Episode 173 S5-10
Dark Days in Denver Ch 10
Raising goats is a great addition to any homestead. It fits in well with the overall business plan to maximize return on investment of your farm animals. Goats are much better than cows because they have a much smaller land footprint. They stay close to the homestead and are nibblers not grazers. You can get much more milk per pound raising goats as opposed to cows.
One Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goat weighs about 70-100lbs. With three milking mammas you will get about half a gallon of milk a day. They are very social animals and are easier to take care of than a large animal like a cow. You will also need two bucks (male goats) because two is on and one is none. If something happens to one, you will have a backup. Have about ten females with three actively milking at once.
A typical day of taking care of goats starts with feeding. Then you have to milk them. The goats have different size teats so you have to get used to milking lots of different shapes, etc. You need to make sure that all of your equipment is sterilized and you will have to sterilize the teats before you start milking as well. Jane likes to use gloves for another layer of cleanliness. Then you milk them. It is a good idea to give them grains during the process to keep them occupied. Be careful that they don't step in the bucket. If they do, you will have to discard all that milk.
After the feeding and milking is done it is onto stall cleaning. Goats poop a lot. The good news is, it makes great fertilizer. Before you put the animals out for the day, you want to check their hooves. You may have to trim them if there are no natural grinding processes that take place in the area you live in. If you have to trim them, it is done with a trimmer tool that looks like warped scissors. Jane says it is a very intimidating process but if you don't do it, the nails will deform. Check their teeth and ears as well to ensure there are no problems developing.
You need a buck to make a baby and you need to make a baby to have a goat that is producing milk. Make sure you set a plan for how many babies you will have at one time. If you want three goats milking, you don't want them to all give birth at the same time. The females can have anywhere from 1-7 babies at a time. The babies will stay with the mama for about three days to get access to the colostrum that the mother is producing. After that the babies are removed and fed by bottle. They don't drink much but require three to four feedings per day in small increments. You don't have to take the babies away but doing so will bond them to humans and make them much friendlier. The milk should be heated to 104-108 degrees and the babies drink about an ounce per feeding. For smaller goats, you can use puppy nipples, rather than the larger goat nipples for bottles.
It is also a good idea to burn the babies horns. Emotionally it is more difficult for the human. It only takes 5-10 seconds but it's hard to put the hot iron on the babies. The horns can be a major threat to themselves, the other goats and the human caretakers as they age so it's better to just get rid of them.
The goat milk is useful in so many ways. You use it in every recipe to replace cow's milk, including: ice cream, yogurt, cheesecake, cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, etc. It is so good and it tastes much better than the stuff you buy at the store.
Dairy goats don't make good meat providers. If it was a long term survival situation, you could eat some of them if you had to. However it's a better idea to raise rabbits, chickens or ducks to provide meat.
Before you invest in raising goats, do your research! Investigate all the details. You have to give them shots and you will occasionally have to help birth babies. They will get injuries and you need to have reliable milking stations. They are an investment so make sure you are ready to capitalize from it.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"Tomorrow is never guaranteed."