Raising and Keeping Goats

"There are many considerations to make before purchasing your first goat. I am speaking from experience as I tend to jump from the plane, then look for the parachute! This article contains the facts I have learned since the purchase of my first goat Honey at an auction. — Marianna, Serenity Lane

What You Need to Know to Buy and Raise Goats…

Goat Types and Popular Goat Breeds

The first step is choosing the right type of goat for your needs. Do you want a milk goat, a meat goat, a pet for the kids?Young multi-colored goat kid.

There are many breeds available so make an educated decision and end up with a breed that suits your needs. Read up on the various types of goats available and their uses, as well as tolerances. Goats are not cheap to take care of, make sure they’ll be useful!

Best Bets for Buying Goats

A few good places to purchase your goat are local 4H groups, a nearby goat ranch, or a recommended breeder (animals from these three sources are usually very well taken care of).

When buying a goat from someone in this manner you are able to go to the home and observe the condition of the animal. Make sure they all look healthy and happy. Talk with the owner about any problems you should be aware of, current immunization records and the goat’s medical history or genetics.

Look the goat over with a fine tooth comb — literally — goat lice are very easy to spot and you don’t want to infect your other animals at home. Lice are easy to get rid of but the medication can be costly, better to have the seller take care of any lice issues before you purchase! If you are buying an older goat make sure their bag sits well and has a healthy tone.

Look for diseases – goats are prone to CAE (a joint disease). Most breeders or ranches are ethical enough not to sell a sick goat but again – buyer beware. If you are pretty confident in your choice of goat, go home and sleep on it for another day anyway, discussing the purchase with your family and weighing the pros and cons to adding a new animal to your herd.

Purchasing A Goat At Auction

It is never a great idea to purchase an animal you intend to keep (and not eat) at an auction. There is little time (if any) at an auction to assess the condition of the animal or to query the owner about breeding, quirks, or history. Often the owner is not even present.

You will also be more inclined at an auction to make a spontaneous purchase without the time to think things through. You might just pay a high price for your haste long after you’ve made the purchase.

Remember too, that the auction house is truly a miserable place for animals. They get frightened, ‘shocky’ (spooked), and some sellers will do whatever is necessary just to ensure the highest sale price of the animal. Once you get the animal home, they can be a different creature all together. (Compare this process to a car salesman adding a gas additive to a lemon right before the test drive!)

I am in no way implying all sellers at auctions are unethical, there are some very reputable sellers at auction, but the situation can be high risk – buyer beware. If I’ve managed to scare you off auctions altogether I apologize, I have bought some good animals at the auction house in the past.

Preparing for the New Arrival

Before bringing your new goat home, make sure you are well prepared. No construction should go on around them while they adjust to their new surroundings.

The Goat Pen

Building a large enough pen at the start is easier than going back and making it larger later when you add more goats to the barn.

Build a pen that is large enough to house the eventual number of animals you intend to raise. When building the pen, the main objective is sturdiness and security – keeping predators out, and your goats in!

Main considerations are a roof that will not leak and insulation if you live in a cold climate. Bed down the new home with fresh, clean grass, hay or straw.

Moving A Goat

If you have a pickup truck, borrow a truck cap for the back or build a sturdy wooden box tied securely to the body of the truck.

You’ll want to make the trip home as comfortable and stress free as possible for your new friend.

Baby or pygmy goats can be driven to the new location inside the vehicle, on a friend’s lap, for short trips. If you can’t move your new goat without stress, ask the seller if s/he can deliver the animal to your home.

Breeding Goats

Laura Childs, Country Living Author, on Raising Goats

Through GoodbyeCityLife.com and Country Living Author Laura Childs, we have partnered with Skyhorse Publishing to create a one of a kind goat handbook. The book covers all aspects of care of the meat and dairy goat and is available as both a print book and for the Kindle. This book answers all your questions on raising goats and will help you decide which type of goat is right for you.

Breeding your doe is always an adventure.

There are a few ways to go about this…the most preferable is to hire a stud (vs. owning a buck).

This way you are only caring for and feeding an odiferous buck for a few weeks — as opposed to feeding and caring for a vivacious buck year round. (Bucks should be kept separate from milk does except for the breeding season.)

Our young billy (aka a young buck) played nicely with my children and seemed gentle and sweet until 6 months of age. Now that he is growing, his playful billy goat nature is becoming more dangerous. I won’t even begin to mention his new and very unpleasant odor!

Conclusion to Raising Goats

If, like us, you happen to fall in love with a young buck, you will need to build separate quarters and a pen from your does. Ensure the buck you buy has good genetics that you’ll want passed down to your future herd.

Further, if you must keep a buck, you’ll be able to make some money back for his keep by renting him out as stud (if he is in fact a genetically sound animal).

Wondering how much room a goat needs, what to feed one and if you have the time required to look after a few? Perhaps you have a few acres and wonder if you could free range some goats and make money off the mohair? Check the links on GoodByeCityLife.com for more information on raising goats.

30 Comments to "Raising and Keeping Goats"

  1. Crystal's Gravatar Crystal
    July 21, 2009 - 9:59 am | Permalink

    I had a book on how long it takes for a doe to birth but have misplaced it when rearranging things. seems like it was 6 wks but not sure can you tell me. thank you

    • john wayne's Gravatar john wayne
      September 24, 2012 - 11:34 am | Permalink

      take 150 days most of the time, give R take 2 R 3 days

  2. Ash Tallman's Gravatar Ash Tallman
    August 1, 2009 - 9:46 pm | Permalink

    My 9 month old baby goat was recently attacked by a nieghbors dog and the dog tore his poor little hind leg up a little. What kind of pain relief medicine is safe for him? Is infants Motrin of tylenol ok or should I get something made just for goats?

    • Tracy Miller's Gravatar Tracy Miller
      December 21, 2010 - 7:55 pm | Permalink

      Children’s Tylenol is fine. We used it on my wether after he was castrated to ease the pain so go ahead and dose em up!

  3. Stephanie Ash's Gravatar Stephanie Ash
    October 18, 2009 - 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Hi,
    We have about 10 open acres that we are wanting to raise some farm animals on. I do not intend on having animals for slaughter, but mainly for pets with a purk or two. We have recently become owners of chickens and love them very much. It has taken a while to get things right with them because we kind of jumped into it without doing any research on them. We have been talking about possibly getting some miniature goats, but I don’t want to do this until we are prepared. Where can I find some good information about raising and caring for miniatures? Other that being cool pets, what purpose can they serve? Thanks for the help!

  4. harv48@sbcglobal.net's Gravatar harv48@sbcglobal.net
    November 27, 2009 - 12:42 am | Permalink

    how do i tell when my goat is in season? and when is the best age and time of year to breed her?

    • Rachel S.'s Gravatar Rachel S.
      December 1, 2010 - 4:30 pm | Permalink

      Your doe will wag her tail a lot and make a lot of extra noise. The best age to start breeding a goat is about one year of age or a minimum of 90lbs. (this is for most dairy breeds). Goats usually cycle between September and February. When they cycle is somewhat dependent on the weather – cold nights are best. I have raised dairy goats for 7 years and have really enjoyed it. I hope this information is helpful. For more information I would recommend visiting the American Dairy Goat Association’s website.

  5. bekim's Gravatar bekim
    February 8, 2010 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

    hi i live in bay area california and i’m new in auction market.

    I’ve been buying livestock animals from auctions for resale to butcher stores and individuals for about a year now.

    I mostly but goats , lambs and beef. I’m not familiar with age, gender, and weight of an animal by looking at it. At the auction place, animal weight is shown only ater it is sold. What they show is animal and the price but not the weight, how do i do math?

    I’m not interested in raising animals on a farm at this point, but i need to learn a litle more about them not to get cheited by auctonires. I’ve searched books on auctions for dummies and beginers ,but no luck yet.Can you help?

    And what is difference between live weight and carcass weight, is there a formula to determine the correct wheit of an animal after is killed.

    please advice.

    thanks\\\

    bekim

    • Jane's Gravatar Jane
      October 22, 2011 - 3:30 pm | Permalink

      I really hope that you change your hobby soon because I cant believe that someone would eat something as cute a goat :(

  6. Jackie's Gravatar Jackie
    April 29, 2010 - 12:04 am | Permalink

    We bought a goat at an auction. We dont know what kind it is. He is a pet and will be used to breed with our neighbors goat. He is very babyish and loves playing with the kids. We feed him with a bottle, so he must be very young. We don’t know his age. He still has his umbilical cord. He is growing so fast. His horns look bigger each day! He climbs on top of EVERYTHING. We have never owned a goat before, so we don’t know what we are in for. I’ve been trying to find out what kind he is by looking at pictures on the internet. I can’t find any that look like him. I was wondering if anyone knows of a place on the internet to find a big variety of pictures of goats. We have to figure out a place to keep him during the winter. What kind of building do we need to build for one goat? We live in NY state so it gets pretty cold.
    Jackie

    • Donald Swartz's Gravatar Donald Swartz
      December 4, 2011 - 12:56 am | Permalink

      My sympathies are with you; but you’ll get rid of the goat. They are highly social animals and require companionship the closer in species the better; keeping them alone results in the behavoral problems you’re already experiencing, he can’t be kept alone, he can’t be kept with her; you could try cojoined housing but I doubt it’ll work; add in the fact that buck goats reek to high heaven; its a disaster waiting to happen.

  7. Paula prager's Gravatar Paula prager
    June 6, 2010 - 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I live in a residential area and was wondering how I could find out about zoning laws for keeping chickens or goats? Thank you

    • Donald Swartz's Gravatar Donald Swartz
      December 4, 2011 - 1:13 am | Permalink

      Personally I went to the local government offices and asked, they were some what helpful and sent me to talk with the township supervisor who informed me we have NO zoning laws I can do pretty much whatever I want as long as I don’t overly annoy neighbors; bribery helps. Neighbors with cause to complain don’t they get free eggs organic chemical and hormone free as possible start with zoneing

  8. Alana's Gravatar Alana
    July 16, 2010 - 5:55 pm | Permalink

    Laura is right. I wish people would do their research before they buy animals.

  9. Lena Kennedy's Gravatar Lena Kennedy
    July 27, 2010 - 9:49 pm | Permalink

    My husband brought home a female pygmy goat born May 18,2010. Her name is Dixie and I fell in love with her the moment I seen her. Don’t know how much she weights and am wondering how much food to give her. Have read a few articles on taking care of her but nothing about food. Can you tell me how much I should feed her? Thanks

    • Donald Swartz's Gravatar Donald Swartz
      December 4, 2011 - 1:31 am | Permalink

      Keep hay available 24/7; she’s a pyg so what thirty/fourty lbs? my nubian is 200+lbs she should only have 24/48 ounces of grain in two feedings with all the hay she wants unfortunatly she’s a bully and litteraly eats their lunch; so she’s gotten a bit ah, fat. Hey you fight with her.

  10. REBECCA's Gravatar REBECCA
    September 8, 2010 - 12:28 pm | Permalink

    i had a goat given us and he was a very sweet goat for about two weks we have had him for about 4 months i would love to have him neutered. he is so mean now . would that help we got a baby for a companion . but all he does is ride him all the time so we keep them seperated. help! they have a nice barn with seperate stalls and food and alot of blackberries to eat.

  11. Jo Timbs's Gravatar Jo Timbs
    October 16, 2010 - 11:55 am | Permalink

    I have a goat that just had 3 babies today. Should I keep the billy away from them? How soon can I turn them out in the lot? Should I sell the billy that I think is the father of these goats? If one of these babies is a billy should I sell him also? How long do I need to keep the baby billy before I sell him? Sorry to ask so many questions but this is the first goats I have ever had. I am a cow person. but love these goats too.

  12. pam griffin's Gravatar pam griffin
    October 27, 2010 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    I have a 8yr female and one of her back hooves seems to be softer than the rest. Is this something I need to consult a vet. for?

  13. Sara Persinger's Gravatar Sara Persinger
    November 6, 2010 - 8:34 am | Permalink

    My Pygmy Goat is due a baby. My question I live where it is 30 degrees at night. She stays in a big dog house at night. Will the baby freeze. Should I bring her in the garge?

  14. Denise Turbyfill's Gravatar Denise Turbyfill
    July 10, 2011 - 6:05 pm | Permalink

    We have adopted a stray billy goat. I assume he is a bit older as his horns were very long and we had to take him to the vet to have them cut down as they were growing into his skull. He lately has been having labored breathing and I don’t know why? He is a bit over weight (I think) but I have also heard of goats bloating and am wondering what that is & if it is something that could be wrong with him. Any help would be great as we are a long way from the vet.

  15. Suleiman Wamala's Gravatar Suleiman Wamala
    July 15, 2011 - 9:36 am | Permalink

    I live in Uganda (Africa). I have vast land where am planning to keep goats/sheep for commercial purposes in future. First, i want to start with local breeds that are resistant to our environment sothat its cheap for me, then, i will slowly introduce exotic breeds by cross breading.
    Am looking for information on how to start and how will i proceed?

    Suleiman

  16. Jenna's Gravatar Jenna
    February 27, 2012 - 10:51 am | Permalink

    Can goats have three babies and all of them survive?

  17. Jeron's Gravatar Jeron
    March 9, 2012 - 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi all,
    I have been doing alot of research online about angora goats but still I don’t feel I have found all the answers like I am buying a farm which is set up for goats but I don’t know how to grade the fleece when buying a angora. Where can you buy registered lots from. Where can I purchase a top quality buck from and can anyone tell me if any angora farms in the USA ie Will Texas export angoras to Australia. I understand it is expensive but I am looking for 20 registered does and 1 Buck from overseas to try and keep the fleece as fine as possible and produce a beautiful fleece and next generation of angora goat.
    I hope someone can point me in the right direction.. Thank you in advance

  18. Jane's Gravatar Jane
    March 21, 2012 - 2:16 am | Permalink

    Please I live in South Africa Groblersdal I am looking for milk goats where can I buy them

  19. ann conley's Gravatar ann conley
    May 13, 2012 - 7:44 pm | Permalink

    i was wondering how can i find the zoning laws in the county i live in to see if i could have goats before i purchase one

  20. September 24, 2012 - 7:32 pm | Permalink

    I raise pygmy goats as pets, My neighbors dogs killed two of my females, they both were pregnant ,due Oct 6th, 2012, and the mini pygmy was due Oct 10th, 2012, How do I figure a fair market value to submit to the dog owners?

  21. Alex's Gravatar Alex
    October 24, 2012 - 1:00 am | Permalink

    We brought home 2 Pygmy goats to eliminate brush and help recycle our garden. Problem is we did not realize that our passive chesepeake bay retriever/German Shepard mix would completely snap. In my research several websites talked about how you could integrate dogs and cats with goats. Unfortunately I did not come across info about prey drive until afterwards and I was looking to see what happened to my gentle giant dog. My question is this, is there any hope of them living in peace or do I take the goats back before its too late?

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