for people who love the littlest dairy goats
We are planning on getting goats in one or two years. (The sooner we can figure this all out, the sooner we can get them). My husband has been asking a lot of questions, so, I was hoping to get some answers here.
We want to get 3 Nigerian Dwarf does. How much space do we need for their pasture area? And, how much space do they need at night.
We are thinking of using the combination panels for their pen with an area for shelter from rain and wind. We are still trying to figure out what to do at night to protect them - we do have coyotes around.
What type of grass do they like? I know that they browse more than graze, but my husband was talking about planting the area they will be in, so, what would be goood to grow.
Thank you for your help
First of all- KUDOS to you for starting the research BEFORE you get your goats!
Secondly- although it seems that these are simple enough questions to answer, they really are quite complex. We could chat about these few questions for quite some time in a conversation. I'm going to start with some basic answers and then point you over to a site with 150+ articles all about goats and the things that a beginner should be aware of =)
1) What is the purpose that these goats will serve? Are they going to be solely pets, or do you want to milk them? If you are only wanting pets, I would strongly encourage you to get wethers (castrated males) instead of does. They are super easy to care for, you don't have to deal with the monthly heat cycles of a doe (which sometimes includes a very loud 2 or 3 days), and they do not have the hormones of a buck- so no stinky smells. Also, a wether's nutritional requirements are pretty much pasture/browse, a good quality hay, and a good quality goat mineral. They are definitely the easiest to start with, and are an asset to have if you decide to move forward with getting does and bucks, because they can serve as companions for either.
2) Pasture space- this depends if you plan to do rotational grazing or not. I you have several acres to commit to them, you can use electric netting to separate it out into several sections and move the goats every few days. This is an excellent way to manage the nutritional value of your pastures as well as control parasite intake for your goats. In areas that don't have parasite issues, some folks can happily manage 3 goats on a couple of acres. And some people actually keep goats in much smaller areas, but must utilize methods to keep the grounds clean.
3)Night time space- since you have coyotes, I would highly recommend an enclosed shelter at night. Some people will repurpose larger garden sheds for this- just be sure there is plenty of ventilation. Others will utilize a good guardian dog to keep their goats safe at night.
4) If you have actively growing pastures, you may not need to plant anything specific. Goats love weeds and they are actually quite high in nutrition for them.
Hope this helps! And here is the link I was telling you about- https://thriftyhomesteader.com/a-beginners-guide-to-goats/
Thank you for the reply. It does help. We do want the goats for dairy. We have about 4 acres and do plan on doing some rotational grazing. I'm not as sure about using the electric netting - we have a lot of small grandchildren around. The older grandkids, ages 11, 9 and 6 love to help right now with the few chores we have with our chickens and ducks. I know that they are going to want to be around the goats a lot, and they are so pround of themselves when they can do some chores by themselves. I think the electric netting would really scare them off. I had thought about a garden shed type of building for night time housing. I have been doing a lot of reading and have looked at the thriftyhomesteader site a lot. I heard Deborah speak at a couple of the Mother Earth News Fair, just not about goats. Thank you, again.
Hi Ruth! Which Mother Earth News Fairs were you at? It's always fun to reconnect!
I think is was in 2018 and 2019 that we went. We were at the Topeka ones. I think one of your sessions was eating well and the other one was on soap making.
We need to do that yet. And find a good source for hay. I am just trying to learn as much as I can ahead of time. Thanks again for the information.
Tammy Gallagher said:
I’m glad this was helpful. Goats are actually a little on the complicated side, when getting started, because all of their needs revolve around your specific property and what is available to them as a foundation. Then you build off of that. It’s only complicated at first though. Once you find the right ‘recipe’ for parasite management, protection from predators, and meeting their nutritional requirements, you are on the home stretch! The biggest thing to remember, is that you cannot use what is ‘working great’ from someone else and expect it to have the same outcome on your farm. I would also do some searching to find a vet in your area that has experience with goats, before you need one in an emergency. They can be difficult to find in some areas.
Best of luck!