Humans have been rearing livestock for centuries. Poultry and cattle are the most common and well-known, but what many people tend to overlook is the goat farming industry. Goat-farming can be found especially in countries like the Philippines, Nepal, and India, where the weather is warmer and where the goats can be farmed alongside other livestock such as sheep.
All About Goat-Farming
Goat-farming tends to be rather profitable as you can get a range of products out of them. This includes everything from their milk to their meat and skin. On top of that, goats can very efficiently convert low-quality pastures that are less desirable to other types of livestock like cattle into high-quality ones that can be sold. To sum up, they’re low maintenance animals who don’t need a lot of personal care or labor to nurture.
As goat-farming grows as an industry, more and more people are starting to take an interest in goat-farming for commercial purposes. And it’s quite easy to see why. With the right technique in raising goats and the right strategies, goat-farming can be an exceptionally profitable business. Here’s how you can get started on a goat farm of your own.
1. Choosing a breed of goat
Contrary to popular belief, there are actually many varieties of goats to choose from. Different species have different advantages and disadvantages to them, so choosing your ideal goat breed depends on why you’re farming goats in the first place.
If you intend to get milk, choose breeds like the Abaza goat, the Beetal, Dutch Landrace, Jamunapari or the White Shorthaired. These dairy goats are amongst a large family of dairy goats which contribute to about two to three percent of the world’s milk supply every year. Note that goat milk does taste and smell stronger compared to cow milk, and is usually made into cheeses, butter, and yogurts.
As for meat, you should rear Boer goats, Black Bengal goats or Rangeland goats. Generally, meat goats are leaner and slightly more muscular, with higher agility and swift-footedness. There’s a high demand for goat meat around the world, as it is perceived to be leaner than the other red meats, making it lower in fat and cholesterol levels.
In the textile industry, goats are shorn for their fiber as sheep are for their wool. Popular goat breeds for this include the Cashmere goat, Angora goat, and the Kaghani goat. You’ll also find smaller fiber goats in the U.S., including the Nigora goat and the Pygora goat, both a cross between the Angora and another type of fiber goat.
2. Choosing a home for the goats
Once you’ve decided what type of goat you want to farm, it is now time to choose the location. Apart from the legal aspect of it where you will have to register and get approval from local authorities to have your farm, you should consider the few criteria that goats prefer and will definitely thrive in.
For one, goats are agile and active creatures who love roaming about, so open space is definitely a must-have. It is also wise to keep goats far away from the city, where they could be stressed by noises and air pollution.
There should also be the availability of both clean water and food to graze. In this case, while goats don’t necessarily need pastures of the highest quality, it’s best to avoid areas known for having toxic pesticides or weeding problems.
Once you’ve decided on property or land that’s safe and suitable for rearing goats, fence it up well. This part is very crucial as goats are known for being intelligent creatures who can get around any gaps in your fencing. Choose a type of fencing that most suits your species of goat. For instance, dwarf goats will not be as deterred by a loose barbed cable as bigger goats will.
To protect your goats from rainy wind and weather, consider building a shed for them as shelter. A hundred goats can easily fit in a shed that’s 20 feet by 30 feet in size. If you do build a shed, note that you have to separate the goats into compartments based on maturity level or behavior. The shed can also double up as space for the goats to breed and give birth. After all, mothers will seek out peaceful places to do so, and a warm shed filled with hay and sawdust is instinctively the best place.
3. Feeding the goats
Goats are amazing eaters and will eat just about anything in their path. However, that is not always a good thing as they might end up eating hazardous material or toxic plants growing on the farm.
Grazing is crucial, but you should also supplement your goats’ diet as needed. For example, you can feed them things like oats, sunflower seeds, and corn to help them gain weight and get the protein, oils, minerals, and fiber that they need. This rings especially true for female goats who will have kids eventually and might need that extra nutritional boost.
During feeding, you can either feed your goats by hand or leave a food serving in a fixed place daily. If you choose the former, always be sure that you have the right technique and stay alert to avoid any unwarranted aggression or bites. As for the latter, a food serving should be about 1.5 to 2 inches above the floor, so ensure you don’t give too much or too little! The goats will eat everything you provide.
4. Breeding the goats
Goats have been breeding on their own for many centuries, and not much human intervention is required. However, it’s always good to have some knowledge so you know what is going on and if there are any irregularities.
A goat can start breeding from the time it is seven months old, though ideally, reaching the one year mark is recommended. That way, you can be sure the goat does not have any growth deformities before it passes its genes to the next generation. Its weight should lie above 100 pounds as well.
The gestation period is about 150 days, usually happening between April and August as well as between October and January. Once born, kids don’t require much external care as they are up and running in a couple of months, and are completely weaned by the 4-month mark. As such, it’s quite a natural and seamless process that goat farmers like yourself need not mull over unless there are complications.
Goats are easily one of the least labor-intensive livestock to farm, as they are beautiful, independent creatures that provide meat, milk, and fiber. That said, do keep a watchful eye always to see if these animals are up to any mischief — which they often are. If you take good care of them, they’ll be a profitable investment indeed.