Last year, I had the pleasure of working with one of our fellow Alabamians, Jena of La-Z-Hooves Farm.
Raising dairy goats wasn’t always in Jena’s future, but all that changed in 2010. Her husband began suffering from stomach aches associated with store-bought milk. After conducting some research, she found that goat’s milk is easier for humans to digest than milk provided by cows (it’s also a friendly alternative for those who are lactose intolerant).
Now, with more than 8 years and numerous goats under her belt, Jena is a fountain of knowledge for anyone interested in raising backyard goats. To begin with, Jena recommends considering the following four factors before purchasing a goat.
What is their Purpose?
Like Jena, you may be looking at goats to fulfill an unmet need. For her, it was a need for alternative milk products. Or maybe you’re looking to goats for pet purposes? Whatever the reason, it is important to consider all future uses and reasons for purchasing a goat.
How Much Land Do I Have Available?
The amount of land available to you will play a large role in how many goats you should purchase. While there is no goat to land ratio, a good rule of thumb is no more than 4 to 5 per acre. Even then, it may be too much based upon the amount of forage available to the goats.
Many people look to Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats due to their smaller stature. The breed, on average, tops out at about two feet. Like many other small animals, they come with a lot of personality.
Registered or Unregistered?
Overall, Jena recommends purchasing “Registered” goats even if they’ll just be backyard milkers. Why? Because “…most breeders who raise registered goats test their herd for diseases that you do not want to bring into your new farm.” As a high-mortality animal, keeping ahead of diseases and parasites is imperative to successfully raising and managing goats. Jena’s farm, La-Z-Hooves, tests for Johne’s and CAE (Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis).
Depending on a few factors (location, color pattern and eye color), you can get a couple of wethers for about $100 each. The average cost for a registered doe begins at $350. From there, prices increase based upon the goat’s pedigree, milk dairy lines, flashy color pattern, and conformation.
Remember: “Quality Doesn’t Cost as Much as It Saves”
When purchasing, keep Jena’s motto in mind. It’s served her well throughout the years, and it’ll do the same for you. Smart shoppers know that paying a little extra money upfront, often times saves money in the long run. Buying goats from a reputable breeder will save you from a lot of heartache and heartbreak as well. If the animal has been well managed and taken care of, the less likely it is to suffer from serious medical conditions.
What Will I Need?
When getting started with goats, Jena recommends the following products:
*If the minerals you are providing to your goats do not contain Ammonium Chloride, you should consider adding it to their feed. Bucks and Wethers benefit the most from this mineral as it aids in the prevention of Urinary Calculi.
We hope that Jena’s four questions will help potential goat raisers determine where to start when purchasing backyard or dairy goats. What other considerations do you think should be made before purchasing a goat? Let us know in the comments.
The views reflected in this blog are that of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of Jeffers, Inc.