New Endeavor: Raising Homestead Goats

by Tammy Taylor

2013 has been a year of firsts for us here at Taylor-Made Ranch.  I enjoy raising bottle baby calves each spring but due to an illness I wasn’t physically able to raise them this year.  RancherMan sensing my sadness bought me baby chicks.  We had always known we would raise chickens one day, he thought this year would be a good year to start.  He was right!  Raising those cute little baby chicks pacified the ‘raising farm babies’ urge in me.  But when the chickens grew I once again began to miss those bottle babies, so RancherMan bought me WEANED bottle babies.  Awwww… all of the cute lovable neck-scratching cuteness with none of the work!  I’m very much enjoying both the chickens and the weaned bottle baby calves, and I love RancherMan so much for realizing this need in me.  But he wasn’t through yet – RancherMan decided he would spoil me with yet another small yet lovable animal – GOATS!

Wethers #TaylorMadeRanch

We had been considering raising a few goats for years, we found a breeder for these young wethers in a nearby town.  These boys are about 50/50 Boer/Kiko cross.  I had never heard of a Kiko goat but apparently this cross gives a growth vigor that one breed alone does not, and they are supposed to be lower maintenance.  Lower maintenance is a good thing since we’re brand-spankin’ new at raising goats!  We wanted to use goats to clear some brushy areas for us and although we currently have 6-strand barbed wired fences we know we’ll need something a little more goat-proof where these guys will be working.  When our goat-proof fences are in place I’d love to have the goats follow our cattle in our pasture rotations.  The cattle would go through the rotation first & graze the best grass, the goats would follow and get the forbs and brush so our tractor mower can stay in the barn!  LOL  The chickens have been great organic pest control against grasshoppers & flies and these little guys will be our organic weed control.  Man I love this life!

09-13 Goat with Honey Locust Tree #TaylorMadeRanchWe used our bottle baby pen to receive the wethers when we brought them home.  They will stay here as they learn this is their new home and as they get to know us.  We’ve set up water and hay, as well as goat feed and they seem pretty happy in their new home.  They’re being weaned so they spent a little time calling to mama  but that only lasted a few days.  In the meantime we’re shoring up the barn pasture with goat fence to hold them & give them more roaming room.  We’ll be figuring out how to confine them to an area each day to begin clearing fence lines and creek areas.  Has anyone ever used goats to clear underbrush?  How did you confine them to their work area?

~TMR~

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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20 thoughts on “New Endeavor: Raising Homestead Goats

  1. Illoura

    Congrats on a hubby who indulges you -and your new goats! I understand all your wethers are male, any specific reason for that? (I wonder if they get the male goat ‘smell’ if there are no females around?) I am currently working on vermiculture for sustainable chicken feed but goats are next on the list. I’m considering a ‘hair’ breed – for fiber, meat, milk… but aside from fencing there are a lot more considerations that will add up. Good luck with yours!

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      The wethers are just what the breeder had available in the breed we wanted, we certainly would have taken females if they had them available. From what I understand if the goats are castrated (which is the definition of wethers) they don’t develop that musky scent. ~TMR~

      Reply
  2. Sandra

    Good Luck on your new venture! We had meat goats at one time but now just have dairy. Ours are pasture raised and we have permanent fencing. For moving them around for brush control you could use electro netting fence. We have used it and like the results.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Thanks Sandra. You know, I’ve always heard of electric netting but have never seen it. I’ll have to keep my eyes open for it. ~TMR~

      Reply
  3. Penny

    We just got chickens a little less than a month ago…and we love them!! Plans for goats are in the works. I had never heard of the Kiko breed either, but I am with you, low maintenance is a good thing. Are those milking goats? I would like to learn to make soap, cheese, etc. out of goat’s milk. Penny

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Penny – chickens are oodles of fun, huh? Kikos are a meat goat, but the way I see it both milk goats & meat goats will have their milk come in when they kid. If you’re not needing a large abundance of milk (for say commercial use) then either breed will probably do the trick, especially to start out. I’m certainly no expert though – any of you more knowledgeable goat-raisers care to weigh in? ~TMR~

      Reply
  4. Mel

    Gorgeous! We had a goat on loan when we were kids from farming friends. We had a big block and a blackberry bush problem (they re weeds here) one morning we woke up to the goat smashing through mine and my sisters bedroom window….needless to say that was the day the goat went back to the farm. It did eat the blackberry bushes, and nibbled on the washing so keep it away from windows and laundry 🙂

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      OMGosh Mel, what a riot! LOL Good to know they eat blackberry bushes, we have an area in back that is becoming overgrown with them. Love the blackberries but cattle grazing has to come first. But I’ll be sure to keep them away from my laundry… AND WINDOWS! ~TMR~

      Reply
  5. Vickie

    Our city uses goats to munch up all the vegetation on our river levees. When the goats are able to keep the vegetation down, that decreases the number of burrowing animals because they prefer an area where they have more “cover”. Burrowing animals (rabbits, gophers, etc.) can wreck havoc on river levees and make them a lot weaker! The city used to just burn all of the brush and vegetation, which made it hard to breathe for about a week during the burning, and also had a terribly ugly aftermath. When the goats graze, never staying in one place too long, the plants would be eaten down but not actually killed, so the root system of the plants kept the levee soil intact. This is a great system! Hooray for the goats!

    Reply
  6. Sarah

    I live in Colorado and a couple of neighborhoods hire goat rancher’s to clear the fire hazzard brush. They mob graze with portable electric net fences.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Sarah, I’m so fascinated with the use of goats to clear brushy overgrowth and I LOVE that!! Goats doing a job they love to do with such great benefit for man, and environmentally friendly too! (plus let’s face it – they’re cute!) LOL ~TMR~

      Reply
  7. Sandy

    I forgot to mention, all of our fields are (almost) upgraded from 6 strand barbed wire to woven “cattle” wire with three strands of barb. It works good to keep cows and goats in and dogs out, but the goats with small horns do stick their heads through and can get stuck. We also have electric on some of the fields, but it hasn’t been turned on in about a year. It was intended to keep the goats from climbing on the woven wire fence or getting their heads stuck, but we haven’t had too much trouble with that so it was sort of a waste. Oh, and the chickens found a gap and now have their own highway under the wire. The fun part is when I am on the inside with snacks and they are on the outside. Somehow they “forget” where the gap is and make so much noise about it that the goats come over and get all the snacks. Fun times! Enjoy all your animals. 🙂

    Reply
  8. tessa

    A small, sustainable farm I took classes at used goats solely to clear their brush piles (this was in NC). They’d pile up their, well, piles and let the goats play on them for several weeks and the piles would just disappear. They’d also use them in the fields as they didn’t want to use any large, diesel consuming equipment – they only used their animals and it was impressive! Ben just used portable electric fencing to keep them where he needed them when clearing the land and then hand permanently fenced areas elsewhere. Good luck! Oh, we shared this with our FB readers at homesteadlady.com.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Wow Tessa, that’s cool goats will make brush piles go away. We will definitely be putting them to work that way in the future. I’ve heard electric fencing from others so the wheels are turning… Thanks for the information! ~TMR~

      Reply
  9. Sandy

    We started with goats a couple of years ago to do exactly the same thing. They ate all the green briers and multi-floral rose bushes as high as they could reach. They also climbed on top of the brush with some help of the logs that we leaned into the mounds. They are doing a good job of keeping up with the sprouts from the stumps. They also eat every leaf they can reach. We don’t confine them to small areas, but a friend uses some of that portable electric fencing in his pasture, and gets good results. I have ideas of doing that too, but our terrain is pretty rough in the area that I want to fence. Besides, FabHub and the BIL are still working on replacing perimeter fence. Maybe if they ever get done with that, but the beef herd is priority. The work of the goats is to support the cows. The goats win on cuteness though! We started with chickens this year. They are the most entertaining of all the animals.

    Reply
    1. Taylor-Made Ranch Post author

      Sandy that is so awesome. Thank you so much for sharing this information for us greenhorns. Like you, our animals are beef cows – goats – chickens. We’re new to raising chickens this year as well – so much FUN!! 🙂 ~TMR~

      Reply

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