When starting a goat farm you can decide to raise goats for thier meat or start a goat dairy and raise them for thier milk. This article will concentrate on starting a goat dairy. Your job duties will include raising/ feeding the goats, keeping their living area clean, and milking them. When raising goats it is essential that you make sure they are properly fed because if your goats are undernourished it can affect milk production as well as reproduction. Goats can be milked twice a day. Another thing to be taken into consideration is their breeding. Goats have four months of pregnancy duration and they breed once a year. Goats can give birth to as many as five kids at a time. The average lifespan of a goat is approximately 12-14 years.
Where will you work?
When starting a goat farm you need land with pasture and browse. The pasture in its vegetative state is ideal for goats because when the pasture plants mature it loses its tastes and digestibility for the goats. During the winter months goats will mostly feed on hay. Grain is also beneficial to goats especially while the goat is growing. You can also feed them commercially prepared high protein feed. They should also be given vitamins or supplements. Goats should have access to fresh water at all times especially in the winter months.
There are several costs associated with starting a goat farm. When purchasing goats, prices will vary depending on the breed and whether they are purebred. Feed is usually the most expensive cost when raising goats. You can decide to put up a fence to protect the goats from other animals as well as preventing them from escaping or building a pen. If you have a considerable number of goats then milking them in itself is a big task as goats are milked generally twice a day. You can choose to milk the goats with a machine or manually. Whether you use machinery or not, you may want to employ some people according to the size of your number of goats so the salary of your employees is also a part of the costs that you have to take care of.
Tips before Starting a Goat Farm
- Learn as much as you can: Before starting a goat farm get advice from other goat owners. Read as much as you can about goats. Also do research in your area to see how much you can expect to get for your dairy products. Be sure to research if there is enough demand for your dairy products.
- Be careful with what Goats eat: Keep goats away from poisonous plants Some plants such as Poke Weed and Wilted Cherry are harmful to goats. Goats also have a reputation for eating just about anything: toys, clothing, cookies ect. so watch out for this.
- Know the Breed: Certain breeds of goats are usually used in a Goat Dairy. These breeds include: Alpine, Nubian, Nigerian Dwarf, Toggenburg, Oberhasli, Sannen and LaMancha. Keep in mind some goats may be mixed as well. You should research the different breeds to find which ones are best suited for your needs. You are better off buying a few high producing goats rather than many low producing. What may appear as a cheap goat may cost you in the long run especially if they have diseases. Look for breeders with strong reputations.
- Don’t try to take too big a leap upfront: First take into consideration as to what business you can get. Where you can sell the milk and if there is enough demand for it. You should find a buyer before you even start setting up your goat farm.
- Agreement: It is better to get into an agreement with your customers. That will also help you in retaining your customers as well as planning to expand your business. Fixed customers will mean fixed business and fixed business will mean fixed income.
- Takes Works: If you are expecting that your goat farm will bring you easy bucks, this is often not the case. Caring for your goats will take daily effort. If you have support of your family and they are willing to help out this will be extremely useful.
Advertising a Goat Dairy
When advertising your dairy products you first need to know whether you will be selling to individuals or processors. However you should be aware that in many states in the US it is illegal to sell your goats milk directly to Individuals for their consumption. To see if this is the case in your state contact the ADGA. However it is legal to use raw milk to produce cheese and sell that to individuals if the cheese is more than 60 days old. If you are planning to sell to processors, make sure there is one near you. Once you do that ask them if they need any more milk producers. To learn about processing your own milk read this article. Also consider if you will be advertising as a certified organic producer.