Man’s Second-Best Friend: The Domestic Goat

Are you planning for a future where you are self-sufficient and can care for your family without the help of your local grocery store? A logical, but sometimes overlooked, addition to your family homestead should be a few goats. These personable, entertaining animals have multiple benefits for the homesteader.

Goats were one of the earliest animals to be domesticated. They currently live in just about every kind of environment, from the warmth of the equator to the much colder regions of our earth. These animals can survive and prosper in country that would starve a cow. With their leathery mouths and incredible digestive systems, there’s very little a goat won’t eat.

Almost any scrubby leftover land is good enough for these hardy animals. The goat is content in a much smaller area than the cow. All that is really needed is about 100 square feet per goat. This is all that we humans need for an office. It’s important to know that goats are famous for their leaping abilities. They can jump over many fences and are perfectly fine living in most wild areas. Build your fences at least five feet high.

When you feel you are ready to buy goats, do some homework about the goats that are available in your area. Keep in mind the purpose of your goats. Is it to keep your homestead from getting overgrown? Do you plan to use your goats for milk? Will you use them for meat? These are important questions to answer before choosing your goats.

Goats are very easy to keep, but should not be kept where their hooves will be wet all day long. As with most hooved animals, a goat needs a chance to dry his hooves every day or may develop hoof rot. A small, basic shelter is desirable for your goat friends. They will eat, quite literally, anything at all. To keep them healthy, try leguminous hay and plenty of vegetables. Of course, depending on the kind of goat you choose, this diet might vary.

Americans seem to be enamored of cow’s milk, but in truth goat’s milk has many advantages (which is why it is so popular in many other cultures). Just how much milk can you expect from a good doe? Six to eight quarts a day! That’s a lot of milk. A goat costs about a third of what a cow costs, about a sixth as much to feed, and gives a third as much milk. Twice as much milk per poundage.

How about the health benefits of goat’s milk when compared to cow’s milk? As far as fats, milk sugars, proteins, and calcium go, cow and goat milk are fairly similar. However, goat’s milk is far superior in Vitamins A, B, C, and D. The milk itself it more easily digested and does not cause the allergies that cow’s milk can cause. Goat’s milk also has a much lower bacterial count than cow’s milk.

So if you are planning ahead for having a self-sufficient homestead, adding goats to your little farm is pretty much a no-brainer. With as many advantages they have over cows, and their fun and quirky personalities, goats are a logical choice for your family homestead.