Key differences in caring for cows and goats

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Farm Hand
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I'm still undecided about trading in the dairy cows for dairy goats. What are some key differences in caring for them? Milking, feeding, breeding, housing, and waste management are some of the big factors I'm considering. If I take the goat route, I'll probably go with Nigerian Dwarf goats. What are some cons to owning goats? I'm so in love with the idea, that I'm afraid I'm overlooking the negatives.
 
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RichZ

Bean Stalker
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389
I've never had cows, but I had a dairy goat farm, and I have friends who have cow dairies. Goats are just so much easier. Obviously, they're much smaller. Although cows are much smarter than people think goats are REALLY smart and very bonded to their owner. Their waste is much easier to manage. Little goat pellets are much easier to manage than the flood of liquid waste that a cow puts out. Being smaller (especially Nigerian Dwarfs),they take up less space and eat a lot less food. Nigerians have great happy personalities. They are very fun loving and love to be loved. They love to play.
On top of all of that, bulls can be dangerous. Even cows can be dangerous, due to their size. I really don't see any negatives in comparing goats to cows. But of course, I'm very biased. Even though I no longer have a dairy goat farm, I still have pet goats. Even my wife says we just can get by without some goats.
 

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Farm Hand
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I'm leaning very heavily towards making the trade. Is there a best time of year to take on goats? Do they have to be milked every single day? Is it hard to find someone to buy just a few kids a year? I wouldn't keep all the kids or I'll wind up overwhelmed and I only need enough milk for my bakery and household. I feel connected to my hens, but my cows just don't seem to care if I'm around or not.
 

RichZ

Bean Stalker
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389
You'll be connected to your goats!!! They behave similarly to dogs in that respect. Kidding time is usually around April. You'll do best if you buy some bottle babies and finish bottle feeding them. That way they'll REALLY bond to you. They'll consider you to be their parents.

Regarding milking, all dairy animals are the same, you have to milk them twice a day, every day, no matter what. If you want to milk them sooner, you can buy adult does and a buck. Or you can find someone with a buck who will charge you to breed your does.

When we had our dairy goat farm, we were breeding 60 does a year, and our does averaged 3 kids each, so we had A LOT of kids. We kept some kids for the herd, but we sold most. We had no problem selling kids if the price was right. We put a lot of work into our genetics and we had good milkers with a high butterfat content, so our kids were sought after for milkers. And all of our kids were bottle fed, so they were also sought after for pets. We de-budded their horns at a few days old, and gave them all of their shots. And my wife would neuter the bucklings for people who wanted them for pets (intact bucks get rather stinky at breeding time, and they get pretty focused on breeding, so they make better pets as whethers). We NEVER sold kids for meat.

Goats are a lot of fun, and even your milkers will be your pets. We had over 100 goats, and every one had a name and was a beloved pet. And there's nothing cuter than goat kids.

Oh, I thought of a con. Because they are sooo smart, they will learn how to operate most gates. You have to be very careful about having gate latches that they can't figure out how to operate. I even had to move the light switches in my barns so they were out of their reach. They would love to turn the lights on at night. People wouldn't believe it until they saw it, but when I saw the lights on in the barns, I'd yell out, "You girls (or boys) turn out that light!!!", and the lights would suddenly go off. They are SMART. You can also train them to do lots of things. They enjoy learning tricks, and they enjoy showing off how smart they are.

Also, you need to keep your bucks and does separate, or the milk will absorb the bucks stinkyness during breeding season.

I'm sure you'll have more questions, just let me know.
 

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Farm Hand
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@RichZ, my husband and I want to say thanks for the help you've given us. You clearly put a lot of time and thought into helping forum members here and it's much appreciated!
 

RichZ

Bean Stalker
Messages
389
You are very welcome!!! If you get into goats, and need help, let me know! My wife and I have experienced just about everything regarding goats and sheep.
 
 
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