Raising goats can be an incredibly rewarding experience for small homesteaders and hobby farmers. It's essential to consider the various advantages and drawbacks that come with keeping goats to determine if it's the right choice for your homestead. Here, we'll delve into the numerous benefits you can enjoy by raising these friendly and intelligent animals.
Steady Supply Of Milk
Dairy goats are prized for their milk production. Goat milk is highly nutritious and an excellent alternative to cow milk. It's packed with essential nutrients, has a mild, delicious flavor, and is suitable for making everything from cheese to soap. Goat milk is also a fantastic option for those who are lactose intolerant.
Great Source Of Red Meat
Goat meat, known as chevron, is a tasty and nutritious red meat. It's rich in essential minerals like iron and zinc, and while it's less popular in some regions like the United States, it's the most widely consumed red meat worldwide. Goat meat has a unique taste, often likened to venison, and can be prepared through slow cooking or stewing for tender and delicious results.
See my article on the Benefits of Goat Meat! for more information.
One uncommonly known fact about goats is that many goat breeds also produce luxury fibers.
For example, Altai Mountain goats and Hexi Cashmere goats can be used as a source of cashmere fiber, while the Angora goat and the Pygora goat provide mohair.
You can even raise the Changthangi goat for pashmina fiber, which is an excellent form of cashmere.
After harvesting the fiber, you can spin it into spools of yarn and create unique pieces like hats and sweaters with the yarn you created.
And with so many fiber-producing goats on your pasture, you can even offer spools of yarn or knitted products for sale. It’s simple to keep a flock of fiber goats, particularly when maintaining a flock of females and castrated males.
Tan Hides Into Leather
Goat hides can be tanned into leather, which is a sustainable way to utilize every part of the animal. The leather can be used to make various items, from gloves to jackets. Skins with fur intact are suitable for crafting traditional items like drum heads and rugs.
Producing goat milk soap is a fun hands-on hobby great for nourishing your skin.
Producing goat milk soap is a fulfilling and practical hobby that nourishes your skin. Goat milk soap is known for its gentle cleansing properties and moisturizing effects. The naturally occurring lactic acid in goat milk helps exfoliate the skin and maintain its lipid barrier.
Read more about the properties of goat milk soap.
Goat milk cheese is a delicious and healthy option for those who may experience digestive issues with cow milk. It has a creamy texture and a unique flavor due to its high fatty acid content. Goat cheese offers several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects.
Read more about the differences between goat and cow milk.
Meat, Milk, Soap, Cheese, Leather, & Fiber Can Be Sold For Extra Income
With the proper marketing and quality, goat products can sell very well.
Goat products are highly sought after for their quality. Whether it's goat milk, meat, cheese, soap, leather, or fiber, there's a market for these products. Goat meat, in particular, is growing in popularity due to its nutritional benefits.
Great For Clearing Land
Goats are efficient at clearing overgrown areas on your homestead. Their diverse foraging habits make them excellent at tackling weeds, shrubs, and even poison ivy. They can help create a more fertile and manageable pasture.
Small & Compact (Easier & Cheaper Than Cattle)
Compared to larger livestock, goats are more manageable for small homesteads. They require less space, consume fewer resources, and are easier to handle. For families without additional labor or those new to homesteading, goats can be a practical choice.
Can Be Used As Pack Animals
Goats are naturally acclimated to navigating rocky and unsteady terrain, and they can very easily carry 20-30% of their body weight. They can even pull carts.
Goats are intelligent and trainable animals, making them suitable for carrying supplies during hiking and hunting trips. They excel in navigating challenging terrain and can even pull carts, leaving minimal environmental impact.
Goats may not be the most common choice for pets, but they make wonderful companions. Their friendly and intelligent nature allows them to form strong bonds with humans. Keeping a small herd of pet goats can be a delightful experience for all ages.
Breeding and selling goats can be a lucrative venture. Offering healthy and well-behaved young goats is often in high demand, especially if you specialize in popular breeds.
Easy For Kids To Manage & An Educational Tool
Raising goats can be a valuable educational experience for children. Goats are friendly and curious animals that are easy for kids to handle. They can learn valuable life lessons about responsibility and animal husbandry.
Potential Alternative For People Allergic To Cow Milk
Goat milk might be a nutritious and hypoallergenic alternative for some individuals sensitive to cow milk. Its nutrient profile closely resembles human breast milk and is well-tolerated by many. That said, this is not the case with everyone and testing this should be done under supervision of a doctor.
Source Of Fertilizer
Goat manure is a valuable resource for enriching soil. It's rich in nitrogen and enhances water retention, promoting healthy plant growth. Goat manure is easy to collect and apply, making it a valuable tool for gardeners.
We need lots of fertilizer and compost for our no-till vegetable gardens and permaculture projects, and the BEST and most abundant source has been our animals, from our Icelandic sheep to the deep litter method we use with our chickens, ducks, and geese.
Downsides Of Raising Goats
While raising goats offers numerous benefits, it's essential to acknowledge the potential downsides. The financial costs, breed selection, and the risk of losing goats to natural causes like disease and predation are factors to consider. Raising goats can be unpredictable and challenging, but the rewards often outweigh the drawbacks.
More Small Livestock: Icelandic Sheep
Another small type of livestock suitable for smaller homesteads is sheep.
We have raised the beautiful and worthy Icelandic sheep on our land from the start. Find out more about the Icelandic sheep breed and see beautiful photos of our small flock.
More About Goat Meat
Read more about goat meat which is steadily gaining popularity in North American at my article on the benefits of goat meat.