Goat Farming: Getting Back to Basics
Whether you’re interested in goat farming to raise pets, or start a meat or dairy operation, it can be both enjoyable and profitable. To ensure your goat farm is a success, consider the following ideas about suitable geography, breeds, essential tools and caring for goats.
Spaces for feeding, shelter and milking are critical factors in raising healthy, happy goats. As a guide, average sized-goat farms with 500-600 goats require 40 hectares of land, while small herds with 24 goats need about 10 acres. Your farming land should be able to support a herd without them being overcrowded.
Also survey the plant life which surrounds the potential farm. Goats are known as foragers in brush environments, and some plants such as azaleas are toxic to them if consumed.
Choosing a breed
The breed you decide on will depend on your purpose for farming. Some popular goat breeds include:
- Nubian – often used for dairy, and is also a meaty goat which makes it good for dual purpose breeding;
- La Mancha – a small diary goat;
- Boer – a South African goat frequently used for meat;
- Angora and Australian Cashmere – these goats can supply you with mohair and cashmere.
When buying your primary livestock, be sure to check whether the goats have been wormed and vaccinated, if their coat is shiny and eyes are clear, and if they are eating and drinking regularly -these are all signs of a healthy herd.
Tools of the trade
In addition to the land and livestock, other items important for goat farms include:
- Hay and feed
- Tubs and containers to feed and drink from
- Hoof trimmers
- Syringes, needles and vaccines
- Collars and leads
- A sheltered structure, such as a shed or barn
- Milking equipment
With goats able to climb and crawl, it’s also vital to have a sturdy fence. For small-scale farming, netwire fencing should be fine, but for a larger herd, stronger materials may be necessary.
Once born, it’s ideal for baby goats to be fed by their mothers, so that they get the colostrums which contain essential antibodies, vitamins and minerals.
Then, at 7 months old, a goat will be ready to breed, though this generally happens between 10-12 months. Mating season is an intensive time, taking place once a year between January through to March, and pregnancy then lasts for four months.
Female goats normally give birth to between one and five kids. At 12-18 months old, goats come in to milk, and should be milked twice per day. Bear in mind that they will need to be regularly inspected for parasites and disease.
Understanding the geographical needs, differing breeds, the tools of trade and life stages of goats will set you on your way. These are the key aspects and basics involved in goat farming -we wish you a rewarding experience.
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