When I first bought our goats, I looked at some cute goat babies, and of coarse I bought them. It was after the fact, I learned all these things I should have known before buying them. I wrote this to help anyone looking to buy some goats, these are the things you should know and ask your breeders.
What will you use your goats for?
Dairy, meat or pets are your three options. When we first got our goats, I thought pets, but I liked the idea of goat babies. Now I want to milk my goats and make cheese and soap. So this process took me a couple of months after I bought our first goats. It would have been beneficial to consider this long and hard before I purchased my goats.
For dairy goats, you will need to breed your goats yearly. You have 2 options to do this either by having your own buck on site, or finding a buck to breed with. From what I’ve read, it not profitable to keep your own buck until you have 6 does to breed him with. I have a buck with 2 does. Bucks are said to rival a skunk when they are in rut (in mating season in the fall) which it gets stronger with age. Therefore if you don’t have a lot of room it’s not advisable to buy a buck. I love our buck, Chocolate Thunder, he is a sweetheart. When I bought him I did not know all these interesting facts about him. He is a lover. Some breeders will even tell you not to be too friendly with your buck, because they will still rub on you when they are stinky. Stinky from peeing on their on there own faces, a buck behavior that happens when they are trying to attract a female. Picture that.
There are different breeds for dairy and meat goats. I have Nigerian dwarfs bucks, and Mini Nubian Does. Nigerian Dwarfs are a great hardy milk breed due to being small and still having high milk production. The only negative things I’ve heard about them is their small-sized nipples are hard to milk. So I am happy with my decision to 2 different kinds in my herd. If you want full breed goats, you can get goats that are registered with ADGA, or the MDGA. You can sell registered babies for more money. My goats do not have papers, but I am ok with that because I want goats for milk, as well 4-H. They do not need papers for 4-H, the rules here in Michigan are no bucks and no horns. I have done most of my research on these 2 breeds because this is what I have. But deciding your purpose in goats is a good idea before you land on breed. There is a more in-depth article here.
Questions to ask breeders. Do they test for disease in the heard? vaccinate? cocci prevention? Everyone has a different technique, I noticed this when I was shopping for goats. Some do not vaccinate, but carry the anti-toxins just in case. CD&T is your main goat vaccine. which is given subcutaneous. Goats will stress out when transitioned to one place to another, its good to be mindful of this. Do your research, and make a plan that will work for you. I use the goat spot for any questions I have. Members are very responsive and knowledgeable. There are also numerous Facebook groups that are very responsive as well that you can join.
Find a Reputable Vet
I learned this the hard way. there were 2 vets recommended to me that see goats. The one, responded right away, the other took a couple of days. I saw they one that saw me right away. He vaccinated my 2 goats with no issues, but he vaccinated them for 4 things, black leg, and rabies were 2 of them, both of which are not recommended for goats. He took my goats in a room, did his business, then told me what to feed them. I was hoping to manage my goats from home with direction from a vet. After this experience, I did my own injections and read up in how to care for my animals. Not all vets specialize in goats, and it is a specialty. There are so many pages for support, but you will need to have a goat vet you trust to call. I would ask the breeder what vet they use and give them a call.
You need at least 2. They are companion animals, so they need a friend. Depending on what you want to do with them. If you want pets, wethers (castrated males) make awesome pets. You could also do a doe and a wether. If you want milk, start with 2 does. If you buy a buck and a doe they will go into heat in the fall and breed. You don’t want to breed your doe until at least 1 year. You’ll have to split them up, and then you’ll need more companions for them. Meat goats I am completely unfamiliar with.
I do not regret my decision to get goats at all, they are pretty self sufficient, and entertaining. I cannot wait to see what they will bring me in the next year, babies, goats milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter and soap. You can check out goat fencing options here.