Raising Goats In The Backyard – A Complete Guide

Introduction to raising Goats in the backyard

People think about getting backyard goats for several reasons such as for milk, entertainment, and companionship, or even for help in keeping some of the weeds trimmed. But before you consider getting a goat, it is important to know how to keep them healthy and happy. Goats play an important role in human nutrition, food security, and household income, social and cultural functions. They provide useful products like milk, meat, and skins as well as manure for crop and fish production. Goats are a very important component of an integrated production system.

A step by step guide to raising Goats in the backyard

Goats are a great animal to add to your farm and they are easy to handle, they produce a large amount of milk, and they’re also a source of low-fat meat. If you grow crops on the farm, you’ll be glad to know that goat manure makes great fertilizer too. Goats need adequate land for grazing or foraging and some heavy-duty fencing, but other than that, raising goats is no more difficult than any other farm animal.

A guide to raising Goats in the backyard.
A guide to raising Goats in the backyard.

Select breeds for raising Goats in the backyard

Super cute and super tiny Pygmy and Dwarf goats are perfectly backyard sized. Pygmy goats grow to half the size of a typical goat breed (about 60 pounds, the size of a medium dog). In a 15-foot x 25-foot space you can set up an area for two mini goats (of course if you can give them a bigger area, these little adventurous and mischievous animals would very much appreciate it). You will want to build some solid fencing to keep them in as they can be escape artists but they can be a lively and fun addition to any backyard farm.

Despite their small size, they can be used for meat, but backyard farmers keep them for other purposes. Goats give excellent manure for your garden. Dwarf goats are excellent milkers, with the average doe producing up to 2 pounds of milk per day. If you aren’t interested in breeding and keeping up with daily milking routines, Pygora goats are adorable little fibre producers. Pygoras yield a silky cashmere and mohair fibre that can be knit into super warm clothing for you and your family. Before buying goats, consider how much land you have to raise livestock on, paying particular attention to existing fences.

How much time you plan on spending caring for the goats will be the main factor in what kind of goats you get. For fresh goat milk, a dairy goat near the end of lactation will provide you with an idea of what is involved in milking without an excessive amount of milk. A Pygmy goat is great entertainment and companionship for children (both young and old). If brush control is the main concern, any breed of goat will do an adequate job, whether it gives milk or not. When buying goat breeds for milk, it’s a good idea to watch the goat being milked to confirm that there is no mastitis, damaged teats, and unusual tasting milk.

Some other Goat breeds are;

A local breed has the best chance of resistance and adaptability to the diseases and the diet of the area, choosing a local breed is always the best place to start a healthy goat herd. Goat breeds can be divided into three main categories;

1. Indigenous breeds which have been naturally selected for adaptability to harsh environments and which are used for meat production, but are also important for cultural purposes.

2. Meat breeds have been specifically bred for meat-producing characteristics.

3. Dairy breeds which are all imported breeds and include Saanen goats and Toggenburg goats. These are breeds that have been selected for milk production and are used for the production of milk and processed milk products like cheese and yogurt.

Importance of raising Goats in the backyard

Goat-rearing is the preferred activity of poor families for the below reasons;

1. In India, the goats are among the main meat-producing animals. Along with meat production, goats are also suitable for milk, fiber, and skin production. They produce high-quality manure which helps to increase crop production.

2. The goat is a small animal; goat rearing is a manageable activity and requiring a comparatively small area.

3. Capital investment is low; therefore, a poor family can start the activity easily.

7. Goat farming can be a profitable occupation for a farmer and can fit well into mixed farming.

8. Goats are cheaper to maintain, easily obtainable and have a friendly disposition.

9. Goats are capable of adapting to several agro-climatic conditions ranging from arid dry to cold arid to hot humid. They can be raised in plains, hilly tracts, and sandy zones and at high altitudes.

10. The goat, the parts of a goat’s body and the products prepared from goats’ produce, etc., are saleable in the market and many cottage industries are based on goats and the goat rearing activity. The milk of a goat is used for the treatment of several diseases.

11. Milk can be obtained many times a day from a goat. Also, there is no impact on the quantity of milk if there is a delay in milking.

Size of Goats (Mini vs. Standard)

There are two sizes of goats such as miniature and standard-size breeds. Standard-size breeds, such as the Nubian and Alpine, weigh between 100 and 200 lbs. or more. Some mini-goats like the pygmy and Nigerian dwarf tend to be popular in urban areas because of the many local restrictions on goat size and weight (these smaller breeds tend to weigh 100 lbs. or less). If the backyard is miniature as well, make sure that the tiny “kid” goat or goats you bring home won’t grow up to be bigger than you are expecting.

Space requirement for raising Goats in the backyard

For space requirements, goats need a pasture area and at least a three-sided shelter or small barn where they can be protected from the elements. In indoors, goats have about 15 square feet per animal, and that in the outdoor pasture 2 to 10 goats can comfortably reside in 1 acre.

Goats prefer group spaces when it comes to housing and a small backyard barn is an ideal shelter for a goat or two. Does should have 20 to 30 square feet of indoor space apiece, while bucks require about 100 square feet. In the winter season, bed the floor with straw or wood shavings, but leave it bare in the summer to prevent flies and other pests.

Housing and fencing requirements for raising Goats in the backyard

Goat housing is simple and keeps them dry and draft-free and they are happy. A three-sided structure is enough for mild climates and it’s helpful to have a small stall for isolating a sick or injured goat or for a pregnant goat to give birth. Packed dirt will suffice for a floor in the goat house, but it must be covered with a thick layer of bedding like wood shavings (not cedar), straw, or waste hay. Keep bedding clean and dry, spreading new layers on top and removing and then replacing all of it as needed.

Fencing is a little more complex and goats need a very strong fence that they can’t climb over, knockdown, or otherwise escape from. If there is so much as a tiny hole, and they will find a way to get out. Then, they use their lips to explore their world, so if a gate latch is loose, they can wiggle it open with their lips and escape. They chew almost everything like rope, electrical wiring, and so on, are all fair game. Goats can jump and climb too, so your goat house must have a climbing-proof roof.

A smooth high-tensile electrified wire is ideal if you want to take an existing fence and then make it goat-proof. You can use a nonelectric fence at least 4 feet high but aim for 5 feet for active breeds like Nubians. Brace corners and gates on the outside so the goats can’t climb up. You can use wooden fencing, stock panels, a chain-link fence, and you can combine a wooden rail fence with woven wire. Smaller breeds of goats like the pygmies need at least 135 square feet per goat. Larger standard goat breeds like Nubians, need twice that much space per goat, so plan accordingly. The square footage of the space needs to be multiplied by the number of goats you have since they want the room to move around each other. Enclosure fencing of at least 4 to 5 feet high is also a necessity for all goats as they are very agile and good jumpers.

In case if you miss this: Pig Feed Chart and Pig Weight Chart for Beginners.

Feed and water requirement for raising Goats in the backyard

Most goats eat a pound of grain per day, and up to 4 pounds for large meat goats or lactating dairy does. They will also eat between 4 and 5 pounds of hay or forage per day, and they should have access to a mineral block so that they aren’t missing any crucial nutrients.

Goats prefer clean, fresh, and well-conserved forage. Goat feed is made up of about 74% tree and shrub leaves and 26% grass. Goats daily need 24 hours access to freshwater and hay, as well as a mineral feeder. For pet goats, replenishing the feed can be done once a day. Goats that are pregnant, as well as milking goats, require more hay and a grain feed is incorporated during the late stages of pregnancy.

Goats will eat most plants in the backyard like grass, weeds, shrubs, trees, flowers but they eat in patches. Be sure, if you are going to house goats on the property, to keep them separate from your prize roses and be aware that many ornamental shrubs like azaleas, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and ferns, are toxic to goats. Keep goats away from these plants if you have them and be sure to talk to your veterinarian to find out what other plants you need to be concerned about in your backyard or area.

Identification of a sick Goat

Your goats will let you know when something’s wrong, but you want to recognize the signs. You want to investigate further or begin taking action if you see the following signs of illness;

·   Not chewing cud

·   Not getting up

·   Pressing her head against wall or fence

·   Not eating

·   Not urinating or straining to urinate

·   Not drinking

·   Hot udder

·   Limping or staggering

·   Ears held oddly

·   Isolating himself from the herd

·   Grinding teeth

·   Coughing

·   Unusual crying

·   Runny nose or eyes

Goats need veterinary care

Just like dogs, cats and other pets, goats require regular veterinary examinations and vaccinations throughout their lifetimes, which can last for 15 to 18 years. They should be dewormed twice a year and have their hooves trimmed approximately every 6 weeks. Goats are born with horns, which should be removed (a process called disbudding) by a veterinarian when they are only a few days old to minimize the trauma of the process. Then, their horns need to be removed so that they don’t injure themselves, a person, or another animal. Regional goat enthusiast clubs or breed registries are good sources of referrals.

Common health problems for Goats

You should familiarize yourself with the diseases and parasites that can affect goats. Coccidia, worms, and lice are examples of such parasites, but they are easily managed. You’ll want to keep hooves healthy through proper trimming. For lactating goats, proper udder hygiene is crucial because it prevents mastitis, an inflammation of the udder. As with any animal, there is a lot to learn about keeping goats healthy.

The most important thing to know about goats is that while they are very cute and can be lots of fun, they require a lot of thought and care to be kept properly. All goats need fresh hay and grain and eat a huge volume of food daily, so prepared to haul heavy hay bales and bags of pellets to the goat yard often. All goats need extra, higher-protein grain and require supplemental minerals, especially copper, provided as a loose powder or as a compressed brick salt lick.

Find an exotics or farm animal veterinarian who will be available to serve goats. Goats are susceptible to several chronic diseases. Vaccinations and routine preventative treatment for worms and other parasites are necessary for all goats, and you must consult local veterinarians regarding what is required in your area.

Commonly asked questions about raising Goats in the backyard

Can a goat live in a backyard?

Goats are only one choice for backyard livestock, but their versatility and small size allow them to fit different needs.

What is the best shelter for goats?

A hoop house can give enough shelter for goats. And during the grazing season, trees for windbreaks, a three-sided shed, or a pole barn with just a roof may be enough for goats.

How many acres do you need for 2 goats?

The poor ground may support 2 to 4 goats per acre while better pasture may be able to support 6-8 goats per acre. If you are adding goats to cattle, you can add 1 to 2 goats per head of cattle.

How many acres do Nigerian dwarf goats need?

Per acre of pasture for grazing, most sources recommend about 1/10 of an acre per goat, making 10 goats in an acre a reasonable number for grazing.

How tall should a fence be for goats?

Perimeter fence height must be at least 42 inches tall. A high wire (electrified), or an offset wire set one foot inside the fence near the top, can be needed if goat jumping is a problem. As a rule, goats will crawl under rather than jump a fence, so the bottom wire must be kept close to the ground.

How many goats does it take to clear 1 acre?

A general rule of thumb is that 10 goats will clear an acre in about 1 month. Though, stocking rates as high as 34 goats per acre have been reported.

How do you take care of a pet goat?

Goats need plenty of clean water, freshened daily. Consult with an exotics or farm animal veterinarian on the best foods for a goat; do not assume that foods labelled for barn-yard animals are safe for goats.

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