Raising Goats: What You Need to Know

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Thinking of raising goats on your homestead? Here are a few things that you will need to consider when preparing.

While chickens are often considered the “gateway animal” for homesteaders, goats are often a logical next addition. However, raising goats calls for a few specific considerations that you will want to keep in mind.

Raising goats isn’t hard as long as you give them the attention and care they need. In fact, they require less attention than many larger animals, and can provide you with plenty of great milk, as well as manure, weed control, and even meat if you are so inclined.

Goats can be a very friendly and very clever animal. They love to be social, so you will definitely want more than one. Otherwise they can get very lonely, and come up with many creative ways to get in trouble! Goats are notorious for escaping from confinement – especially if they’re bored, so you’ll want them to have plenty of space to roam and graze. If they are happy, well-fed, and have plenty of company, a good fence should keep them where you want them without too much trouble.

Here are a few more tips to keep in mind when preparing for raising goats:

Goat Shelter Considerations

Like any livestock animal, goats should have a secure area that they can stay in at night or seek refuge from bad weather….

…For indoor shelter, goats require a minimum of 10 square feet per goat.

Pasture and Fencing for Goats

Goats also need outside space to range and play, and that area needs a good fence to keep them from escaping….

For fencing, 4-foot no-climb fencing works for many types of goats. Use fencing with small squares, such as 4-inch by 4-inch, so that your goats can’t get their heads stuck in the openings.

In theory, you can keep up to 10 goats on an acre, but the number of goats varies greatly depending on how much vegetation is available for them to graze. Goats are prized because they are foragers and often will eat underbrush and weeds that other livestock won’t touch….

Goat Feed Considerations

Like any animal, goats need a constant supply of fresh, clean water. Many goats that are on pasture in the summer need only minimal grain….

…Dairy goats are fed supplemental feed when milking, but goats should never get more than 50% of their daily feed from grain.

In addition to grain, you should offer your goats free choice access to good-quality hay. Goats will forage between their pasture and the hay stand, and in winter they will fill the majority of their diet with hay. Legume hays are best for goats, such as alfalfa and clover. Goats do not like grass hays and these hays provide much less in the way of protein….

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There are many mineral supplements you can offer goats to make sure they are getting all of the nutrients they need….

Weather and Bedding

Goats are hardy animals but they don’t like extreme cold or heat. In winter, make sure their shelter is buttoned up from outside wind gusts and provide deep bedding for them to snuggle in. During the summer, it’s important to provide them with shady areas to rest and plenty of fresh, cool water.

The most common bedding for goats is either straw or wood shavings. Wood shavings are often easiest to clean, and it is important to keep your goat’s pen cleaned with fresh bedding….

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