Small Goats on Small Acreage
Raising Miniature Dairy Goats
I own 1.5 acres and wanted to do something besides a small vegetable garden. I have owned a few regular size goats but I prefer the miniatures. I have some purebred and some mixed but they are all miniature dairy goats. You don't need hundreds of acres to raise minis. I currently have 14 goats on 1.5 acres and still have plenty of room for more. My land is not ideal pasture. It is hilly, rocky and has more weeds than grass. Turns out this is perfect for the goats. They love climbing up and down the hills. They often choose to eat hedges or various weeds over the grass seed that I planted. I used to have sticker bushes everywhere. You couldn't walk 5 feet without getting stuck by thorns.The goats have eaten a lot of them and now you can easily walk the fields. My goats acted like they were candy. They are great for cleaning out dense brush also.
Variety Is Good For The GoatClick thumbnail to view full-size
As you can see from the pictures, my land is not ideal flat grassy pasture. My land is the perfect goat playground though. Some of the downed trees have been left where they fell for the goats to jump and climb on. In East Tennessee flat land is very rare. We have lots of hills and slopes. My land is no exception. Flat spots are a rare commodity. But the goats love it. We have lots of rocks in several areas and they are great for keeping the goats hooves in shape. I don't have to trim as often as some people I know because my goats are constantly playing on the rocks. In the fall I will buy up seeds that go on sale after the season. I will buy vegetable seeds, flower seeds, grass seed, whatever I can find on clearance. I put them away for spring planting. Then I buy the winter rye grass and plant that for winter grazing.
Come spring I will mix up all the seeds in a bucket and sprinkle them around the fields. I found out by accident that the goats love watermelon. We had a watermelon in the refrigerator that no one was eating and I put it out in the goat field. Pretty quickly I had goats with dripping faces from eating the watermelon. After a few days just the rind was left and they would play with the rind, flinging it around. Later in the summer watermelon plants starting growing in the field and the goats started nibbling on them. That's when I started looking up different plants that goats can and cannot eat. Then I bought them after the season ended and started scattering the seeds in the spring.
We now have quite the variety of plants growing in the fields. Variety makes for happy goats!
Happy GoatsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Keeping Your Goats Entertained
As you can see from the pictures, goats love to sit on and in things. We have found some very good items for the goats to play with. Dog houses and dog igloos are great not only to play on but also to sleep in. We have had babies play king of the mountain on top of dog houses. It keeps them entertained for quite a long time.
Another item is a large drainage pipe that a neighbor gave us. It is large enough for them to run through but they also like to climb on it. A bonus for the goats is the loud noise their hooves make on the metal pipe. We discovered quickly that goats love to make noise with their hooves. We put some wooden platforms out in the field and they constantly hop and run on them. The noisier the better where my goats are concerned. We had a metal roof from an old donkey shelter out in the field and they would not stop running across it.
We also built a wooden shelter then attached steps from an old pool to the side. New toy! They were up and down the ladder and pushing each other off the top of the shelter. We stapled an old piece of carpet to the top to give them traction and it is a favorite sunning spot in the the sunny weather.
Garage sales are great places to find goat toys and shelters. That is where we have found some of the dog houses. We have a metal barn as their main shelter. It is actually a carport with sides attached. But some of the goats prefer the smaller dog houses. Especially when they have newborn babies. The moms tend to move into a dog house with the new babies for a few weeks then rejoin the herd in the barn.
Old childrens outdoor play sets are also good for goats. Nothing is cuter than a goat peeking out of a window in a play house.
King Of The Mountain
Goats At PlayClick thumbnail to view full-size
Hanging With Your Goats
Some of my most relaxing times is spent outside with the goats. It is very peaceful being outside just watching the goats. I try to spend between one and two hours a day out with the herd. It is a good way to make sure everyone is healthy and feeling good. Observing the herd each day lets you know the personality traits of each individual goat and how they normally act and sound. Then you can quickly identify any that are not feeling well and fix the problem before it becomes an issue. Each goat has its own distinct voice and you will soon learn what a goat sounds like when it is not feeling well or in pain. That is usually my first indication that a goat is not feeling well. I will hear a bleat that does not sound right.
Another great thing to do outside while spending time with the herd is taking pictures and videos. I will just click away taking a lot of pictures. Not all the pictures turn out but I usually get a few that are great. Some of my goats get excited when they see the camera. With those goats I end up with pictures of nostrils and eyeballs because they come running up to the camera and I can't click fast enough!
Mini Goats Are More Than Pets
I raise my goats as pets and many people who have bought babies from me buy them for pets. But they are so much more than just pets. We have a home made milking stand that we use for a few different things. Of course milking is the main thing, but we also use it when it is time to trim hooves or get a good brushing.'
I will be using the milk I get this spring to make goat milk soap, lip balm, lotion and diaper rash ointment. Goat milk is also good for feeding to other animals who cannot get milk from their mothers. People have used it for horses, donkeys and even people who have an intolerance for cows milk.
I am hearing from more and more people who drink goats milk. I have not personally drank goats milk, but I know many people who won't drink any other kind of milk.
- Fias Co Farm: Goats- Edible & Poisonous for Goats
I used this list when deciding what to plant in my goat field
- Fias Co Farm- Goat Medications
A great link for medication information for goats. I have also bought some of their natural medications.
A great link for learning to care for your new goat