Raising Goats For Dummies
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You get a lot from keeping goats. Raising goats can help you achieve a sustainable lifestyle. You can milk them or eat their meat, use their fiber and their skin for making clothing, and even use their dung for fuel (if you are so inclined).

You may want to raise goats for a variety of reasons:

  • Becoming more self-sufficient: Goats can give you milk to drink and food to eat, and even help you carry your belongings when backpacking.

  • Cutting your dairy bill: If you raise dairy goats, you might not have to buy cheese or milk ever again. Your goats need to have kids to give you milk, and then you can milk them throughout the year for up to three years without re-breeding.

  • Raising your own meat: Goat meat has always been popular in the developing world because goats are much more affordable and use fewer resources than animals such as cows. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the demand for goat meat is expected to continue growing.

  • Growing your own fiber: Some of the finest fiber comes from goats: Angora and Pygora goats produce mohair, cashmere goats produce cashmere, and crosses between the two breeds produce a fiber called cashgora.

    If you raise fiber goats, you can spin your own yarn and make hats, blankets, sweaters or other products. You can also sell the fiber to spinners or to companies that make these products.

  • Harnessing goats' power as living weed whackers: Goats are well-known for their ability to wipe out weeds. In fact, some people have made businesses out of renting out their goat herds to cities and other municipalities to clean up areas that are overgrown with weeds or blackberry bushes. These leased goats decrease the need to use herbicides, improve the soil's fertility, decrease the risk of fire, increase the diversity of plants in the area, and control weeds in hard-to-reach areas, such as steep hills.

  • Breeding and selling: Unless your goats are just pets or brush eaters, you probably want to breed them. If you have dairy goats, you need to breed them to keep a good supply of milk flowing. And you need to replace any goats you sell or slaughter.

  • Keeping goats as pets: You can leash train goats and take them on walks throughout the neighborhood or around your property, which provides exercise for all of you.

  • Using your goat for packing: Goats are social animals and, after you establish a relationship with them, they love to spend time with you. They enjoy going for hikes and can carry your belongings; they find plenty to eat right there in the wilderness.

  • Raising goats as a 4-H project: Getting children involved in raising goats is a good way to teach responsibility. Keeping goats requires twice-a-day chores. Children quickly learn that the goats depend on them. They also find out about the cycle of birth and death and get outdoors to get regular exercise.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Cheryl K. Smith has raised a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf and Oberian dairy goats under the herd name Mystic Acres since 1998. She is the owner of karmadillo Press and is the author of Goat Health Care, Goat Midwifery, The Best of Ruminations Goat Milk and Cheese Recipes, and Raising Goats: Some Essentials.

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