Dairy goat advice wanted!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by freemotion, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Looks like I may be getting my first dairy goat. I have a couple of pet pygmy-crosses now (watermelons on sticks) and we had a couple of dairy goats when I was a kid, but I did not do any milking, my brother did that. I did almost all the rest of the livestock care, but for some reason, not milking.

    Soooo......I found a couple of goats on craigslist that sound like a great deal, both bred and milked before and $200 each. After an e-mail exchange with the current owner, I found out that she had to disperse her small dairy herd last spring due to illness, and kept only her two favorites. Now, more serious illness, and the two have to go, along with some others.

    I would like any advice anyone would like to give, if you have or have had milking goats. My first critical question is, should I get one or both? My head and wallet say one, my heart says keep these girls together and they are a good deal, and sell some milk to friends to pay for the second one. And sell the kids.

    I have a stash of hay and shavings in the barn because my horse died suddenly, so I am stocked up.

    The pet goats were for the horse, and lived with her in a double stall, free to roam. I will have to put up partitions and build a milking stand. What is necessary as a minimum, can they continue as a herd in my situation?

    Help me decide what to do!
  2. rdranch

    rdranch Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2007
    I am very sorry about your horse, I know it wasn't easy for you. Since you have the room and the supplies I say go for it. If you know that you can sell some of the milk, and the kids when born it sounds like a great idea! Buying both of them and keeping them together would probably be in their best interests as well. [​IMG]

    Good Luck with your new adventure![​IMG]
  3. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
  4. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Thanks, I enjoy their site, but want more personal advice from the backyarders and homesteader-types, like me. We can do things that are not practical in a commercial setting.

    Does anyone let their goats be a herd? Is this asking for trouble at kidding time? Seems more natural to me, but often natural instincts, like broodiness in chickens, is bred out of modern animals.

    Come on, goat owners, type here, please?
  5. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    You really can't keep one goat. They'll forever be trying to escape and find their herd. They're way too social to have just a single.

    We started milking our herd for the first time last year. They are all dry now as we'll have new kids in early February. Milking was a lot of work, but well worth the effort. There is a lot of up-front cost in equipment. But, we found milking three goats was more milk than we could ever drink, more cheese than we could ever eat. So we ended up trading it a lot, giving some to the pigs, etc.
  6. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Yes, spend lots of time on Fiasco Farm's site.

    If you can afford it absolutely get both of them. It sounds like they are very attached to each other and that's a huge help in moving them, keeping their stress down. If you can't, then get which ever one suits your fancy, you do have other goats so she won't be alone. The only issue is if you get just one and she doesn't get alone with the smaller goats. Most people say they get along fine (mine do for the most part) but some people say theirs fight due to the size difference. You'll want to make sure they have plenty of space to get away from each other if there is excessive bullying.

    Before you think about selling extra milk you need to find out the law in your state. Some states you have to sell shares to legally sell raw milk, some states have other restrictions or none.

    What kind of hay do you have? If they are milking they should be getting a good quality alfalfa hay or at least a good alfalfa/grass mix.

    Shavings are fine until you have kids. They shouldn't be born on or kept on shavings for a while as they can eat them or even possibly inhale them. (ya, I know.. people do but I personally wouldn't chance it)

    Here's a great site for other help:

  7. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Thanks, Grey, I do have two pet goats now, so she wouldn't be alone. I do like the idea of trading, I love trading when it works out well. I traded to get power into my barn, we trade for any electrical work in the house, I have traded for floor installation, too.

    What have you been able to trade for goat's milk? Or was is products, like cheese?

    I think I am looking for a way to excuse the purchase price of two goats, now while money is a bit tight!
  8. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Thanks, Chirpy, for the input! I have grass hay, but will buy alfalfa if needed to supplement it....can I use cubes with goats if I can't find the hay in MA? Why not grain and grass hay? I have plenty of pasture and browse come spring, but the does are both preggers and due in Jan and Feb.

    I always foaled the mares on straw over shavings, will this do for goats? For how long would they need to be on straw? It is very expensive here, as land is too expensive to grow grains, so it is all shipped in. I have plenty of shavings. Straw is so cozy, too, I love the way it looks in a freshly cleaned and bedded stall.

    As far as selling milk, it would only be on the QT to a few very close friends who value really good things, like my lovely eggs. And maybe some cheese and yogurt.

    I do like the idea of trading....but what to trade for? I am used to trading highly skilled hours for highly skilled hours, and am mystified.....gotta get the creative thinking going....ideas?

    Need a good argument to get $400 squeezed out of the budget instead of $200! And I am still getting some heritage turkeys, so more moola output with delayed moola input from said critters.

    Help me justify!
  9. geareduplyn

    geareduplyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2008
    Salley SC
    You have some ambitous plans for just having two goats. If you already have some goats that were companions to your horse. Getting just one should be fine as she have the others as part of her herd. If not get both as one becomes very lonely and will at the very least make a lot of noise. Kidding on shavings is fine and in fact probably better than straw. I had at one time a completely browse fed herd of about 200 Purebred Nubians and French Alpines. I didn't have any fences except for my Buck pens. I was also on DHIA test and my milk records were as good or better than drylotted animals. Google Manna Dick Skinner if you would like to see one of my Nubian Bucks.
  10. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2008
    Western MA
    Why is it ambitious? Am I getting in over my head? Please be specific! I want to hear all sides, it is not in the does best interest if I am biting off more than I can chew, so to speak, not being a cud-chewer, myself....

    I do like hearing that your goats ran in a herd and browsed. Did they come in for milking? Like the cows did that week when we took over for a small dairy farmer so the family could get away for a few days, when my parents discovered they had not been able to leave the farm for several years....those nice cows came in from pasture when called, walked into their stanchions, and happily got fed and milked.

    Who thinks two pregnant does and two dry does can share a big, big stall, and who thinks separate pens are in order? I will have to separate the kids, but hope to sell them pretty quickly. They seem to go pretty quickly around here on craigslist.

    I am in a suburban neighborhood in MA, so good fences are a must. Next door is a xmas tree farm, goats not welcome! And lots and lots of coyotes, got chased myself once when walking my dog. They have not come into my fence in 7 years. Four-foot woven-wire with electric on top.

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