There are many types of farms and one that is growing in popularity is a goat farm. Easier to keep than cows, goats are intelligent, loyal creatures that serve a lot of purposes. If you are interested in starting your own goat farm, we hope this article can help.
How to start a goat farm: Having a farm is an amazing experience. You are in control of what is around you and get to see all your hard work pay off. Having a goat farm is enticing as these animals are easy to care for and don’t include a lot of start-up costs. Make sure you have the right amount of land for the number of goats you want. Then, decide if you want your goats for breeding purposes, milk production, or even meat consumption. Once this is decided on, make sure there is a market for your goods. Set up your farm, purchase your goats, and you will soon find this is a rewarding endeavor.
Is a goat farm profitable?
Yes, a goat farm is indeed profitable. Goats are able to produce both milk and meat, and while we may forget about them in favor of cows, people around the world regularly consume goat products.
Why should you start a goat farm?
Goats do not cost a lot of money to purchase. Furthermore, they are smaller animals and so need less land to graze.
As well, goats don’t take long to mature for meat purposes. At just 8 to 10 months of age, a goat is ready for slaughter, which means the turnover is quite quick.
Large meat market
Even though many Americans and Canadians don’t eat goat meat, it is widely consumed around the world. In particular, many Asian cultures see goat meat as a staple.
Furthermore, those in the Muslim community have a lot of dietary restrictions but goat meat is widely accepted.
While you should always try to sell your goat meat locally, there is a growing demand around the world for goat meat. Because there is more land available for goats to graze in America, other countries need to import goat meat to meet the demand.
Growing demand for cow milk-alternatives
If you head to the grocery store, you are sure to see an expanded milk section. While cow milk was once the staple, more and more people are now finding themselves lactose-intolerant and want a different option.
While goat milk is not lactose-free, it can be easier to digest. Therefore, many people with mild symptoms start off with this milk in order to find an easier-to-digest alternative.
Furthermore, goat milk is used for tasty cheese, which is always a popular treat.
Things You Need to Consider Before Starting A Goat Farm
Even though a goat farm is indeed profitable, there are many considerations to understand before you start one. The better prepared you are, the easier it will be to maintain your goat farm and ultimately, to make money.
Laws and Regulation
Before you get all excited about raising goats, the first step is to check any local laws and regulations. Farmland regulations vary county by county, so you will need to check your town’s laws.
As goats are usually classified as farm animals, they are almost always prohibited in urban settings. Even if you live at the edge of a city, if you are not designated as rural, you probably won’t be able to have goats.
Furthermore, there are often laws about whether you can have male goats or not. The purpose may also be a factor.
While goats are often allowed on a hobby farm, raising goats for a commercial purpose may not be allowed. When in doubt, always talk to a government official to make sure you are complying with all bylaws.
Now that you know you are able to have goats on your farm, it’s time to decide what your purpose will be. A lot of times, the purpose is wholly dependent on how large your farm is and how much time you want to spend on the endeavor.
Breeding goats is perhaps the easiest option. There are many farmers who are looking for new goats, so there is always a market for breeding.
The main consideration with breeding is that female goats, called does, cannot be housed with male goats, called bucks. This is because bucks are too aggressive.
So, in order for breeding to work, you will need to start with a few does and house your buck separately, only allowing them together for breeding.
You can also only have bucks and rent them out to other farms for their breeding purposes.
Those that want to go the breeding route will need to have official papers of their goats. This adds legitimacy to your business and ensures that no genetic anomalies are passed on.
If you are going the route of meat production, you will want to decide how much meat to produce and where you will sell it.
Most farmers decide on raising does for meat production, as having a buck on your farm is a lot more work. Usually, goats are ready for slaughter before the age of one.
Selecting Goat Breed
Knowing what type of goat farm you want to have will determine what goat breed you need as different breeds are better for different purposes.
- Boer goats – bred for better meat production
- Alpine goats – best milk producers
- La Mancha – great for milk with a high buttermilk content
- Nubian – long breeding season and good milk production
- Saanen – excellent milk production
- Spanish – good for meat production
- Kiko – excellent meat production
You will also want to match your goats with the climate you live in. For example, Nubian goats are native to the Middle East and can withstand hot temperatures.
Kiko goats are great if you have a lot of brush on your farm and need an economical way of cleaning it up. They will eat just about anything in front of them.
If you are raising goats for slaughter, you probably don’t want to spend a lot of time training them. However, goats are quite intelligent and if you know your goats will be around for a while, training them can be quite fun.
Always start training your goat at an early age as this will make it much easier. You can give them simple commands, such as follow or lead. Once they have mastered this, you can then move on to fun tricks.
It is important to train goats on proper behavior as they can lead to serious injuries. Make sure they know not to jump on you. Also, make sure they don’t stand with their legs on your legs.
When teaching goats, use a series of rewards and stern commands. It might be tempting to push a goat away by its head. However, this actually stimulates their butting action and will make them more aggressive.
Things and Equipment
Overall, you don’t need too much equipment for a goat farm, which is why is it such a great endeavor. However, there are a few pieces you will need to purchase, such as water and food buckets.
Goats can get pretty excited and are definitely not the cleanest animals. When sourcing water and food troughs, you will want them to have sturdy bottoms so they don’t tip over.
Also, consider how many goats you plan on raising. The more goats, the more buckets you will need.
No matter where you live, your goats will need a sheltered area. This does not have to be large but the size will depend on how many goats you have.
You can start with a basic shed or if you have a dairy shed, you can use this. Goats don’t need a lot of space but they do need to have enough room to stand around and lie down without being on top of each other.
Goats do not like getting wet, so their shelter has to have a waterproof roof. It should also have at least two sides to it to add shelter from the wind.
Finally, if you live in a hotter climate, a goat house is important as it can provide much-needed shade during the warmer parts of the afternoon.
One aspect you should also consider with your goat house is room for food. While goats are happy to graze and eat their hay outside when it is nice out, if it is raining, they won’t leave their shelter, even if they are hungry.
Set up a designated area for food to minimize mess. Also, be sure to clean out your goat house on a regular basis as it can quickly become quite messy inside.
First, let’s clarify a bit of terminology. When we think of animals, such as cows, we think of them grazing. This means animals who happily eat grass that is low to the ground.
In contrast, goats are browsers. This means they want to eat vegetation from high-growing plants, such as trees and shrubs.
Goats would rather eat tree bark and leaves, rather than grass.
Therefore, while your goat needs pasture land, it should not just be a plain field of grass. This can be a bit difficult to find, especially as once a goat strips a tree of its leaves and bark, it might not grow back.
The good news is that goats can be fed almost exclusively on hay, grains, and kitchen vegetable scraps. While they still need pasture to roam around and move, it does not have to be their primary source of food.
Buying Your Goat
You can’t have a goat farm without a goat, so purchasing one is the next step after you have set up their area. Goats aren’t too expensive but their price will vary based on their breed and their sex.
You can expect to pay between $100 and $700 for a single goat.
Male goats, bucks, are usually less expensive than female goats, does. This is because male goats are very aggressive and therefore only one or two are kept on a farm.
Always remember that you need to purchase at least two female goats. They are very social animals and if you start with just one, it will quickly become very lonely.
Care and Maintenance
When they are babies or kids, goats begin to grow their horns. While these are functional in the wild, on farms they do more damage than good.
The process of removing goat horns is called disbudding and should be performed when your goats are around two to four weeks old.
Never attempt this process on your own because it can end up being quite painful for your goat. Instead, always enlist the help of a veterinarian who can disbud your goat in a humane way.
Unless you want your male bucks for breeding purposes, it is best to castrate them. Again, this should never be done by yourself but instead by a trained veterinarian.
If you want to raise goats for milking purposes, you will want to start this right away. As soon as your doe is in heat, she is ready for breeding.
It is best to introduce the doe to the buck so she can feel a bit more at ease. You may want to try breeding two to four times before successful implantation.
Once a goat is pregnant, she will begin to produce milk. Be sure to milk every day to maintain milk production and to relieve pressure from her udder.
Most does are able to continue producing milk for up to two years.
Food and Supplements
One of the best reasons to raise goats is that it is relatively easy to feed them. While their diet will change in the winter months when they don’t have as much access to pasture, this is a rough idea of what to feed them.
Hay is simply dried grass. While goats do not like to graze grass, they do require it to eat, especially in the winter when there is less pasture available.
Goats should always have a plentiful supply of hay available that they can munch on throughout the day.
When it comes to goats, pasture includes brush and trees, including leaves and bark. You will often see goats up on their hind legs looking for tasty leaves at the top of a tree.
Many varieties of goats will eat almost anything in their way, so if you have a field you are trying to clear, it can be a good idea to let your goats out for a few hours each day to have their fill.
Even though goats don’t naturally eat grain, it is now an important part of their diet on farms. The reason is that they simply need the nutrients and usually aren’t exposed to enough wild foliage to maintain their diet.
With grain, consider a mixture of corn, oats, and soybeans. This will give them the nutrients they need to stay healthy.
Even though goats are herbivores, they still need protein. Grain products provide them with the protein they need.
It’s ok to treat your goats every now and then, as long as they are kept as treats and not the main meal. This can be in the form of specific goat treats or even just kitchen scraps you have.
Goats love sweeter vegetables and fruit, such as raspberries and apples. And, after Halloween be sure to give them leftover pumpkins which they will quickly devour.
Having a product is not profitable if you have no one to sell it to. Always do your market research before getting into a goat farm.
If you only have a few goats on your farm, it is much easier to find a market, whether it is for meat or milk production.
Many small farms simply advertise in their community and have ample buyers. Another option is to rent a table at a farmer’s market to sell your products.
If you want to scale up production, you will have to think more about your market. Reach out to smaller stores to see if they will carry your products.
You can also partner with larger retailers. This way you get their experience and knowledge, which takes a lot of pressure from you.
Calculating if it’s profitable
Unfortunately, there is no simple formula to decide how profitable your goat farm will be. However, there are a few basic bits of information that can help you determine it.
First, add up all your costs. This includes how much you will pay for your goat, the cost of feed per year, and the initial cost of items like a shelter and food buckets.
Goats also need a series of vaccinations and routine veterinarian visits. Disbudding and castration are also extra costs.
One expense that is often forgotten is labor. If it is a small goat farm, it is probably you and your family that will be doing the bulk of the labor.
While you may not realize it at first, your time is money. You want to be able to make enough money for your time and effort to be worth it.
Once your expenses are tallied, it’s time to figure out your profits. Again, this will vary, especially depending on the purpose of your goat farm.
While you’re almost always guaranteed to make a profit from your goat farm, it’s good to wait a year to see just what adds up. There are always hidden costs you aren’t aware of.
Once you understand your profits, you can then decide if you want to keep going with your goat farm and consider where there is room to scale up production.
How many goats do I need to start a goat farm?
You can start a goat farm with as little as two animals. This may be a wise choice as you can quickly scale up from here once you get used to the animals.
Remember that goats are social animals. If you only have one goat, it will quickly become lonely and even depressed.
Furthermore, you will need to decide if you want a female doe or a male buck. Unfortunately, male bucks are very hard to take care of.
Bucks are very aggressive and need to be housed by themselves. They are also messy and very smelly.
One way around this issue is to castrate your bucks, which are then called wethers. Castration should always be done in a humane way and once done, wethers can be housed with does.
Many farmers decide on having one, or even no bucks on their farms. They are simply too difficult to house.
If you do want to breed your does, you can then rent a buck for mating purposes.
How much does a goat farmer make a year?
Before anyone gets too excited, let’s first remember that there is a difference between a small hobby farm and a full-scale operation.
Goats are great but if you just want a few on your farm, you won’t be able to make a living income. However, if you have the drive and the space, you can indeed make goat farming a full-time job.
While costs are always changing, a farmer with a full goat operation can make around $40,000 a year. This is a good start but does mean that you have to put in the bulk of the manual labor.
Most people decide to take on goats as a hobby or a way to add a bit of extra income to their household.
Goats are also great pets to have and a goat farm is an innovative way to teach children about manual labor and business.
So, goat farms are profitable but the scale can range from a few hundred dollars a year to the equivalent of a full-time job.
Starting a goat farm is a worthwhile endeavor. Goats are not overly expensive, don’t need too many extras, and you can sell both their milk and their meat at a profit.