Now I Want a Goat. Well, Maybe 2 Goats.

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I thought I was going to need a cow for my family.

Then I read that a cow can produce 10 gallons of milk a day. We like milk, but that is a bit much.
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So I got this book from the library, and learned that apparently a goat can produce 200 gallons a year. Still a lot of milk, to be sure, but we easily go through 2 gallons a week, and that doesn’t include other milk products such as butter, cheese, yogurt(I’ve just started making my own!), and ice cream.

I also read that goat milk tastes like cow’s milk, which is a definite plus.

Drawbacks:
1. You’re supposed to have 2 so they can keep each other company.

2. They need to be bred to keep up milk production, and with that of course comes a time when you should let her rest from making milk and then feed her kid(s). Oh, and I’d will have to find a buck to borrow, since I don’t think I could convince my husband to get three goats. Actually, he probably won’t even go for two, especially since we live in a neighborhood… Anyway, back to dreaming. I guess that makes #3.

3. We live in a neighborhood. Chickens might be stretching it.

So I think Nigerian dwarf goats would be nice, they’re rather small (50 lbs) and probably would produce about as much milk as we need, plus we could use surplus for butter ( which I could freeze) and yogurt. I would be fun to also try my hand at making cheese.

I wonder if I could have them in my backyard. Probably not. It would probably violate some zoning law.

Maybe we should move to the country so I can have some goats.

And chickens.

Hmmm. Maybe I should just start with chickens, but the book estimates that i could have milk for about $1.70 a gallon, and that’s after factoring in feed costs!

Do any of you have goats? What have been your experiences?

Are they noisy? Smelly? Worth the feed and work? Are they good with human kids? Does goat milk really taste like cow’s milk?

Do you think the neighbors would notice??? I have a privacy fence… Maybe they would like some fresh feta cheese??

Somebody talk some sense into me.

Tell me they really stink and that the neighbors will surely complain. Tell me I don’t have room and that the human kids will have nowhere to play. Tell me to start off with three chickens like a normal person and see how I like that.

But fresh milk!!!!!

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25 responses »

  1. Some goats like the pigmy goats are escape artists or at least that is at least their reputation and they may be destructive relative to someone’s garden. Just means that more attention must be paid to confine them.

    On Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 7:47 AM, Coffee to Compost wrote:

    > Sarah posted: “I thought I was going to need a cow for my family. Then I > read that a cow can produce 10 gallons of milk a day. We like milk, but > that is a bit much. So I got this book from the library, and learned that > apparently a goat can produce 200 gallons a ye” >

  2. I’m a big fan of dreaming – and waiting…….. often the solution comes along in a most unexpected way.

    We had a Billy Goat once, unimaginatively named Billy, who was given to us to help keep our huge playing field of a section in order. He would run at me and butt me every time he saw me coming. He was a bad tempered old goat and I finally understood why that had become an epithet for some people, πŸ™‚

  3. I dream too. But goat(s) climb and need to climb up on things (cars). So I have the same concern that you do. Fresh milk, but work… So, I thought what about finding someone that has the goat(s) and wants to sell you the fresh milk. That would address having the milk but not having the work load. Three chickens sound wonderful. My across the street neighbor has them. But has not needed to sell or give away any extra eggs. We live in a large metro city in Southern California. The hens make a noise when they are laying an egg. Other than that, no noise. They would do great in a small area. You could choose when to let them scratch in your garden and lots of fertilizer for the compost pile. You don’t need a rooster to have eggs, just chicks. There is also a bantan size of chicken. When we move to Fl, I’ll be getting chickens and maybe bees, not goats.

    • Yeah, it was fun to think of goats for a while, but it really is not feasible right now. I was talking to a friend of mine about her chickens, and she was telling me that they are not much work and fairly inexpensive to keep.

    • I could swap goat stories with the neighbors! A mini farm might be fun. Or the mini farm could become exhausting and a money pit. Maybe I’d better just work on getting some chickens. My neighbors probably think I’m crazy enough.

      • We do have good neighbors. Some of them are gardeners too. There’s a kind lady that has given me many seeds, cuttings, and plants over the years; so I love it when I can bring her a baggie of cherry tomatoes or a bunch of kale.

      • I love to share with my neighbors too-usually lemons and tomatoes…..(we have a small garden). It’s great when we can share with each other. β™‘β™‘

  4. Depending on the county code too (and assuming you don’t live in an HOA area) you might not be able to have “farm” animals in a neighborhood. Also, if you were hoping to take a vacation or a quick weekend trip you’d need to find someone to milk the goat. It’s one thing to have a friend come over and collect eggs, but another thing to have a pal try and milk a goat! Also, I personally taste a bit of a difference in goats milk. It’s not bad, but also not my favorite to drink.

    • There’s a couple of people with chickens in our neighborhood, so I’m assuming they’re OK. Either that, or people are not bothered by them. Good point on the vacations.

  5. We can’t have farm animals in our neighborhood, according to city ordinance. I found out however that a Michigan law made some 100 years ago outlaws any city ordinance outlawing farm animals. Trouble is, do I really want to fight city hall? Hubby isn’t up for it, and most days I’m not either, but there are days that I just want to take them all on and buy a stable full of animals. But for now we just lease a herd of cows so we can buy raw milk and not go to jail for it — seeing as buying raw milk is illegal here in Michigan.

      • You’re lucky. We have to pay a yearly fee of about $50 and then it’s $9 a gallon of milk. We can buy cheese and many other dairy products, but I mainly just buy 6 gallons of milk a month. Worth every penny. The “leasing a herd of cows” stipulation is what is required by Michigan law in order for us all not to go to jail or being fined I guess.

  6. My biggest concern is what to do with the kids once they have weened? I’m not sure goat’s milk tastes like cow’s milk, but I’m pretty sure goat steak doesn’t taste like angus.

  7. I raised dairy/meat goats for 15 years, plus Jersey cows for the last five on my own small hobby farm, so I’m familiar with both.

    Goats are very intelligent, with agile minds that brew trouble, and incredible escape artists; the smaller the goat, the more secure fence it needs. Even large ones can do low limbo through a hole of mere inches. As the old line goes, “If you can throw water through the fence, it’s not goat-proof.”

    If they get out, and they eventually will, they will destroy your landscaping and trees very quickly, and those of your soon-irate neighbors. Oh, and 1-2 goats can scream raucously when lonely or bored.

    Goats have 2-4 unbearably cute babies every year. Your herd will rapidly increase beyond management if you can’t bring yourself to sell or eat them. The upside to goats is that they are inexpensive, small, easily handled, don’t eat much and their droppings are inoffensive, both in size and odor. πŸ˜‰

    Bucks do stink rankly during breeding season, but it’s easy to transport your doe to a buck with a pickup and cap. She will, however, carry that perfume back with her and it may contaminate your milk flavor for a week or so.

    An average backyard doe gives about 3/4 gal a day AFTER weaning (unless you feed her kids expensive milk replacer), then starts dropping production after breeding, finally stopping 2-3 months before kidding. Expensive, show-quality Saanens can do up to 2 gallons a day, but require a lot more grain and often have more mastitis problems. Average Nigerians do about a quart+ a day after weaning, while exceptional show-quality does give about 3 quarts but require more grain.

    High-fat goat milk is delicious if handled carefully (don’t heat or agitate!) and used quickly; otherwise, it tastes goaty, due to the high lipase content. The milk is very white and naturally homogenized, yielding little butter unless you buy a separator. The butter is disconcertingly white and goes goaty quickly, while skimmed milk is watery and flat… best for chickens and pigs. Goat milk is best for drinking…cooking brings out goatiness.

    Whole-fat goat milk makes wonderful fresh cheeses, yummy mozzarella and fantastic feta. Unfortunately, the high lipase content, tasty in those cheeses, means aged cheeses like cheddar taste like feta. In fact, wanting to make good butter and aged cheeses was why I finally lost my 10-year bias against cows. πŸ™‚

    An average backyard Jersey gives about 3-5 gallons a day at peak, then drops from there; high-producing Holstein cows give up to 8-10 gals/day. Smaller Dexter and mini-cows give 1.5-3 gallons a day, but are more expensive and harder to find… and breed.

    Dexter milk is very white and naturally homogenized with relatively little butter yield. Jersey milk is pale yellow with easily-rising cream, so top-skimming yields plenty of golden-rich butter that freezes easily, plus top-skimmed Jersey milk is still rich and yummy.

    Five+ gals a day sounds like a lot, but you can sharemilk the cow with her calf or let him take it all when he’s big enough, on days you don’t want to milk. If she gives more milk than both of you can use, you can buy an orphan bull calf to graft onto her and have beef to put in the freezer or to sell. Or you can feed lambs or pigs with the extra milk.

    Or make cheese. One gallon of milk, whether goat or cow, makes 1 pound of cheese, and one pound of cheese goes VERY quickly… minutes with a large family! Cheesemaking takes 4-5 hours or longer, whether you make 1 lb of cheese or 5 lbs, so most standard recipes use five gallons of milk. Remember, 1 lb cheese is eaten distressingly quickly for the amount of work required. πŸ˜‰

    Though cows are generally more tractable, loving and peaceful, and much more easily fenced than goats, their major downside is their large size. They eat way more, and require much more grazing land and stall-space, and their huge plops and gallons of urine are smelly and hazardous for walking, lol. They require a stock trailer to transport, and it can be difficult to find someone to artificially inseminate them.

    Even so, I danced when selling the goats three years ago, and cried when I sold the cows last year on retiring.

    But, goats are good to start with. πŸ˜‰

    • Thank you so much for your great information! Your voice of experience is so valuable. I really appreciate you giving me pros and cons of each animal. I’m glad I didn’t run out and get goats immediately, because I am not at a good location for them to have the space I would like, and I did not know about the noise that only 1 or 2 might make. After reading about making cheddar, it doesn’t seem quite as expensive. πŸ™‚ Again, thank you so much for your feedback!

  8. yes, there’s a very good reason why good artisan cheeses are worth their expense: aged cheeses take a LOT of work and time! I sold my fresh cheeses and feta for $12/lb, and wouldn’t even sell my aged cheese because it was so much work, not only to make but also to age for several months.

    I didn’t sell my butter either… it was all MINE! lol I miss my fresh cream and homemade butter far more than the cheese. πŸ™‚

    • I savored my cheddar more yesterday, not because it was expensive( it was actually cheaper to buy the pound of cheese than a gallon of milk!), but because I appreciate the time and work more. I view food waste differently too after having a garden.

  9. Goats are super fun and energetic! I’ve always wanted a goat (though not for milking). I’ve ‘stickied’ another goat post for you, in case you’re interested.

    Have you ever considered making the ‘bean’ cheese? Alone, it lacks the flavor of a feta or yogurt, but it’s protein and nutrition content is right up there and can be flavored in a myriad ways. We make tofu at home, even getting a couple of batches of yummy brownies from the ‘waste’ (okara) of it. Way easier than caring for animals. http://wp.me/p28k6D-RP

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