Oh, my goodness, writing this post has pulled on my heartstrings! My goats were not only kids, but my kids were so little!
It’s all worth it, from the babies to the milk to watching them run and jump around. If you are thinking about goats as your first farm animal, I recommend checking this post out before you become a goat owner.
If you know for sure you are ready, or ready to read what it takes on how to care for goats, then let’s get to it.
My oldest daughter is almost 13, and my oldest goat, Willow, is now 5, when we first brought her home. I never thought I would fall in love with goats, but now, in my fifth year of raising and breeding, I don’t know what I would do without goats on our farm.
They are not as easy as chickens, that’s for sure. I’m really glad we did start with chickens when starting our homestead.
Deciding Why You Want to Raise Goats For
Before bringing a goat home, you must know your primary purpose for keeping goats. Is it for milk? Breeding? Meat goats? Or simply because you love these farm animals?
Everyone has different goals; sometimes those change even after raising dairy goats for a year or so. The purpose will determine the breed and proper care requirements for your goats.
Decided if You Want Horns or Disbudded
This was something we had no clue about when we got our goats. Leave it to me, the cheap girl, to just get cheap and cute goats, not knowing much about goat breeds or milking. We already had chickens and pigs so I figured I was ready for goats.
Willow and her banded brother Oreo have horns and I wish I had them disbudded. I didn’t understand it and after we got them, I decided to research and then wanted to get them disbudded, but it was quickly put down on my social media when I asked if I could do it.
Many said they were more than ten weeks of age and disbudding wasn’t recommended. Looking back, it probably could have been done now, but who knows it could have led to a number of things. It was a live-and-learn lesson, like many we all have on the homestead.
So, if we could go back and change anything as goat owners we’d pick goats with no horns. They have never attacked anyone in the family; they love people, but they are brutal to other goats who don’t have horns, and they damage the fence and the barn.
I’m considering selling these two now because of it.. so give that serious consideration to your goat care.
It’s a good idea to go with a herd that all has horns or a herd that all has no horns.
Preparing for Your Goat’s Arrival
Before bringing home your new farm friends, ensure you have all the essentials ready. This includes a suitable shelter, secure fencing, and enough outdoor space for them to roam around.
A bucket for water and a hay feeder. To find out which hay feeder is best for you read this.
Find out which feed store has the best prices near you. I also see which one is running a better deal that month and go there.
Housing and Fencing
Goats need clean, dry, proper ventilation in their shelter to protect them from extreme weather. A barn or large shed would work perfectly. I’ve also seen the A-frame shelters for goats and we are planning on making one of these for our bucks so that the girls have extra breeding stalls in the barn.
As for fencing, goats are known to be escape artists, so make sure your fence is secure, high enough (about 4-5 feet), and you have enough space to keep them entertained.
If you don’t have much space Pygymy goats and Nigerian Dwarf goats are smaller and less destructive. You can keep both breeds together in your goat herd.
Goats love to have something high to climb up on and lie down on. Consider building one or grabbing some of the kid’s plastic toy sets.
I see the little slides and picnic tables on the side of the road often and would be perfect in a goat pen.
On average each goat requires about 25 to 50 sq. ft. per goat of outdoor space. They love to browse and graze, so providing them with plenty of pasture land is ideal. Of course, not everyone has the space to do that. Keep in mind if you don’t have the grass/pasture for them you will be supplementing with more hay.
This is fine just and added expense to keep in mind. It is helpful to keep track of all your expenses when starting with goats and keeping track of any local vet visits and vaccinations you are giving. I use this livestock planner ( that is available here) every year for my goats. I’d be lost without it.
A balanced diet is crucial for healthy goats. They primarily eat hay but also need grains, fresh water, and some free choice mineral supplements. I only give kids, pregnant does, and bucks after they are in their rut grain.
My wether doesn’t get much grain usually only as a treat. The bucks are skinny after their rut, which ends just as the freezing temperatures kick in around here. I like to give them a little extra fat and boost by feeding them this grain.
Make sure to provide mineral blocks or loose minerals for goats, as they have different needs than other livestock. Since we have sheep again this year, we purchased a mineral block that the sheep and goats can have. Up until now, we did the loose minerals, but they are more expensive.
I’ve heard mixed reviews, but after this year I’ll let you know if I notice a difference or health problems. I see the goats licking at it all the time, plus they have grain filled with minerals.
Best Breeds for Beginners
If you’re starting out, consider smaller goat breeds that are hardy and easy to care for. The Nigerian Dwarf goat is a great starter breed. They’re a miniature breed, easy to handle, and produce much milk. Boer goats are an excellent choice if you’re interested in meat production.
We have mostly Nigerian Dwarfs , except for Willow who is Nigerian Dwarf/Fainting and she is my best milker, which is why I’m hesitant about selling her, but those HORNS! ( I’ve already tried all of the things on those horns too, all failed, which I’ll be doing a post on soon)
Goat kids are so much fun and may cost more, but it’s a great way to introduce them to younger kids and get all your baby goat cuddles in.
Goat Mating and Kidding
Breeding goats is a big responsibility that requires careful planning and monitoring. Female goats need to be bred every year if you are going to milk them. That means you will need to have a buck on your property or find someone willing to breed your doe for you.
Bucks can be a handful because they are very loud, noisy, and smell. During their rut they are literally peeing on their face.
Our nice silver buck will have a deep yellow beard, a brown leg that looks like it’s busted from the pee. Don’t go for a buck unless you’ve had goats for a year or more. Adding a buck means more space to keep your goats separated, unless you don’t keep any goat kids, then well do as you like.
Regular hoof trimming is crucial to prevent foot diseases. Depending on the terrain they walk on, most goats need their hooves trimmed every 4-6 weeks. You can do this one yourself as long as you have a goat milking/trimming stand.
My husband made our goat stand, and since our goats were little, I’ve encouraged them to come up on the stand so they are used to it. Again, with a buck, this is NOT fun; your clothes will smell for years! With Adam, I have to straddle him and lift his feet.
His hooves do NOT get touched during the rut. I bought sharp Vet hoof trimmers at Tractor Supply that works wonders. When we first got our goat and sheep herd tested so I could sell the kids from a clean tested herd, the vet that came used the same exact one we now have.
If you are bringing home new goats a few months of age you can have one person hold them while you trim their nails. Most of the milking stands will be too big to hold their little heads in.
Goats require regular check-ups, vaccinations, and parasite control treatments. Always have a vet’s number handy and don’t hesitate to call if you notice anything off with your goat’s behavior or appearance.
Joining any of the livestock and goat groups on Facebook is helpful in these situations. Again, this is a great time to stay organized and use a livestock planner.
Keeping track of all these details can be overwhelming, so it’s important to maintain a record of feeding schedules, vet visits, breeding dates, etc. You can grab my livestock planner to help keep everything organized.
Raising goats is a challenge, but it’s one of the most rewarding experiences ever. So take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves, and embark on this wonderful journey of goat farming!