?? About Goats

Discussion in 'Goats' started by Big Sky Country, Feb 6, 2005.

  1. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

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    Dh and I are looking into buying a couple of dairy goats. We have a little over an acre and know nothing about goats. We are too small to have a dairy cow, so that is why we want goats.

    What is the best breed? How many goats could we have with a little over an arce?
    We live in Montana so I worry about winters.

    What are the best books to read?

    Thank you,

    BSC
     
  2. Wendy

    Wendy Well-Known Member

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    Best breed?? Well, that depends on what you are looking for. I like Nubians. High butterfat & the kids are just too darn cute! They are more vocal than other breeds. Lamanchas are usually mild mannered & quiet. They are my next favorite. Some can't get past the ear thing though.
    How many depends on how much you plan to supplement them with hay & grain. You can put 20 goats on an acre if you want, but you will have to do some major feeding of hay, grain, & minerals & would likely have a bigger parasite problem. Or you can run 2-4 on an acre & maybe only have to supplement over the winter. All depends on how you want to manage things. 2 does would be enough milk for the average family. Most breeds will do fine during the winter. We get pretty cold here in Indiana. As long as they have a good draft free building where they can get out of the weather, you shouldn't have to worry.
     

  3. Laura Workman

    Laura Workman (formerly Laura Jensen) Supporter

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    Good books are "Goat Husbandry" by David Mackenzie and "Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats" by J. D. Belanger.

    Milking goats is seasonal. How much milk do you need in the lean times, and how much can you use during the lactation peaks? Do you want lots of butterfat or as little as possible? What kind of temperament are you looking for? Have you looked at any breeds? Having something you enjoy looking at is important, too!
     
  4. Big Sky Country

    Big Sky Country Well-Known Member

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    A good temperament and not too loud. Even though we live out in the county, we might have a problem with one neighbor. Butterfat is not a problem because I make butter.

    During lactation peaks I could make soap. I am pretty good with using up things like that.

    Thank you for suggesting those books.

    I would have to see a LaManchas in person, I've only seen them in books.



     
  5. Hank - Narita

    Hank - Narita Well-Known Member

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    My favorite is Alpine. If you want a more quiet breed, try LaManchas. How many on an acre, that's a good question. Unless you are young and energetic you will want a milking machine if you get more than 3 milkers. I only have 2 and they are slow to milk and my hands start to ache after the end of the season.
     
  6. Dream Acres Va

    Dream Acres Va Member

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    Virginia
    How many goats for over an acre? Is the whole 1 acre plus for the goats or does that include your yard, house, etc.? I've always gone by the rule or no more than 6 full grown goats per acre. We have any excellent pasture, so it supports then well. If you have brush for them to eat, that's good too (some breds perfer brush more than pasture). Your local county extension office can come out and tell you all about your proper or clear up anything. Most of them know something about goats. Either way, be sure to clear plants/trees that are poisonous to goats, most commonly: WILTED WILD CHERRY, MILKWEED, HEMLOCK, MOUNTAIN LAUREL, LOCOWEED. arm yourself with a good plant identification book for your region.

    If you are going to have a garden, make sure it is fenced really good to keep the goats out. We use T post and 2x4 welded wire, no climb fencing. Does the trick and none of my escape artists have gotten out (yet).

    Go and visit a real farm, not a petting zoo, to figure out the type of goat you want. If you want a lot of milk, my alpines are the best (I had one last year that just did not want to dry up!!!). If you want ones that are good (to great) milkers and are really cute (even when adults) Nubians are great (we mostly have Nubians). If you want to have something to do with the offspring, and you don't mind eating the boys, 1/2 breds have been doing well for us. These are half Nubians and 1/2 Boer goats. The does are producing a good deal of milk, the doelings are good body shape and the boys get big fast (we sell them for meat, my husband won't eat an animal/goat that's he's had a personal relationship). I bred the 1/2 Nubian-1/2 Boer does to a full bred Boer buck. I haven't had much luck with LaMachas', we've had several over the years - all mean tempered and they don't fit into the herd. I have one that bit the tail off of a Boer, which caused an emergency vet visit and surgery on the truck tail gate - she currently pregnant, I'm waiting to see if she is a good mother before I decided if I should sell her.

    Try to find someone locally (or several people) who have goats (and like them) to tag along with one day at their farm to see how everything is done. Pick someone that you like how they keep their farm, etc. If they like their goats they will be more than happy to talk, and talk, and talk. Also, make sure you have a good vet in your area that will take goats at patients (one that makes house calls is preferrable) - and you should do this before you buy the goat. Make an appointment and visit them, and have them give you the low-down from their perspective (it helps). Also, set-up your account with the local co-operative, and find a good hay supplier before you need the hay.

    Also, read, read, read. Books, internet, anything you can get your hands on. Also, it's a good idea to find out what you state laws are regarding the sale of your goat (by products), as soon as someone knows you have milk/cheese/soap, etc. they will want it - it's agood idea to know if you can sell it (legally) or if only your family can use the by-products.

    Also, join the dairy goat association in your state and go to some meetings, and talk w/goat people. And probably the best advice I can give you is don't buy a wether (castrated male) for a pet, a doe is better even if you don't breed her. We've figured out how to feed the wether we have, but it's pain, and adds time, and he doesn't produce babies or milk. Also, you don't need a buck for a couple of does, you can have them surviced by a buck - in our area it's about $40 for a registered doe/buck coupling.

    And lastly, should you get a registered goat or non-registered goat? Depends what you want to do with it. You can get some very nice pure-breds that are not registered for a lot less who will provide you with lots of milk and be a good "pet". But a lot of my friends only have registered does because they sell the offspring, show in the 4-H, etc.

    Let me know if you need info on again. Happy to help.

    :eek:
     
  7. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    I have 4 goats on 1.25 acres of browse and pasture. They've gone through the browse very quickly, in four weeks. Of course nothing is growing currently and in the spring and summer there will be more growth. I supplement with four flakes of coastal per day and the pregnant doe gets alfalfa pellets in addition. You'll have to supplement with more and for longer in Montana. I've read one can have five or six goats on an acre but I disagree with that. An acre will sustain that many goats only if they are rotated, and then you need a few more acres to make that happen. Feces will build up with too many goats. If you fence around the house you'll have a little less land. You want to fence around your house, believe me. I'd say 2 does (they need each other's company) and find a breed that someone within driving distance will be willing to lend you a buck for. Best wishes.
     
  8. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    Do some research on Kinder goats. The reason I got them here is because we only have one acre, and I figured it would be easier to put smaller goats on a small place. But I'm finding a lot of advantages to them. Their smaller size makes them easier to handle. The breeder I got mine from, and I believe many others as well, selects for easy milking, hand-sized teats. I've had goats of almost every other breed that were harder to milk than my Kinder doe. Their smaller size also makes them a little easier to fence.

    The milk is extremely rich, and while they won't milk two gallons a day (though there are some who will average a gallon a day through their lactation), if you make cheese you'll get two to three times as much cheese per gallon of Kinder milk as the larger breeds give. (Usually you'll get approximately a pound of cheese from one gallon of milk; Kinder milk should yield two and a half to three pounds of cheese per gallon of milk.) The butterfat ranges from around five percent to over seven percent. The milk tastes excellent -- not the slightest trace of goaty flavor, even in milk that's been in the frig for several days.

    Another advantage they have is breeding out of season. My milker should kid in late April. I plan to breed one of my yearlings in March for late-August kids, and the other in May for late October kids. (I don't want babies in the really cold months, but October usually isn't too bad here.) This should give us milk year-round from the three does. So far, the one doe I'm milking is holding her lactation quite well. She needs to be dried off in a couple of weeks, but has had no drop in production all winter.

    The Kinders seem to have really nice personalities, too. I've had quite a few goats over a lot of years, and I find I like these better than any others I've had, even if they didn't have some advantages.

    On our one acre, I have the three does, and a buck and a wether. They live in pens, but when I have time I take them out for walks to browse. I feed mostly alfalfa hay (and am starting to feed pellets to the does) and cob, and of course a mineral/salt supplement. In addition, I give them things like corn stalks and pea vines from the garden, carrots and sunflower stalks, and anything else I can grow for them. In nature, goats are browsers, eating a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and I like to try to give them some variety in their diet. They really enjoy it.

    Kathleen