So ... someone tell me all I need to know about raising dairy goats, selling milk, and making and selling cheese.
So ... someone tell me all I need to know about raising dairy goats, selling milk, and making and selling cheese.
Goats don't sting! Keep the goats out of the wild onions as the milk will taste like onions!
I saw a flyer at a farm show which said "Retire in ten years raising dairy goats".
A farmer I keep bees on his land said they are hard to keep behind a fence and not to be alarmed when you see one on top of your new auto.
I saw one on top of a bee hive once! He said if you locate the leader and confine her the rest will stay in.
About all I know about goats! Keep us posted!
Good luck with goats!
Made cheese in school and did not seem rocket science.
Thanks Rob. I already heard about the "hard to keep in" part. Someone told me that a fence that will hold goats will hold water...LOL
We raised dairy goats for years, Alpines were our favorite breed and produce wonderful milk. Buy the book raising goats by "countryside" author keith belanger I think is a wonderful starter, the better feed the better the milk. You can not get good tasting milk from brush and weeds without supplementing the goats diet. Fresh water is a must and my wife even gave the goats hair cuts in hot weather. You need to trim the hooves to keep from having foot problems and if you own a billy goat the smell of its rutting oder is unmistakable---stinks a musky smell sort of reminescent of a skunk. Goat herd grow fast, real fast and we even ate the goat meat--did not like it though so made baloney and hot dogs from the meat. Made a lot of cheeses --easy to make--with hot pepper cheese my personal favorite. Have an old home made cheese press made out of one by twelve white oak boards that was used to make the cheese out of the curd. We fenced in around seven acres with six strands of high tensil steel fence electrified and still lost one of our best kid goat to a neighbors rotweiler. Goats do always get out of a fence, I lost all my fruit trees (goats ate the bark off) and shrubbery as well as the garden are prime targets for a meal. Had a maremma dog to protect the goats after that.The main reason we had goats was because our youngest child was alergic to cows milk. The herd grew to twenty four goats before we knew it. Always breed up to a better goat than you have, we did not have five star milkers but a goat dairy farmer bought some of our goats because they were such good milk producers with long lactation periods. Just like bee keeping goat keeping has a long learning curve, alfalfa hay--first cutting is the premium hay, we bought ours from a dairy farmer in six foot round bales, the alfalfa and a scoop of goat feed with high protein makes the milk sweet. Cleanliness and stainless steel milk handling equipment is a must. My wife made the best "goat milk fudge" in the world--my honest opinion. We spent freezing nights delivering kids, bottle fed some of them, wormed, gave shots, cleaned the manure from the pens and all those neceassary things that go with the pride of saying "I got goats". Enjoy the goats, we sure did enjoy ours.
Hope this helps.
"Younz" have a great day, I will.
Thanks power napper. I'm trying to make a living off my itty bitty homestead, and I add one "new" thing every year. Last year was raising oyster and shiitaki mushrooms for the speciality market, this year is making handcrafted soap for the Atlanta BMW crowd, and I'm giving serious consideration to dairy goats next. Good goat cheeses bring around $18.00 a pound around here, and I figure 10 goats is 10 pounds of cheese a day.
Anyone with more info...it is appreciated.
We've got two goats. Picked them up in trade for three roosters as weaned kids. Other than the winter birthing, I haven't seen anything posted that hasn't happened to me..Did you get the part about you can't build a fence strong enough? How about the smell on a Billy? Billy's are pretty hard on old barns also. What they can't eat, they tear apart with their horns. One point mentioned on those rascals (at least on mine) is that if you got within five feet of him, that was close enough for him to "mark" you. Had an aim like a ornery boy with a water pistol. The last straw was when I dropped a tool in the barn and didn't locate him before I bent over <edit: The phrase "randy as a billy goat" didn't just appear from thin air>...At that point, I tied him to the hitching post and cut his wheels off and he tamed down into a kids pet. Whethers are SO much easier to deal with. Also, they aren't picky on what they eat but their favorite food will be whatever your prize fruit tree or ornamental landscape planting is. I even had one eat one of those Wal-Mart shopping bags..Thought it would impact and kill him but it didn't even slow him down. Really HUGE side market for them in the meat producing arena. The Muslim faith observes some important holidays in June-July so the market for meat goats locally spikes with June young goat sales. That's a good outlet for your surplus young of the year males. We've really enjoyed having them around the place, I just need to put up some more fence and rotate them a little more.
I know that you can actually keep them in a barn 24/7 and don't need acreage, but for the good of the goats you should probably have them "out". Is 10 goats per acre reasonable so long as you realize that they will need additional feed besides forage at that rate?
They don't like getting rained on, or cold weather. Seriously wimpy about pain, supposedly they can (rarely) go into shock from an injection.
Gotta trim the hooves frequently, and seperate the bucks from the does when they aren't breeding. Re-introducing the bucks abruptly brings all the does into season at once, meaning all the kids come at once.
Up here it's a pretty seasonal thing, and breeding and milking them off-season can mean significantly higher prices.
Saanen's produce the most milk, but I don't know if other breeds have a higher cheese yield.
My buddy has a flock of pygmy's with some dairy blood, think slightly over-grown pygmy's, he sells adults for $50 a piece, grown on nothing but pasture and crud hay in the winter, to a co-worker who sells them to Hispanics and Hmongs for more than that.
Some states allow you to sell your milk, and some do not.
If your state does NOT allow it, you might consider pygmy goats (pets), or perhaps using the milk to raise calves or other critters on. Or, you could check out the market for meat goats. OR, you could work up some recipes for goats milk soap to sell on-line.
Also, if some of your goats have horns and some do not, I have HEARD that they horned goats may bully the hornless ones. Or so I have been told.
We just started our goat herd last fall. We have Purebreed Nubians. If cheese is your main concern, the Nubian's have the highest fat content of the Dairy Goats. Nubian's are also considered a dual purpose breed for meat and dairy. So as one person I know is doing, you can have a herd of Nubian does and in addition to having Nubian bucks you can have one Boer buck to breed with some of your does for meat goats. The boar genes apparently give the nubians the extra kick to be a good meat producer. Definately visit some comercial operations before buying very many goats so you can see what thats like. My neighbors sheep operation is something to see when he has about 300 sheep in the spring. There are lots of avenue's to sell goats for meat and you will have lots of weather's that won't be benifical for a dairy operation, or if your looking to make money selling doe kids. We are keeping our first two weather's to use as pack goats. They get very large and people are using them now on goatpacking trips and put saddle's on them for the children. I'll try and sell the rest of our males either as bucks or weathers to people for pets, after that I guess its off to be eaten
We started with two does and a young buck. He's a pretty good buck compared to many stories I've heard. We let them all run together over a couple of acres and our milk dosen't taste funny. It tastes awsome. We do supplement her feed for nutrition. We have two kids about 4 months old. We put them up at night and get about a quart and a cup of milk in the morning from our first freshner. (Goatspeak for first year at haveing babies don't you know.) After her next birthing should should produce more. The kids are milking her all day so I don't know how much she is really producing.
In TN commercial Dairying is very difficult due to all the regulations and expensive equipment. Some states let you get away with selling unpasturized milk as pet food or under goat boarding. for goatboarding see beesource member ScottS 's http://www.slezakfarms.com/
Goats are fun, you can get all the milk you and your family can drink or make cheese from. It can also be very profitable, especially on the meat end in our region. I don't know alot about the comnercial dairy end, but a large upfront investment is necessary if you want to put your products into grocery stores. I would think cheese regulations would require the dairy regulations. Please let me know if that is not the case.
Also check out these picks of my goats. Sorry there isn't much useful information on my website yet, ...eventually. Click the links button for goat links I've been using. Woven wire stretched by hand on metal posts, lots of attachment points, and a hand stetched strand of bob wire above the fence top with 2-3 attachments between the fence and the bobwire. I fix up all the excape points with this formula and it is working well.
click on "kids", in the left graphic for pics of our kids
10 goats per acre sounds good, We will probably end up stopping keeping does at 20 goats on our 2 acres of pasture. That seems very human and sustainable to me. My neighbor says we could easily have 50 goats running loose, but I think it would get pretty messy.
Jesting aside........ Is there fencing that will keep them in?? I have about 3 acres of pasture I could put some livestock on and goats intrigue me. I love lamb. How does goat taste?? How much equipment $$ do you need to do goat cheese??
BB....... How are the mushrooms doing?? I have toyed with trying them.
Closing in on retirement.......
Since I hate electric fencing I ruled it out when fencing my property. I use it to keep my dogs in their chain link and its always needing maintence like limbs falling on it, grass growing up into it and grounding it out. Plus it occasionally kills a song bird or two and I'm getting hit with the juice about as much as the dogs do.
So the best cheap/easy thing I've found is to buy the 330 foot X 5ft woven wire, metal T-posts and put sturdy wooden posts in corners. Roll the fence out and stetch and attach to posts by hand, I don't see a stretcher as necessary. Make lots of attachment points with cut electirc fence wire. When done, above the fence, run a strand of bob-wire, hand stretched as tight as you can. If I'm doing a quicky job, I just wrap it around each post and stretch between each post. Then attach the bobwire to the top of the fence in about 3places between each post. This gives the top of the fence some good support that is hard to achieve with perfect fence stretching (uneven terrain etc). Each post is less than 10 foot apart. Without the bobwire the goats routinely go over the woven wire. I don't have the bobwire up everywhere, I just go out and run it when they go over. We have alot of old fence too. Problem areas are where tree limbs are reachable when they can stand on the fence.
never eaten any, although I would consider it when we become over run with goats. home cheese making is cheap and easy. You can make yougurt in a thermos.
bubba bob, let us know what kind of money it'll take to sell cheese.
Bruce, it's slow getting mushrooms going to the income stage...they are doing OK, just not fattening the bank account yet.
Michael, on the cheese thing...remember, everything I say is "book learnin'"...nothing hands on so far, but here goes...
I'm looking to have crosses between Alpines (high milk production) and Nubians (high butterfat content).
Here in GA you can just about forget selling goat milk legally for human consumption because of the strength of the dairy cow industry. They have rammed through ag regs that have such a low blood ppm standard in milk that goats simply cannot meet it, no matter how healthy.
Notice I said "legally" and for "human consumption".
Stay under the radar. Milk goes as "pet food" farm gate sales, labeled "Not For Human Consumption" ... it's none of my business what someone does with it after they buy it.
As for goat cheese, I have no idea how expensive it is to produce according to ag dept standards except that it is costly as all get out.
Again, stay under the radar with word of mouth advertising farm gate sales. Goat cheese goes for 15-22 a pound depending on variety, and you can sell all you can make.
Excluding milking equip (simple as pail, strainer, and teat care up to multi milkers...$50 to $5000), the needed equip to make farm cheese will set you back less than $200, includinf molds, additives, etc. Depending on butterfat content, a gallon of goat milk will make from 8 oz to 1 lb of cheese.
BTW, where in the "East Tenn Valley" are you?
A few things I haven't seen on the thread. A kid billy goat will not wean itself until it is over 6 months old. It can and will breed back to its mother at 5 months. Be careful or the inbreeding will get out of hand. It is a large problem with goats.
I thought bucks and does were deer. Goats are nannys and billies.
Goat meat is 500+++ times better if cooked with sage.
If you have a lead goat taking them over or through the fence, cot a 2 3 inch diameter fork from a small tree with each of the forks about 18 to 24 inches long. Tie it like a collar with 2 forks up & one pointing down. This will hender, but not 100% prevent, escape. As said before, nothing works 100%. THEY WILL GET OUT.
Check your goats carefully before buying. Hermorphodites are common in goats and cannot breed.
BubbaBob I'm in Clinton, North of Knoxville and east of Oak Ridge.
I hadn't heard about the low blood ppm standards. It sucks that farmers make it so hard to farm. I think we can sell pet food here too. I don't see why not. I heard some states were going to crack down on the goat and cow boarding, but I don't see how they can enforce that. Alpines were my second goat choice. We went with the Nubians for priceing and avaliability. Now I'm apreciating the high fat content too, Yummy!
I'm interested in growing mushrooms but haven't had the time to pick up another new thing yet. Seems like a good crop for a small acerage farm. I like the one thing a year approach. Right now we are learning the basics and getting started in many things, I do want to make some money off farming stuff eventually. But until then, I'm enjoying all the great food and company.
I have a friend that sells purebreed nubian bucks in the spring for $50. However nubians are cheaper than alpines, so it might be benifical to buy nubian does and one alpine buck to breed your hybrids, unless of course you can get the crosses to start with, which might be the better alternative.
What kind of production do you get from your Nubians? Alpines run real close to a gallon a day for a 305 day season. What do Nubian females go for up there? I'd drive up to pick up a small herd (5-10) if the price was right, and introduce the Alpine blood with a billy.
Mushrooms take a couple of years to get going well. I raise oysters in my 6 ft high crawl space under the house, and shiitake's on logs in my woods (guess I'll have to concentrate them in a smaller area to keep the goats away).
I do honey, mushrooms, handcrafted soap, stained glass, felted handbags and hats, beaded jewlery, turned wood art, jellies, marmalades, salsas, baked goods, homemade root beer and ginger beer, fried pork skins and boiled peanuts. I am planting 100 Doyle's Thornless Blackberry bushes this fall (20-30 gal per bush in 3 years at $10/gal), and raise 2500 starter tomato plants a year, along with a small market garden (30 ft x 200 ft) raising lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and radishes. Next year I add garlic and onions. I have 2 1/2 acres, all woods except that small garden spot, and hope to buy an additional adjacent acre in the next month for the blackberries and additional fruiting veggies that I don't have enough sun for now.
I market all the eats at the local farmer's market and a trailer mounted roadside stand, along with farm gate sales. The arts and crafts go in fall shows.
I'm losing some of the crafts (felted things and stained glass) because my girlfriend is moving out and going back to NY where she is from.
Oh yeah ... I forgot the 10 lbs/week of homemade beef jerky.
Now I want to add goat cheese ... if I keep this up I may actually make a living at it eventually. It's been tough with two people. I don't know how I'll do it by myself, but I'll figger sumpin' out.
An easy soft cheese recipe--this is sort of a cream cheese texture that any one can make.
Start with a stainless pot of clean filtered milk with no hair, no dirt--good goats milk.
Heat the milk to 165 degrees farhenheit and take a bottle of lemon juice concentrate and dribble a steam (while stirring pot of milk)into the 165 degree milk--depending on how much heated milk you have it will not take long until you see the milk change from milk to curds and whey (it will look like floating cottage cheese). Immediately quit dribbling the lemon juice into the pot, when cool pour the curds and whey through a colander lined with a muslin cloth or a special cheese cloth that has a fine mesh, save the whey that passes through the cheese cloth for other things. The curd is now in your cloth inside the collander and you can just throw a piece of rope over the clothes line and tie the cloth with curd to the rope and let it drip, and drip until dry--at least a coupla hours. when you unfold the cloth after bringing back into the house it will be a clump of soft curd. (1) just add salt and taste--good (2) add salt and powder garlic and taste (3) add salt and freshly chopped hot peper and taste (4) add a chopped jar of drained pimento stuffed olives and taste. Now that you have tasted the first cheese you made, go and buy some more goats!!
Enjoy, we sure did.
"Younz" have a great day, I will.