A Helpful, Simple Dairy Goat Guide

A Helpful, Simple Dairy Goat Guide
** Goat terms **
Buck - Male, intact goat
Doe - Female goat
Kid - a young goat under 1 year of age
Wether - a castrated male
Nanny, Billy - Slang terms for females and males
Udder - the milk production system
Teats - 2 teats to ONE udder (ideally)
** Appearance of Goats **
Dairy goats should have sleek, shiny coats. They should carry enough flesh that the top line isn't skeletal, never appearing emaciated. The hoof should be short and fairly upright without much angulation.
** There are a variety of breeds with different coat types and color patterns **
Nubians are most common.
Other breeds are the Nigerian Dwarf, Saanen, Sable, Lamancha, Alpine, Toggenburg and Oberhasli, as well as the British Guernsey.
Saanens are generally your largest producers, and with the exception of the miniature breed, Nubians produce the lease (though their milk is richer than most other breeds).
** Before You Decide to add Goats **
Goats live around 10 years. They are extremely social animals and need at least one other goat companion. Sheep and cows and horses aren't really ideal. If you're looking to milk, I always suggest 2 does and either 2 bucks, a buck and wether or arranging to take the does to an established breeding when they are to be bred.
They need a clean, dry area, as they hate rain, but living in soiled conditions is something they cannot thrive in.
Goats struggle with parasites: worms and coccidia. They need space and tying them out will never lead to a high quality of life or condition.
They do not eat grass, instead browsing on weeds, leaves and briers. They usually need free choice access to excellent hay, and alfalfa is ideal. They require grain while growing as kids, as bucks in rut and as bred and milking does. Adult dry does and adult bucks not in rut can make due without grain if the hay is excellent.
** Purchasing a Goats **
The quality of a dairy goat varies a lot passed on the genetic package you're buying from, and so, I always remind folks, "You get what you Pay For," and this isn't a time to skimp. Research what diseases impact goats, what good conformation looks like and then make an educated purchase. Do not let color guide your purchase. Milk and show records matter, as do registration papers, for many reasons, so learn about why and know what will work for your farm.
Dairy goats, if not bred with a focus on production, can easily NOT give you enough milk to make it work your time milking. They also have, if attention isn't given to udder quality, have an udder that is prone to mastitis and injury due to poor attachment. Hardiness is hard to come by goats, and certain lines are harder keepers, too. These types of things matter in the future of your goat keeping, so do your research.
Expect to pay $300 and up for decent stock as kids. Adult animals can range from $400 to several thousand dollars.
** Health Issues in Goats **
There are many diseases and afflictions in goats, unfortunately. CL, CAE and Johnes being the most common. None of these can be cured, they are common and typically mean euthanasia of the animal. Some of the diseases carried contaminate your land, meaning healthy goats cannot be there safely. So be careful!
Few medications are labelled for goats, and most things goat farmers use are "off label," with most things being labelled for cows, sheep or horses. When goats are wormed, one usually will use QUEST horse wormer at the rate of 1cc per 100lbs verses safeguard, for instance, which is labelled for goats but 100% ineffective in fecal studies in most of the world. Parasites are the number #1 killer of goats, young and old.
In goat kids, coccidia, which isn't a worm, is the single biggest reasons people lose kids. Baycox and Dimethox are used to prevent this parasite infestation when they are young until age 6 months, usually. This treatment entails 1 to 1-5 day treatments every 21 days through fall.
Goats have a mineral need that goes beyond what our domesticated, American lands offer, and so they require loose mineral access daily, then they require supplemented selenium and copper 1 to two times yearly in most regions.
You can also ask us at Lucas Farm about our practices if you have questions!