A Beginner’s Guide to Raising & Milking Goats

goat milking

Goats are incredible creatures to add to your farm. They’re easy to raise, friendly pets, and produce a large amount of milk. They’re also most cost-effective than dairy cows since they are petite and require far less land. Lactose intolerant? Not when you choose to drink goat milk. It’s been confirmed that goat milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk. Their milk can also be used to make a soft, mild soap and other goat’s milk-based skincare products, which seem to be booming at the moment.

These gentle, loyal, caring, and playful creatures are everything you need if you plan to extend your farm. They are an excellent multiple purposes homesteading livestock. So, don’t worry if your homestead is too small. There is enough space to keep Nigerian dwarf or Pygmy goat breeds to help achieve your sustainability goal unbothered.

The following guide will go over many broad topics on goats such as start-up costs, how to purchase, bring your goat home, feed, care, milk, and much more.

Goat Purchasing Hints and Tips

The first thing to keep in mind goats is that they are many different breeds of goats than you know:

  • There are dairy breeds: La Mancha, Alpine, Toggenburg, Oberhasli, Nubian.
  • There are the fancy-pantsy breeds that bear fibers for fabric: Cashmere and Angora goats.
  • The meat breeds: Tennessee, Spanish, Kiko, and Boer goats.
  • And then are the fun pet breeds: Fainting and Pygmy goats.

We most likely forgot a few breeds here, but you get the idea that there are special jobs for special breeds, so you know to consider your purpose before purchasing your first goats. If all you care about is milk to produce goat milk soap then we suggest you try out different breeds’ milk. In terms of value, the price of goats is impacted not only by the period of the year but also by the breed, sex, and age of the animal. For instance, heritage breed goats are often far more pricey than other breeds – a quality Billy breed can fetch a high price and bring in more than you’ve spent on it, yet you should never just assume the animal is a great breeder, docile, and healthy based on what a seller tells you.

A quality goat that is not a heritage breed or rare expects to pay between $85 to $250.

  • When you buy a goat will play an essential role in how the animal is priced. For instance, during the late fall and winter, prices drop as most sellers try to avoid the extra costs of wintering the animal over.
  • It’s always a smart move to purchase the animal from an amateur or a professional breeder that you know instead of at an auction. Although you may find quality goats and reputable sellers at auctions, there is also the exact opposite, and you have only a short amount of access to inspect the goats and not time to verify health records or lineage.
  • The period to get a great bid on a quality goat is between the middle of March after the 4-H scheme livestock weigh-ins into the end of summer.

Adapting Your Property to Raising Goats

Bringing home your animals require some forethought on your part so that you can keep your goats healthy and safe and as far as possible from predators: Here’s a preview of the projects you need to embark on before you get your goats:

Build housing or get current housing ready. Goats will need shelter from the elements and a safe place to bunk down. Make sure you have a dedicated area for kidding and milking if you set on breeding your goats.

Work on a fence or inspect your fencing for security. You already know it. Goats are smart, lovely, and curious creatures, so they will flee into the neighborhood whenever given an opportunity. Furthermore, wild dogs, wolves, and other predators would love to be able to get your animals, so you need to do your best to keep them put.

Buy feed and feeding equipment. Your goats will need grains, hay, minerals, and other supplemental feeds, depending on the kind of goats you get, their stage of life, and the way you intend to use them. Not to mention your goat will need fresh, clean water every day. At a minimum, you will need:

  • Food bowls
  • Feed storage containers
  • Mineral feeder
  • Hay manager
  • Water buckets

Goat-proof your pasture or yard. Goats are famous grazers – meaning they will move from tree to tree, from plant to plant, eating all the way. Various plants you may use for landscaping can poison your animal, so you need to clear them out.

Bringing Your Goats Home

Because goats are known to be herd animals, they need to be kept with their own kind of a similar safe companion – and as you expected, the best companion for your goat is another goat. Yet sometimes, you cannot afford to buy or even find two quality goats at the same time. Choosing the right companion for your goat might seem like a simple proposition, but that’s not necessarily so.

How to Actually Milk a Goat?

Milking a goat is actually really simple once you get the hang of it. But be prepared for your first goat milking experience to be a total disaster. Nobody ever learned something without mistakes. So, there’s a good chance your hands will become completely useless tools of flesh, and you’ll end up wondering how you’ve even succeeded to feed yourself in the first place. It’s a miracle you’ve made it so far with those clumsy hand muscles of yours.

But don’t fall into complete hopelessness. All you need is a step by step plan and patience.

  • Step one: Prepare some treats for your goat. You can mix some organic grains, Bermuda pellets, fresh weeds, or barley fodder.
  • Step two: Make sure you keep your goat’s udder shaved, as it actually makes it easier to milk.
  • Step three: Clean those teats. You can use homemade udder wipes or a natural alternative to those chemical-filled wipes you will find online. Make sure you squeeze and wipe the teat opening well.
  • Step four: Do one squirt on each teat to remove any bacteria or blockage.
  • Step five: Take a look at the milk you collected from the first squirt to ensure there are clumps of milk or blood, which could indicate mastitis.
  • Step six: Start milking. Grab the teat as high as you can, a good few inches into the udder, and squeeze it, so you trap the milk in the teat.
  • Step seven: While holding your thumb and first finger tight, bring your other finger and palm together. In doing so, you will squirt the milk out. Remember, it’s all about pinching and quizzing.

Continue with this motion with each hand on each teat until you squeeze out all the milk you can. After you’re all done, make sure you apply udder palm to the teat and udder.

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