This and one on sheep will be the end of a group of posts published over the last year on the cost of raising different animals on the farm or farmstead for individual use, or sale of the excess if you have any. The reason I specify individual use is because in doing research the information found leaned heavily on starting and maintaining a commercial operation either large or small. I am attempting to pass along to you a general cost structure on what I think it would cost for us to raise meat for the table. Our tables. Should we have one or two extra to sell then that is great and may allow us as small land owners looking at providing for ourselves to maybe eat for free.
This has been a difficult writing for me due in part because I do not have much personal experience with the raising of goats and there is not much statistical information that I have been able t0 find on the internet. Charts and graphs or even written specifics such as amount of pasture required or the amount of commercial feed to give to increase growth and meat quality does not seem to be available. There are two big reasons for this I think. First and foremost I think is that until recently the commercial raising of goats in this country was almost unheard of. Secondly and possibly influencing the first is that, from what I read, they do not readily lend themselves to concentrated large scale productions such as feed lots. Their primary source of preferred food is from foraging. They need space and do not fair well in cramped crowded conditions. Often sickness weight-loss and death occur quite quickly even in situation of be transferred for long distances requiring longer than 24 hours to reach the destination.
OK here we go.
Remember now there are two types of goats the same as their are more than one type of any other of the farm animals that I can think of. Cattle are pretty much beef or dairy animals. Chickens are listed as meat or egg producers and rabbits are meat and fur or even hair breeds. Now pigs are pretty much food animals with more concentration going to the size they will attain and how fast they will get there. I have never heard of anyone milking a pig and believe me I have no desire to be the first. Even the pygmy or small breed goats are derived from either the meat or dairy types. Yes I am aware that with the affluence of the society in which we live a lot of importance over the last say 20 years has gone into the development of smaller and cuter in all of these to develop pets. That is part of our world today but I personally think of the more practical purposes so that is the information I am more familiar with.
Cute isn’t she? a dairy goat as you will notice has a different body type than the meat goat shown below.
Dairy goats have been bred and raised primarily for the production of milk both for the quantity and quality of whereas breeds such as Boer
Most popular meat goat in the US today. See the difference in the body confirmation between this and the milk goat above
and Kiko have been bred f0r the size of the animal as well as the amount of actual meat derived from the carcass. Does this mean That a meat goat cannot be milked or a dairy goat eaten. Absolutely not. The milk from a meat goat will not be the volume and possibly of the quality of that taken from a dairy goat nor will the amount of meat obtained from the carcass of a dairy goat be as much or as palatable as that of a meat goat. From my limited reading there may be breeds that are dual purpose much the same as found in cattle so if that is what you want do some reading on it. Here is one source http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/goats-for-milk-meat-and-more
With all this said let me get back to what it cost to raise a goat. How much land do I need and what kind of pasture or grass. Goats are browsers. In other words the eat from the top of the plants down. This helps them avoid worms which are more prevalent on the lower growth and grasses and worms can be a problem with goats. I checked the price of wormer yesterday and a 2 lb. bag of pellets would provide wormer to raise a single goat to about slaughter age in my estimation. They also need more personal space with a need to roam. How about grain or commercial feeds? Here again I will remind you of my purpose of having the breeds of whichever animals I have. If they have a lot of specialized requirements; In other words they need to be medicated often or the pasturage and winter hay needs to be of a specific high quality type I have the wrong animal. Grain or commercial feeds I provide I give in order to be able to either get them close so their health and condition can be better assessed or just for my enjoyment of being with and around them. Not because the animal needs it in order to thrive and do well. This apparently is an advantage to raising goats as fat goat meat is not preferred. Do not misunderstand me here. It is not my practice to have any animal and not at least attempt to insure that the forage available not meet their dietary needs. If you have doubts about that feel free to check out our livestock condition at http://hobbyfarmlife.com/great-farm-animals-winter-is-coming-and-i-want-to-brag/ .
So right now? A 50 lb. bag of goat feed from TSC cost about $14.00 a bag average, depending on the brand name. The way it is we feed, assuming that one bag was for one animal, and assuming there was good pasturage and hay for the winter it would probably last most of a year. I remind you that I give it mainly as a treat. Were I raising that same animal specifically for the table and wanted more fat in or on the meat the amount of grain or feed provided would double or maybe even triple. Say $50.00 in feed for 9 to 12 months of growing.
As with any farm animal commercial goat feed has vitamins and minerals specific to goats in it but may also include steroids or antibiotics to stimulate growth that we try to avoid or even GMO crops which are very controversial now. So if I were to switch to say just corn which currently I can buy from a local farmer at $10.00 per 100 lbs. non GMO of course I could save money there but may need to provide vitamins and minerals by way of say a mineral block. Peter pay Paul? I don’t think so. The cos of the supplement would probably be less than the commercial feeds. Since that same mineral block can be shared by the cows or even the pigs if pastured together it is difficult to say how much of it is consumed by the goat as compared to the other animals. A good high protein mineral block runs about $15.00 for about a 15 lb. block.
WARNING This cannot be done with sheep. As I understand it they can have a fatal reaction to too much copper. For more information on this you can look at http://ag.ansc.purdue.edu/sheep/articles/coppertox.html
There are other factors to throw in as well of course. If you keep the nannies and a billy to have and raise your own the upkeep for them have to be factored in as well. If they are bought as kids before weaning age then milk equipment and time are a consideration plus purchase price of course. Raising more than what you actually need in order to try to offset your cost is an option as well. I prefer to raise more than just one of any of the farm animals as they are all social animals and seem to do better when in the company of others of their own kind. Shelter is also mentioned in most of what I have read about raising goats but I remember reading about goats being raised in and thriving in some of the more harsh climates and areas around the globe. I am fairly certain that given a reasonable terrain or minimum shelter they can and will thrive and do well. They always have when we had them they did. They ain’t stupid. An area where they will willingly go and can be closed in though would definitely be advantageous to the owner. When we bought ours they were about 3 months old and 15 to 20 lbs. Trying to catch them in a room about 12′ square was like playing racket ball in that same area with 15 to 20 pound balls flying off all walls at will. They were far more agile than I was then and still are I am sure.
We had five for several years. And oh the stories to tell. http://hobbyfarmlife.com/life-with-goats-on-the-funny-farm/ They were our first farm animal actually because they were comparatively low cost and our pasturage was small and rough. Goats do eat different forage than cattle or pigs. They helped us get the brush, including wild roses and blackberry bushes under control. They even helped to raise the bottom of the cedars to the point where I can walk around under them. I also intended to have meat from them but that never happened. Pauline became attached. We did sell a few young ones. But there was one. We called it Missy. Missy because it was female. At least that is what it was bought as. Tuned out it was both male and female but not really all of either. When we would go into the field she was the first one to come to us. Loved to rub up against and be petted by us. Always tasting our clothes and underfoot the entire time we were out there. Most of the others were friendly too but the billy especially would occasionally get a little rough. When it came time to get rid of them it was tough parting with Missy.
I like to give as much detail and specifics in these articles as possible but as already mentioned charts and graphs and any kind of exact information has proven hard to find in this situation and I do not have enough personal experience in this area to draw on to offer more. Look at the references provided and you will see what I mean. Also goatworld.com has a lot of information it was just difficult for me to narrow down to find what I was looking for there.
As stated earlier this is not all that I would like it to be but it does I hope provide you with enough information to get an idea of the cost. Goats? A good low maintenance animal and a lot of fun to watch and be around. They will eat a lot of what cattle and hogs don’t and help clean up and maintain the property as well as provide a good food source.