A Guide to Raising Goats

Nancy Pierson Farris provides a detailed guide to raising goats including how to care for them, milk them, and housing goats.

| November/December 1970

When we started our homestead we planned to raise as much of our own food as possible . . . but we intended to begin with chickens and vegetables. Our schemes were turned upside down, however, by a visit in July to a goat dairy.

We had gone "just to look around" because we did want—eventually—to produce our own dairy products. While at the dairy, though, we were surprised to learn that kids are usually available only from February to July . . . so, naturally, we bought the only kid still for sale and drove home with her in the back seat of the car. This was our first step in learning about raising goats.

We didn't even have a place to house the little 3-month old Alpine grade doeling and for several weeks "Bunnie" shared quarters with our pump. We bought a dog collar and used a length of clothesline to tether her in the backyard, near the pumphouse. Meanwhile, we erected framing for our 12 foot  by 21 foot all-purpose barn and dried-in the first 3 foot square kid stall. Then Bunnie moved in while we completed the 9 foot by 12 foot goat section, the 12 foot by 12 foot hen house and the feed room area of the barn.

During construction, we used a metal drum for dry feed storage. Now we keep feed in a freezer cabinet which we obtained free-for-the-hauling from a local appliance dealer.

Finding that first goat is sometimes a problem. A friend of a friend directed us to ours and the local grapevine is often the best source of information. Some states publish a Market Bulletin—available at no charge—that lists goats for sale. County agents can also help would-be buyers who are interested in raising goats.

Choice of a breed is entirely an individual decision. The uniformly-white Saanen is reputed to produce the most milk and the milk of Nubians has the highest butterfat content. Nubians may be any color but always have long drooping ears and a Roman nose. Toggenburgs, always some shade of brown with a white stripe down each side of the face, are popular in some areas and Alpines (which may be any color or combination) are gaining favor among breeders.

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