Are you Kidding me?? – Raising Dairy Goats

Okay this topic was a little hard for me.  I’m a milk drinker – remember ‘milk builds strong teeth and bones’ and ‘does the body good’ kinda milk? And, well the I thought of 'what would I do about milk if I could no longer buy it' or in my world as I knew it, it was no more'? 

So the more I thought about it the more it seemed the logical answer. A cow.  I would get myself a cow. And just as sudden as the answer came - it went. cow

I recalled seeing a cow up close and personal at a fair.  Those things are huge!  (how the heck would you even "tip" a thing like that (cow tipping)?  And then ... there's the issue of their excrement. That is huge too!. And to make those large ... patties, a lot of food would have to go into them to make such large … eh poop.

What now I thought?  I have no farming experience. So I started digging into alternatives.  And what I found was amazing.

Goats! 

You know like The Billy Goats Gruff? 

And there are hundreds of different kinds. 

Goats, are smaller than cows (duh!) so they eat far less and require far less space too. And better yet, they poop pellets not pies or patties!  And….on average a dairy goat will produce about two quarts to a gallon of milk per day. 

Yep, I said a day! 

The hard part will probably be picking a dairy goat.

For me, I fell in love with the Nigerian Dwarfs (no not African little people).  They are cute as a button little goats and well, small so they are easier to fence and eat a whole lot less then their bigger cousins. Here's are some of our babies playing. 
 

                                      

Depending on your circumstances, other than the Nigerian Dwarfs, you may also want to look into the Saanens, Toggenburgs, Alpines or Nubians.  Each has different characteristics that may better suit your situation (oh and you may want to check with your landlord or city ordinance too.)

nigerian dwarfsNow where would one buy a dairy goat?

Well I went to a goat festival!  I know, but it was kinda fun.  People had their goats on leashes (like you would a domestic pet) and dressed them up in funny hats and costumes.  They were absolutely adorable!  I couldn’t believe how much personality and intelligence they have!

Oh, and there was even a goat parade (which I must say, with the exception of the goat cheese, goat ice cream and goat milk tastings; that was the highlight of my day!)

The festival for me was the best way to see what a goat looked like up close and personal, and what goat would best suit my needs.  Nigerian Dwarfs are small so they actually looked a lot like some of the other goats’ “babies”.

As I understand it, the rule of thumb is, you buy at least two goats (better if they have spent time with each other) because just like us, they need companionship to thrive.

There are certain other things you need to focus on too when looking for a good dairy goat.  Make sure they are not sick.  The does’ eyes should be bright and clear. 

Also you want a shiny coat.  As for her female parts (her udder – the milk sack) should be large with two large nipples (sounds like a guy’s writing this doesn’t it? *grin*)  Oh and the legs should be straight and her tail in the air. 

Remember how I said they thrive on companionship?  Well they attached themselves to their owners too at times.  So if they are used to being around a man before you get her, you may have to gain her trust, and vise versa.

As for cost?  Well goats, depending on what breed you get can go for anywhere from $40 to $300 per goat.

Now there is no way I can discuss everything here about goats (because I couldn’t), but this is merely to show you that you do have options in a “world as we once knew it” scenario. 

The main point here is the milk! 

Now there are some down sides to dairy goats.  For one, you have to milk them twice a day - every day – that’s every 12 hours.  But we are talking milk here, so make a fun routine out of it – you know like once in the morning and once in the evening.  Remember, we are talking about rich good milk here! glass of milk

Now, taste.  We are used to store bought milk so you may have to ‘doctor’ the goat mile up a little.  I have heard of people adding honey or vanilla to it.  But you can be adventurous and add just about anything to it.  

Don’t lose sight that milk is used for all types of recopies (like breads and cookies!)  And you can make ice cream, yogurt and other goodies.   It can be usable warm or cool.

If you are considering (I’m not there yet) goats for meat, needless to say you will need a male (buck).  And, like some guys I’ve known in the past, they can be a little hard to handle – and for attention they will do some pretty disgusting things. Typical.  Just sayin’.

The babies are called kids and are even cuter than their mommas when born.  Just be warned that the gestation of a goat is five month and as an added bonus they usually bestow you with multiple births not just one.  So you could have a large herd in short order.

Now because I am not the goat expert (or any expert for that matter), there are lots of books and literature out there to research more on the topic.  But for me, I’d suggest actually talking to someone who has goats and go see them ‘in action’ (the goats not the owners, and playing not the other thing, geeze).

Now Goat to it!

- Survivor Jane

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