The popularity of goats on the homestead is soaring. Goat milk is the most consumed milk in the world, and dairy goat herds in the U.S. grew by 61 percent from 2007 to 2017.
But before you run out and get some goats, it is important to consider how youâ€™ll be using them on your farm. You need to keep them from turning into very expensive lawnmowers.
The most traditional uses for goats are as dairy animals and for meat.
If you milk your goats, you can turn your goat milk into much more than just cream and cheese. Goat milk is popular for making amazing soaps. Selling goat milk soap can allow small farms to bring in some added income.
You can also utilize their milk for caramels and sweets. You can also make yogurts and hard cheeses, as well as the most traditional goat milk cheese, chevre.
Goat meat is a staple of many peopleâ€™s diets around the world. It is a healthier alternative to other red meats.
But there is more to goats than milk and meat.
Milking goats, in particular, is not always sustainable. You have to factor in yearly breeding and plan for the future of your goat kids.
There are ways you can successfully utilize your goats without milking or butchering them, if those options are not working out for your homestead.
These days, goat yoga never fails to draw a crowd. It is popular and fun.
And one of the greatest benefits of hosting goat yoga is bringing a large group of people to your farm. They may also purchase other farm products and spread the word about your operation.
Goat yoga is easy to set up, requiring only a flat area for the yoga participants and some fencing to keep the goats close. If you have a large herd of goats, select a few of the most calm and least nibble-y ones to stay in with the yogis.
Ideally, use goat kids who will provide the most entertainment for your farm visitors. Many goat yoga sessions will focus on yoga for the first part of the visit, then provide special goat petting time after the exercise.
With very little effort (and no effort at all on the part of your goats) you can turn your farm into a destination for excited yogis.
Goats have a reputation for eating anything and everything they can. While this is not strictly true, they will eagerly gobble up many things other animals would leave behind.
Goats love dried brush, brambles and even poison ivy. They can be utilized on your farm in place of long hours weed whacking and brush clearing, or they can be rented out to eager neighbors.
Offering your goatsâ€™ services for brush clearing does require some investment. You need to be able to transport your goats and you need good fencing for them.
But most goat land-clearing services are able to charge a premium and get the job done quickly. And, even if you donâ€™t market your goatsâ€™ appetites for your farmâ€™s benefits, you can just use them around your own property and save yourself backache and time.
Milk and meat may be the first products you think of, but many goats are raised, like sheep, for their fiber.
Angora and Cashmere goats have prized fiber coats that can be sheared once or twice a year and turned into the materials used to make warm, soft clothing.
Both fibers are highly valued, and a small herd of fiber goats can help a farm turn a profit. You do not have to butcher your goats and you donâ€™t have to worry about having all does or yearly kidding as you do with dairy goats.
Goats have a variety of other uses for the small farmer.
They are wonderful companion animals to larger livestock and are a common sight at racetracks where they help keep high-strung racehorses calm. Their antics provide endless amusement, and this factor alone can make them good farm helpers.
Before your buy your goats, think about what youâ€™re going to do with them. Remember that dairy goats require yearly breeding, and a dairy herd will always be expanding.
Think about getting smaller goats that might be ideal for goat yoga at your farm, utilizing them for brush clearing or getting fiber goats (which can also be milked). This can make your goat adventures profitable as well as enjoyable.