Would you like to become more self-sufficient, or reduce your environmental footprint?
Maybe you’d like to teach your children about where food comes from, or the value of caring for animals.
Perhaps you’ve been enjoying fresh eggs ever since reading our list of 20 convincing reasons to keep backyard chickens – and now you’re hooked on producing your own organic food?
Well, keeping goats might just be for you. Read on and see all the advantages caring for goats can bring.
Fresh, Nutritious Goat Milk
Of course, this has to be the number one reason for keeping goats – a supply of fresh, raw milk.
Raw milk is great for healthy skin, immunity, bone health, brain health, allergy prevention, muscle building and weight loss. If you live in a place that prohibits the sale of raw milk, you can bypass this law by keeping your own goats.
And, goat milk is nutritionally superior to cow milk in terms of its calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C and Vitamin A content. It also has a gram more protein per cup and a little less sugar.
Those who are intolerant to cow milk may actually be able to handle goat milk.
How great is it that you can make your own cheese? And from your own supply of goats’ milk. It doesn’t get any more homemade.
Why not try out this recipe said to be ‘almost as easy as making a pot of tea (except you need cheesecloth)’!
Clear Land & Control Shrubs
Goats clear land like mini-bulldozers. If you have overgrown shrubs, weeds or thick brush, let your goats at it. Three or four goats are all you will need to clear an acre of land.
Of course, first check that none of the plants are toxic to your goats.
Unfortunately, if all you’re looking for is a perfectly manicured lawn, you’re out of luck. While they may pick away at the grass, they won’t give it that uniform trim you want.
Organic & GMO-Free Food
Farmed goats are fed a diet of corn and soy. With 88% of US corn crops being genetically modified, you can be sure they’re not saving the organic stuff for the animal feed!
Soy is another massive GMO crop, and has been found to lock away some nutrients instead of passing them onto the goat milk, explaining why conventional milk is less nutritious than organic.
By keeping your own goats, you can avoid feeding them GM crops, ensuring higher quality milk and all-round better health for both you and your new found pets.
Did you know that goats hate to get wet and will avoid puddles? That they crave routine and get upset when things change? They’re also loyal, stubborn and incredibly curious.
Goats have excellent hearing and are clean and somewhat picky eaters. They also have an ordered social structure and will pick on newcomers until they know their place!
If you do decide to get goats, prepare to learn first-hand all about these brilliant creatures. Check out some more interesting facts about goats here.
Gentle & Entertaining Pets
Children will just love these clever and playful creatures. In fact, you all will. You’ll be fascinated by their fun-loving nature as they chase and head butt each other. They’re also known to be quite gentle with children.
Learn Where Your Food Comes From
It’s so easy to go to the store and pick up a pre-packaged meal or product without really thinking about where it comes from, or what goes into it.
Keeping your own animals is the absolute best way for both children and adults to discover the origins of food. It’s so important to respect nature, agriculture and other creatures. Children will also learn to appreciate the responsibility of caring for animals.
Free Burglar Alarm
If your precious Fido is getting a little hard of hearing, a couple of goats will happily step up to the plate and play watchdog.
These talkative creatures will bleat at everything that comes near your property, so you’ll never be caught unawares.
Keep Your Food Miles Down
Food miles refer to the distance over which a food item travels from producer to consumer.
If you keep goats you’re not clocking up a single food mile and are playing your part in saving the environment.
Less Greenhouse Gases
While we’re on the subject of environmental impact, it seems that goats are a smarter choice than cows if you want to have your own dairy source.
Goats eat less and therefore poop less, meaning they produce less methane gas – a potent greenhouse gas. Even though it’s only a small difference, these little changes can add up.
Therapy For Free
All sorts of animals are now used for therapeutic purposes and goats are no exception. Not only are they entertaining and affectionate, but they’re loyal and loving too.
Goats have been said to bring withdrawn people out of themselves, lift spirits and even lower patients’ blood pressure.
Smaller breeds like pygmies and Nigerian dwarfs are chosen in residential therapeutic settings as they are small enough to sit in a patient’s lap, but all goats can bring therapeutic benefits thanks to their endearing personalities.
Free (and Odorless!) Manure
Avid gardeners will surely be excited about the prospect of some free goat manure. After all, it’s a vital part of sustainable and organic farming.
Goat manure is a rich source of nutrients for your soil and can be used for flowering plants, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees. You can also compost it and use it as mulch.
The pellets are naturally dry, meaning they’re easy to collect and apply. They’re also virtually odorless once dried out.
Get On the Road to Self-Sufficiency
So you already grow your own vegetables and fruit trees, and keep a compost heap. You might even have solar panels and collect rainwater.
You read all about the great reasons to keep your own chickens and now you enjoy fresh eggs every week.
The next stop on your road to becoming self-sufficient is having your own source of milk and cheese, from your very own goats. What else could you possibly need to declare yourself as self-sustaining?
Say No to Cruelty
Keeping your own animals is one of the very few ways of knowing that your food is produced 100% cruelty free.
Organic, free-range and ‘humanely raised’ labels tend to be misleading in terms of animal welfare.
While goat farming is one of the least factory farmed of all animal produce, cruelty still does exist. The increase in consumer demand for goat milk and meat may mean goat factory farming becomes the norm.
By keeping your own animals, you’ll be saying ‘no’ to the cramped conditions, unnatural reproductive cycles, overcrowding and infection levels suffered by commercially farmed goats.
Enjoy your nutritious milk and delicious cheese safe in the knowledge it came from happy, healthy pets instead.
Companions to Other Animals
If you have a horse, sheep or donkeys, some new goats may make great companions for them.
Just remember that goats are social and prefer companionship of their own kind, so make sure you always get at least two goats.
These fascinating creatures also tend to get on well with dogs and chickens, provided they are all introduced properly.
Homegrown Cashmere Sweaters
Would you like to knit your own sweater, from wool you ‘raised’ and spun yourself?
If you think it’s for you, consider raising fiber goats for wool. You can keep Angora goats to make silky mohair or Cashmere goats for an exotic, high-demand wool.
Keep in mind, they’re a little more work than raising goats for dairy.
A Reason to Get Out & About
Looking after goats can be hard work. They need to be milked at least once a day, every day until they dry off. If not, they’ll be in a lot of pain and can develop mastitis. You’ll also need to be able to shovel their feed and clean out their living area.
And when the babies arrive, you’ll need to check on them (and run around after them).
The upside of this is that you have a reason to get up early, enjoy the fresh air and beautiful morning sun and burn a few extra calories to boot.
Initial start-up costs include fencing, shelter and bedding to keep your goats comfortable, warm and safe from predators, along with feeding equipment. Naturally you’ll have ongoing expenses like food and vet fees.
Once it’s all set up though, you’ll be getting a supply of fresh, raw, organic milk and cheese – which don’t come cheap at the store.
You’ll also save money on clearing land and won’t have to fork out for manure, meaning you can enjoy both the space and high quality soil to grow your own fruit and vegetables.
And that’s not even mentioning the free security system, educational factor, companionship and source of amusement.
If you weren’t sold on the ‘saving money’ aspect, how about making a little extra pocket money?
Get a market stall and sell your fresh, organic goat milk and cheese or some fancy cashmere cardigans. Friends and neighbors are also a great market to target with your organic, home-grown produce. After all, who doesn’t like ‘local’?
Expand your Social Circle
People are always fascinated by something a little different – you’ll be surprised at how mentioning you raise your own goats will kick off a conversation!
You’ll also seek out other goat enthusiasts. Not only are they great for sharing tips and tricks, but you can look after each other’s goats when one of you goes on vacation.
It doesn’t hurt that you have someone to brag to about your latest milk yield or yogurt recipe.
Goats are Rewarding but a Big Commitment….
…so please consider these points (and more!) before you add to your family.
- Like any pet or farm animal, these goats will be totally dependent on you for food, shelter and safety. If you’re not fully committed to care for them, it may be best to buy your organic goat milk at the store instead.
- Goats can be loud (see our point about them being great burglar alarms!). Will this be an issue for you or your neighbors? If so, better think twice about getting goats.
- Check local laws regarding keeping animals like goats – they often fall under different regulations than dogs or cats do.
- Even though they’re great for grazing, certain plants can be poisonous to goats. Always, always check what’s on your property before allowing your goats access to these plants.
- Harry Houdini has nothing on goats! These little rascals are the ultimate escape artists so you’ll need to invest time and money into ensuring their living and grazing area is escape proof.
- As mentioned earlier, goats need at least one companion. And of course, plenty of space to sleep, roam and graze. A regular-sized goat needs about 20 square feet of space for sleeping and a further 30 square feet for roaming. Don’t forget that’s per goat. If you still have a decent amount of space, but not quite those measurements, you could look at getting a smaller breed like pygmy goats.
- What happens when your goats get too old to produce milk? Or when male kids are born? You need to look carefully at what you will do with these clever creatures.
- Finally, even though keeping goats can be cheap (or sometimes even profitable) it’s not quite free. Can you afford to feed them, pay for veterinary bills and possibly even hire a ‘babysitter’ to care for and milk them, when you’re on vacation?