5

votes

Raising live stock

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created March 04, 2012 at 3:31 AM

I live in the country/ major farming area and have often wanted to take advantage of large pasture acreage and raise some kind of animal. I am really keen on a goat, as you can also milk them. The anticipated benefits are saving money (living off goat milk and eventually goat meat) and feeling good about sustainability.

However, I have absolutely no farm experience.

Question: Am I crazy? (ie. Am I underestimating the difficulty in raising a goat? Is it worth the hassle? )

I obviously would need to do A LOT of reading beforehand, I understand that. Any input is appreciated!

EDIT: Thank you for all your responses! I've decided to start with chickens and I've responded to an add for 6 laying hens today. I still would like to get a goat, not totally convinced against one.

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 05, 2012
at 04:27 PM

No one should need to convince you, you either want to or not. I list some books below

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 04, 2012
at 06:15 PM

I couldn't live without Mother Earth News. Easily the best publication if you're interested in self-sustainability.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Yep, what Chris said. Especially note the "no skipping" - SOMEONE has to milk the goat(s) at a regular interval. Don't forget good fencing. Some animals need better/more expensive containment than others.

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:06 PM

Well, having a milk-producing animal means first having an animal give birth... which means babies. To keep them producing milk, you have to regularly milk them. Cows are approximately every 12 hours. Not sure on goats/sheep. There's the shelter, supplemental feed, any medicines the animal may need, vet expenses, cost of milking equipment, and your cost and time out there on a regular basis, no skipping, for milking.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:17 PM

I babysat a goat for a day once and it was like a comedy show- it got loose and tried to get into the house (door was open in summer). I was breast-feeding my 3rd child and clamped the goat between my legs while nursing to keep it out! The kids had to go get their dad to rescue me.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32556)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:09 PM

I LOVE the idea, but the impact on my freedom is too high. We have 5 different people who would gladly take our dog for a few days/weeks at short notice, but getting someone to take care of goats if you need to go away is not always easy. Where you live, it might not be an issue, however.

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:06 PM

PS. Sad that I've spent my whole life in the country and yet haven't spent almost any time around farm animals...

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:05 PM

Thankyou! I guess it is NOT so easy as buying the animal. There are obviously lot of other associated costs. Can you give me any insight? I was enjoying the bliss of ignorance and hoping that the only cost is buying the animal (and building an enclosure)

Dea5f440698f5488b975ada2f61daa0d

(393)

on March 04, 2012
at 02:37 PM

Good luck to you! You might find this an interesting read, even if just to give you some ideas: http://www.polyfacefarms.com/

449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on March 04, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Thank you so much for that link! The more I do research about food and where it comes from, the more certain I am that the best way to feed my family is to be as self-sufficient as possible.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on March 04, 2012
at 08:02 AM

+1,000,000 for people still having actual "dreams of owning my own farm". You are the only person I've come across (internet or otherwise) who feels this way. Nice to know I'm not the only one. You may already know about it, but when it comes to sorting out all the ideas in my head related to my dream future as an off-the-grid hippie farmer/hunter, I find that browsing http://landandfarm.com/ is helpful.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on March 04, 2012
at 07:51 AM

good question, been wondering about similar things myself lately. If I could start tomorrow, I'd go with chickens first as others have mentioned. I go through 8-10 dozen pastured eggs a month now and I'd love to get them from my own chickens that I get to play with and care for as well. That and I could also share with my family. Whenever I get to that point, I figure if I can be successful with chickens first, then I might consider a goat or a cow or three. Although, what I'm really interested in is a piece of land with undisturbed woods that's big enough to hunt.

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:01 AM

I was hoping nobody would say that! I lean toward goats cause I love goat products... but there's no doubt that you are right about the chickens. I'll need a big more convincing, but thankyou!

6120c989fd5b69f42a0834b69b87955b

(24553)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:00 AM

I have similar ambitions if I find myself with a little land at some point, but am equally clueless about where to start. I've known a few people who had goats, and both eventually got rid of them because of the annoyance factor, definitely keep any foliage you care about well fenced. And they will chew on your house given the chance, but with enough room and limits to where they can go, they seem to theoretically be an awesome animal: hearty, require little purchased feed if you have enough space for them, some varieties are good milkers, and tasty, tasty goat meat someday.

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8 Answers

best answer

5
D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:18 AM

Have you spent any time around dairy animals? It's a real commitment. I grew up with cattle and have been around a lot of livestock (beef, dairy, sheep, pigs, goats, 4-H, vets in the family, never ate meat from the store, the whole shebang) - and if I got out of the city now, I'd still start back up with chickens.

And I daresay, this isn't a money saving enterprise. Almost ever. Do it for love and the experience and the learning and the quality, but don't do it to save money.

(Don't get me wrong. I think it's a most wonderful adventure and certainly not rocket science.)

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:05 PM

Thankyou! I guess it is NOT so easy as buying the animal. There are obviously lot of other associated costs. Can you give me any insight? I was enjoying the bliss of ignorance and hoping that the only cost is buying the animal (and building an enclosure)

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:06 PM

PS. Sad that I've spent my whole life in the country and yet haven't spent almost any time around farm animals...

2fd93e91bb14e641a2bac9c6033e84e2

(1614)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:06 PM

Well, having a milk-producing animal means first having an animal give birth... which means babies. To keep them producing milk, you have to regularly milk them. Cows are approximately every 12 hours. Not sure on goats/sheep. There's the shelter, supplemental feed, any medicines the animal may need, vet expenses, cost of milking equipment, and your cost and time out there on a regular basis, no skipping, for milking.

D5d982a898721d3392c85f951d0bf0aa

(2417)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:25 PM

Yep, what Chris said. Especially note the "no skipping" - SOMEONE has to milk the goat(s) at a regular interval. Don't forget good fencing. Some animals need better/more expensive containment than others.

4
4afe09d59d78e670879aeb0fe8a27c69

(60)

on March 04, 2012
at 07:32 AM

Just so you know, you definitely need to have more than one goat. You could get two does and alternate breeding them, or a doe and a wether (castrated male) to keep the doe company. Most people don't keep a buck around full time because they are aggressive and stink! (Apparently they pee on their beards to spread their phermones!)

I don't have goats (yet) but I've done a fair amount of research. You might want to check out http://www.backyardherds.com for more info. I would also go visit goat farmers in your area to see what you think. It seems like a fair amount of work to me, between breeding and milking, let alone slaughtering, but it could be worth it!

I definitely don't think you're crazy, but I think you should do reading and try to get some hands-on experience before you commit!

3
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on March 04, 2012
at 05:01 PM

Goat farmer here, and let me tell you, it's as easy or as hard as you want to make it. But there are some things to be aware of:

  • Dairy farming is labor intensive. You're milking twice daily every 12 hours for most of the year. Year-round if you want year-round dairy! I stopped taking vacations when I was 13 years old because I had to stay on the farm to milk the animals. You are tied down with dairy animals. It might be ok now, or 2 years from now, but it catches up to you and you start having to pass over things because of your farm responsibilities.
  • It's expensive. You're not saving money producing your own product. Winter hay can add up quickly depending on what the going rate in your area is. There's a barn, there's incidentals, there's medication and vet fees, etc... It adds up quickly!

Don't get me wrong, raising critters is great. I'm looking forward to the day when I can get back into farming. I won't go the dairy route though, probably stick to meat production. Less labor, less commitment.

3
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:08 AM

As a city born person I was nervous when we first got chickens but it was just like having a dog or other pet. Make sure they are watered and fed and safe.

I then progressed to other animals like cattle and sheep, cattle being my favourite. I ended up raising bottle fed calves and milking a cow. We raised our own meat for a few years until moving away from the acreage.

Don't be afraid to start, there are usually helpful people around to get hints from. It can be very enjoyable.

2
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 04, 2012
at 03:46 AM

Chickens, they are fairly easy and will take good care of you. There are many new books on the subject and subjects of 'going country". When I get home, I will check my Library and post some of the books. But go with chickens.

361e96d70d6d3b91d63f6ad975e60ab6

(840)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:01 AM

I was hoping nobody would say that! I lean toward goats cause I love goat products... but there's no doubt that you are right about the chickens. I'll need a big more convincing, but thankyou!

0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 05, 2012
at 04:27 PM

No one should need to convince you, you either want to or not. I list some books below

0
306aa57660d911781231f8090c2a5619

(3808)

on March 05, 2012
at 06:11 PM

We've been considering getting pigs. My husband wants to get six - he's a "Go big or go home" type. Someone told him "You should start smaller! That's a lot of work!" His response was that, if it's too much work, we'll just have a barbecue.

We've had goats for about a year now, with no previous farming experience. That was a similar situation. We got 7 goats and 25 chicks within a two week period. It hasn't been particularly difficult. If you're reading websites about goats, it makes it sound like they'll dissolve into piles of bloody poop the minute you bring them home unless you buy a vet's office and monitor them 24/7, but we've had no problems. I've seen a few other people get started with a similar lack of issues. They're adorable, especially as babies, and very friendly if you work at socializing them. Personally, I find them much more fun than chickens, though I suppose chickens are more cost-effective.

They do eat a lot of hay, especially if they're pregnant or nursing (obviously necessary for dairy) which is a major consideration unless you live somewhere with adequate pasture year-round.

If you want meat, you have to be willing to kill (or have someone else kill) an animal you've raised. If you have someone else do the butchering, that adds to the cost of the meat. If you decide you don't have the heart for that and just want dairy, you need a plan to deal with the babies that are a necessary part of that process.

Vacations are certainly something that has to be planned for, but the same is true of any pet (our big dogs are at least as much an issue as the goats in that regard), and it isn't an insurmountable hurdle. We have a housemate, so we can alternate vacation times. My friend with goats boards hers with the person she bought them from. Friendly neighbors or responsible teenagers wanting to earn some extra money are a possibility also, especially if you're just talking 1 or 2 goats.

So anyways, yes, look at the downsides. But always keep in mind that this is something people DO, and the hurdles aren't insurmountable.

0
0fb8b3d6dcfb279b0f7e050d2d22510f

(4645)

on March 05, 2012
at 04:30 PM

Back to basics.  Abigail Gehring The Backyard Homestead  edited by Carleen Madigan

0
449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on March 04, 2012
at 04:35 AM

There are tons of magazines out there that can help as well. I also have dreams of owning my own farm someday and even though I'm stuck in an urban environment, I have subscriptions to Mother Earth News, Grit and Backyard Poultry and devour every word in every issue.

449e19bbd371a87b653b9b8b56736005

(1567)

on March 04, 2012
at 02:05 PM

Thank you so much for that link! The more I do research about food and where it comes from, the more certain I am that the best way to feed my family is to be as self-sufficient as possible.

4b05d725a8332e8e917a4ca58b6e8a1e

(1239)

on March 04, 2012
at 06:15 PM

I couldn't live without Mother Earth News. Easily the best publication if you're interested in self-sustainability.

0df0b1c6ae16bbb75b4a5efa3d876765

(2240)

on March 04, 2012
at 08:02 AM

+1,000,000 for people still having actual "dreams of owning my own farm". You are the only person I've come across (internet or otherwise) who feels this way. Nice to know I'm not the only one. You may already know about it, but when it comes to sorting out all the ideas in my head related to my dream future as an off-the-grid hippie farmer/hunter, I find that browsing http://landandfarm.com/ is helpful.

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