What do you think of when I mention goats? Do you picture in your mind a cute little baby goat in pajamas? Maybe one of the old cartoon depictions of a goat eating a can? If you were in the Navy like I was you may have a different picture of a goat in your mind. Most people don’t know a lot about goats, but this article is going to enlighten you a little if you are one of those. Well that is my plan anyway.
We are Chuck and Heather Vessey of Vessey Ranch. Today we are going to discuss these delightful, amusing, exasperating little butt heads.
We have had goats since 2008. We acquired our first goat because our daughter wanted to get into FFA, and this was her animal of choice. I’m grateful she didn’t choose pigs but that’s a story for another time.
We fenced off an area of our tiny one-acre rental property and went down the road to see a lady that raises goats. We picked up a little Boer whether. Boer goats are known as meat goats. I’ll talk more about the different breeds and purposes later.
So, we took young Gunther home and proceeded to start learning about goats. Over the years we have learned much. Mostly through trial and error but also much from others. We have learned that unlike what we were told growing up, goats will not eat anything. I can promise you though that given the chance they will eat everything you don’t want them to eat.
They love grape vines, rose plants, blueberry bushes and many of the things in your garden. Yes, I am speaking from experience here.
Now to discuss some of the different breeds. I’ve mentioned Boer goats are for meat. I have heard from several sources that goat is the number one consumed meat everywhere in the world except here in America. When prepared well it is quite tasty.
If you are looking for a milk goat, your best bet is a Lamancha. We had a friend who raised them and would get a gallon of milk twice a day from each of her girls. That is a lot. Other dairy breeds include Saanen, Alpine and Nubian.
Another dairy breed is the Nigerian Dwarf. This is our favorite and what we have the most of here. Although it is classified as a dairy breed you don’t want to have to make a living off the milk you get from these girls. They are as the name suggests small. The males average 19-23.5 inches with the females typically an inch or two shorter. You can milk them, but you won’t get the quantity of the bigger breeds. When we have milked ours, we usually get 10 to 12 ounces twice a day.
Any breeds of goat can be milked and eaten though so the amount of meat or milk you want should be a major factor in choosing.
Nigerian Dwarf is our favorite for few reasons. We are not big fans of goat milk, so we don’t need a dairy breed. They are one of the smallest breeds which reduces the cost of feed and the space required. Being small makes them easier to handle if needed as well. Most importantly though is that they are fun. They love to play and are a joy to watch.
Some people have goats for meat, some for milk, some as a weed eater and others as a natural anti-depressant. These remarkable critters can serve all these purposes.
If you’re interested in learning more about them, we will be offering farm tours very soon. We should have a bunch of baby goats born between Thanksgiving and the end of the year and we always need help socializing them.
Before getting into raising goats there are a few things to know. I don’t have space enough to get into them here and now, but I will share one. That is that they can be great escape artists. If there is a weakness in your fence, they will find it.
If you would like to learn more or to set up a tour, feel free to reach out to us. We will be adding classes on various subjects as well. These are a few. Soap making, essential oils, the moringa plant, microgreens, backyard construction of things like chicken coops, goat butchering and rainwater collection.
For more information and to stay in the loop when we have dates for our classes, like and follow Vessey Ranch on Facebook, (Watch for baby goat pics too!!)