All About Goats

Learn all about goats, from types of breeds to making cheese with their milk.

| June 2013

You will find a complete guide to living a simpler, more sustainable life in Self-Sufficiency (Skyhorse Publishing, 2010). Author Abigail R. Gehring offers practical advice as well as step-by-step instructions on hundreds of self-sufficient projects. In this excerpt taken from part five, “The Barnyard,” learn all about goats. 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: Self-Sufficiency.

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Goats provide us with milk and wool and thrive in arid, semitropical, and mountainous environments. In the more temperate regions of the world, goats are raised as supplementary animals, providing milk and cheese for families and acting as natural weed killers.

Breeds of Goats

There are many different breeds of goats. Some goat breeds are quite small (weighing roughly 20 pounds) and some are very large (weighing up to 250 pounds). Depending on the breed, goats may have horns that are corkscrew in shape, though many domestic goats are dehorned early on to lessen any potential injuries to humans or other goats. The hair of goats can also differ — various breeds have short hair, long hair, curly hair, silky hair, or coarse hair. Goats come in a variety of colors (solid black, white, brown, or spotted).

Feeding Goats

Goats can sustain themselves on bushes, trees, shrubs, woody plants, weeds, briars, and herbs. Pasture is the lowest cost feed available for feeding goats, and allowing goats to graze in the summer months is a wonderful and economic way to keep goats, even if your yard is quite small. Goats thrive best when eating alfalfa or a mixture of clover and timothy. If you have a lawn and a few goats, you don’t need a lawn mower if you plant these types of plants for your goats to eat. The one drawback to this is that your goats (depending on how many you own) may quickly deplete these natural resources, which can cause weed growth and erosion. Supplementing pasture feed with other food stuff, such as greenchop, root crops, and wet brewery grains will ensure that your yard does not become overgrazed and that your goats remain well-fed and healthy. It is also beneficial to supply your goats with unlimited access to hay while they are grazing. Make sure that your goats have easy access to shaded areas and fresh water, and offer a salt and mineral mix on occasion.

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