Homesteading and Livestock
Self-reliance and sustainability in the 21st century.

Pondering Over Adding Goats to Your Farm?

Fun with Goats  


Whether looking for a pet, companion animal, dairy producer, fiber provider, or even meat they are a fantastic livestock choice. They demonstrate a natural ability to calm our souls, nourish our bodies, and make us laugh like no other. Do you require a friend that will always be there and show excitement to see you? Want snuggles on demand? Goats may just be for you. Always found by your side to help with any projects, whether you need the help or not. Inquisitive by nature goats are always finding new adventure to be part of. They are highly intelligent, sweet natured, and easy to manage compared to other livestock species. Their gentle dispositions make them an ideal choice for 4-H kids.

Manger and Lucy

Goats have a short return on investment compared to other livestock. They are only pregnant for five months at a time. In most cases they will have multiples twins, triplets, and even quads are a normality amongst some breeds. Because of their feed choices consisting of mainly weeds a fancy pasture is unneeded. Other livestock find a goat’s choice of delicacies unfit for them, allowing certain species to overtake pastures. Goats make amazing pasture cleaners primarily munching upon poison ivy, wild roses, thorny black berry bushes, even thistles leaving the other choice grass to the horses and cows. Their split lips and small mouths allow them to eat the yummy leaves even from the thorniest of plants. Grasses and weeds should make up ninety to hundred percent of a goat’s diet, expensive grains are not needed. In the winter, they prefer a nice mix of alfalfa, timothy, and pasture mix hay.

There are endless ways to use goat products. Like cows’ goats come in meat breeds and dairy breeds. The Boar goat is the most popular among meat producers. Alpine, Lamancha, Saanen, and Oberhasli are just a few of the dairy breeds available. A few breeds like the Nubian are considered dual-purpose breeds. From simply drinking their sweet milk, to yogurt, ice-cream, butter, cheese, and even sour cream. Let’s not forget about all the other products you can make soap, lotion, salves, and even hair products. The meat is largely consumed by other countries, it is the most widely consumed red meat in the world. It has been slowly gaining popularity among consumers in the United States. Let’s not forget about the possibilities of Angora and Cashmere breeds. Their world-renowned for producing fine wool and mohair, commonly used in making some of the softest fabrics in the known.

Coco and Lucy Playing 

Trimming the Hooves 

Goat Needs

Goats require far less work than many other livestock species. They’re extremely easy to clean up after, they additionally demand less space than other livestock. Being a heard animal by nature, you sincerely can’t just have one. They will need to be vetted yearly, requiring CDT and BOSE vaccines. They require free choice mineral to help supplement any deficiencies and baking soda for them to lick on to control stomach acid, preventing bloat. Hooves require trimming at least four times a year, it’s a simple task. Being checked for worms on consistent bases is a requirement for goats.  I prefer to take samples to my Veterinarian a few times a year so not to over or under medicate them. Other owners choose to keep them on a steady stream of deworming products.

As long as there is a sturdy fence and plenty to eat they will happily stay in their designated area. Building fun items for them to climb and play on is an excellent choice. Don’t put the climbing toys to close to the fence or a loose goat may be in the future. They prefer most of their food be off the ground wall and stand-alone mangers are sure to delight them. Creating plenty of shade is essential in the summer. Mature trees, run in shelters, or shad structures work well. Plenty of cool water needs to readily accessible to prevent dehydration. Shaving them in the summer also aids them to stay cooler. Proper ventilation in the shelters is critical too much humidity will expediently increase the chance of pneumonia. Place a few scratching posts around too, they love them!

the three girls 

Playing in the snow 


Goats adore being right with you showing their best traits of affection and devotion. Want them to love you more? Spoil them with left-over produce from dinner or spare leafy greens left from your carrots and beats. If you’re looking for more of a pet than a producer, check out the tremendously adorable Pygmy breed. Be sure to purchase from CAE, Caprine Arthritic Encephalitis, free herd, this terrible disease causes an array of symptoms. It commonly affects the brain with inflammation but can also cause lameness, weakness, blindness, and/or paralysis. There is no cure or vaccine available at this time, the only way to know if their negative, is through a blood test. Are you still pondering over goats or have you made up your mind? 

Carrie Miller runs Miller Micro Farm in Ohio, where she spends a lot of her time preserving the bounties through canning and freezing. She loves to repurposing daily items around the farm in new and creative ways. She is a photographer and blogger for Community Chickens. Connect with Carrie on Facebook.

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Roosters and Neighbors


Once upon a time, the morning call of the rooster used to be an integral part of people’s routine. Sadly, many have grown so detached from nature, traditional farming and rural life that they regard the rooster’s crow as a “nuisance."

Let me just edge in a quick word and say how unfair I think this is. If you live in the suburbs or on the outskirts of a city, and are trying to set up a small urban homestead, any complaint from any negatively-minded neighbor can be a dream-killer. If they keep a dog that annoys you by barking all day, or if their noisy lawn mower drives you crazy, you can hardly do anything. But if your rooster crows morning and evening, your neighbors can file a complaint and make you get rid of it, because it’s considered “livestock”.

So how do you reduce this possible source of friction with your neighbors?

Some people choose not to keep a rooster at all, but only a few laying hens, and replace them as they age. It can be a sensible approach in some circumstances, unless your neighbors are so fussy that even the clucking of a laying hen gets on their nerves. But keeping a girl-only flock is a disappointment if you have been planning on breeding your chickens and rearing your own tiny balls of fluff every year.

Choose your breed carefully. Some breeds are distinctly noisier, more dominant and, for lack of a better expression, cockier than others. Brahmas, Cochins, Wyandottes, Plymouth Rock and Australorps are known for their docility, and the roosters are relatively quiet, family-friendly, and easy to handle.

Keep just one. Two roosters in one flock will try to out-crow and in general to compete with each other; one will call, the other will answer, and so it goes on. If you only have one rooster of a quiet breed, he’ll give a couple of calls a day to assert his dominance over the hens, and that’s it.

Rooster collars. If all else fails, check out the option of no-crow rooster collars. They are easy to put on and do the bird no harm, but muffle the crowing sound. We haven’t personally tried this, but friends of ours have had great success in using them.

My last suggestion is broader and less technical; try to cultivate a closer and friendlier relationship with your neighbors. Give them a few fresh eggs when you can, invite their children to feed your chickens or see baby chicks when you have them. Usually, after people have been your guests, tasted your home-grown omelet, and played with your cute fluffy newly-hatched chicks, they are unlikely to complain over something that isn’t absolutely disruptive. In fact, they might even want to get some chickens themselves!

 Anna Twitto’s academic background in nutrition made her care deeply about real food and seek ways to obtain it. Anna and her husband live on a plot of land in Israel. They aim to grow and raise a significant part of their food by maintaining a vegetable garden, keeping a flock of backyard chickens and foraging. Anna's books are on her Author Page. Connect with Anna on Facebook and read more about her current projects on her blog. Read all Anna's Mother Earth News posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.