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John Kliewer's List: Raising Goats

    • Mortality and goats go together. Any species that has early sexual maturity, short gestation, and multiple births is going to have deaths -- despite your efforts. Do your best and learn from your mistakes.
    • Confined goats become unhealthy or dead goats.

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    • To avoid that problem, you must be prepared to sell or butcher some of your home-raised goats. Actually, any female offspring are relatively easy to deal with. One of your best doelings can be saved to replace its momma on the milk line when the old gal reaches five or six years of age ... and you'll generally find a good market for your other young does.
    • When you decide to purchase a herd-starting doe (or two), you'll immediately be faced with the decision of what breed to invest in. In the U.S., the five most popular purebred goats are Toggenburg, French Alpine, Saanen, La Mancha, and Nubian. (The last two varieties could be called the "Jersey cows" of goats: Although they give slightly less milk than do their three "cousins," their product is high in butterfat.) Any of the five breeds can be successfully raised in all parts of North America, but in most cases the best breed for you will be the one that is most common in your area ... since their offspring will be the easiest to sell to other folks.
    • As with all types of livestock, it’s important to consider your needs when selecting a breed – think about, for example, whether you want to raise goats to make cheese or sausage. With goats, you also might want to reflect on your own character and farm situation. For example, if you have Nubians, non-farming neighbors might complain during weaning and breeding season. (I’ve heard of a rural SPCA officer who was called more than once about people “torturing goats” only to find Nubians in heat.) They are beautiful animals that produce rich milk, but they are also very vocal.

      On the other hand, if you have low or even moderately high fences, Alpines might not be the breed for you. Their ability to jump may exceed your patience. That said, many wonderful breeds of goats are available and, within each breed, the productivity, appearance and character of individuals vary considerably.

    • Flair for fiber

      Two of the softest natural fibers available are produced by goats – mohair and cashmere. Mohair is from Angora goats – not to be confused with the Angora fiber, which comes from Angora rabbits. Angora goats are covered with long, lustrous ringlets of mohair. Bucks have the coarsest fleece, but wethers (castrated males) produce fine fleece year after year. Kid mohair is particularly soft.

    • Getting your goat
    • It’s best to buy goats from an environment similar to yours. This will make the transition easier (e.g., less of a shock than going from a flock of 200 to a flock of two, or vice versa).

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    • arrangements for shots, vaccinations,and tagging or tattooing
    • Feed it at the same time every day, and play with it

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