Homesteading tips, registered dairy goats, recipes, photos and goat milk products from our little farm in rural Missouri.
Before You Buy A Goat
Why do you want to get a goat?
This is the first question we ask people who want to buy goats from us, and this is the most important thing to ask yourself before you get your goats. The answer to this question will help you decide which type of goat that would be best suited to your needs and which sex would be best for you.
Goats are browsers, not grazers. So the first thing you should know is that they do not make great lawnmowers as some think. A goat has a similar digestive system as a cow or other grazers, and they do eat grass, they are really designed to eat brush and trees more than grass.
If you are purchasing a goat for purposes of milking, showing or as pets, each of those reasons will their own set of characteristics you will need to consider before making your purchase. Do not go based only on price. There is no such thing as a "cheap" goat. A goat that costs little, many times will end up costing you a lot more in trouble, vet fees or even heartbreaking losses.
Goats for Pets
If you want goats for pets, and you want to approach and touch these goats, you need to make sure the goats are approachable and touchable BEFORE you get them. Do not get goats who are wild acting, thinking you will tame them later; it can be very difficult and sometimes impossible to tame a goat that is wile.
To win a goat over takes a lot of patience, caring and time. Never chase a goat, because, being prey animals, this can make them more scared of you. They will need time to get used to their new surroundings and will do well to have a consistent schedule. Once they are used to their new home, you can spend time just sitting with them making to attempt to catch them. Let them approach you. If and when they do, offer them a treat such as a banana or fig newton. Slow and patient are important rules here. The younger the goat is, the easier it will be.
But you can save yourself this pain by purchasing from a breeder who handles their goats from birth so they are already friendly when they go home with you. Contrary to what some may say, it is NOT necessary to raise a goat on a bottle in order for them to be friendly. We allow our does to raise all of their kids until the age of weaning. But we handle the kids every day from the day they are born. All goats that leave our farm are friendly and in most cases, will walk on a leash as well.
Goats are herd animals so they MUST have a friend. We recommend never purchasing only one goat, unless you already have one at home waiting to be a friend for the new arrival. They will be miserable and stressed if alone. This can cause illness and a lot of trouble and money for you as well as you deal with related issues.
Wether (neutered male):
If all you want is a pet or companion for another goat, and do not care about getting milk, you want a wether. Wethers never develop a smell or get aggressive. They will stay "kid like" their whole lives. They can learn their names and come when called. They can be loving and affectionate.
Wethers are typically much cheaper to get than does or in-tact bucks. They also need little or no grain so it is less expensive to feed them.
There are a few health issues to be looking out for with wethers, but they area easily avoided with proper care.
If you want milk as well as companionship, you should get a doe. They can be quite friendly and learn their names if you spend a lot of time with them. And they of course can supply you with milk after kidding!
Or, if you never plan to breed her or get milk, you can keep a doe as a pet.
If you are getting a doe for milk, you will want to do your research. You do not want to choose just any goat or base your purchase on price only. A cheap goat is never cheap! You will end up paying for a "cheap" goat if they do not have a good udder, have difficulty kidding or just have overall health issues or weak immune system. It is much less expensive to check out the breeder and pay a bit more for good genetics than it is to pay for expensive vet fees. Not to mention the heartache and worry that comes with a goat that constantly has issues. Particularly for new goat owners, this can be very stressful.
You also want a friendly doe if you plan to milk her. You don't want to attempt to milk a doe who has not had the benefit of lots of human interaction. It will not go well!
Buck (intact male):
If you are a first time goat buyer, you do not want a buck. The exception is if you have already decided to start a herd, have done a lot of research and plan to get both does and bucks (or a buck and a wether for a companion.)
Bucks are NOT good companions, they are for breeding. We love our bucks and they are very friendly, but they are strong and determined when it is breeding season, they smell terrible and are just generally harder to manage. They are a necessity if you are growing a herd and you want to bring in great genetics and keep your herd closed to outsiders (to limit the sharing of diseases). But this should be done with good planning first.
Bucks need a friend, but NOT a doe. Does and bucks should be kept separately unless breeding. If you get a buck, you need to consider getting 2 bucks or getting a buck and a wether for his companion. They must have seperate, sturdy housing and fencing to keep them away from the does.