Are you considering adding goats to your homestead? Here are the benefits of owning goats and how they’ll improve your land and even benefit your other livestock. Here’s why you should have goats on your homestead.
You need to have goats on your homestead
I’ve been labeled a goat enabler by my friends.
Perhaps the worst thing you can say to me is “I’m thinking about getting goats.” Immediately I will be on a quest to find you a goat or two and make your dream come true.
Goats are a wonderful homestead animal, giving milk and meat, improving pastures, and enriching the garden.
Here are five important reasons why you absolutely need goats on your homestead.
Milk and Meat
Of course goats can provide both meat and milk.
Any breed of goat – dairy or meat, full size or mini – will provide milk and meat, while needing less space, feed and water than a cow.
Goats are also smaller and easier to handle than a cow.
A full size dairy goat will give more milk than a mini breed or a meat breed, while a meat breed will be heavier and provide more meat than a dairy goat.
Miniature breeds, while producing less than full size goats, are easier for children to handle.
You can learn more about the various kinds and breeds of goats, and some advice on which goats would be best for your homestead here.
Goats are browsers rather than grazers; they prefer weeds, shrubs and trees to grass.
They improve pastureland by eating the weeds and brush and leaving the grass. Goats are often used to eradicate brush and clear land.
Goats love poison ivy and blackberry thickets, for instance.
So rotating your livestock from one pasture to another, often followed by another species, and perhaps even a third, improves your pasture. Goats eat weeds and don’t really want grass. Horses don’t eat weeds, but will eat grass. So as the goats eat the weeds, the grass is more readily available for the horses.
Some people turn their chickens out into the pasture after horses or other large animals so they can scratch through the manure and eat bugs and seeds.
Rotating goats with another species or two on the same ground also helps to control the parasites of each animal.
Parasites of one species, such as a horse or a cow, cannot survive in a host animal of a different species, such as a goat, and vice versa.
The life cycle of the parasite is broken and all of the animals are healthier.
Goats are a great benefit to your garden
Goat droppings, like rabbit droppings, don’t need to be composted before adding to your garden, although letting them age for at least a month or so is recommended.
Goat poop won’t burn your plants like some other manures will.
And of course goats will be happy to eat all those weeds you pull from the garden, too.
A1 versus A2 Milk
And then there is the A1/A2 milk issue.
Very simply, A1 is a mutated beta-casein protein found in milk. Cows can carry either the A1 or the A2 gene.
A genetic test can determine if a cow is A1 or A2. Holsteins, the dairy breed most often used in American commercial dairies, are almost always A1.
But goats are always A2, and their milk is so much better for you.
You can read more about this issue and why people want to avoid A1 milk in this article, “You’re Drinking the Wrong Kind of Milk.”
Some FAQs about goats
Goats are full of personality – some folks say goats have too much personality.
A herd of goats will have a boss goat called the herd queen. Her daughter is usually high up in the herd hierarchy too. I call her the princess.
An intact male goat is a buck; a female is a doe. A castrated male goat is a “wether.”
A doe goat has one udder and two teats. (Well, she should have two teats. Check before you buy a goat; some do have an extra teat but it is considered a fault.)
Goats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one. But that’s ok because goats are herd animals and do better with others of their own kind.
An “only goat” is a lonely goat that will always be in trouble, getting loose, eating your roses, jumping on your car.
Of course, without good fences your entire herd might be likely to get out, but one loose goat will be more likely to stay in the vicinity of the still-fenced-in herd and get into less trouble.
You can read about the fencing types that have worked for us and what hasn’t in this post about goat fences. I hope it will help you save some money and frustration by informing you what kinds of fence won’t keep a goat in!
You’ll find all of my goat keeping posts here.
As a goat lover and a homestead gardener, I’m excited to also share my gardening tips with you – from planting seeds to enjoying the fruits (and vegetables) of your labor! You can find my gardening advice and insights right here, so let’s dig in and cultivate some fresh, delicious produce together.
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You might also like: Best Fences for Goats 10 Must-Have Items for Goat keepers Goats: What’s Normal?
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