A Goat Story

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This post from our farm blog a while ago - for anyone interested in keeping goats:

Since we have one or two goats for sale – and the fewer the better as far as I’m concerned – the more I can keep and breed the happier I’ll be – I thought I’d write a few words about buying goats. It won’t be definitive, but it may help you decide if that’s something you want to do right now.

Firstly, be aware that other than in very exceptional circumstances, you should have at least two goats. They are herd creatures, and unhappy alone. So, you’re going to need two, and we’re going to assume they’ll both be female.

You really don’t need to keep a male goat for a good long while. They smell strong and can be difficult to handle, so stick to two ladies – and that way while one kids, you can keep the other in milk, and not have to forego your morning yoghurt.

Do you want purebreds, or will a cross breed do? If you want a specific breed, do you need her to be registered, or will a generic ‘type’ do you? Unless you want to show, registered stock are not necessary, and to my mind, if you start to mix it with the fancy, as the showing fraternity have been called, you will find yourself paying a lot of money for a few prized characteristics which – when the rain is pelting down in February and you are milking in a shed with a leaking roof and making cheese while your socks dry – will not matter to you in the slightest.

The type of breed you go for also doesn’t matter a lot – obviously make sure it is actually a dairy breed! – which would encompass (British)/Saanen, (British)/Toggenburg, (British) Alpine, Anglo Nubian and Golden Guernsey. Choose goats you like, character and milk yield are more important than breed.

Cross breeds are generally healthy and robust and often have high milk yields – I certainly wouldn’t rule them out. My number one rule with goats is, don’t be precious.

We were given our first two goats by a couple who had lost their bit of rented land to a Country Club development . They advertised them in Trade It and the guy – who was quite big – almost thumped a couple of people who enquired about the meat on them. They were old and without provenance, but we loved them. Amber was British Saanen – ish, and Minty was somewhat between a British Alpine and a British Toggenburg. We went to see them on the way to our holiday destination and asked our 6 and 3 year olds ‘would you rather have goats or holidays?’ They chose goats and a good job too.


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