My great-grandfather raised goats, so, of course, my mother felt it necessary to have goats on our farm when I was growing up. Even though our goat herd consisted of just 3 goats, having them was a wonderful experience. I can still remember a very pregnant Annie following me down the steep hill to the creek behind our house. After she gave birth to twins on Christmas day, they all 3 continued to be my little shadows wherever I went on the farm. If you’re looking to start a small herd of your own, you might look into trying out some of these goat breeds.
Boer Goats: Meat Goats from Africa
This breed of goat came to the US in 1993. They are a rather large-framed, meaty goat and are usually two-toned. Their coloring is often how they are easily spotted; a white body with either a red or black head. They have horns that sweep backwards at a slant. Like most goats, having twins is common, but triplets and quadruplets are also a possibility. Since Boer goats have 4 functional teats, they have no problem feeding this many kids. Boers are very easy-going and an excellent meat goat.
Kiko Goats: Meat Goats from New Zealand
The name “Kiko” actually means “meat”. This particular breed of goat developed in the early 70’s when thousands of feral goats were captured and bred to create a type of goat that matured quickly, was very meaty, and extremely resistant to both parasites and diseases. The goats that remained after years of breeding required no hoof trimming, no supplementary feed, and could have kids with ease. This is the line of tough Kiko goats around today. Does are very protective of their kids, who tend to grow rather quickly. Many farmers who raise goats strictly for meat crossbreed Boers and Kikos.
Got Goats? Even if you don’t, we’re guessing you’re at least interested!
Savannah Goats: Meat Goats from South Africa
This is another breed of goat that is resistant to disease and who also requires very little cost to maintain. If you have an area of ground that other animals won’t graze on, the Savannah goat will! And, they’ll travel long distance to find food too. They are great mothers and don’t need any help having kids. Savannah goats are very lively and will aggressively defend their young. The breed was developed to withstand high heat, intense sunshine, as well as cold and rainy weather. These highly fertile goats will breed year around and grow a fluffy coat in the winter.
Nubian Goats: Milk Goats from Cross-breeding African and Indian Breeds
Dairy goats often required less space than other livestock. They don’t need a lot of pasture, but they will need fresh water and the proper type of feed to be able to provide a healthy supply of good milk. It’s also beneficial to keep dairy goats, of any breed, away from plants that will give their milk a bad taste (such as daisies and chamomile). Nubians are tolerant of hot weather, but they are susceptible to becoming chilled and getting pneumonia. Because of this, a ventilated barn with clean, dry bedding is necessary. Nubians produce milk that is high in butterfat, which earns them name, “Jerseys of goat breeds”.
Saanen Goats: Milk Goats from Switzerland
Before we had goats at my house, I always pictured all goats looking like the Saanen breed. I love their bright white hair and beards (even the does)! This breed consists of heavy milkers, which comes to around a gallon a day. Due to the ability to produce this much milk daily, it’s no wonder this breed is often used commercially. They are calm enough for even children to handle safely, which is also why Saanens tend to be popular in showmanship classes.
Which Type of Goat to Choose?
Take into consideration the amount of land you have available, as well as the type of food sources your goats will have access to. Remember that milk goats tend to need more supplements, while meat goats can graze on just about anything. Also, choosing a disease/pest resistant breed can lower your maintenance cost. Most goats need to be dewormed every month or so, but not all breeds. Many also need their hooves trimmed regularly, which generally requires calling in someone to do the job. Choose a breed that will give you what you need with the amount of time and funds you can afford to give in return.
What types of goats are you interested in getting for your farm?