Information On Raising Homestead Dairy Goats

Goats have proven to be an asset to the family farm or homestead. They are great milk producers and are not hard to raise.

Goats are becoming a popular addition to the family farm or homestead. Some people think they make great pets, while others keep them around to keep the grasses down in their fields and orchards. But still, the predominant reason goats are brought onto the family homestead is for milk production.

Goat milk is comparable to cow's milk where the nutritive value is concerned, and many consider its taste far superior. One major positive for goat milk is that the fat particles are so small that they don't separate from the rest of the milk, which means it is naturally homogenized. This also makes it easier to digest. There are many dairy products that can be made from goat's milk, also, such as cheeses.

Now that we know what the benefits of raising goats are, let's take a look at how to do it. The three top breeds of goats are nubians, saanans, and toggenburgs. Nubians have a great butterfat content in their milk. Saanens are high producers of milk and are active and gentle. Toggenburgs are also gentle and feed well in pastures. They produce slightly less milk. A grade goat is one born of a mixed breed and will produce as much milk as any of the above.

When buying a goat, especialy for milk production, it is important to look for one with a good history of it. You should try to find one that is already producing, rather than a young one who will not produce until it has kids.

If you purchase a buck (male goat) make sure it is kept away from the does. When you desire to breed the female take her over to the buck. Keeping the buck in with the milkers can taint the flavor of the milk.

Does should be bred at 18 months of age, but not any sooner, as it could stunt their growth. They can breed from fall through spring, during which they will come into heat for two days every 21 days.

When a kid is soon to be born you will see an engorged udder and white vaginal discharge, and you will hear extra bleating and notice the doe is not eating very well.

When kids are first born they must receive the mother's colostrum for at least 24 hours, after which they should be separated from their mother and fed from a bottle and then taught to drink from a pan or bucket, receiving 1/2 pint of milk three times per day. Eventually you should start reducing milk and substitute water and grain and fresh hay. Until a doe is bred, feeding in the pasture, or even healthy hay, should fulfill her nutritional needs. As goats will not eat hay from the ground you need to either hang the bales of hay from the wall or put it in a manger.

A milking doe, however, needs a grain suppplement of two to four pounds per day in her diet. Don't overfeed grain and feed it only after they have already eaten a great deal of grass or hay. Goats should be fed separately to prevent an aggressive one from setting all the food. A continual supply of fresh water is also very important to milk producing goats.

When milking a goat there are some points to remember. They should be milked every 12 hours in a clean, and preferably dust free, environment. It is important to milk the udder out completely at each milking to ensure continual milk production.

Raising goats, whether for milk production or just to have some keep your pastures down, can be both profitable and great fun.

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