Inside: 9 things I wish I had known before owning goats. Don’t you agree with #5?? But does it stop us from owning them?? Nope! Once a goat lover, always one. This is one of many posts about Raising Goats. Be sure to check out the rest of the information available.
There are a few things I wish I had known before I brought home my first goats. And since those first few days of goat ownership, I’ve learned so much!
Here are a few things to think about before you bring your first goats home.
What I wish I had known before owning goats:
- The cream doesn’t separate. I really didn’t know that goat milk doesn’t separate like cow’s milk. Before picking up my two nannies, I dreamed of butter and cream. Not the case! Goat milk is naturally homogenized, which makes it as close to human milk as possible. That’s why many who are lactose intolerant are able to drink goat milk without problems.
But, sadly, unless you have a cream separator…or the patience to skim a bit of cream at a time and save it in the freezer until you have a larger volume, butter dripping off the edges of your homemade bread won’t be a problem. (You may want to put a cream separator on your Christmas list 😉 )
- There are restrictions on selling raw milk. I had no idea that Montana, of all places…you know, the wild, wild west?…has some of the tightest restrictions on selling milk of all the states. In other words, it is completely illegal to sell fresh milk for human consumption. Double check state regulations if you would like to sell any milk.
(UPDATE: Although not completely legal, Montana laws are changing! More information about this change can be read on the Raw Milk Montana Facebook page. They work tirelessly to legalize the sale of raw milk.)
- Your fridge will have every shelf full of milk and yogurt and goat cheese. Really. It will be full. And then you realize it only makes sense to get bottle fed calves and a pig to help slop up the rest! You’re welcome! 🙂
I can’t keep up with making enough yogurt for my kids! They would eat our raw goat milk yogurt three times a day. And literally throw a fit when I say, “No, honey, we had some for breakfast an hour ago. We will have something else for a snack.” I wouldn’t be without my Yogotherm Yogurt Incubator. It makes making yogurt a breeze.
- They are pickier eaters than portrayed. Goats eat tin cans, right? Ha! We brought home our first pygmy goats to take care of the weeds in our shelter belt. The only thing they did was completely lay bare our Caragana bushes waist high.
I did pull out my sweater sleeve from my Billy’s mouth, however. I do believe it saw the inside of his stomach because I pulled and pulled and it kept coming. Goats really prefer brush, leaves and broadleaf plants more than they like typical pasture grass.
- They waste a lot of hay. I have a theory: I think goats pass down a varied version of Goldilocks to their kids: “This hay is too thick, this hay is too thin, these prized flowers in the flower bed are just right.”
And although building this goat feeder has helped with hay waste because it keeps it off the ground, there is still the hay that hits the ground. It must be making really fertile ground under my goat’s feet.
* Tip: Every day I clean up the hay in, on and around the goat feeder and give it to the pigs. They LOVE it…and it makes me feel better that our good hay isn’t being wasted. It also makes for less cleanup in the spring after the winter months.
- Billy’s really, REALLY do stink. You are warned about the stink, but the reality of the musky experience sets you back a bit. And then you have to explain to your mom why she shouldn’t be scratching your sweet billy between the eyes and under his chinny-chin-chin. How do you explain that properly?
They flap their lips too. It’s quite an experience!
- The kids are so cute, it’s hard to say goodbye. Baby goats are the sweetest little things ever. Snugly and ready to be best friends. After weaning day, there just may be a lump in your throat as you say goodbye.
And it gets worse when your kids are wailing as the goats are driving away to their new home. And you begin to wonder what it would take to own a few hundred goats…hmmm…
- It’s so important to contact your extension agent right off. Before you get your first goats, or shortly after, it is so important to know the levels of copper and selenium in your area.
There are so many complications that can come up when goats are short on minerals, even if a free choice mineral is offered. If your area is short on these minerals, you will need to give your goat’s copper boluses several times a year and/or BoSe shots as well.
Read more about goat mineral here! It’s a comprehensive guide to goat mineral needs.
- Know your water source. Did you know that high levels of sulfur and iron in water will tie up the absorption of copper and zinc, two very important minerals for your goats? Just be aware of how your water could potentially affect your livestock.
Does any of this stop us?? Nope! Once a goat lover, always a goat lover. It is all quite worth it.
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