A Comprehensive Guide To Keeping Goats On The Homestead

If you’ve ever considered the idea of homesteading, you’ve likely thought about the animals you’d like to raise. Among the various livestock options available, goats are a particularly versatile choice. Known for their hardiness and adaptability, goats can provide a range of benefits to the homesteader.

Goats are a popular livestock animal for homesteaders because of their versatility and hardiness. These robust animals can produce meat, milk, or fiber, which can be utilized on the homestead or used to generate an income. Goats are easy to care for and require less space than larger animals.

We will investigate the various aspects of keeping goats on the homestead, helping you understand how to care for these animals, make the most of their products, and enjoy the unique benefits they bring to homesteading life. Whether you’re a seasoned homesteader looking for another livestock option or just starting out, this guide will provide valuable insights into homesteading with goats.

Are Goats Good Homestead Animals?

From brush and shrub cleanup to producing fiber, milk, cheese, and soap, goats can contribute significantly to a sustainable and self-sufficient lifestyle.

Their meat is a nutritious source of protein, and some breeds are even used for packing and driving. Beyond these practical benefits, goats are also known for their friendly and social nature, making them excellent personal companions on the homestead.

Why Keep Goats On The Homestead?

Goats are a popular choice for many homesteaders for good reason. These versatile animals offer a range of benefits that can enhance the self-sufficiency and sustainability of your homestead.

Goats are excellent for brush and shrub cleanup. They are natural browsers, preferring to eat leaves, twigs, vines, and shrubs. This makes them perfect for clearing overgrown areas of your property, reducing the need for manual labor or machinery.

Goats are also a fantastic source of commercial-quality fiber. Certain breeds, like the Angora and Cashmere, produce high-quality fiber that can be spun into yarn for knitting or weaving. This can be a rewarding hobby or even a source of income if you sell fiber or finished products.

One of the most well-known benefits of keeping goats on the homestead is their milk. Goat milk is highly nutritious and easier to digest than cow’s milk, making it a great option for lactose-intolerant people. This milk can also be used to make various products, including cheese and soap, adding another layer of self-sufficiency to your homestead.

For homesteaders interested in meat production, goats offer a sustainable source of meat. Goat meat, also known as chevon, is lean and flavorful. It’s a popular choice in many cuisines worldwide and can be a valuable addition to the homesteader’s table.

Goats can also be trained for packing and driving. This means they can carry loads or pull small carts, which can be particularly useful on larger properties or in off-grid situations.

Finally, goats make wonderful personal companions. They are intelligent, curious, and social animals that can bring much joy and entertainment to the homestead. Whether they’re frolicking in the pasture or simply enjoying a scratch behind the ears, goats can add a lot of character to your homesteading experience.

Keeping goats on the homestead can provide a wealth of benefits, from practical contributions to the emotional benefits of animal companionship. These are the main reasons goats are a popular livestock animal on the homestead, second only to chickens.

Choosing The Right Goat For Your Homestead

Choosing the right goat breed for your homestead depends largely on your goals. Are you interested in milk production, meat, fiber, or perhaps a combination of these?

Maybe your primary interest is in brush and shrub cleanup, or you’re looking for a friendly personal companion. Each breed has its strengths, so choosing one that aligns with your homesteading goals is important.

Here’s a table of some of the best goat breeds to keep on the homestead and why.

BreedStrengthsWhy They’re Great for Homesteading
NubianHigh milk production, rich in butterfat, friendlyNubians are great for dairy production, and their friendly nature makes them good personal companions.
BoerFast growth, high meat yieldBoers are the go-to breed for meat production due to their size and growth rate.
AlpineConsistent milk producers, hardyAlpines are great for steady milk production and can adapt to various climates and conditions.
AngoraHigh-quality fiberAngoras are perfect for those interested in fiber production for spinning and weaving.
LaManchaGood milk producers, friendly and calmLaManchas are known for their sweet disposition and steady milk production.
KikoHardy, good meat producers, low maintenanceKikos are great for meat and require less care than some other breeds, making them good for brush and shrub cleanup.
Nigerian DwarfHigh butterfat milk, small sizeNigerian Dwarfs are perfect for small homesteads or those looking for high-quality milk for cheese making.

Remember, the “right” goat for your homestead is the one that best fits your needs, goals, and circumstances.

Consider your property size, time commitment, and personal interests when choosing a breed. Whether you’re looking for a productive dairy goat, a hardy meat breed, a fiber producer, or a friendly companion, there’s a goat breed perfect for your homestead.

Setting Up Your Homestead For Goats

Setting up your homestead for goats involves considering their housing, fencing, and grazing needs. Here are some key points to consider:

  • Goats need a dry, draft-free, clean shelter to protect them from the elements. Depending on your climate, this could be a barn, shed, or even a three-sided shelter.
  • Goats need space. The housing should be spacious enough for each goat to have about 15-20 square feet. The shelter should have good ventilation to prevent respiratory issues but avoid direct drafts. Include a designated area for feeding that keeps hay off the ground to prevent waste and contamination.
  • Goats are known for their ability to escape, so sturdy fencing is a must. Options include woven wire, electric, or a combination of both. The fence should be high enough to prevent jumping over (usually at least 4 feet for smaller breeds and 5 feet for larger breeds). Regularly inspect the fence for gaps or weak spots to prevent escapes.
  • Goats are browsers, not grazers like cows. They prefer to eat shrubs, leaves, and weeds, which makes them great for brush and shrub cleanup. If possible, provide a pasture area where goats can browse. If this isn’t possible, you’ll need to provide hay and possibly supplemental feed. Rotate pastures if possible to prevent overgrazing and to control parasites.
  • Goats need constant access to fresh, clean water. Check water sources daily. Providing a goat-specific mineral supplement is a good idea. Avoid mineral mixes intended for other livestock, as goats have specific mineral requirements.
  • Remove toxic plants from pasture. Some common plants can be harmful or even deadly to goats, so be sure to remove any toxic plants from the grazing area. Ensure the area is free from hazards such as loose wire, sharp objects, or open water sources where a goat could potentially fall in and drown.

Setting up your homestead for goats requires some initial work, but a well-planned goat area will make daily care easier and help keep your goats healthy and happy.

Whether you’re keeping goats for milk, meat, fiber, brush clean up, or as personal companions, a suitable environment is key to their well-being and productivity.

Feeding And Nutrition For Homestead Goats

Feeding and nutrition are crucial aspects of keeping goats on the homestead. A well-fed goat is a healthy and productive goat.

Goats are natural browsers, preferring to eat a variety of shrubs, leaves, and weeds. This makes them excellent for brush and shrub cleanup on your homestead. If you have a suitable area, allow your goats to browse. This provides them with a natural diet, exercise, and mental stimulation.

In addition to browsing, goats should have access to good-quality hay. This is especially important in winter months or if you don’t have a browse area. Alfalfa hay is a popular choice as it’s high in protein and calcium, making it particularly good for milk-producing does.

Some goats may benefit from supplemental grain feed depending on age, health, and whether they’re producing milk or meat. Be careful not to overfeed grains as it can upset the bacteria balance in the goat’s rumen and lead to health problems.

Goats need a balanced mineral supplement designed specifically for goats. This usually includes important minerals like selenium, copper, and zinc. Avoid feeding minerals designed for other livestock as they may not meet the specific needs of goats and could even be harmful.

Goats need constant access to fresh, clean water. Lactating does, and goats eating a lot of dry feed or hay will particularly need a lot of water. Check water sources daily to ensure they’re clean and haven’t frozen over in winter.

Regularly check your goats’ body condition to ensure they’re not too thin or too fat. Both can lead to health problems. Adjust feed as necessary depending on the goat’s condition, stage of life, and productivity.

A goat’s nutritional needs will vary depending on age, size, breed, and whether it’s used for milk, meat, fiber, or brush cleanup. Always monitor your goats and adjust their diet as necessary to keep them healthy and thriving on your homestead.

Health And Wellness Of Homestead Goats

Maintaining the health and wellness of your goats is crucial for their productivity and longevity on the homestead.

Regularly observe your goats for behavior, appetite, or physical appearance changes. These could be early signs of illness. Regular veterinary check-ups are also important to catch any potential health issues early.

Goats can be susceptible to internal parasites, especially grazing on pastures. If necessary, regular fecal checks and deworming can help keep parasites under control. Rotating pastures can also help prevent the build-up of parasites.

They should be vaccinated against common diseases such as enterotoxemia and tetanus. Your vet can advise on any other vaccinations that may be necessary in your area.

Their hooves need regular trimming to prevent overgrowth and associated problems. This is usually done every 4-6 weeks but can depend on the individual goat and the terrain they live on.

Remember, keeping your goats healthy requires regular care and attention. Whether you’re keeping goats for milk, meat, fiber, brush clean up, or as personal companions, their health and wellness should be a top priority on your homestead.

Breeding And Raising Kids

Breeding goats and raising kids can be a rewarding part of keeping goats on the homestead, whether you’re interested in expanding your herd, selling goats to other homesteaders, or producing meat.

Goats reach sexual maturity at about 4-8 months, but it’s usually best to wait until they’re at least 8-10 months old before breeding. A doe’s heat cycle occurs every 18-21 days and lasts for 1-3 days. This is the optimal time for breeding.

Pregnancy in goats lasts for approximately 150 days. During this time, the doe will need extra care and nutrition. As the doe’s due date approaches, prepare a clean, quiet, and comfortable place for her to give birth.

Most does can deliver without assistance, but it’s important to monitor the process and be ready to call a vet if necessary.

Once the kids are born, ensure they are breathing properly and nursing well. They should start nursing within an hour of birth. The kids need colostrum, the doe’s first milk, within the first few hours of life. This provides important antibodies to protect the kid from disease.

After a few days, kids can start to eat hay and grains, but they should continue to nurse or be bottle-fed until they’re at least 8-10 weeks old. Kids must be dewormed and vaccinated according to your vet’s recommendations.

Socialize the kids from a young age, as this makes them easier to handle and can make them better personal companions.

Breeding goats and raising kids requires a significant time and care commitment. However, it can also be a rewarding experience that contributes to the sustainability and productivity of your homestead.

Producing And Using Goat Milk On The Homestead

Producing and using goat milk is one of the most common reasons people keep goats on the homestead. As with cows, goats need to be bred to produce milk. After the kids are born, you can start milking the doe.

Most does are milked once or twice a day. The frequency can depend on the breed, the individual goat, and your own schedule. Milking requires clean practices to prevent the milk from becoming contaminated. This includes washing your hands and the doe’s udder before milking and using clean equipment.

Goat milk is highly nutritious and can be used in the same way as cow’s milk. This includes drinking it fresh, using it in cooking and baking, or making yogurt.

It can also be used to make a variety of delicious cheeses. The process can vary depending on the type of cheese but generally involves heating the milk, adding a culture and rennet to form curds, and then draining and pressing the curds.

Another popular use for goat milk is soap making. Soap produced from goat milk is gentle on the skin and can be a great addition to your homestead products.

Fresh goat milk should be chilled as soon as possible to maintain its quality. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Goat milk can also be frozen for longer storage. Some people prefer to freeze it in small quantities for convenience.

Producing and using goat milk can be a rewarding part of keeping goats on the homestead. Whether you’re interested in fresh milk for drinking, cheese making, soap making, or other uses, goat milk can be a versatile and valuable product on the homestead.

Producing And Using Goat Meat On The Homestead

Producing and using goat meat, also known as chevon, is another reason many people choose to keep goats on the homestead.

Certain breeds, such as Boer and Kiko, are particularly well-suited for meat production due to their size and growth rate. Goats raised for meat need a balanced diet to ensure healthy growth. This includes good quality forage or hay and possibly supplemental grain feed.

Regular health care, including deworming and vaccinations, is important to maintain the health and productivity of meat goats.

Goats can be butchered at various ages depending on your preference and the breed. Many people butcher goats when they’re about 6-9 months old as the meat is tender at this age. Butchering can be done at home if you have the skills and equipment, or the goats can be taken to a professional butcher. Always ensure that butchering is done humanely and respectfully.

Goat meat is lean and flavorful and can be used in various dishes, from stews and curries to roasts and barbecues. Goat meat can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days or frozen for longer storage. Don’t forget that other parts of the goat can also be used. For example, the bones can be used to make broth, and the organs can be used in certain recipes or fed to pets.

Producing and using goat meat can be a significant part of keeping goats on the homestead. Whether you’re raising goats for your own table or for sale, goat meat can be a sustainable and nutritious source of protein.

Producing and Using Goat Fiber

Producing and using goat fiber is a unique aspect of keeping goats on the homestead, particularly if you’re interested in crafting or selling fiber products. Certain breeds of goats, such as Angora and Cashmere, are known for their high-quality fiber. Angoras produce mohair, while Cashmere goats produce cashmere.

Fiber goats require a balanced diet to produce good-quality fiber. They also require regular health care, including deworming and vaccinations. They are usually sheared once or twice a year, depending on the breed and climate. Shearing not only harvests the fiber but also helps keep the goat comfortable.

Shearing requires some skill to do efficiently and without harming the goat. It can be learned through practice or by hiring a professional shearer. After shearing, the fiber must be cleaned or “scoured” to remove dirt and oils. The fiber can then be carded to align the fibers and spun into yarn using a spinning wheel or drop spindle.

Goat fiber can be used in a variety of crafting projects. This includes knitting, crocheting, weaving, and felting. Goat fiber can also be sold, either raw or processed into yarn, which can be a source of income for the homestead.

Goats As Personal Companions

Beyond their practical contributions to the homestead, goats can also make wonderful personal companions. Their intelligence, curiosity, and social nature can bring much joy and entertainment to your homesteading experience.

Goats are herd animals, which means they thrive on social interaction. They should always be kept with at least one other goat, but they can also form bonds with other animals and humans. Spending time with your goats benefits them and can also be a source of relaxation and enjoyment for you.

Goats are known for their intelligence and curiosity;  they enjoy exploring their environment and can even learn to solve simple problems. This intelligence means they can also be trained to some extent. For example, they can learn to come when called, walk on a leash, or even perform simple tricks.

Goats are playful animals, especially as kids. Watching them frolic and play can be a source of entertainment and joy. Providing them with a stimulating environment, including climbing structures and toys, can keep them happy and active.

Many goats enjoy human interaction and can be quite affectionate. They may enjoy being petted, scratched, or simply spending time with you. This affectionate nature can make them great companions, especially for children.


Keeping goats on the homestead can be a rewarding and enriching experience. From their practical contributions in terms of milk, meat, and fiber production to their role in brush and shrub cleanup, goats can significantly enhance the self-sufficiency and sustainability of your homestead.

The success of your goat-keeping journey depends on your commitment, preparation, and willingness to learn. With the right approach, keeping goats can contribute to your homestead’s productivity and bring a lot of joy and fulfillment.







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