Friday, July 2, 2010

Basics of Raising Goats

Goats are herbivores. They fall under the genus Capra. What we know as the domestic goat is a subspecies of the family Bovidae. Goats are closely related to the sheep so that both animals will often exhibit similar traits. If you are serious about raising goats, you should start to memorize terms related to this venture. A female goat is called a “nanny” or “doe” and a young female is called a “doeling”. A mother goat is referred to as a dam. A male goat is called a “buck” or “billy” and those that have been castrated are “wethers”. A goat offspring is called a “kid”. In Middle Eastern and Asian countries, goats are kept for agricultural purposes or sometimes as pets. In the US, goat-raising is finding its way to become a fast growing industry.

Being ready to own your first goat is important. Preparing yourself requires work but it is necessary in order to become successful. You need to check existing laws in your locality about keeping animals as pets. Since goats are not considered as traditional pets and have to be raised in farms, you have to review those laws and make inquiries if you will be allowed to keep them as pets. If you are going to keep your goat in your backyard, you would need to install a goat pen or fences even before you buy your first goat. You will also have to provide a clean, well-ventilated goat shelter. If you have a farm where you can raise your goats, you will have an easier time because they are farm animals anyway. They will have enough open areas for grazing.

Goat breeds are classified according to their main use. To determine your choice, you need to know your reasons why you want to keep goats.
  • a. The Meat Goat – Goat meat has lower fat content than lamb or beef. Because of this, raising meat goats is becoming very popular in the United States. Meat goats are bred to grow faster and relatively easier than other types. The most popular is the Boer goat.

  • b. The Dairy Goat – In some areas, goat milk is better than cow milk. Goat milk is digested easily and has lower lactose content. Dairy goats are easier to tend than dairy cows since they can easily adapt to any environments. The 6 most common types of dairy goats include the Alpines, Nubians, Togenburgs, LaManchas, and the Saanens.

  • c. The Cashmere Goat – A cashmere goat is any breed that produces cashmere wool, which is the goat's fine, soft inner coat hair. It is a fast growing business in the United States. It started in 1990 when Cashmere goats were initially imported from Australia and New.
The right goat for you depends on your reasons for raising goats. The breed will depend on which of the breeds of a particular goat type is the best. This can be very difficult to do actually because there are many breeds to choose from for each type of goat. You are most probably not an animal specialist who can identify the particular goat that is best suited to you. One option open to you is to consult veterinarians or friends who have experiences in raising goats.

A good nanny or doe must be angular, possessing prominent hip bones. Its body must be long, its thighs thin, with two straight, and wide apart front legs. Its back legs must have ample distance in between at the hocks. The escutcheon area must have a wide, arched opening. The udder should not have any scarring or bumps and must be wellattached. Goat meat is called chevon or mutton. The body of a meat goat should be squared. It must look wide and heavy in the legs and chest and its back, flat and thick.

If you are just starting, you can contact an association for regional goat breeding. These associations have contacts with goat breeders. You can also look for local ranches and breeders. Be sure that the goats you will buy are healthy and have been under good caretakers. As much as possible, avoid buying from auctions because their current health condition cannot be assessed well.

Goats are easily stressed and frightened so they should be transported with great care. Never lift them by their horns, head, legs, hair or ears. Hold their bodies firmly instead. When transporting several goats, make sure you separate the small ones from the big ones to prevent serious injuries. Always place beddings in their confinement space so that the goats will have secure footing. They scare easily if their foothold is unstable, especially when the vehicle moves.

If you are transporting baby goats, it is better that you carry them yourself inside your vehicle. Have the goat seller deliver the goats to your farm or home if you don’t have the right transport. Never put your goats in a vehicle parked under direct hot sunlight. Provide them with enough food and water for the duration of the travel specially if it’s hot to reduce their stress.

You can learn more about raising goats in a goat book called "A Beginner's Guide To Raising Goats" that you can find at

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