profitable and you could make back the intial investment.

    Getting capitalized is the hard part.
  8. Broke Down Ranch

    Broke Down Ranch Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    Thanks for all the input! Ya'll have certainly given me things to think about.....I had not planned on ONLY grazing them - I would naturally feed goat feed as well as scraps from my garden.
  9. hazelton farms

    hazelton farms Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    I like you're thinking! I wish I could see the formation of it and your farmers' market! I only milk my one lil' goat right now and she gives us a whopping cup and a half on once a day milking! LOL!! But I'm using the milk for my daughter to get better with so it's ok. I hope to do more of it next year though and expand with cheese and other products as well as with our cow milk when she freshens! [​IMG]

  10. Broke Down Ranch

    Broke Down Ranch Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    Well see, we have a friend that is giving me a greenhouse so I can grow my own stuff, sell plants and/or veggies from my garden. Maybe some goat milk or cheese, eggs, chickens, etc.....I am looking into everything I need to be "certified" for before I get too involved.... [​IMG]

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